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Project Clearwater — Expedition 40

2014-10-11

Project Clearwater — Expedition 40

Wildflowers

It was a beautiful day to be out on the bayou.  The work was easy, and the scenery… wonderful.

Last weekend, BREC had their Paddling In Pink event over at University Lake.  Jonathan and I heard a request for boats and assistance from the Bayou Haystackers, who had been called on to fill in an unexpected gap in the day’s plan, so we headed out with quite a large part of our fleets and spent the morning helping out.  There was a good turnout for a cool and quite windy day, and everything went very well.  (I only had to tow a few people back when the winds got the better of them.)  We’ll have to work out another lake paddling day sometime.

Well, having skipped out on the bayou for lake paddling one weekend, and with the previous weekend being a quick jaunt between hot air ballooning sessions, it was high time to get back to work.  There was some rain in the meantime, which likely shifted things a bit, but as it only made it back on the Bluebonnet gauge by a foot and change, it wasn’t likely to be *too* bad.  The parking, on the other hand, was something.  (I should really try to find a track meet schedule so I know when morning parking is going to be rough, but if you’re there by 7:30am, you beat the rush, and everyone’s long gone by the time you get back around lunch.)

Foggy.

I launched at the usual 8am time and started down the bayou.  The gar were exceptionally active, splashing left and right with rarely seen vigor.  Not too far into the run downstream, I came upon the first powerline crossing and found the fog was quite thick along the clearing.  Paddling down a foggy bayou is one of those things that everyone should get a chance to do once in a while.  It feels at once utterly alien and completely comfortable.  (The ice storm trip still holds a commanding lead in amazing sights on the bayou, but foggy mornings are much, much warmer.)

Saw, saw, saw your logs...

There were several locations along the bayou where long logs had made small catches, but all of them were easy to slide right over.  I was quite pleased with how little had developed over two weeks and a moderate bit of water down the bayou.  With no major problems to work (other than the poison ivy tree, which remains passable but not yet winched), I spent most of the work time sawing.  You pull a log across the canoe, saw off a meter or two, slide it over more, and repeat as necessary.  (Note: Since I was solo, I had to be my own photographer.  I’d normally have my other hand on the log, and the angle makes it look like my leg is in the plane of the cut, which was not and is never the case.)

Duckweed!

The last quarter mile or so of Bayou Fountain was completely covered in duckweed.  I was concerned there might be an obstruction, but there was none.  It was just the very weak currents holding it all in place.  It did make for some nice macro shots (complete with water-spotted lens — it *is* the bayou, after all).  I turned back toward the park with plenty of day still left and overdue relaxation calling my name.  By the time I arrived back, the park was all but empty.  It was rather nice to be loading up with plenty of day remaining, which certainly wouldn’t have been normal back when we were first working the bayou.  I think I like it this way.

Yellow flower.

In two weeks (on October 25), it’ll be one year since the original scouting mission down Bayou Fountain.  We’ve got a couple trees, trunks, or very large logs to shift next weekend, but the bayou is in excellent shape.  We’re working out details for a red-lights-only night paddle on the 25th, which should be an amazingly cool way to celebrate the accomplishments of a year of hard labor.  Stay tuned for more info.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Moran permalink
    2014-10-21 7:44pm

    Is the water high enough to kayak on bayou fountain right now?
    Thanks

    • 2014-10-22 10:29am

      It’s possible to paddle on Bayou Fountain right now? Yes… ish.

      The water is very low, but the first two miles or so downstream from the park are generally fine. There are shallow spots within the bayou, but you can pretty much avoid them (or if you hit one, back off it and take a better line). Nothing should present significant difficulty (although there is the one downed tree to dogleg through — it’s passable, but I don’t think I can get it pulled clear until I take a day off, perhaps Friday).

      After something like the first two miles, you start having more shallow areas. It’s still possible to pass, but there are a few spots where my canoe bottomed out on mud and I had to use a paddle to pole through. The worst was about 275 yards downstream from the 1.5-mile marker where there was a section of shallow clay-heavy mud just a few yards long. (I started to rake a channel, but I need to spend a bit more time on it.)

      Other than that one spot, the rest of the lower two miles is mostly free if you take a good line. Going downstream isn’t too bad if you can push yourself along here and there. We’ve taken out most of the very-low-water problems and made a way through. For a downstream-only run, I’d call it passable with a bit more effort than normal. On an out-and-back, coming back upstream through the lower two miles can be a bit more difficult. (Then again, last weekend Mike kept running up on things that I paddled right by, and we were in identical canoes with mine more heavily laden.)

      So, first two miles? Just fine. Next two? Downstream okay, upstream harder. And of course, your experience may vary (based on boat, loading, paddler, etc.).

      • Paul permalink
        2014-10-22 1:23pm

        Thank you, I just got back. It wasn’t bad at all. Thanks for all you do out there. I would love to come and help one day. I’m nursing a Hand injury right now so today was my first short paddle out in a few months to see what I can do.

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