Tuesday, April 24, 2012

04/24/2012 - Big Creek Lake

Launch: I went to launch at US Hwy 98 but a sign there said "No Boat Launching," and mentioned something about a fine. So, to be safe, I went to the Howells Ferry Road launch site instead which added on about 10-12 extra miles to the trip.
Launch Cost: $5 Destination: Upper Big Creek, past the US 98 bypass currently under construction.
Distance: 19 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 7 hours
Weather: Cool morning starting at 50 degrees and rising to about 68. Calm conditions at start and winds picked up to 10-15 mph out of the southwest in the afternoon. No tide influence. Current minimal in upper Big Creek. One foot chop on the return trip.
Caution note: Big Creek Lake has miles of open water and is subject to becoming choppy in windy conditions. Take a spray skirt.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header image is a photo of some wood ducks. Also seen today were Teal and Coot.

It was a beautiful day to go kayaking in Big Creek Lake. The image here is taken at the Howells Ferry Road launch site which has a very kayak friendly hard- packed sandy and grass shoreline to launch from.

Boggy Branch has a lot of fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata ).

Fragrant Water Lilies in Boggy Branch.

Fragrant Water Lilies in Boggy Branch.

Center of a Southern Magnolia flower (Magnolia grandiflora).

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) was in bloom - it is beautiful but poisonous.

Purple Bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea).

Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) is an aquatic plant I've only seen in Big Creek Lake. The floating leaves are shaped like a football or an old oval shield from Roman times, hence the name Watershield. The flowers are small and inconspicuous.

Plenty of turtles to be seen in Big Creek Lake.

There were also plenty of frogs. Note the green stripe down this frog's back - it is a cricket frog and is about the size of a quarter.

This fishing spider was doing a good job blending in with the tree bark. 

Blobs of algae or something were abundant in the water north of Hwy 98.

Nature's own swirls of art work.

There is a lot of aquatic vegetation in Big Creek Lake in a wide variety of colors. Because the water is mostly clear except for Long Branch which has a muddy water problem, vegetation can be seen to about 4 feet deep.

Wide triangular like head? Has fat jaws? Leave it alone! Cottonmouth Moccasins can be aggressive and I can attest that some of them will even chase a kayak. How good are you at going backwards, fast? This photo was taken using a delayed 10 second self timer setting on a camera attached to a long pole - I'm not crazy enough to get near a Moccasin with a hand held camera.

Yes, they have some Big alligators in Big Creek Lake. Hwy 98 bridge is in the background.

You'll forget you're in Big Creek Lake while in any of the flooded forests.

Upper Big Creek is very beautiful, quiet and you won't get much sun because of the thick canopy overhead.

The shoreline of Big Creek Lake is beginning to look like the shoreline of Three Mile Creek - a trash dump. Most of the trash (plastic furniture, spray cans, a couple dozen vehicle tires, and the usual abundance of plastic bottles), is within a mile north and south of US Hwy 98. 

Unlike Three Mile Creek, Big Creek Lake is the main source of drinking water for the City of Mobile. What's in your drinking water, someone's trash? Whoever is responsible for keeping Big Creek Lake clean is failing to do their job.

Trash along Big Creek Lake.

Trash on the bottom of Big Creek Lake.

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