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After the Flood


We didn’t know exactly what to expect on Bayou Fountain when the epic flooding finally receded to only normally very high levels, but we knew we had to get out there to deal with whatever we might find.  It turned out to be a rather surprising trip in several ways.

We’d been aching to head back out on Bayou Fountain for some time, but between the extremely slow fall of the water levels on the bayous and dealing with the results of the floods on a more personal level, it took a while to get back out there.  When we did, the water was still just into the field at Highland Road Park, but it was finally low enough to need to go around Rackley Bridge instead of paddling over the top.

Rackley Bridge reappears

It wasn’t too far before we encountered the first fallen tree.  My guess was half a dozen, and Mike guessed seven (as I had unthinkingly agreed to Price Is Right rules).  When we started down the bayou, however, we started getting the feeling that things were actually in much better condition than we’d expected.  It’s always nice to be wrong in a good way.

Bayou Jam

That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty of work to do, of course.  After the first tree, we continued to find occasional collections of litter and log jams, but they were mostly of the easily dispatched variety.  In far less time than we had budgeted, we found ourselves at what would prove to be the second and final large fallen tree.

Since this one had only mostly fallen, we took off what of it we could easily reach.  Sooner or later, it will continue its slow fall, at which point the rest will be dispatched.  Either that, or we’ll have a rather light paddle trail maintenance day and just decide to take care of it before it has a chance to finish falling and create a jam.  For now, it’s out of the way.

High water marks.

If you’ve paddled Bayou Fountain, you should recognize that screened structure which normally rises high above the bank.  For reference, note the stair rail on the right leading to the “porch” along the front (at least several inches under water).  At normal water levels, you can just about see to floor level of that front porch if you’re standing up in the canoe as you pass.  Truly, the water was phenomenally high, and it was still high enough for us to take a little diversion up Bayou Manchac to look at the water still flowing strongly through the three road cuts.

Wait, is that a...?

On the way back to the park, we were doing our usual opportunistic litter picking.  I grabbed a floating plastic parking space curb to add to my pair of speed bumps, and we grabbed plenty of bottles, cans, cups, and what have you.  Then as I passed some branches and duckweed, I caught a glimpse of something shiny that had me quickly back-paddling to check it out…

Vacuum tube?!?

Yep!  I found a vacuum tube floating along in Bayou Fountain.  I believe that it qualifies as our new benchmark for “Most Unexpected Item of Litter, Electronics Division”.  I figure it likely came out of a nice electric guitar amp, as I can’t think of much else that would result in a vacuum tube floating along in a bayou.  And speaking of electric guitars…

We were just about back to the park after a very long day on the bayou, when I noticed a small tree had fallen across the second of the three new foot bridges on the trail along the bayou.  We couldn’t just leave such an easy task undone when we have everything we need to take care of it.  So, I hopped out of the canoe and started sawing.  When I moved the canoe out of the fall zone, I looked down and saw (most of) an electric guitar, which seemed to be a nice complement to the vacuum tube.  Alas, neither was in functional condition (but I did keep the tube).

All told, it was a long day, but far shorter than we’d expected.  We figured a couple more weeks should be enough to get down to the rest of the fallen trees and any hidden problem areas, but for now, the bayou was back in acceptable condition.  Conveniently, in post-flood paddle trail maintenance, it’s usually only the “demolition” part you have to complete, and there’s no drywall in sight.

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