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Bayou Fountain — December 13, 2014

2014-12-13

Bayou Fountain — December 13, 2014

Manchac and Fountain

It was a beautiful day for a trip down Bayou Fountain.  The water was low, but the sun was warm.

I knew going in that I’d have just a bit of work waiting this time around, but it was such a nice day, it didn’t bother me in the least.  I arrived at the park as usual.  The morning was just a bit chilly, but it wasn’t so cold as to be uncomfortable.  Still, I took my time loading up and heading toward the bank.  When I made it to the bank at Drainpipe Launch, I looked down at the bayou and saw a sight that does not often grace our local waterways.  I saw… the bottom.

Here be logs.

When the water gets cool and has been low and slow long enough, you start getting actual visibility.  You can see the bottom contours.  You can see the submerged logs.  You can see fish.  The fish, meanwhile, can see *you* (which tends to lead to some darting around and the sudden disappearance of the bottom in large puffs of silt).  It’s not quite like paddling up the Cypress Spring run in Florida, where you’re looking down six or ten feet at fish that seem to be hovering (as does your canoe), but for Louisiana, it’s about as close as you get.

Kayakers near mile two.

The bayou was quite low, but there were no notable problems for most of the length.  The first of the catches from last trip had indeed been mostly leaves, as there was nothing left of it except a bit of flotsam at one bank if you knew where to look.  With the low downstream levels, the shallows the start about mile two (heading downstream) were definitely felt, but they weren’t as bad as they’ve sometimes been.  (It was perhaps a couple inches higher than the lowest we’ve seen.)  As long as you can pole over a few bits, the rest is just fine.

Mile 1/4.

The catch that had developed around the 1/4-mile mark had not dissipated since last time.  I paddled over it (which wasn’t hard) to the leading edge (which was) and noted that the tree that had caused it still had some rather large wood blocking the way.  Nothing that we haven’t handled before, of course, so I quickly went to work.  Out came the saw, and cut by cut, the problems starting going away.  (The original culprit tree was quite inconveniently branching, and I’m sure you’d be astonished to hear that there were vines… tons of vines… holding everything together.  Strangely enough, not all of them were poison ivy this time.  (Small wonders never cease.)

Two more paddlers.

While I was hard at work on various pieces, along came a couple people in a pirogue.  (When I’m working solo, I apparently get rather zoned-in on the work.  I didn’t notice them until I looked up and they were right in front of me.)  They were from the point, and we had a nice conversation.  Eventually, they went around me and headed upstream, and I continued working.  I cut out all the problem pieces, and then I started meandering through the flotsam, sawing up long pieces one after another so they’d flow down the next time there was a bit of current.

Much better.

I had cut up most of the long bits when I decided to tackle a rather larger log.  I managed (just) to heave it up across the canoe, and it was thick enough that as I sawed away on it, I grabbed my wedge and drove it in to hold the cut open and not pinch the saw.  It worked swimmingly.  I didn’t get the saw in a bind, and it went through like an ice-cold knife through butter.  It worked so well that the log snapped before I was expecting, and suddenly, I was being thrown from the canoe into the bayou.  Oops.

I always wear a PFD, so other than my waders being more than a bit damp inside, it was no big deal.  It may have been just a bit nippy, mind you.  It only took me a moment to right myself and get back to the canoe (which was sitting there, stable as always, smirking at me for having been standing off-center at the exact moment the much larger than normal log parted).  None of the gear in the canoe had been tipped out, and only a small puddle of water had swapped places with me.  Alas, at some point in my impromptu balletic performance, my saw must have gone flying.  I was unable to feel it out with my boots, and I was unwilling to go free diving in a cold bayou this time around.

Not a crazy person.

Not a crazy person.

Okay, so considering everything else I’ve done (this was the BREC Reindeer Ride — yes, I’m a native Cheesehead), not diving in a frigid bayou to try to find a lost saw may seem like giving up too easily, but… um… the handle was wearing out, anyway.  Yes, that’s it.  The saw was nearing retirement, and I’ll pick up another from Lowe’s for a song.  I made a quick dash to Bayou Manchac to round out the trip, then headed back to the park.  Along the way, I saw the pirogue again and the two kayakers, and while I may have become a bit more wet than usual, my spirits were undampened.  The next trip should be even better.

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