Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blown on the Bayou

I think Mother Nature has it out for me this fall. First, she chased me from Lake Raven with clouds and cold winds during my first paddle of the season. Then she lulled me into complacency with the return of a few weeks of summer-like weather. But after I scheduled this paddle to Pickett's Bayou for my kayaking meetup group, she decided to hurl the first strong cold front of the season at southeast Texas.

The cold dry air started blowing in on the night before the paddle and the RSVP list quickly evaporated. The prospect of a low temperature in the the forties coupled with strong north winds was just a bit too much for most of our members. By launch time, only three of us remained.

Yes, the morning air was cold. And yes, the north wind was blowing. But otherwise it was an amazingly beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly from a flawless blue sky.

The paddle south was uneventful up to the point where we reached Jac's Island. We took the fork toward the right, thinking we'd find a narrow channel there which we could follow toward the Old River. We learned that satellite imagery can sometimes be deceiving, as we quickly ran out of water and were forced to turn back.

Instead we took the left fork, passed Jac's Island, and continued southward toward the narrows. As we entered the narrows, we noticed a moderately strong current pulling us forward. Upon exiting the south end of the narrows and reaching the Cutoff to the Trinity, we found ourselves faced with a small waterfall at the pipeline crossing. The strong north winds associated with the cold front had pushed enough water out of Trinity Bay that the bayou was slowly being drained.

We'd harbored some thoughts of continuing into the cutoff and beyond, but there wasn't any clear portage path around this unexpected waterfall, and we weren't confident the narrows would remain passable if the water level dropped much more. We'd run out of water once again!

We retraced our path through the narrows and then landed briefly on Jac's Island. It gave us a chance to stretch our legs a bit and examine the animal tracks in the sand. After a brief exploration, we returned to our kayaks and headed for the launch. Since the afternoon sun had warmed the air a bit, the headwinds had lost their bite and we made it back in good spirits.

While it may not have been the perfect day for a paddle, I can handle as many imperfect days like this as Mother Nature wants to give me!

More Pictures from Pickett's Bayou

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