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Project Clearwater — Expedition Three

2013-12-21

Project Clearwater — Expedition Three

Steamboat Litter

This is Baton Rouge, so when the weather forecast predicted 100% chance of rain along with thunderstorms, possibly severe, we knew just what to do:  go enjoy a productive and precipitation-free work day on Bayou Fountain.  We figured we’d get some work in before the weather made us head for shelter, but it turned out that the fall of twilight was what sent us packing.

We arrived at Highland Road Park by 8am to find the water level about two feet lower than last time (which put it back at normal levels).  The spot we’ve previously used to launch has been getting more and more difficult over time, so this time we launched from just upstream of the archery range.  It’s not perfect, but it seems like the “best” spot for getting canoes and cargo down and up the bank now.

About 3/4 of a mile downstream, we passed blockage #7, where Jenn had come out during the week, bagged more litter, and rolled up the Anaconda for extraction.  Continuing downstream, we made it to the next blockage.  Blockage #8 cleared fairly easily, so it was on to #9, which was a bit more involved.  We spent a good bit of time taking turns with the saws to cut through the downed tree trunks.  A bit of strenuous winching later and the cut trees were wrenched from the bank and embedded along it, where they shall remain for all time… or nearly enough.

The story changed a bit when we got to #11.

Major Blockage (#11)

Everything between the palmetto on the left of the frame and the row of trees and palmetto on the right of the frame is *technically* Bayou Fountain.  If you take a pole and shove it through the surface, you actually find that the bayou underneath is about chest deep, but as long as you watch your footing, walking over the surface of the bayou isn’t even difficult.

Some litter was bagged, but we mostly grabbed the large items to pack out on the Canoemaran this time (as we were going to grab the Anaconda on the way back).  There were plenty of coolers, a few gallon-size pails formerly of queso fresco, a strange plastic shipping pallet, and so on.  We even got a foam Hoverboard, alas without actual hovering capability.

Blockage #11 Wants You!

This shot of Blockage #11 looking back upstream from the downstream-left bank gives a good overview of what we have to clear to get a Canoemaran-size lane open.  Anyone wishing to lend a hand (or bring mechanized assistance or power tools) is quite welcome and wholeheartedly encouraged to join in.  We have plenty of space.  (Note that the fake-Christmas-tree stand was among the flotsam and jetsam we removed.)

After assembling the Canoemaran and loading it with the big stuff, we headed back upstream.  When we got to #7, I hopped up on the bank and started tossing the bundled Anaconda rolls down into the Canoemaran.  After tossing them all down, it occurred to me that with the tremendous gusts of wind and much lower water level, getting down wasn’t going to be that easy.  Then I had a wonderful thought.  Making note not to land on the ash yoke, I leapt from the bank, flew through the air, and landed safely (with a phwoof!) on the piled Anaconda rolls.  It was *awesome*.  Then we all finished tossing the previously collected bags on board and headed upstream.

Another loaded Canoemaran

The long paddle back was all the more tiring with the wind, but we made it back and started slowly unloading up the bank.  Carrying everything over to the parking lot was also quite a bit of work.  (“If only we had a wheelbarrow!”)  Mike had a dolly and borrowed a trash barrel to carry bags.  Jenn turned her kayak trailer into a cart with the creative use of a wheel from the litter, a broken arrow, and some line.  I used the pallet as a sled, rolled wheels, dragged Anaconda rolls, and just applied brute force.  Together, we got everything to the parking lot for disposal.

Steamboat Litter. Rear View

We’ve now made it to the first of the three largest logjams (with #7 being honorable mention at fourth largest).  Each will likely take multiple work days to clear, and any help would be *greatly* appreciated.  Once we get through the big three, we’ll be over halfway there and the rest will go quickly.

Progress: 10 of 24 complete<br />Distance: 2 miles (2.3 remain)

One Comment leave one →
  1. 2013-12-26 10:58pm

    I just read through all your 2013 posts. Great job.

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