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Bayou Fountain — August 22, 2015

2015-08-22

Bayou Fountain — August 22, 2015

Ant on a flower.

With rain during the week, it seemed like a good idea to make a quick run down Bayou Fountain before Saturday’s night paddle.  It turned into a very nice day.

The night paddle down Ward Creek and Bayou Manchac was set for Saturday evening, so I’d been planning to generally take it easy during the day.  As nobody had emailed or called asking to meet up for Bayou Fountain, I left the morning blank and even thought of attempting to sleep in.  Then the rains came late in the week.  When it rains, things shift, and with a Bayou Fountain/Manchac fun paddle scheduled for next week, we didn’t want to leave any jams to settle in.  And so, Saturday morning found me hitting the water at 8am for another Bayou Fountain paddle trail maintenance expedition.

That's a jam.

Not even a mile downstream from the launch, I encountered a jam.  Several large and long logs and tree trunks had locked together, catching all manner of flotsam and debris.  It only took moving a couple small logs to make a path around the edge, but when the water returns to normal levels, squeezing by would not be an option.  And so, the saw came out.  After a few cuts of some substantial but not too thick logs, the jam rotated free and disintegrated.

Unjammed.

With the jam now clear, I continued downstream until I came to a mostly fallen tree that had been resting over the bayou for several weeks.  Well, with the water level up around two feet below Rackley Bridge, the mostly fallen tree was no longer high above the surface.  In fact, most of the trunk end was completely submerged.  The “top”, at least, was still accessible, branching off right at or below water level, so I got to work sawing limbs.  Each cut released more weight and let the trunk bounce higher, and by the time the whole crown was removed, the trunk was well above the surface.  I was cutting some logs off the end to widen the gap when the flotsam from the earlier jam caught up to me.

I should note that this parade of concentrated flotsam and debris is not characteristic.  While you do, unfortunately, see litter floating along with the current (and there is always more litter along the sides than anyone would like), the bayou itself generally has a relatively undecorated surface.  Still, this is a rather effective demonstration of what flows down the bayou with each heavy rain, as the jam did not even exist a week ago — everything behind it came with last week’s rain.

Paddling into spiderwebs.  Leave a message, and I'll call you back.

The rest of the trip down the bayou was more or less uneventful.  There were a couple long logs and the like, but nothing that would be a problem (and the saw made fast work of each).  The only “difficulty” was that the water was high, as was the current, which made dodging spiderwebs a bit more interesting.  This is web season for these guys, and they love to put their super-strong webs high across wide open spaces.  With the water up, occasional ducking was necessary.  (Next weekend’s fun paddle on Bayou Fountain/Manchac should have no problems avoiding the webs, as the water will be several feet lower.)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clayjar/20877665695/

It was somewhat surreal paddling along and seeing leaves, sticks, or occasionally small cars suspended in mid air by trailing lines from the spiderwebs.  (Okay, I didn’t see any cars, but I wouldn’t have been too surprised.)  I consider the suspended markers a public service from the spiders to help alert inattentive paddlers to the webs so we can all quite easily avoid them.  Isn’t that nice of the spiders?  With their help, I made it all the way to Bayou Manchac and back without incident.

Stowaway.  Cute, cute little stowaway.

The nice thing about doing an unscheduled solo paddle trail maintenance expedition is that you can paddle as hard as you want all the way back.  I managed to get back to Highland Road Park by noon, leaving plenty of time to go home and get ready for the night paddle.  After a nice lunch and some Packers preseason football courtesy of the TiVo, I headed outside to swap out work gear for night paddling gear, and what did I find in the car?  Apparently, I hadn’t been solo, after all.  A cute little tree frog had been there to keep me company.  I introduced him to his new digs (with all-you-can-eat, please, buffet) and started loading up for the next trip, which promised to be even more fun.

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