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To post information to this website or for further information about this website, just ask Tracy at tracy@thelannies.us
Current Club Coordinator: Tracy Lannie
MBCKC would like to express our appreciation to 5 Rivers and it's staff for all they do.

Disclaimer: This site provides general information & links on topics of paddling. Paddlesports can pose serious risks of damage to personal property & serious bodily injury including permanent disability & death. Anyone participanting in any MBCKC event or participating in any event mentioned on this website does so at their own risk and agrees to hold MBCKC harmless from any liability as a result of such participation or use of information contained herein.

Sunday, April 29, 2001

!!! Monthly Meeting !!!

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Mobile Bay Canoe and Kayak Club will be at 7:00 PM, this coming Tuesday, May 1, at 7:00 PM, at the Fairhope Yacht Club. Matt will present a slide program about a sea kayaking trip to Alaska. We look forward to seeing you there.
Full Moon Paddle - Saturday, May 5, 2001

The next Full Moon paddle will be on the Magnolia River, at Jane Agee's house, on Saturday, May 5, 2001, at 5 p.m. This was the most popular event of our club last year and is a major to-do. Our club is known for usually trying to eat somewhere after a paddle. For this event, there is a very enjoyable, beginner friendly, paddle that accompanies the meal. Everyone is invited. New members, you are especially welcome.

Jane needs to know about how many to prepare for. So call her at 1-334-965-7154 (Gulftel) if you plan to attend. She will leave her recorder on. She asks that you tell her your name, phone number, and number of people that plan to attend. If you have difficulty getting through, you can e-mail Gene (boothecg@bellsouth.net) and he will get the information to her.

We will launch at Jane's house and paddle into the sunset. Beaching for light snacks as we wait for the moon to climb high into the sky to light our way back, is an option. We will return under the full moon to the cookout at Jane's house. The paddle is neither too long nor difficult for beginners.

Bring a covered dish to share, and perhaps a lawn chair. Jane will have can sodas & tea (BYOB). Bring a flashlight, but please only use it for temporary needs - if needed at all, as artificial light distracts from the effect of the moonlight. It is ok to distract if a power boat approaches.

Thursday, April 26, 2001

Before the month is over, let me get caught up on some April trip stories:

Sunday April 1, 2001
Gulf Shores, Alabama paddle trip with Scott Hayden on Little Lagoon


Directions: Take route 59 south to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Turn right at the T intersection at the beach. Drive to the Pass. Parking, restroom facilities, natural beach put in. No cost.

Scott Hayden contacted the Mobile Bay Canoe and Kayak Club through Mr. Leatherbury following a websearch. Scott was coming down here for Spring Break from Indianapolis with his wife and sons and he brought his Nantucket sea kayak to do some paddling. Frank Leatherbury asked the club for a guide and I volunteered a couple days. Our first trip to Little Lagoon was something Scott and I jointly agreed upon. This location was the first club sponsored paddle I had done in May of last year, so I had some local knowledge. The weather was windy, but with a forecast for the wind to clock around to the northwest and west later, I had hoped it would be a downwind return. This was the first day of Daylight Savings Time.

We put in on soft white sand and paddled through the shallow water of the Pass. The Pass is a cut maintained by a small dredge to keep a waterway open between Little Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. We paddled north across Little Lagoon to the north shore hoping to take advantage of the lee shore. The homes on the north shore are less crowded than the beach side. At one home we saw a small boat at anchor and an ultralight aircraft on pontoons. We paddled on until we found the end of the developed beachfront. We landed at a point of land associated with the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge. This is land in the natural state. We walked a bit on the shoreline to stretch and to look at hermit crabs drawing lines underwater as they pull their borrowed shells along. Around the point of land we could see white sand and tall green topped pines at the west end of the lagoon beckoning. Without knowing how hard the wind might be to paddle into, we kept going west, saying let's just see what is past this next point of land. The water here is quite shallow, 3 feet or so, and clear enough in the cool of the year to see through it to the bottom. Because the water is shallow the wind driven waves can't grow very high. And because it is an almost closed lagoon, no sea swell interferes with paddling fun!

We reached the western beach, about 5 miles straight line from our put in. A 30 foot dune of shining white sand rose up from the beach and offered a vantage point from which to see the whole length of the lagoon to the east. We could see the water of the Gulf of Mexico by looking south across the maritime forest. Looking north across length of the beach we saw the tall pines of the Refuge and a small motor boat leaving the beach. A walking trail is marked with signposts nearby. The trail follows the lagoon's south shoreline to the east where it ends at a gazebo vantage point to watch birds. Another leg of the trail looks like it heads south to the Gulf of Mexico. And then there are those dreaded signs: Private keep out.

The paddle back was all downwind running with half foot following seas alternating surging us forward and drawing us back again. Scott did some wild life photography. The loons were a tease. One would pop his head up and Scott would try to use the zoom capability of his camera and the loon would dive. We reached the Pass just as the sun dipped below the treeline. We stopped turned and took a photo or two of the upper limb of the sun going behind the trees. The parking lot was emptying of the last cars as we helped each other to rack our boats. It is a bit of a hike from the water to the road. We did the 12 mile paddle and photoshoot on the dune in about five hours total.


April 4, 2001
Gulf Shores, Alabama. Shelby Lake, Middle Lake and Little Lake


Directions: Drive on route 59 into Gulf Shores, Alabama. Turn left on route 80 into the Gulf State Park. This bypasses some congestion downtown. Put ins are available at the bridge on route 135 west of Lake Shelby, on 182 at Lake Shelby south side, and the bridge between Lake Shelby and Middle Lake and also in the park campgrounds, if you are a guest there.

The weather was still breezy, but the air was mild on Wednesday after Sunday's frontal passage. Scott Hayden, a visitor from Indianapolis wanted a guide to show him good places to paddle. Little Lake was our objective today. I asked Julie to lead this one since she's been there and done that and I have not. The three of us met at the bridge between Lake Shelby and Middle Lake. The put in is grass over sand so drive carefully. A few people were fishing here when I did the preview. When we put in at 3 p.m., we had the place to ourselves. The wind was up enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay on the put in but not on the take out at sunset. More about that later.
We paddled to the left under the bridge in a channel about 20 feet wide. The banks are covered with reeds and grasses. The water was calm with no current. We paddled easily until we entered Middle Lake.

Middle Lake is somewhat open water. Waves were not a problem but being exposed to the wind was work keeping the boats heading east in a north wind. We paddled past the campground on the north shore. The south shore looked undeveloped. Once in a while we could see a phone wire through the trees. I think it is remarkable that we saw just one osprey and no pelicans or herons. Small fishing boats passed us but they did not claim to be getting many fish.

At the east end of Middle Lake, Julie led us into a naturally winding channel, unlike the straight cut channel at Lake Shelby. This was rather pretty. The channel is not so narrow - 10 to 15 feet wide when we were there. The topographic map shows just a marsh connecting Middle and Little Lakes, not a navigable waterway. Once in the channel we did not see both lakes and generally we don't see the channel entrance from either lake either. When we exited the channel into Little Lake we saw a slightly round body of water with just two cottages on the north edge hidden by the trees. Gourd bird houses hung by the dock of one structure and a dock east of there had a dozen canoes lined up on their sides under the trees. We split up, each going to look at whatever caught our attention.

Scott, I think, was the first to spot a gator cruising on the surface. He does nature photography so he is on the lookout all the time. This was a little lizard about 4 feet long cruising slowly to the west. We got a little too close, 50 feet or so and he sank down tail first. We waited and shortly saw another slightly larger gator of perhaps 5 feet total length. I sprinted ahead and told Julie, I want to have the gator between you and me for a picture. She grinned, Great. She does not like gators much. Scott said something to Julie about holding this one down for him to photograph. Great.

An hour in Little Lake is enough to explore the shoreline so we headed out into the channel. Fishermen were really cordial to us and gave us no-wake speed when they saw us in the channel. The wind still was not helping much in Middle Lake but we came through OK. In the channel to Lake Shelby, the water was mirror smooth. Disturbing that calm surface seemed a shame because the reflected light was so nice. We paddled past the take out to see what there was to see at Lake Shelby.

The east end of the lake has a couple of islands. We paddled north along the longer of the two islands and passed between the two islands. Again we went our own way checking out our own interests. On the western, sunlit side of the big island, Scott found white egrets roosting in the low branches of trees on the island. He had a good close up position to film these birds with a telephoto camera. Unfortunately, I drifted down to him to see the birds too. When I was about 175 feet from Scott, the birds spooked and I took a picture of white wings flailing the air in front of Scott's boat. That was a good shot, Scott; sorry I spoiled your set up. We turned north looking for Julie. She was up in the reeds on the west side of the smaller island watching the sun going down and silhouetting the city of Gulf Shores. The three of us paddled together south towards the channel to our take out as the sky lit up with sunset colors. We were out on the bank, racking our boats about 7:15 in the twilight and feeding the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes say, " So many paddlers, so little time."

Monday, April 23, 2001

Dauphin Island Bird Watch and Paddle Trip, April 22, 2001

Directions. From Interstate 10, take the Dauphin Island/Tillmans
Corner exit, exit 15, south to Rangeline Road to the end. Turn left
and go to the intersection with Dauphin Island Parkway. Turn right at
the stop sign. Follow Dauphin Island Parkway south to Dauphin Island.

Matt Derring asked us to meet at the Circle K on Dauphin Island. It
is a good landmark in the central business district of town, next to the
post office. Nine boats, including one tandem canoe, and 10 paddlers
showed up for this event, a paddle trip inshore of the island to spot
migratory neo-tropical birds. The weather was pretty; we had almost
clear skies temperatures in the high 70's to low 80's and wind from the
east-southeast 12 mph increasing to 20 mph through the afternoon. Matt
chose sheltered water at Bayou Aloe where the city has a water park for
the put in. We paddled out of the harbor and let the wind drift us
along the shoreline of white sand beach. At the end of the first
stretch of sand beach, about half a mile from the put in we landed and
took our first look for birds.

This stop was next to the airport, a small general aviation facility
with light traffic. The runway extends in a northwesterly direction
from the shore. We floated along paddling lightly in light chop to
parallel the stone bulkhead of the runway. As we rounded the end of
the runway, we were in calm water. Along the base of the bulkhead we
saw several Ruddy Stoneturners looking for a meal in the rocks. As we
came around the end of the runway we were once again exposed to the wind
which was on our bows. We paddled into the wind to a rather nice
beachhead of sand and grass where we stopped to take another look
through field glasses. We saw several Willets, some local ducks, and
blackbirds. Matt told us the migratory birds typically leave the
Yucatan in the evening and fly 18 hours to reach Dauphin Island and Fort
Morgan. The speed of the wind varies the arrival time which is often
mid afternoon, about 3 p.m. With a strong wind, the birds tend to
overfly the island and land on the mainland to rest.

We sought out some variety in a creek paddle. We threaded our way
into a narrow mouth of a creek that opened up into a shallow water
network of a branched creek. We paddled out since the tide was
falling, and explored deeper water in the marsh of Heron Bayou. The
experienced birders in the group spotted a few non native birds and Matt
had a thick field guide chock a block full of pictures to show us. We
left Heron Bayou about 2:30 to retrace our path around the runway. Our
intent was to go upwind to Little Dauphin Island to see a rookery of
Black Skimmers.

The wind picked up to 15-20 mph while we were in Bayou Heron. The
seas, even though we were close (<1 mile) to shore were getting up to 2
feet. Three boats opted to breakaway and head for the beach. I want
to take this chance to applaud good judgment. Please do not let us
influence you to go too far out of your capabilities. We had a change
in the weather, otherwise this would have been a very easy paddle trip
suitable for beginners and smaller boats. The remaining boats went to
the Dauphin Island bridge on the south end of the bridge and encountered
some rather unpleasant sea conditions. They too backed out and
returned to the take out by 4 p.m. We racked our boats and split up.
Some went home and some went to the shell middens for more birdwatching on
foot looking for the elusive Silhouette Warbler and the Rear Tailed
Evader. As a bonus we saw a few Cedar Waxwings and one American
Redstart bird. The trails around the shell middens are excellent paths
through green tree canopy. The most popular place to watch for birds
was a fresh water pool at the base of a large oak.

Thanks, Matt

Saturday, April 21, 2001

Hi!

Welcome to MBCAKC's new website. I'm Julie, the "administrator" of this website, which basically means that I created it and will do my best to keep it functioning. We've been talking at our monthly meetings about creating a new website so I (in my usual, pushy way of doing things) went ahead and set this one up. We're still trying to work out some bugs and get things to look the way we want them to look, and we look forward to hearing from you about how we can meet your needs.

This website is what is called a "weblog" or "blog," and it is powered by a software called "blogger," which is free, and which you can use to set up your own (free) weblog, by clicking on the button to the left that says "powered by blogger." It's free because the creators of "blogger" (a company called "Pyra") sell advertising on our space. See the little "banner" ad at the top of this webpage? Well, that's why this website is free.

We can't do a lot of graphics here. We can't do a lot of formatting. We can't post photos. (Well, we could probably do all those things in theory, but I'm just not smart enough. If any of you guys reading this are web designers who are willing to write us some free code, please get in touch with me and we'll talk.) What we can do is post text, and lots of it. The beauty of "blogger" software is that it makes it very easy to update text on a web page.

For now, only Bruce and I will have the ability to update and post to this website, while we work the various bugs out, then we'll see how it evolves.

Contact list:

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this website, please e-mail me, Julie, at jrobber@worldnet.att.net.

If you want to get on our e-mail list, or if you have questions about or additions to the MBCAKC's calendar of events, please e-mail Gene at boothecg@bellsouth.net.

If you want to contribute text, information, or links to this website, please e-mail me, Julie, at jrobber@worldnet.att.net *****OR***** Bruce at bzboater@earthlink.net, and we'll see that it gets posted ASAP.
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!

Friday, April 20, 2001

This year has been a very stormy one for the Sun. Solar sunspot activity is at the peak of an eleven year cycle. So that we know what we are missing, here are gallery photos of the aurora borealis

Thursday, April 19, 2001

If you would like to plan a paddle trip in the evening or at sunrise, you can add a little extra by watching for the International Space Station or other artificial satellites passing over head. schedule of satellite passes

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

April Calendar of Events

Sun. 1 Daylight Savings Time begins; April Fool's Day

Tue. 3 - 7:00 p.m. membership meeting, Fairhope Yacht Club,
Slide show by the McDuffs from their hike of the Inca Trail in Peru

Wed. 4 - 7:30 West Fla. Canoe Club Meeting

Thur. 5 Whiskey Ditch Paddle , 6:00 PM at Tensaw Touring,
next door south of the Blue Gill Rest. on Causeway,
Leader: Paul Morgan 432-1212

Fri. 6 Claiborne Paddle, 8AM meet at Bruno's at Hwy. 225 and 31 bring lunch return around 4 or 5pm. Leader: Frank Laraway 945-5504, same trip that was cancelled in March

Sat. 7 FULL MOON Burn's Lake - Gravine Island paddle, Sat. April 7, 5PM
meet at Burn's Lake launch up Hwy 225,
Leader Bruce Zimmerman 625-2156,
bring food and beverage, flashlight
(single white light to be coast guard legal)

Sun. 8 Passover, Palm Sunday; Frank Laraway's Place Paddle, 3PM paddle,
pot luck eats 4-5PM, out Fairhope Ave (Cty.Rd.48),
Leader Frank Laraway 945-5504, call if possible.

Wed. 11 Bob Andrew's Surprise Paddle, call Bob for time and place, 344-8664 or 344-8118

Sun. 22 Bird Flyway Paddle - paddle strictly with migratory birds in mind, meet at Dauphin Island Circle K at 12 NOON, Leader: Matt Darring 341-1712 day, 343-1196 evening, Bring 8x40 or 7x30 binoculars and bird field guide if you have them, but they are not necessary

Fri. 27 Swanee River Paddle in conjunction with West Florida Canoe Club, Sat., Sun. and Mon. April 27, 28, 29; call Bob Andrews for info 344-8664 or 344-8118

Sat. 28 Swanee River

Sun. 29 Swanee River

May Calendar of Events

Tue. 1 MBCAKC Membership meeting: 7:00 p.m. membership meeting, Fairhope Yacht Club

Wed. 2 - 7:30 West Fla. Canoe Club Meeting, Seafood Shanty, Pensacola

Sat. 5 FULL MOON paddle at Jane Agee's house on Magnolia River. This is a great paddle and we always have the famous potluck afterwards. Something you need not miss.


See you on the water!

Saturday, April 14, 2001

The Tensaw River is running a bit high this week. Consequently, the current can be strong. Waterways connected to the Tensaw are up. Byrnes Lake on Saturday April 14 was high enough to cover the wooden pier. A handful of kayakers were out enjoying a mildly warm day on Byrnes Lake. The various walking paths into the trees are now paddle paths. Deep access is possible over and behind the beaver dam.


Another good paddle to avoid the wind is the put in on county road 10 at the Bon Secour River. The business there is the Captain's Galley Restaurant (outstandingly good pizza). The put-in is a cement ramp, and the launch fee is $3. At the put-in the river has a double bend with some islands added as a bonus. Mallard ducks keep us company this time of year. The paddle up river goes into deep woods with well established homes set back from the river. The water is clear and cool. Quite a scenic view.
Full Moon Paddle from Byrnes Lake to Gravine Island
Saturday April 7, 2001


The put in for this paddle was Byrnes Lake, a Baldwin County Park. To
get there, travel north from Spanish Fort on route 225 past Bromley to
mile marker nine. Near mile marker nine, you will be at the crest of a
hill. Below you on the left (west ) side of the road is a green county
parks sign on a brick wall at Byrnes Lake Road. Turn left onto Byrnes
Lake Road and follow it down hill to the boat ramp. The boat ramp is
concrete , but about 20 feet of natural shoreline lies to the left of
the concrete. The ramp has a nice wooden pier if someone wants to fish
from the pier or just hang out. This put in has no comfort station.

We put in boats at 5 p.m. Seven boats and paddlers showed up for this
event. The others went ahead to explore the cove which has a beaver
dam while I waited until 6 for stragglers. By 6:30 we were all on the
Tensaw River paddling downwind in following 2 foot seas against a
noticeable southbound current. The sky had a high overcast with few
breaks. As we rounded the northern tip of the island we were in the
lee and the water was flat calm. Sunlight filtering through the
overcast was plenty to beach the boats and pack our stuff to the top of
the hill. Frank found a suitable log to sit upon and dragged that to
the crest. We set out some ground cover and had snacks as we watched
for the moon to rise. We did see some moon, a rectangular section
peeping through the clouds. Sun set with muted colors. The wind which
was so lively on the river kept the insects away on the crest of the
hill. Just after sunset we saw the silhouette of an eighth paddler
arriving. It's Larry, Sr. He has come to join the fun. We sat
around telling jokes until someone said, "Hadn't we better leave before
it gets dark?" Suddenly it sure was lonely out there; Larry and I were
the last to get packed and leave. We saw luminescent insects, brighter
than fireflies, on the trees and apparently on the water's edge. The
wind had died down and we did not have the seas to contend with on this
crossing. The moonlight was not brilliant but there was enough to tell
trees from sky. Larry had his high powered flashlight which helped us
find the reflector on the cypress tree by the entrance to Byrnes Lake.
Julie had stayed behind at the entrance to do sweep and she held a
flashlight to signal us. In the forest around Byrnes Lake, we heard an
owl or two, saw some fireflies in the trees and heard some very deep
grunting of gators in the vicinity of the beaver dam. We were back at
the take out about 9:00.

Tensaw River Paddle
Wednesday April 11, 2001


Bob Andrews called for a rendezvous at Stockton, Alabama at a BP station
at the junction of 59 and 225. Peggy and her red boat, Mike and his
white Chesapeake, Larry, Larry's son Wilson and Wilson's son Will and
their Kevlar canoe, Bob and his metal Loon, and I met up at the BP
station. Bob led us, starting on the road we take to Rice Creek, but
we by passed that turnoff and went to Bryant's Landing. High water at
Bryant's Landing has flooded all the river-front yards, the road and the
pier. We parked upon some dry ground behind the treeline and carried
our boats down to the water. Then we parked our vehicles higher up the
hill just in case the water rose some more while we were out! The
sight of a street sign half covered in water, a chain link fence covered
so we could just see the top edge and a dumpster surrounded by water up
to the rim seemed odd. Not something I see every day.

We paddled out through someone's yard I suppose or maybe just paddled
down the street to the Tensaw River and turned left. The current was
noticeable but manageable. Bob had done the review last Friday, just 5
days ago and the river had not been this high. He found a channel
through the trees to Douglas Lake. We entered the channel and found an
opposing current. The channel was hard to find initially but once we
were in it, the path was plain to see. It was a curved trail that came
out at Douglas Lake opposite a cypress of about 3 feet in diameter. We
heard a Barred Owl call as we paddled to the left on the lake. Bob
found us another trail into the forest. Six feet below us, there may
be a creek bed, but we were free to go where we wanted in the trees.
This was great!! We were above the understory and all we saw were tree
trunks and a few tree branches at our level. The overhead canopy was
lush and green deciduous leaves. The air was cool in here compared
with the shore; the water was cooler. We paddled in until about 4 p.m.
and stopped. The forest ahead was younger growth and closer
together. Mike took a GPS fix and we paddled east for awhile looking
for a break out onto the river. We saw snails on the tree trunks as
well as enormous Wolf Spiders. Including legs, the Wolf Spiders
covered about as much area as a half dollar. After 15 minutes we
turned right and did a 180 degree turn navigating by GPS back toward our
initial point. Mike and Bob in the lead boats signaled for a quiet
stop. Bob was pointing skyward. Then we saw a Barred Owl swoop down
and fly away. Navigating by GPS returned us to Douglas Lake 50 feet
from the point we entered the forest!

We had a snack break on Douglas Lake in front of an old growth cypress
left by loggers because it lost its crown and split down the trunk. It
was not quite as wide as my paddle is long (2.3 meters).So that is what
an old growth specimen looks like....We saw a very small snake swimming
past Mike's boat. Wilson took a picture of it.

We paddled east southeast to the entrance of Douglas Lake past young
cypress trees and entered an oxbow of the Tensaw. As we broke out on
the river we heard more owls calling behind us. The water is way up.
We saw forever wild signs within one foot of the river surface.
Normally we see these types of signs 6-8 feet above our heads. Since
our maps were made, the river has cut through the oxbow leaving an
island and a backwater without much current. We hugged the left shore
anticipating the river current would sweep us left to right when we
cleared the island in the oxbow, and we went one lap around the oxbow.
A pair of great egrets stayed ahead of us a quarter mile away.

We continued down river to a creek on the left bank upstream of a high
bluff. At the entrance of the creek we saw steeply rising ground on
our right and some flowering bushes of mountain laurel. The mountain
laurel flowers were white tinged with pink and had blooms that were
about two to three inches across. Inside the creek we were again in
the forest taking a random path through the woods. We were floating
among the tree trunks above the understory. Eventually the creek
became closed even to our boats. Mountain laurel was thriving on the
slopes on three sides around us. A walking path angled down through
the brush and disappeared into the water, which was thick with bits of
flower parts from trees. Paddling out into the bright light on the
river we turned left again down river and admired this 40 foot bluff
covered with blooming mountain laurel. We saw one buckeye in flower.
The flowers were red slender trumpets. Wild azalea apparently is under
water. They were visible last Friday on the review. The current is
not swift since the right bank is flooded into the forest giving the
river more area to spread itself.

Near the end of the bluff we were back to human development. Wooden
staircases come down to the water from somewhere higher than we can see
through the thick trees. One small house boat is floating at the same
level as the top of a TV aerial. A row of floating homes that are
linked together with wooden Japanese style bridges are for sale. A
boat tied to the shore resembles the SS Minnow. Bryant's Landing and
flooded yards and streets welcome us back no worse than when we left.

With the high water, I think that this trip turned out to be a lot more
fun than we anticipated. Thanks.

We were taking out our boats by 6:30 in plenty of time for supper at the
new Stagecoach restaurant.