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High Water On Bayou Fountain — October 31, 2015

2015-10-31

Bayou Fountain in Highland Road Park

The water was still very high on Bayou Fountain, but we weren’t going to let a perfectly good Saturday go unused.  It turned into a long day with the easiest ending ever.

We were watching the gauge on Bayou Fountain at Bluebonnet during the epic rains, and the readings were higher than we’d seen in the years we’ve watched.  According to the readings, the water was well over the top of Rackley Bridge, and after dropping just a bit, it leveled off and began a very slow drop.  With that much water going by, we knew we’d have some work out there, so after Thursday’s Pumpkin Paddle Parade, we started looking forward to the weekend in earnest.

Mile Marker Two

The bayou was actually high enough that we launched from the grass field and paddled to the tree line.  We also had another kayaker show up and paddle along for a bit, which was nice.  Although the bayou was very high, it was almost completely still.  There was no current to speak of as we paddled on downstream.  It was just water with no place to go.  We, on the other hand, had plenty of places to go, and we even paddled around a powerline tower or few that normally are on dry land.

A small catch.

We ran across one newly fallen tree, almost entirely submerged, and dismantled it as much as we could reach.  Other than that, however, the problems consisted of nothing much more than the usual small catches you get when logs, limbs, or other long things manage to grab across a spot.  None of them were difficult to clear, and other than a couple, it was trivial to simply paddle right through them (which breaks them up rather effectively).

Nathaniel in a tree.

Eventually we made it to the large fallen oak right at the end of Bayou Fountain.  There must have been considerable backflow when the rains came, as it had been pivoted significantly upstream from its previous location.  Conveniently, with the water much higher, we could reach much more of the crown.  In fact, I got to climb all over it and cut large pieces off, one after another, and watch them race away on the current (which was quite strong this far down, in contrast to the still water at the park).

The king without a crown.

After quite a bit of sawing and quite a few large splashes, this was all that was left.  We figured it was about time to start heading back, and practically as soon as we got underway (after paddling across Bayou Manchac to make the trip official), the bottom fell out of the sky.  Any remaining only-slight-damp spots we may have had were immediately drenched, and we bailed more than a few gallons from the canoes as we worked back upstream.  We actually watched the water level slowly rising, and the current became considerable (but nothing like paddling up the Amite at flood stage).

Rackley Bridge or Rackley Ford?

By the time we made it back to Rackley Bridge, the water was up several inches from where it had been in the morning (and the current was kicking).  The bridge was only just barely sticking out above the water, so I hopped out and pulled my canoe across, and then I pulled Mike’s canoe across with him still in it.  How’s that for an easy portage?  Of course, then he ended up across the current and pushed back to the bridge, but after a few minutes he got pointed back upstream and away we went.  By the time we arrived back at the park a few minutes later, it was dusk, but for once we didn’t have any difficult bank climbing in store.  Instead, we just paddled right into the park.  That was convenient.

If anything, the nice cool weather and occasional torrential downpour made the day seem much shorter than it apparently was.  It certainly didn’t feel like a 10-hour work day, but looking back at it, we did get quite a bit of work done.  When the water does finally return to a more normal level, we’ll probably find some more work waiting, but for the time being, conditions are great.   (Assuming you don’t mind the Rackley Bridge portage, of course.)

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