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Saturday, April 21, 2001

Matt Derring has a rare Sunday Paddle scheduled for tomorrow at Dauphin Island. He knows the island and can give us some good leads on put in places and vantage points for watching the migratory birds arriving at the Island from points south. This is great stuff. Meet at the Circle K on Dauphin Island 12 noon.

See you on the water.

Whiskey Ditch Paddle, April 5, 2001

Directions: Put in on US Highway 90 on the Mobile Bay Causeway at Tensaw Pointe Ecotours, or next door at the Blue Gill Restaurant. Paddle out into Pass Picada and turn east (right). Follow the wall of reeds on your left as they bend to the north. Paddle 3/4 mile north northeast to the entrance to Whiskey Ditch. Enjoy.

Paul Morgan called a good one with this trip to Whiskey Ditch. He was feeling down about having his last two trips canceled for weather related reasons, like too much water in the river or torrential rain at Rice Creek. The weather was excellent. Five boats and six paddlers put in at Jeff's place, Tensaw Pointe Ecotours at 6 p.m. We paddled out into Pass Picada for a short ride over to the Tensaw River. A light south wind helped push us along and kept the bugs from bugging us. Then again, the first week of April is cool enough and early enough to be a bug free time to enjoy the outdoors and Paul being a knowledgeable outdoorsman knows that this is a great time of year to go in the Delta.

The water level was higher than the last trip we did here. Three days of southerly wind and plenty of rainfall up north put the water level up. Negotiating Whiskey Ditch was easy. The fish had plenty of room to swim under us rather than jumping over our boats to get out of the way. The ditch has a V shaped opening in the reeds with some smaller trees flanking both sides of the entrance. Someone called from the front of the line of boats, I think we have a gator here, then a pause and I heard something new "It's a stump gator". We wound our way left and up Whiskey Ditch through young green shoots of grass and reedy plants on the left and floating leafy plants on our right. With the water level up we had several tempting trails parallel to the main channel on our right. At the second bend, to the right we started to see Spider Lilies with full buds and one or two plants blooming already. A Kingfisher darted about keeping us company. In Whiskey Ditch the only evidence of civilization nearby is the faint sound of traffic on the Causeway a mile south. No power lines, no houses, no shanties. On this trip no trash litter either. At the end of the Ditch, we entered a small pond that is perhaps 1,000 feet across and roughly circular. The duck blinds were all but gone. Herons were making their living in the southeast end. We looked through field glasses to do some bird watching as the sun settled down in the west. Except for the birds, the lake was quiet. We were far enough from the road to have some peace.

We left the lake at sunset, paddling into the colors. After the second bend we encountered a couple more boats coming up. Larry in his Shenai and another fellow in a bright green canoe whom Bob recognized. It was a happy time of friends greeting one another on Whiskey Ditch. Larry and the other fellow continued up to the lake to say they they had been there and we all met up at the entrance of Whiskey Ditch. We had a nearly full moon for light. A pass of Space Station Alfa was predicted for 8:16 so we rafted up in the Tensaw to talk and joke and share refreshments for 40 minutes or so in the twilight. At 8:16 I interrupted the merriment saying Can you see it? It came out of the city's light pollution moving fast from left to right and brightening in contrast to the darker sky away from Mobile. Just a steady white light as bright as an average star speeding to the northeast and fading out of sight. Ooh. Ahhh. We turned loose and headed for the cars. Hungry people in boats heading for Ed's Seafood Shed!