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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kayaking February 10, Upper Tensaw River Delta Paddle to Indian Mounds

Harriet Ingram, Pres. of the MBCAKC, organized and led this paddle in farewell to Mareike & Andre' who will soon be leaving the U.S.. This is a paddle I learned about last year and hoped that I would be able to participate in at some time. So this was a special full day event for me. I left the condo at 6:50 am for Stockton where the paddlers were to meet in the Stagecoach parking lot on the corner of 225 and 59. Fifteen enthusiastic paddlers showed up ready to paddle. We caravaned to the Rice Creek Landing to the north and west of Stockton. From the creek launch point we paddled west on Rice Creek then to Bayou Jessamine leading to the Tensaw River. Russ led with a machete though some sections of the Creek hacking back brushy tree tips from windfalls that blocked our way. We continued on through the Bayou connecting to the Bottle River finally reaching the trail head leading to the Indian Mounds. The Mounds are located on the north of Mound Island off Bottle Creek. The Island, to the north and west of Stockton is labeled on Google Earth. More information on the mounds can be found at: The hike to the mounds was a quarter mile led again by Russ who was wielding his machete once in a while to open a wider path through jungle like foliage along the water laden path. The trail extending through a swampy cypress forest was generally prominent but without fresh signs of human traffic. We had hiked about a quarter mile when the mounds appeared on our left as low hills covered by trees and low brush. A steep path led us to the flat top of the first mound that stood 45 foot high. We were greeted by a sign from the Alabama State Historical Commission warning us that the mounds could not be disturbed in any way without prosecution. There were many additional mounds, all with lesser elevations. The 15 mapped mounds served for hundreds of years, as safe platforms for the Indian encampments, houses and temples. We marched around in awe of how the surrounding soil could be gathered by hand and piled so high. After our tour we hiked back to the trail head and enjoyed our sack lunches before starting back.
On the return paddle we pulled off the Bayou to visit a monstrous native cypress tree. A tree that would stand taller and have a larger girth than the Monarch White Pine that stands in Hartwick Pines State Park North of Grayling, Michigan. From this point we paddled nonstop to our take out place on Rice Creek and headed home. I arrived back to the Condo at 5:30 pm. This paddle was one of the best and most interesting in which I have participated over the two years coming to Alabama. 15 paddlers, and per GPS 13 miles, Max. Sp. 6.2 mph, Avg. 2.0 mph, Time moving 3:Hrs. 12 min. Keep on paddling, Jerry Inman

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mardi Gras/Meeting Paddle REPORT - Feb 5, 2008

Awoke to a day of wind and threatening clouds. After consultation with multiple weather readers, decided our window of paddling opportunity was there, so we headed on - and a wonderful day it was.

10 boats, 11 kayakers ventured onto Soldier Creek. Turned out to be a brilliant day - stiff and strong wind from the south-southeast - however, it pushed us up the creek (more on the return home against the 15 mph wind). We had 9 solo boats and 1 tandem. Our youngest paddler was an energetic 7 (or 8), who led us with enthusiasm and eagerness (Laura Brown will soon be moving into her own boat - she is the next generation of paddler, believe me!).

To add a new diminsion to paddling, I introduced kayaking-football. If you are interested in signing up for a league team, just contact me (but remember, the first team on this newly formed league has already had one day of practice). Try throwing - not to mention catching - a football from your kayak. I can imagine we will have some wet paddlers as spring arrives, the weather and water warms, and practice becomes frequent (by the way, doesn't have to be a football, can be a soccer ball, volley ball, tennis ball (I don't recommend a bowling ball), even a frisbee. BUT, what a fantastic way to practice balancing skill in your kayak - not to mention having a good laugh at yourself and your fellow paddlers. AND, as the weather warms, what a pleasant way to practice rolls or re-entry skills - something every paddlers needs to know and practice!

A bald Eagle was spotted (and photographed, I believe), a wonderful gator was caught lounging in the sun on the bank - we tried to sneak by without disturbing it, but she slipped into the water, abundance of turtles sunning themselves on logs. Much wildlife was evident and enjoyed.

Anyone know Alec Thigpen???? Well, if you do, ask him if he will (1) carry his own kayak bilge pump (instead of sharing one with his wife, who happened to be seperated from him when he needed it), (2) carry a change of clothes and a towel with him. You guessed it, he took a spill - and NOT while trying to catch the football - it can happen to any of us at any time - always come prepared........ because those car seats don't take kindly to having a wet body sit upon them for a drive home.

The return home........always be aware that the turn-around point is only halfway throught the paddle - watch the wind, tides, weather. We were all keenly aware of the wind today, but every one of us felt the last mile of 15 mph problems, but a good lesson is always learned - know your limits.

This was the meeting paddle (due to Mardi Gras tonight)- lots planned for the spring. Next meeting will be March 4th. Stay tuned to the website for updates. Don't miss an opportunity to paddle and enjoy the bounty that our area offers. Upcoming various paddles: Camp Rapahope fundraiser on March 16, Bayou La Fouche the end of March, Grandman Triathlon the end of May, a spring trip to Boiling Creek will be posted soon (have you purchased your pass?), and much more before, during, and in-between - there's always someone on the water - take advantage of their knowledge and learn our water-ways.

Paddle on......