Sunday, August 29, 2010

08/29/2010 - Whiskey Ditch

Launch: Riverdocs on the Causeway
Destination: Whiskey Ditch
Distance: Approx 5 miles
Paddle time: Approx 2 hours
Weather: Partly cloudy with temp in the 80s. 5-10 mph winds.
Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) After miserable weather Saturday, this afternoon turned out to be a little better. It brought out at least one fisherman.

2) Large plant in the bean family (red rattlebox) was flowering.

3) Conditions were pretty calm in Whiskey Ditch.

4) Water Hyacinth.

5) Decided to stick around the little pond at the end of Whiskey Ditch and watch the sunset.

6) This was a relaxing sunset.

7) Beautiful colors were put on display in the atmosphere reflecting on the still waters.

8) I never grow tired of watching sunsets. Wish you had been here to see it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

08/21/2010 - Gas Line Canal Double Crosser

Launch: Hurricane Landing off Hwy 225 in Baldwin County.
Launch Cost: $2
Destination: Paddle the Gas Line canal from one end to the other and back.
Distance: 21.9 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 6.5 hours
Weather: Hot humid morning. Rain and thunderstorms in afternoon.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) The gas line is occasionally visible along the edge of the canal. If there is gas flowing in this pipeline, I'd be worried the line will be broken by the forces of nature.  

2) This was another hot day with little air movement. Only saw about half a dozen boats.

3) Immature fruits (about an inch long) on a Water Tupelo tree (Nyssa aquatica).

4) The fruit of a red buckeye.

5) I took a side trip up Little Briar Creek and it was beautiful.

6) The rotating railroad bridge on Mobile River near river mile 14 is being replaced by a lift bridge. Info about things like construction on the waterway can be found in the Local Notice to Mariners weekly updates. (LNM). You can subscribe to this areas LNM by clicking here: 8TH DISTRICT LOCAL NOTICE TO MARINERS

7) Toothpick grasshoppers were all over the shoreline vegetation.

8) The dragon fly is a beneficial insect of magnificent design that almost floats through the air, has the ability to hover, and has so much aerial control that it can grab other flying food in mid air. How can their little brain independently control four wings that are so close together with such a degree of finesse? Here is a close up look at the control center of the wings. The designer of life is astonishing.

9) Why do spiders have so many eyes? I guess they have an eye for each leg, just like we do.

10) Saw over three dozen nests perched on limbs hanging over the water and sometimes hidden by the leaves. Luckily, wasps do not seem to panic when a kayaker passes closely but lord help you if you ever accidentally disturb a nest with your kayak or face because you are not paying attention to your surroundings as you paddle.

11) After reaching the far end of the gas line canal and taking a well needed break (nice break area on land with a dock and boat ramp), it started raining.

12) It rained four more times on the way back - just enough to raise the humidity level.

13) Luck of the shutter button caught a fish launching out of the water.

14) I can name you a dozen car models or two dozen TV programs but when it comes to naming wild berries, I am ignorant. I don't know what these berries are but they looked dangerous to me. The power of Television and Urban life disconnects most people from the land. That is sad for the future of the earth.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

08/14/2010 - Big Creek Lake

Launch: Howells Ferry Road east side launch site for Big Creek Lake.
Launch Cost: $5
Destination: Explore north side of Big Creek Lake aka Converse Reservoir. Both the scenery and vegetation of the lake and surrounding area are beautiful and different than that of the Mobile-Delta. It is well worth kayaking this lake at different times of the year.
Distance: 22.5 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 7.5 hours
Weather: Hot humid morning. Rain and thunderstorms in afternoon.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) Sunrise on Converse Reservoir aka Big Creek Lake on an arm-pit drenching humid morning.

2) By 10:00 am, clouds were forming quickly and it would soon lead to thunder and rain. The red foliage was beautiful.

3) A caterpillar which can have a wide range of body markings called a Banded Sphinx Caterpillar (Eumorpha fasciatus) was munching on a plant. It eventually turns into a Sphinx Moth.

4) Mom holding onto a baby ball. Life is precious. Hold on to it.

5) Great egrets were plentiful along the dense shoreline grasses.

6) Big Creek Lake has alligators? Yup. Locals say there are big ones in these waters.

7) Limb hooks that fishermen set out and leave unattended for long periods of time leads to senseless and wasteful deaths of innocent animals and fish.

8) Raining while the sun is shining. Thank God I doubled back to the car this morning after launching to get the umbrella which came in handy most of the day.

9) The yellow color on the water is actually a mass of flowers. Big Creek Lake would not be very friendly to pedal kayaks because of stumps and dense stringy vegetation.

10) Days like this keep the boaters away and the temperatures more moderate. I stick the umbrella stem down my shirt and into my waistband which keeps it upright while freeing up the hands for paddling.

11) Aquatic fanworts were in bloom (Cabomba caroliniana).

12) Showy fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata) were in bloom and most were flooded with little insects.

13) Big Creek Lake is full of a wide variety of aquatic plants, including invasives.

14) Frequently seen darting across the surface of the water near vegetation are little Water Striders. Those that don't dart are probably absorbed in an intimate moment. Life is good.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

08/08/2010 - Little Catfish Bayou

Launch: Steele Creek Lodge near Satsuma, AL
Launch Cost: Free
Destination: Little Catfish Bayou
Distance: 9.5 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 3-4 hours
Weather: Heat advisory. Winds calm.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

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1) It was already a hot steamy day at sunrise on Gunnison Creek.

2) In the middle of the morning, winds were still not moving and the sun was scorching hot.

3) Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata) flowers.

4) Coastal Rose Gentian (Sabatia calycina) with a spider of opportunity waiting for an insect to visit.

5) An odd looking insect called a Brown Water Scorpion (Ranatra fusca) and little did I know when taking the photo that they can bite.

6) Dragon flies keep the kayak trips pleasant by eating all the mosquitos.

7) Big Golden Silk Spiders are out already and stretching their webs across the waterways.

8) Six-spotted Fishing Spider.

9) Lubber Grasshoppers were abundant in Little Catfish Bayou and were seen eating cattails, fungus, and plenty of vegetation. The dew hadn't burnt off this one yet.

10) A bee up in a cow-pea getting a dose of pollen.

11) While it may look like oil spill sheens and oil goo on the water, the water surface materials seen here are all natural. 

12) The kayak did however need to be cleaned at the end of the trip due to the nasty waterline film left on the kayak, but that is typical on most trips into the backwater of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.

13) Little green tree frogs were abundant.

14) The V-shaped flat clusters of Oatgrass or Indian Woodoats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are quite distinct and easy to recognize.

15) Reader Quiz: Put your answer in the comments. Disaster happens - your kayak sinks after a stump pierces the hull and you are stuck on the stream bank for a long time because you left your phone at home. You are hungry and see lots of berries. Do you eat these berries or not? Hint: Smilax.

16) How about it - do you eat these berries or not? Hint: Palmetto.