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Another beautiful day, and another tree

2017-03-05

It was a beautiful day to be out on the bayou.  We enjoyed the great day heading down the bayou, and then on the way back, we met lots of people with the same idea.

We got to Highland Road Park a bit early so we could check out the progress of the new launch.  When the water is as low as it is right now, something more convenient than a bank launch will be really nice.  While we don’t know a completion date yet, the change from last week to this week has us starting to fidget with anticipation.

Here comes the launch...

The first half of the four miles to Manchac was pretty much as expected.  There are a few spots where we can do some opportunistic tweaks, but everything was pretty much nominal.  Just beyond the large second powerline crossing (by the Not-So-Great Wall of Fountain), however, we came across the first problem.  A small tree (with lots of vines) was down.  It took a bit over an hour to take care of it (condensed into two minutes in the video above), and then it was onward down the bayou.

I gotta bad tree!

There were several more spots where large branchy things had caused significant catches, but they were dealt with easily enough.  They didn’t end up as photogenic, so they don’t get individual videos, but they stretched the run downstream to a good four hours’ work.  Of course, it was way too nice a day to turn around that early, so we paddled all the way down to Ward Creek and back, and on the way we saw the new railroad bridge.

If you’ve paddled Bayou Manchac with us, you may remember all the wood pilings and crossbeams of the old bridge.  The new one has bays perhaps twice as wide and full height, so paddling with higher, faster water will be easy.  We probed around for old pilings, and even with the low water, most were well below the surface (two feet for one we measured), so paddling through in low water should also be much nicer.

New railroad bridge

We turned back at Airline Highway Park (the State Fairgrounds) at the confluence of Bayou Manchac and Ward Creek, and as we headed back up Fountain, we took care of some things on our “optional” list — mostly things that haven’t finished falling yet (a small tree half down, some log-sized branches suspended by vines, etc.).  And then we saw this!  Those of you who were around early in the transformation of Bayou Fountain into a paddle trail should recognize this fluted bucket.  Yes, indeed, it’s another 20-some pounds of queso fresco!

Say cheese!

While we didn’t see anyone when we left out early to do paddle trail maintenance, the bayou certainly wasn’t forgotten on such a great paddling day.  We saw one canoe heading out on Manchac for some fishing, and then along the way back up Bayou Fountain, we counted eight more people out paddling.  A hard day’s work on paddle trail maintenance always feels that much more rewarding when you see people out enjoying the water your work keeps open.

More paddlers everyday.

We can’t help but smile when we think that we had at least ten paddlers out on the bayou on a normal Saturday in March in spite of the difficult launch.  How much better is it going to be when it’s so much easier to get in an out thanks to an improved paddle launch?  To whet your appetite, here’s a “paddler’s-eye view” of the launch as of this weekend.

Paddler

With the launch construction moving right along, we’ll probably spend some extra time working Bayou Fountain so that it’s in tip-top shape for any new paddlers we may soon have out there.  For example, we’ll have to finally get around to bringing the heavy tackle to extract the remains of that couch that’s inconveniently embedded in the bottom right behind where the archery range used to be.  Should be fun… and perhaps a bit muddy, but I repeat myself.

Launch in progress.

Next weekend, there’s a Sunset Paddle with BREC Outdoor Adventure on Friday, and they’ve also got a “Kayak Fishing Workshop and Demo Day” on Saturday (registration deadline for the workshop is Thursday, so if you’re interested in joining them for that, do click over to BREC to sign up).  We might throw in another Bayou Fountain work day expedition if anyone’s interested (or if we just feel like another good day’s work), so let us know if it sounds fun.  We’ll see you out there.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Victoria permalink
    2017-03-06 8:16pm

    Thanks for all the work and for keeping your paddle groupies in the loop.

  2. Ben permalink
    2017-03-10 3:54pm

    I just stumbled across this site and was shocked to see someone cutting away the tree that gave me problems when I paddled through on 3/1/17. Thank you for doing this. I got a 10′ kayak recently and was just itching to take a full day trip. I honestly didn’t think anyone else paddled Bayou Fountain until I saw y’alls mile marker signs on the way. I put in on Bayou Fountain at Burbank and paddled to Fred’s in Port Vincent that day. It was an incredible trip and it’s great to know that this group exists. Hopefully I will be able to make it out to a work day to better show my thanks!

    • 2017-03-14 4:18pm

      We always wondered if anyone ever just stumbled across the mile markers. I guess that answers that question. Glad we took out the problem tree. We caught two more half-fallen small ones on the same trip. It seems that fall comes late on the bayou.

      I’ve paddled Blackwater Conservation Area to Fred’s in Port Vincent a few times (during high water on the Comite, usually, to make the first ten or so miles fast and easy), and I’ve done Fred’s to the Alligator Bayou end of Manchac and back as a day trip (in a Hobie Outback pedal kayak for that one). Your Fountain/Manchac/Amite run sounds excellent.

      We’ll be doing some more “three-hour” trips soon (for example, Highland Road Park on Bayou Fountain to around Manchac Park on Bayou Manchac), but with the Bayou Fountain paddle launch so close to completion, we haven’t put actual dates on the calendar yet. Definitely looking forward to it.

      (The Ward Creek at Siegen to Manchac Park trip is nice, too, but there’s currently a portage-required area just downstream of I-10, plus possible obstruction at the derelict bridge by Buzbee Drive. We’ll have to see what can be done about that once the Highland launch is operational.)

      • Ben permalink
        2017-03-14 5:12pm

        Thanks for the trip ideas! I have been scouring your site and thoroughly enjoying the information I’m finding. It also has become clear that my peaceful, easy paddle on Bayou Fountain was made possible by lots of hard work by some folks here. Seriously I appreciate the hard work that went into making Bayou Fountain navigable. And as I only live a couple of miles from Highland Road Park I hope to make good use of y’alls efforts.
        Your trips sound like a lot of fun and all of those areas except the Amite portions are new to me which is very exciting. It’s great to know that there are some good places to paddle so close by. I guess my biggest claim to fame is a friend an I canoed the Amite from the Greensburg bridge (HWY 37) to Middendorf’s in Manchac (This was done in 3 separate trips each time picking up where we left off). That route was Amite to Diversion then South down Smith Bayou to Blind river then across Maurepas.
        I see that a post today mentions Bayou Fountain maintenance this Saturday. What time do y’all usually get out there? I would love to help in the off chance that I’m available (wife and I had twins in January). Feel free to send me an email with details if that is easier.

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