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A Five Tree Saturday

2017-05-08

A week ago, we had so little work to do on Bayou Fountain, we were pulling things off the “someday” list, but it seems the high winds and water of the last week were enough to make Saturday a rather different animal.

While we were there chatting with someone who dropped by to meet us, people started showing up at the launch, and soon we were among a growing number of paddlers hitting the bayou.  We didn’t get far before encountering a tree down just upstream of the drainpipe where we used to launch.  We don’t often meet so many people while we’re dismantling a fallen tree, so in a way, it was a bit fun.  By an hour and a half after we launched, it was clear and we were once again on our way.

The bayou was high, so a portage around Rackley Bridge was necessary, but it was low enough that we were able to persuade the accumulated entangled logs, lumber, branches, et al, to move along.  Pulling logs and sawing them up as we drifted along brought back memories, but it was manageable, and we soon outpaced the flotsam.  And then we found tree number two.  It had started its fall a while back, but the wind and water made it worse, so it was time to go.  After about half an hour’s work, it had been thoroughly dealt with, and we continued downstream (with Mike grabbing one more big branch out of the flotsam that was just reaching us).

We didn’t get far, maybe 500 feet, before we came upon the next tree.  A paddler coming back upstream had mentioned it, but the description turned out to have been rather understated.  Normally, we’d start by dismantling what of the canopy we can reach, and then we’d cut larger pieces to pull onto the canoes and cut up.  This tree, however, was completely enveloped in some of the most prolific poison ivy we’ve seen in a while.   (Basically, all the green you can see is poison ivy.) We decided to do a simple cut-and-swing approach instead, but with the canopy thoroughly enmeshed with (non-poisonous) vines and branches on the far bank, it was difficult.

When we finally did succeed in swinging the tree (and all its poison ivy) around to the bank, we had a nice little surprise.  Apparently, when it fell, it landed on and took out another tree.  That also helped explain why it took so much effort to swing around.  Thankfully, the surprise extra tree was smaller, a bit spindly, and utterly lacking in poison ivy, so it was quickly dispatched to leave the bayou wide open and free.

Just a jam photo.

We did also have a jam or two, including the small-looking one in this photo.  It doesn’t get a timelapse video, but it turned out to have been built of nearly enough logs to build a small cabin.  I should have counted how many times we pulled what was surely the last log only to find another even longer one.  Forty minutes of last logs later, we finally ran out and headed on down the bayou.

We weren’t quite finished, naturally, as there was one more tree waiting its turn.  Tree number five had already built a decent jam, but it had few vines and no poison ivy, so it was easy enough to handle.  While we were working it, we saw our last two through-paddlers of the day.  Apparently quite a few people were paddling from Highland to Airline Highway or Manchac Park, and I dare say they chose the perfect weather for it.

With no more trees to work, we made it to Bayou Manchac a mere eight hours after we set out, and then we took it easy on the way back and made it back to the launch after a very relaxed two-hour upstream paddle.  We had expected a relatively easy day on the bayou, and it ended up being one of the longer ones we’ve had of late.  Five trees in one week (not counting some that fell along but not in the bayou) easily sets the record for strongest storm impact since we began working the bayou.  Hopefully we can let the record (and the rest of the trees) stand for quite a while.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Monett permalink
    2017-05-08 6:02pm

    I think you should create a video that plays in reverse so we can see a snag become reborn.

    • 2017-05-08 7:14pm

      If only that thought came just a bit sooner. It would’ve made a great Arbor Day special.

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