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The End Of The Crystal Ball — October 17, 2015

2015-10-17

The End Of The Crystal Ball — October 17, 2015

When we first started working on turning Bayou Fountain into a paddle trail, we nicknamed on pair of trees “The Crystal Ball”, as we could see the future.  The future finally arrived.

We looked back through our photos, and while we probably have them on video somewhere, the first clear photo I could find was last year.  The trees had been there since the beginning, but they were not “notable” enough to bother taking many pictures.  At some point far removed, they had partially fallen across the bayou, but they looked like they would stay half-fallen for a long, long time.

The Crystal Ball, 2014.

By this summer, the larger, lower of the pair was starting to show a distinct drop compared to its traditional height above the bayou.  If you weren’t familiar with it, you likely wouldn’t notice anything, but having paddled the bayou as many times as we have, we couldn’t help but feel a premonition.  The future we saw in the Crystal Ball, i.e. the completion of the fall, was no longer in the far future.  The hint of distant creaking was starting to be felt.

Slowly, it begins.

By last month, it was indisputable that the Crystal Ball was in the process of a very, very slow fall.  Even with the water low, you had to paddle near the north bank to slip under unimpeded.  It wasn’t to the point of kayak limbo yet, but it was only a matter of time.  Several branches that had been holding it had already given way, and the remaining few had the tell-tale fungus that comes with the end.

Impending fall!

And so, when David sent a photo last week with the message that there was a large tree down on the bayou, we had a feeling just which one (well, two) it was.  We opened the photo, and there it was.  The Crystal Ball had finally completed its fall, and the larger tree was now resting on the bank.  The future had arrived, and it was time to finish the job.

The Crystal Ball has fallen!

It felt a bit bittersweet.  We’ve been watching the slow demise of the Crystal Ball for all this time, and now that was over.  Mike felt especially so, as he was unavoidably detained and unable to join the tree-dismantling party.  With nobody else able to answer the admittedly late call for help (unavoidable given the jam-packed October schedule), the job of dismantling the pair to return the bayou to unimpeded paddleability fell to me, and the timelapse video at the top of this post shows how it all went down.

No more Crystal Ball.

It took a bit of effort, but our plan of attack actually worked out as expected.  There was but one slight complication.  When I cut the final large section free to open the way, a colony of quite big black ants that had been living inside it was suddenly surprised by a diluvian event that set the entire colony scurrying about on the surface of their now-island habitat.  I decided not to attempt another cut, so we may yet see that large log again.  Oh, and I kept a short souvenir from the Crystal Ball — it just felt right.

The remains of the crown.

So, the bayou is open for paddling.  It could certainly use a bit more water, but it’s not too low, and you can’t argue with the beautiful weather we’re having lately.  The largest tree that’s been (literally) hanging over our heads all this time is no more, and only a few easily dispatchable leaners remain.  It’s a great time to be a paddler on Bayou Fountain.

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