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Bayou Fountain — November 28, 2014

2014-11-28

Bayou Fountain — November 28, 2014

The Rainbow moved!

Depending on your perspective, this is the slow season or perhaps the busy season, but there’s still work to be done.

After Expedition Zero, I finally managed to take a bit of time “off”.  There was the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola to visit.  There was America Recycles Day to support.  There was a hike to LeConte Lodge on top of Mount LeConte in the Smokies (where I reintroduced Rachel to hiking long distances at high elevations over vast spans of solid ice — crampons and trekking poles were mandatory, which is quite unlike Louisiana hiking).  Much time was spent away from the bayou.  Fun was had, and my right elbow finally had time to start recovering.  (It’s been quite painful for several months, but I’m stubborn enough that didn’t stop me when there was work to be done.)

Well, with the one intense day of rain, I figured there was likely to be some work to be done, so with Thanksgiving behind and Black Friday to be avoided, I headed back out on Bayou Fountain.  My elbow still wasn’t at 100%, so I figured I’d take it easy out there by myself.  I arrived at Highland Road Park later than usual, and I didn’t even start down the bayou until 8:45am or so.  Once I did, I started to notice a few changes since the last trip.

Mostly leaves.

It seems that fall has arrived, and there was a considerable amount of leafy flotsam in a few spots.  It looked much worse than it was, however, and the canoe floated right over.  I did stop a bit and pull some of the branchy bits and the few included logs to break it up a bit, but with almost no current to help disperse the leafy debris, I didn’t spend the time to clear it all completely.  (I figured that could wait a trip so I could be closer to 100% before doing that much extra paddling back and forth.)

#15 returns!

On the other hand, the site of the formerly epic 65-yard logjam, just downstream of the 2-mile marker, was not merely cosmetic.  The high flow from the intense rain had collected enough logs to reform a small jam, and that was not acceptable.  So, for the first time in quite a while, I hopped out of the canoe and got to wading at old #15.  I pulled many small logs and tossed them onto Fort Fountain (i.e. the massive log pile in the south side of the channel), and my trusty saw made itself useful over and over again.  Still, attacking the logjam and completely clearing the problem didn’t take long at all, really, and soon enough, it was once again wide and clear.

On down the bayou I went, taking out insignificant catches here and there and generally just enjoying the trip.  The bayou’s still low — I’d missed the fun water due to being on top of a mountain or two — but it wasn’t bad at all.  I kept my eyes open for interesting things.  There were more turtles than I expected, given the temperature, and perhaps fewer birds (excepting the ducks, which were out in force).  And then I noticed something I immediately recognized.

I’d thought we’d collected all the La Cubeta queso fresco buckets.  The number we’ve pulled from Bayou Fountain is certainly into the double digits.  And yet, there it was with its terracotta color and its distinctive ribbed sides.  I paddled over to pull it out, and when I picked it up, I noticed something that changed my entire perception of the queso fresco situation:  the sell by date was 11/20/14!

With the queso fresco label still working itself through my head, I continued downstream.  In several places along the way, I noted indisputable signs that the intense rains had led to quite significant currents.  The Rainbow, shown at the top of this post, had finally been ripped from its spot and sent more than a bit downstream.  The Oblog (a huge trunk with a distinctly oblong cross-section), meanwhile, had been floated a considerable distance upstream.  Apparently when the rains hit, they hit hard enough and dumped rain quickly enough that there were strong currents on both ends flowing toward the mile-two middle.

I hit one more significant area.  A tree had fallen in the last half mile or so of the bayou, and it had collected more than a few logs and the seasonally appropriate mass of floating leaves behind it.  The main pieces were of more than the usual thickness, and cutting through them took quite a while and left me very grumpy and with an elbow starting to complain.  At that point, I figured it was good enough for now.  There was flotsam left, but the way was passable with a minimum of fuss, and I really didn’t want to set my elbow back to square one.  And so, having visited the bank of Ascension Parish, I headed back upstream.

*MORE* queso fresco?!?

I could hardly believe my eyes when there in the water I saw *another* queso fresco bucket.  The first one, complete with very recent sell by date, had thrown me a bit.  Now, I pulled a second one out of the bayou, and its label also was still legible. “Sell by: 11/07/14”  After the first queso fresco bucket, the natural hypothesis was that the littering of La Cubeta queso fresco buckets was ongoing.  The second lent considerable support to that hypothesis.  After pulling *many* of these buckets from the bayou, now I seem to have found that the problem was not just something like a Mexican restaurant’s back porch being hit once by a flood that spirited away a dozen empty buckets.  Somewhere there must be an ongoing problem.

Low bayou.

With the “Case o’ Queso Fresco” now starting to percolate through my mind, I finished the trip back to the park.  There were the two spots that had some flotsam still hanging around, but nothing that would be a significant problem to anyone out paddling.  I’ll have something to do the next time I head out, certainly.  The first Friday in December is the Rudolph Ride with BikeBR and the Reindeer Ride with BREC (same night, back to back, and 4.5 miles apart), and all that riding with my bike and Christmas tree trailer likely means it’ll be the next weekend before I’m back on the bayou, but I’m looking forward to it.  Until then.

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