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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bayou Jessamine - Today's Conditions
Sunday, September 18, 2005
by Ian Brosnan

I arrived at Rice Creek Landing about 10:30 AM, planning to head to the Indian Mounds via Bayou Jessamine. I went alone and lightly loaded this time. The water levels at Rice Creek were much lower than the last time I was there, but still easy paddling out to Briar Lake. I saw two gators, one in Briar Lake and the other at the mouth of Jessamine Bayou, herons, and lot of turtles laying out in the sunshine. Bayou Jessamine itself is a mess, I was out of the boat half a dozen times before I got to the split for Jug Lake. I was glad I went light as I hauled the kayak over several trees and even had to swim alongside the boat at one point when it wouldn't float over the debris with me in it (the debris wouldn't support my weight, so in I went).

I figured that given the difficulty of passing through Jessamine, there wouldn't be any gators around, but about a quarter mile past the Jug Lake split, I rounded the corner to find a gator slightly larger than my kayak forcing, it's way across the debris pile about fifty feet in front of me. Luckily it was heading away from me and after I shoved my heart back where it belongs and did a little risk assessment, I decided that I didn't give a fig about the Indian Mounds and wouldn't it be nice to see if I could paddle through to the Jug Lake platform and enjoy my cold pizza there?

Well folks, Jug Lake is easily accessible and contains at least two more alligators, one of which is of a decent size and has the disconcerting habit of surfacing in front of you, then swimming along for a few minutes, before thrashing around like crazy and disappearing from sight. Cold pizza never tasted so good. The trip back from Jug Lake was easier than the trip in as the water level had risen, so several of the logs that I had to carry the kayak over were sufficently submerged for me to glide over them.

So, the first half of Jessamine is passable, especially at high water, and if anyone wants to go through with a saw and clear some of the debris, I will be happy to go back. The bigger logs are going to need chainsaw action, but I am sure someone will do that before too long.

Editor - The key here for anyone wanting to paddle Bayou Jessamine in the near future, is to plan your trip when the water level is up, or at least not at low tide. We are in contact with Alabama State officials to advise them of further debris removal needs at lower water levels. You may look at the tide tables here for more information.