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Moonlight Paddle to Spanish Lake — May 2, 2015

2015-05-02

Moonlight Paddle to Spanish Lake — May 2, 2015

On to Spanish Lake!

For our first moonlight paddle of the season, we paddled Bayou Braud to Spanish Lake.  It was a leisurely 5.5-mile paddle, and even after hanging out in the middle of Spanish Lake for a while, we were back at the launch in three hours.

This was the second time we’ve done a moonlight paddle to Spanish Lake.  The previous trip, last fall, had a total of five paddlers spread through three canoes.  This time we had over twice as many, with eleven paddlers in five canoes and two kayaks.  Finding Shell Oil Field Road seemed to be a bit… interesting… but everyone we knew of made it.  (Guide signs are on the short list — pick up a membership or some stickers or souvenirs at Support.PaddleBR.com to help make those happen.)  With everyone we were expecting at the launch site, we set out around 7:30pm (about 15 minutes before official sunset).

Paddling Bayou Braud.

About half of us were regulars. (Mike and I even were on our second paddle of the day, even.)  One paddler was in a brand new kayak (and what better way to break in a new boat than a moonlight paddle, eh?).  Five more had taken us up on our standing offer to provide loaner boats (and PFDs and paddles) wherever possible.  I brought four canoes from my fleet of paddlecraft, so Jonathan only had to bring one aluminum canoe for himself.  (We certainly would not mind at all if we both got to bring a full set.)

Hard at work, as usual.

With the water up quite a bit compared to our last moonlight paddle to Spanish Lake (where there was *just* enough water left to paddle), the going was quite easy.  Rachel and her front-seater may have used percussive steering at one point, but nobody ran into any low-hanging branches with anything like the “Thunk!” that Mike produced on the last new moon paddle on Bayou Fountain.  There was, however, one downed tree in the way.  We paddled around it through some branches on the way to Spanish Lake, but I lagged behind just a bit to saw off enough to pass on the way back.  (You didn’t expect us to paddle without at least bringing a saw and gear, did you?  I was happy enough not to really need it.)

One red canoe.

It was fully night by the time we arrived in Spanish Lake.  With a basically full moon, plus broken cloud cover reflecting the lights from nearby plants and civilization, it actually seemed rather bright.  At least a few people commented about the brightness while we were all linked up in a paddle raft and snacking in the middle of Spanish Lake.  All I can say is that you really ought to come to one of the new moon paddles.  Definitely less light for those.

Lots of blurry paddlers.

The trip back always seems faster than the run out, and this time was no exception.  Still, there was plenty of time to notice the contrast.  Where the trees blocked the moon, the bayou was quite dark, but where the moon showed along the bayou, the moon felt incredibly bright.  It wasn’t nearly as bright as the lights when we turned them white for a (more or less blurry) group shot just before exiting.  (Hey, who needs night vision once you’re back?)

All told, everyone had a great time, and I have a feeling we’ll have some repeat paddlers at our night paddling events this season.  Someday I should pick up some good recording gear so the people who don’t come can hear some of the sounds of Louisiana at night.  I can’t identify most of them yet (although owls, I’ve got that), but they make the paddles extra fun.  Oh, and the mosquitoes and gnats that were out in inconceivable numbers earlier on Bayou Fountain?  They had apparently all gone home for the night.

 

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