Sunday, May 20, 2012

05/20/2012 - ASRT Black Warrior Nature Paddle Event (Day 2 of 2) Dam!

Event: Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) Black Warrior Nature Paddle.
Launch at Foscue Creek Park.
Destination: Paddle through the Demopolis Lock led by Anne Cross with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Take out at the Lower Pool.
Paddle Distance: About 3 miles.
Paddle time: Approx 1-3/4 hrs
Weather: Sunny, winds calm. Air temp wonderful. Currents minimal except near the spillway. Beautiful kayaking weather.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header Image is a view of the complex multi-directional flow of water over the Demopolis Dam.

Anne Cross, center of the photo, with the US Army Corps of Engineers gave a pre-trip talk about the history of the Corps and Dams in Alabama. For more history on the Demopolis Dam and the Mobile District, Click Here. Jim Felder, Executive Director of Alabama Scenic River Trails, wearing the blue shirt on the right side of the photo, organized this event.

The small group paddles out of Foscue Creek Park toward the Tombigbee River with the USCOE support boat tagging along.

Paddle conditions were perfect.

Paddle conditions were perfect.

Our group paddles toward the Demopolis Lock.

Our group paddles toward into the Demopolis Lock.

Water level at the start was high.

Water level at the end was low. Those marks on the right side wall are 2 feet apart. The 40+ foot drop of water level took about 15 minutes. Apparently when water is raised, there can be significant whirlpools in this lock. I had no idea what was on the other side of the opening doors. Fast forward in the whirlpool video to about 8:00 in time and hear the guy say, "Holy Crap." I was about to see why he said "Holy Crap" in the video.

For me, going through this Lock was the highlight of this ASRT weekend paddle event. (Sorry Don). Photos don't do this justice. Look on the horizon toward the left on this photo. There are two fishing boats which help to give perspective of the immense size of the spillway.

Swimming was allowed as we took a break on a conveniently located island next to the dam. To see more photos of the Demopolis Dam - Click Here.

Some boaters were fishing for catfish about 50 yards from the spillway.

The roar of the spillway and its sheer size was mesmerizing. There did not appear to be the hazards associated with low-head dams at this Demopolis Dam, but wisely, none of us ventured close enough to find out, not even Billy.

A couple of locals were fishing near the waterfall.

Bob kayaks near the roaring waterfall. What an awesome display of water power.

Numerous great egrets were fishing at the top of the dam where you would think the speed of the water would knock them over.

More egrets.

Anne Cross, always smiling, was instrumental in initially organizing this kayak trip by soliciting the help of Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT). Fred Couch, president of ASRT is in the red kayak looking at the waterfall.

On the lower end of the spillway, the waterfall flattens out. A couple of us looked over the potential for doing a little white water kayaking but wisely decided against it as no one had helmets or a true white water kayak. This area looks like it would make a great place for white water play.

Foam trails make designs in the water as they flow downstream.

Not far from the Demopolis Dam, we took out the kayaks at the Lower Pool boat ramp. The USCOE transported the kayaks back to Foscue Creek Park where everyone said their goodbyes. Sure hope we can do it again next year!

Back at Foscue Creek Park, Don Self updated the list of birds documented during this two day event. Several more could be added to the list for me because I saw a Comorant, Great Blue, Osprey Eagle, and a Black Crowned Night Heron while on solo paddles. Demopolis is a great place to get in a kayak or go walking on a trail to do some serious bird watching. A big thumbs up on this event and many thanks go to everyone involved.

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