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Monday, June 21, 2004

GATHERING OF THE TRIBES at Boiling Creek
June 20, 2004
by Gary Worob


It was truly a gathering of the tribes at Boiling Creek. There were tribespeople from at least 4-6 clubs and i gave up on trying to figure who was leading what. Juli D. and I just proceeded to the put in and put ourselves in trusting hands and the shuttle went off great.

I don't have a clue how many boats there were, but there were enough that the difference between the first finishers and the last was at least 1-1/2 hours and probably then some.

There were four paddlers from our club, Brint and Linda, Juli D., and myself. Then some from Northwest Florida Canoe Club out of Pensacola; lots from Bayou Haystackers out of Louisiana, and some from the Adventure Club, and some from Emerald Coast Kayak Club, and of course the great support and presence of Bill and Martha from Adventures Unlimited.

We had great weather and high water with good current, and there were even some pitcher plants still in bloom. Nothing ever can be said about Boiling Creek except it is always a phenomenal paddle. We did some great exploring into different inlets and even had to portage around to access a new short cut, to me, on the Yellow River.

I am still looking forward to the sturgeon running and hope to do a trip in August or whenever they appear. It will be quite the sight.

Most of the boats present were canoes. It is my recommendation to paddle an open boat on Boiling Creek in warm weather, so you may fall out into the great crystal clear water and get refreshed, but any boat will be perfect.

We did get to hear and see an osprey with catch in hand/talons and screeching for what seemed like a very long time till it landed in the nest. I don't speak osprey but I have a feeling I did not want to know what it was saying to us.

I would like to do a Juniper Creek trip soon and maybe a camping trip with it and spa. "Spa" meaning the great clay banks along the Juniper that are probably as good or better than any clay used in spas. The beautiful sandy banks are wonderful camping sites. I'm looking forward to being pushed to do that one.

There is a great through the woods screaming bike trail nearby. It is six miles ROUNDTRIP and only for bikes. Just east of Munson. Daredevils and fools only allowed.

NO FEAR!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"The 10-1 Paddle" from Buzbee's into the Delta
June 19, 2004
by Gary Worob "Canoeman Gambler"


Six of us did the 10-1 paddle from Buzbee's landing out into the Delta. It was the "10-1 paddle" because those are the times we put in and took out and those were the odds of our surviving the heat, according everyone's predictions and proclamations.

I received phone calls and personal assurances that we were going to fry our brains by putting in at that time -- but you know what?

It was a wonderful paddle with cool breezes and lots of visuals. We are not sure, but the beautiful blue flowers were a hyacinth if Steve Delker is correct. Steve was the co-pilot for this trip. We had three members from the Adventure Club in Florida and one person from Gulf Shores who had more unusual rigging on his kayak than i had ever seen. He was rigged for almost anything.

We paddled the "Monet" route, with a stop under a different canopy of live oaks with beautiful sculptures of limbs and branches and lots more shells to see.

If this had been a horse race i would have taken the odds and gotten rich at "10-1" but it turned out to be a great paddle and great lunch at Ed's Shed afterwards.

Thanks for all the warnings. Next time i will be betting against the odds.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Bay Minette Basin to Blakely State Park
Thursday, June 17, 2004
by Brint Adams - brint.adams@us.army.mil


Bob, Juli, Gene, Carolyn and I met at Buzbee's at 5:30PM and took off up Bay Minette Basin, took Fisherman's Ditch to the Apalachee River, the Cutoff and on to Blakely.

The weather was excellent for June, with no wind and water like glass. We took about 1.5 hrs. to go the 5 miles to Blakely and paddled with a magnificent sunset along our left side.

The Cutoff is a beautiful fairly wide cut through the delta with a surprising number of beautiful cypress trees fully dressed with Spanish moss. Water hyacinths were apparent, but not clogging the passage.

Once at the shelter, we popped open the wine - a white from Perdido Vineyards and an Aussie Cabernet to accompany our collective salads and couscous. It was truly picturesque and memorable, as we gazed upon the sunset reflecting off the still and quiet Tensaw.

We found it difficult to leave, as we lingered around until the mosquitoes finally encouraged us to push back out into the river.

Paddling at night is an adventure, as the shadows, darkness and increased sense of hearing, bring out an air of anticipation of the unknown. We paddled back at a strong clip, with the lights of the causeway and Mobile off in the distance guiding us back.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Trip Report: Douglas Lake
Sunday, June 13, 2004
by Brint Adams - brint.adams@us.army.mil


To paddle Douglas Lake, is well worth the few extra miles to Bryant Landing. We met Bill and Donna Davis at Hwy. 31 & 225 in Spanish Fort and headed north, crossing I-65 and into Stockton. For those coming from Mobile, you will want to travel north on I-65 to exit 31 and turn left. Once into Stockton, turn left on Hodgson Road and left again on CR 21. Go a couple of miles past the turn to Rice Creek and after passing an elementary school by about 1/4 mi., make 2 lefts to head to Bryant Landing.

The put-in fee for kayaks and canoes is $2, which you pay up in the convenience store. The landing has a large, nicely shaded parking area. There is a wide ramp with a grass area and sandy beach to the side, perfect for launching.

Rather than take the full trip, we opted for the cut-through shortcut. As we left the ramp, we headed west or to the left and paddled about 0.3 mi. until we reached a narrow entrance into the woods on the right side. The cut-through meanders for about 0.2 mi. through the woods, until reaching Douglas Lake. We turned left and followed the lake up to the end.

The weather conditions were almost ideal for June, with an overcast sky and light breeze cooling off the normally hot, humid temperatures. The water was like glass, as we only met one fisherman.

One of the most striking aspects of the paddle is the abundance and beauty of the cypress. Around every turn, there seemed to be another, set off by itself, more majestic than the one before. We also followed several varieties of crane, egret and hawk, as we paddled in.

About half way in to the 3.5 mi. deadend, we were entertained by a circus of large performers. For about 1 mi., we were continuously delighted to see dozens of alligator gar jumping straight up, fully clearing the water, trying to outdo each other.

After a brief rest at the turnaround, we returned the same way, taking about 2.5 hrs. to complete the paddle. The only way to top off the day, was to stop on the way back at The Stagecoach, in Stockton. They didn't disappoint, with an excellent oyster poboy and onion rings for Linda, and all-you-can-eat whole catfish for me. The trip was a real keeper.
Paddle Report: Hurricane Bayou
June 12, 2004
by Nancy Milford


As a student of yoga, I know sometimes the simplest events can be some of the deepest learning experiences, the “less is more” concept. The Saturday morning paddle was a simple paddle with many exciting moments. We started around 9:00am and moved at a relatively slow pace to soak in the experience of the surroundings and the people.

We had 14 boats and 15 people. Luckily, we had some bird and plant people along to share their knowledge of the wildlife around us. It was an amazing group of paddlers. There were also two very experienced paddlers that assisted in keeping up with so many boats. Thanks Harriet and Bruce!

The paddle started with the paddle leader watching her boat float away without her in it. Several kayakers came to the rescue and the whole situation was handled with great laughter and kindness, helping the fearless leader save face. The brave paddlers didn’t back out but continued on the paddle. Just as we came to the bridge, there was a train on the railroad bridge. It was exciting to pass under such a mammoth piece of machinery.

The weather was beautiful, but toward the end of the paddle the heat intensified. We had some wonderful sightings. There were some prothonotary warblers –a small, fast-moving yellow bird, a low flying swallow-tailed kite, and several night herons. There was also a mystery creature that came up under my boat for a few very long seconds and leaving a small wake. After much discussion, we decided it was a very large turtle. At the end of the creek, the paddlers stopped and snacked before heading back.

During the paddle, we had two boats turn over. It was not scary, but a great learning experience. It was good because Bob had demonstrated how to do a self-rescue at the last club meeting. Harriet and I got some experience in performing assisted rescues. Those that went over got the full experience of what it is like to get back on the boat while in the water. They probably learned the most. The observers got to see how to be involved in a rescue. The old saying is “the best way to learn is by doing” and that was my experience of the rescue as well. I will have to say that the ones that flipped their boat had a much more comfortable ride back to the put-in since they were the only wet ones in an incredible blazing sun. All in all it was a fun time.
Paddle Report: Dauphin Island-Ft. Morgan-Sand Island
Saturday, June 12, 2004
by Brint Adams - brint.adams@us.army.mil


I met Rob Nykvist, our trip leader of two, at 6:45 AM adjacent to the auto ferry on the east end of Dauphin Island. There is a very nice, white sand beach suitable for launching kayaks, with 15 min. parking right in front, to allow unloading of equipment. After moving our cars down the road, we returned to launch promptly at 7:00 AM under near perfect conditions, with partly cloudy skies, very light breeze, only slight tide movement and about 0-1' seas.

Our first leg took us across to the fishing pier on the north side of Ft. Morgan. We only encountered a few fishing boats with little ship traffic, as we crossed the channel. It took us about 1 hr. to travel the 4.2 mi. and reach the beach.

After resting for a few minutes, we decided to lengthen the paddle by heading over to the west end of Sand Island. Visibility was excellent as we focused on a couple of oil rigs in the distance, until the red buoy on the end of the island came into view. As we approached the ship channel again, we picked our spot to get across, as the ship traffic picked up. We reached Sand Island, also in about 1 hr., covering about 5 mi. We traveled down the calmer, north side about half way, until we came upon the large black skimmer nesting area. We got out and walked over towards the grassy dune area, until we got too close to suit them, and they began to voice their disapproval. We continued paddling down along the island, with about five dolphin just out in front of us, lazily surfacing and checking us out.

We turned back toward the east end of Dauphin Island and our last leg back around Ft. Gaines, to the takeout point. Again, the 4 mi. leg took about 1 hr. It was a very nice trip on a beautiful morning.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Styx River
Saturday, May 22, 2004
by Brint Adams - brint.adams@us.army.mil


Our trip group included two canoes and a tandem kayak putting in at the CR 64 bridge located about one mile north of Wilcox Road I-10 exit 53. While waiting at the BP truckstop, we noticed numerous truckloads of innertubes and their riders, and thus had a good idea what kind of afternoon we had in store.

This was a point-to-point trip covering about five miles of easy down river to the CR 87 bridge, which is non-strenuous and suitable for both beginning paddlers in canoes and most types of kayaks. The put-in is from a white sand beach along a well-shaded shoreline and off into a nice current of clear blackwater. The river meanders around many curves, most of which have white sand beaches suitable for picnic stops.

Unfortunately for our group, we picked a hot, sunny Saturday with schools just out for summer, and so encountered an unexpectedly large quantity of wildlife. When we passed the exit for one of the tube/canoe outfitters, we found out he had rented 400 tubes and 50 canoes that afternoon. We felt certain we passed at least half of them.

But, the weather was beautiful and all had a good time, including our interaction with the summer wildlife just out of hibernation. For a quieter paddle, I would suggest touring on a weekday during the summer months.
Whiskey Ditch
Thursday, May 20, 2004
by Brint Adams - brint.adams@us.army.mil


For a quick, easy mid-week afterwork paddle, you just can't beat starting out on the causeway and heading north into the delta. This late afternoon paddle started at the unmarked state-owned property (site formerly known as Riverdoc's), on the north side of the causeway just east of Ed's Seafood Shed. There is plenty of parking and a protected boatramp for easy entry/exit with no put-in charge.

This night we decided to head east past Bluegill's and turn left up the Apalachee and left into the delta by way of Whiskey Ditch. For most of the year, you can paddle all of the way back to a pond along an everchanging view of many waterplants and birds. But, we are now entering the summer months, when mats of alligatorweed and hyacinths spread across the waterway and make it tough to get anymore than about halfway back to the pond. It is still worth the trip anytime of year to see what is new.

Along the Apalachee, we spotted about a dozen alligators well out in front of us, only to submerge as we got a little closer. The roundtrip is about four miles and is suitable for beginners, when the wind is not too brisk. After our return at dusk, we loaded up and headed to Semolina for some well-deserved carbo-loading.