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Bayou Fountain/Manchac fun paddle — June 27, 2015

2015-06-27

Bayou Fountain/Manchac fun paddle — June 27, 2015

On Bayou Fountain

Saturday morning we were back on Bayou Fountain for another fun paddle.  It’s was one adventure down two bayous with six boats and nine paddlers, and it was a great day.

It seemed like only yesterday we’d been out on Bayou Fountain for a long day of paddle trail maintenance, but when Saturday morning arrived, any leftover weariness rapidly dissipated as we got ready for another of our favorite things, i.e. a fun paddle trip down some of our best bayou paddleways.  We unloaded three canoes and a kayak from our fleets, and two more paddlers brought their own kayaks.  Soon everyone had arrived and one by one, we launched.

Launching a canoe.

With everyone in their boats, we headed down the bayou.  There was still a decent current behind us, but the nice thing about our fun paddles is that we don’t turn around and come back.  We just do the easy part.  Of course, there’s always a bit of fun at the beginning as people who have not paddled as much get the feel for paddling the canoes or kayaks, but we’re always happy to give a few paddling tips that make things much easier.

Paddlers underway.

With the water as high as it was, we got to start right off with a bit of extra adventure that is not normally a part of a Bayou Fountain paddle trip.  There was not sufficient clearance under Rackley Bridge to simply duck and pass under.  On the other hand, there was just enough that getting out to go around would be unnecessary work.  What’s the middle ground?  Kayak limbo!

Kayak limbo!

We helped the canoe paddlers spin around and get low enough to slide under the bridge, and the kayakers all made it as well.  (Sit-on-top kayaks tend to need the most clearance, but everyone handled it with style.)  After passing under the bridge, everyone got back on their seats and we headed on down the bayou.

Onward, after the bridge.

The current in the first two miles made things a bit more fun than usual.  Being a bayou, it wasn’t strong enough to make things too difficult or at all dangerous, but it was enough to occasionally put a canoe into the branches along the side of the bayou.  Soon enough, however, we reached the second powerline crossing, and the current virtually disappeared (as it does when the water is high).

Easy paddling.

In the last mile of Bayou Fountain, the banks get higher and the current returned, and soon we were on Bayou Manchac.  From there, it’s usually completely smooth sailing the rest of the way, but this time we came across an unexpected jam.  Rachel and I powered into it, and I deployed my trusty “four-tine cultivator” rake to free the stuck logs and clear the jam.  (Turns out, it had been originally caused by a single long bamboo shaft that had gradually collected accessory logs.)  It was a bit fun to show off just how we break up jams, and it was the only one we ran across.

On Bayou Manchac

We did have a couple brief sprinkles while we paddled along, but there were no drenching rains or thunderstorms.  All told, it was a beautiful day, and all the recent rains did nothing but make the paddling easier.  (The work day Friday was also invaluable, as without it, we would’ve been in branches for much of the middle third of the trip — always nice to feel that sense of useful accomplishment.)  Almost surprisingly soon, we arrived at Manchac Park, where Jonathan was waiting to assist with the bank exits.

Exiting at Manchac Park

Three hours after we left Highland Road Park and seven miles downstream, we exited the boats and loaded up at the park.  Jonathan shuttled and the kayakers carpooled, and soon enough everyone was back with their vehicles and on their way after another fantastic trip.

Next up on the fun paddle list will likely be another in our excellent night paddle series on July 11th or 18th, location not yet determined.  If there’s one of our routes that you’d really like to try as a night paddle — Bayou Braud/Spanish Lake, Bayou Fountain/Manchac, Ward Creek/Bayou Manchac, or so on — now would be the perfect time to let us know.

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