Saturday, October 26, 2013

Following Old River To Its Roots

This solo visit to Old River fell on a much more cooler day than my meetup group outing earlier in the month. As a result, I was able to explore more of the river than ever before. I paddled upstream to the point the channel became blocked by a mass of fallen trees, and then explored a small tributary.  As I enjoyed the beauty of the day, I had the company of a whole host of turtles like this red-eared slider, and even a kingfisher who was much less camera shy than usual. All in all, it was a nearly perfect fall paddle.

More Pictures From Old River

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Armand Bayou: Where the Mullet is Always in Style

Bright sunshine sparkled on the surface of the bayou. Fresh, cool breezes danced across our skin. It was a fall afternoon so perfect that even the fish were jumping for joy!

What? Well, yes, the fish were mullet. And yes, mullet do jump habitually. But let's stick to the story line okay? It was an wonderful day for a paddle on Armand Bayou.

We launched our kayaks at Bay Area Park and paddled upstream among the leaping mullet the rolling gar. We set a leisurely pace, making frequent stops along the way to admire the scenery.

Water hyacinths were more numerous along the bayou than I remember seeing in recent years and they were covered in blooms. A number of osprey had taken up their winter residence along the bayou, along with the ever present herons, egrets, and kingfishers. We even spotted an alligator sunning on the bank during our trip upstream.

Some of the life we spotted wasn't quite so wild. Early on we passed one small boat where three fishermen were tending to a collection of about ten fishing poles. And along the way we crossed paths with a number friendly folks in kayaks and canoes, and even one on a paddle board.

Much too quickly the afternoon turned toward evening and it was time for us to head back toward the launch. As we passed our alligator friend once again, he slid into the water and swam along beside us briefly before concealing himself in the vegetation near the bank.

We bid him adieu and continued downstream. Before long we were crossing under the Bay Area Boulevard bridge with the boat ramp just a short way ahead. We set our paddles aside for a little while then and let ourselves drift in the light breeze. Neither of us were ready for this day (or this weekend) to end, so we paused to soak in the peace for just a little bit longer.

When was the last time you stood still long enough to take joy in something as simple as a little fish leaping in the sunlight? It's a feeling that never goes out of style.

More Pictures from Armand Bayou

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best

Early fall weather in Texas can be tricky. One day the gusts from a cool front will be raising goose bumps on your skin, while just days later that same skin will be slick with perspiration.

So when I scheduled an early October paddle at Pickett's Bayou for my meetup group, I knew the weather was a question mark. I just didn't count on the location being up in the air as well.

As it turned out, the government shutdown closed the gates of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, putting our Pickett's Bayou launch point off limits.

As the date for the meetup approached with no movement in Washington, it was clear that I had to either cancel the paddle or move it somewhere else. Fortunately, the Trinity River basin is rich with interesting places to paddle, including the Old River. While its environs may be slightly less wild than Pickett's, they remain quite lovely.

The group met at the bridge over the Old River on FM1409, launched our kayaks, and headed upstream along the cypress-lined channel. Conversation among the group mixed with the calls of birds as we paddled the peaceful waters. We covered about three miles before pausing for a bite to eat, turning around, and making our way back to the launch at a leisurely pace. It was a very enjoyable outing with the group, proving once again that things can go well, even when they don't go exactly according to plan.

And for the record, this particular fall day had lots more perspiration than goose bumps. Happy Fall, everyone!

More Pictures from Old River