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Project Clearwater — Expedition 28, etc.

2014-07-07

Project Clearwater — Expedition 28, etc.

It was a long, productive, and fun weekend on the bayou, and we tackled a few things while we were out there.

After a great evening of fireworks for the Fourth, and with only a few minor burns as souvenirs, it was back out into the much less flammable bayou for more work.  Last week’s tour had a few areas of interest show up, so a bit of a long day was expected.  With very little current but enough water to avoid any problems, it was about the perfect setup for a clearing work day.

The first two miles heading down the bayou were uneventful as usual.  One large branching tree trunk complete with roots stood out, but it didn’t seem to be in the way, so it was left for a future run.  From there, it was smooth sailing almost to mile 1.5 until a partially downed tree came into view.  One tree had fallen onto another at the edge of the bayou, and the top tree had been a problem last week.  With the water lower this week, it was easy to paddle under it and save it for the trip back upstream.  Finally, just a bit before mile 1, an obstruction presented itself.  75 minutes later, it was clear.

Watch out for that tree!

There was one more downed tree in the bayou (new this week), so after paddling to Bayou Manchac, it was time to start the trimming.  I was working solo again, so the heavy tackle was not in the boat.  That left only saws, but cutting the tops off large tree falls seems to be a quite reasonable method of opening obstructions.  We can come back and winch the trunks around if they become problematic, but a bit of saw time can open quite a passable route for paddlers.  Plus, it only took an hour and twenty minutes to take out all the limbs and branches — solo winching would take far longer.

No longer an obstruction.

Continuing upstream, the other tree (actually, a tree that fell and was caught by another lower tree) also submitted to the relentless application of razor-toothed saws.  With that out of the way, it was back to the park to call it a day.  Eight hours on the bayou, with almost half of it tackling some downed trees that were not impassable (just in the way), and the bayou was back in excellent form.  In fact, it was so nice out there, I couldn’t stay away.

Paddling for fun?!? Go figure!

On Sunday, I was back out on the bayou, but this time I wasn’t out there to work.  With such a nice day and the bayou in such good condition, it was high time for a purely recreational trip.  I’ve been telling Rachel stories of my expeditions on the bayou for, what, eight months now?  Well, we finally got around to taking a trip out just for fun.  We paddled from Highland Road Park all the way to Bayou Manchac, then continued to the Alligator Bayou end before heading back to the park.  Along the way, we saw two alligators (a small one at the end of Bayou Fountain, and a larger one on Bayou Manchac), uncountable birds, and plenty of generally interesting sights.  I even managed to not run her into any thorny locust trees.   It felt somewhat strange just paddling the bayou for fun, but I could get used to it, I think.

Monday, part one.

I had the day off Monday, and I was thinking I might just sit at home and read a good book or something.  Then I got a message from another paddler about the big tree trunk in the bayou.  I had noted it multiple times already on the weekend, but since the water was getting low and it was going to end up being a problem, I figured why not head back out for one more (shorter?) day on the bayou.

I paddled down to it with a full tactical load — saws, winch, straps, and so on.  I figured it was likely too big to cut, so I’d have to deploy the heavy tackle, but when I arrived at the site just over a mile down from the park, I was practically delighted to find that the large and long limbs were all of saw-compatible thicknesses.  I wouldn’t have to deploy the winch after all.  With such a large item, “metering” it out (i.e. sawing it into logs about three feet long so the pieces will flow downstream) takes a while, but I was fresh and progress was swift.  A mere 45 minutes later, it was history.

(Sufficiently) History

Since this was the third trip out this weekend, I didn’t bother to continue all the way to Bayou Manchac this time.  Instead, I turned and headed back to the park.  A few minutes (or perhaps a bit more than a few) to deal with some of the flotsam just downstream from the launch point seemed a worthy task, and then it was time to go home and relax… except.  Well, you see, there was this large metal object at the drainpipe just upstream of the launch point, and it’d been there for years, and that spot is a frontrunner for a potential BREC-improved paddle launch, and… well… it *was* early, still.

Tackling sled.

I hadn’t given the thing too much thought in the veritable ages I’ve known it to be out there, but recently I finally realized that it was a four-person tackling sled.  Since I had all the heavy tackle with me, I figured why not take the time to extract it from the bayou.  Well, it turns out “it’s *HEAVY*” could’ve been a decent reason not to attack it solo, but hey, I figured I could get a cool time lapse out of it (which is the video at the top of this post, of course).  Needless to say, it’s no longer in the bayou, as it now rests quite firmly high on the bank.

Tacking the bank.

Hopefully getting it out of the way will prove convenient at some point in the not *too* distant future.  If nothing else for now, however, at least it was quite fun pulling that thing out.  (Did I mention that large amounts of thick steel beams and such add up to “heavy”?)  Well, with that little bit of fun out of the way, I finally did call it a weekend and pack out.  All in all, a very productive and fun (in several senses) long weekend on the bayou, and I look forward to many more trips to come.

Praying for a paddle launch?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David permalink
    2014-07-09 12:35am

    Good job! Thanks for taking care of the big tree.

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