Henderson Swamp - Atchafalaya Basin - January 15, 2011. 4 club members joined a group of 10 persons from the Lafayette Paddle club to paddle the swamp. Take out was from McGee's landing. Total trip was about 6 miles. We had good weather and very clear water. The trip ended with dinner at the landing's restaurant.
West Fork at Holbrook Park - February 6, 2011. 5 persons explored the upstream part of the West Fork river for a total of 8 miles. The weather was cool and nice. The river is pretty isolated with few houses or camps along the banks. Nice paddle.
Cameron Monkey Island - February 19, 2011. 6 club members paddled to Monkey Island at Cameron pass. We paddled downstream with the help of the river's current, turned around on the South end of the island and watched several dolphins that came close to us. Then paddled back with the help of the high tide for an effortless trip. We experienced some current and eddies as we crossed the pass, and had warmer temperatures than normal for this time of the year.
Village Creek, Big Thicket National Preserve, TX - 3/12/2011. 3 members of PP were joined by 3 canoe members of the BR Bayou Haystackers club to paddle a total of 8 miles of the Village Creek, near Silsbee, Tx. This was the first club trip to this beautiful area. The river runs along stip banks, with clear reddish water, along a forest of hardwood and pine trees. The area is completely isolated, to the point we did not find any other persons during the trip. This is a trip worth repeating in the near future.
- Apr 15-17 - Indian Creek Lake weekend, Kisatchie Forest - 3 members of the club and other friends camped at Alexander Forest, near Alexandria on Indian Lake and spent a wonderful weekend of paddling and biking at this location. Beautiful landscape, numerous primitive camping sites, and other facilities are available at this park.
- May 7: 3 club members participated on the Contraband Day's "show my dinghy" contest, with kayaks and canoes dressed like pirate ships. David Booth won third place in a tight competition with several other dinghies.
When I posted on Facebook that I was going to Toro Bayou, I was surprised when John responded that he wanted to join me. After all, we would be going on a Thursday and most people had to work. I usually end up paddling alone on weekdays. I loaded up my gear and packed some of my backup cold weather gear for John to use. The temperature was supposed to get up to 60F, but the water would still be very cold.
I told John to meet me at the Wal-Mart on Hwy 27 in Sulphur at 7:30. I dropped my kids off at school and went to meet him. When I got on Hwy 27, it didn't take me long to realize that the Wal-Mart wasn't actually on 27! A quick phone call arranged for a new meeting location at a gas station on the corner of Hwy 27 and Hwy 90. We were soon on our way to Toro. I have traditions when it comes to running Toro. One of them is stopping at Burger King in Dequincy for $1 sausage biscuits. I sprang for John's breakfast too! lol
When we got to Toro, we dropped my truck at the takeout and I threw my boat and gear in John's truck. He was happy to see the wet suit, semi-dry top, gloves, and helmet I had brought him. We made the short drive down to the putin and were soon paddling down the river. This was the first time I had paddled it since my recent solo run at 1100 cfs. It was around 5ft and 180cfs this time, so things started out a little more slowly. That gave me time to talk to John about river features.
The last time I paddled it, there were three strainers in the first couple miles. This time there was only one just before the first rapid and we were able to paddle over one end of it. The first rapid was Cowboy Up. It's an easy class I rapid with a small hole that can be surfed on river left. We stopped and tried to surf for a couple of minutes, but at this level the hole wasn't very retentive. After that came Bad Wreck, a class I rapid that angles right to left with some decent waves. John didn't have any problems and I got a nice action shot of him in the wave train.
Before long, we could hear the roar in the distance from Toro Falls, the first class II of the day. I had John pull off in an eddy upstream next to some boulders...another nice photo opportunity. Then I explained the line to him and let him watch me run it. I got out of my boat and positioned myself on the island to take pictures. I signaled and he started his run. He found the center entrance with no problems, but I cringed as I realized he wasn't going to make it into the main flow on the right. He dropped over the falls with no problem though...success!
We took a snack break on the island and I took the opportunity to point out the various features of the falls. I showed him the features that existed at the current level and then showed him the rocks that would form the features at higher levels. Understanding hydrotopography (a phrase coined by the late William Nealy in the classic book Kayak) is an important part of whitewater kayaking. We got back in our boats and tried to surf some of the waves on river right, but they were all flushy today.
After that, we had a little flatwater before reaching the last four rapids. We stopped to surf a small wave at the entrance of the Bufford. It's so small that you could easily miss it, but it's amazingly retentive. John couldn't believe it when it slowly started feeding his boat upstream. He finally got to see what the sensation of surfing felt like! After a few rides, we decided to run Bufford straight down river left. The waves and little drops were fun, but there wasn't quite enough water to keep us from scraping in spots.
Next up was Kiss the Bull...one of my favorites. It's a neat little rapid, because all you can see is a horizon line from upstream. When you see the drop for the first time, it will definitely give you a moment of doubt. Then you punch through the hole and bounce down the wave train. It's a lot of fun! Plus, you can surf in the main drop. I got a nice long ride and explored a few spots along the drop that I haven't surfed before. The last one put me literally between a rock and a hard place, requiring some hard back paddling to get out of the hole.
The next rapid was 8 Seconds...a long rapid with fun wave trains and a couple of small drops. John said it was his favorite one of the day. Then we ran the last little drop, Sucks Back and paddled to the takeout. I had hoped to bring John down for a low water run of Jump and Kick in Section 3, but I really needed to get on the road. We picked up his truck and loaded up our boats and gear. I didn't have time to get my usual victory Icee, but I managed to make it back just in time to pickup my girls from school. What a day!
On Saturday, Sean and David Booth ran this section of the river to continue the run to the Gulf from the Toledo Bend Dam. Equipment used was a tandem Coleman Canoe 15 ft. in length. It was estimated that this run is an 18.15 mile run. The first 5 miles are on the lower Anacoco Bayou. Upper sections have been run in the past. The overall trip took from 7 am to 12:45 pm, including about 50 minutes for lunch and breaks on sand bars. It is estimated that the water/paddling speed was 2 mph on the Anacoco and 5.2 mph on the Sabine River. The river flow was above average at the time. We estimated the flow to be approximately 3 mph the day of the paddle.
Anacoco Bayou: This stretch of the bayou is fair. The put in at LA 111 was on the SW corner of the bridge where a small road leads to the bayou [30d 52m 23s and 93d 30m 51s]. The put in was a sheer 10 foot drop where we let in with ropes and crossed to a sand bar to await daybreak. The stream is open with lots of snags and logs as usual. The very last few miles were wide with fewer snags and had flat water and was slower going due to back water from the river. There are sand bars with white sand and other scenic areas. There was a serious strainer about 20 minutes down from the put in where an old bridge had the pilings left in place. We crossed a log on the left side, but this could be bad with higher water levels as the pilings are close together and span the entire stream. The water quality of this section is very poor. It is essentially made up of a significant volume of the upstream paper mill in DeRidder. There was a dark color to the water and a sulfidic odor to the water as we paddled. This was not a problem once we joined the river. I would not float this section based on poor water quality. I would recommend putting in at the boat launch identified below.
The Sabine River was great! There were very large sand bars/dunes and quite a bit of turbulence at the mouth of the bayou. We ran quickly and didn’t pause for much along the way as we had some distance to cover. There is a parish boat launch about 2 miles downstream of the mouth of the bayou, we had lunch there [30d 50m 42s and 93d 34m 1s]. There are some occasional camps on the LA side and only one structure on the TX side, which is a nice home and outbuildings in front of the fish hatchery which appears on the topographical maps. We did have a stern headwind on the way down from which we sought shelter on the left bank whenever possible. The wind was 10 to 15 mph with strong gusts at times.
Cell phones did not work for about 2/3 of the trip but did come into range in the lower Sabine River section where we could text our pickup and report progress.
We took out on the TX side on the NW corner of US 190 bridge [30d 44m 51s and 93d 36m 32s]. With the help of a faithful shuttle, Ian Booth, we were out in a flash and headed back to Lake Charles after some tacos at Dairy Queen in DeQuincy. Good trip was had by all.
Oleg Bohomol and Rene Stramwasser were the only two persons that showed up for this trip. It was a nice and sunny day finally after a full week of rain and overcast. As soon as we arrived at the Goss Ferry Road launch site, we notices a strong wind from the North. We launched and started paddling to the left of the loop downstream of the Calcasieu River and against the wind.
We followed the traditional loop turning East to Goss Ferry Bay, then South toward Brad Bay. From here, rather than turning South back to the Calcasieu River, we headed north through the small inlet and entered the swamp on the North end. The water level was at least 2 feet higher than the normal level we have seen in earlier trips. So we went over the beaver dam, which was barely recognizable and paddled steadily on a 30 Deg bearing, making zigzags to avoid logs and debris. We paddled probably 3/4 of a mile in the swamp, until we arrived at a mound of earth that separates the swam from the electricity channel. We landed and slid our kayaks across the dam and paddled back on the man-made channel to the Calcasieu River. From that point, the paddle was easy since we were going downstream with a strong current.
We enjoyed the swamp trip with its quite and unique conditions, we only saw birds and occasionally a sleepy turtle bathing in the sunlight.
Total distance was 5.3 miles
On January 10, 2010, four intrepid, hardcore (and fool) Pelican Paddlers club kayakers (Ian, Paul, Theresa and Rene) and one smart member of the Lafayette paddling club (Heather) went out on a frigid January morning to try what paddling in ice would be. The venue, Broken Trail Loop from Goss Ferry boat launch around the Calcasieu River and swamp. The day was sunny but very cold. Temperature mark was 24F.
Vehicles had a thick layer of frost in the windows. And the banks of the river had between one and two feet of ice in the channels and secluded areas. Fortunately the wind was calmed, so temperature was acceptable inside of the average 12 layers of clothing most of paddlers were wearing.
On this occasion, Ian took as counter clockwise so we started paddling to the East up the river into a channel across Pelican Refinery. Here we started noticing a steady cracking noise as the first of the group paddled through the channel. Then we realized it was a thin sheet of ice on the banks that was cracking and we all said: "that is so cool!"
We found a big weaver den of about four feet tall, and lots of beaver activity in the surrounding areas, including several small logs that had been chewed by the animals. Several of us took some samples to "investigate".
We then continued along Old Town Bay to reach the end of this river fork, where we saw another beaver "hotel". We turned back not before trying to emulate an icebreaker ship (Rene of course) acting like a kid in his first outing to the ice...
We crossed the Calcasieu River and went back to our traditional trail, not before exploring the end of the small inlet next to the river. Here we found a beaver dam, so we could not, nor did we want to, disrupt the wonderful architectural structure built by these ingenious little beasts. One thing that did surprise us was how clear the water coming from the dam was, we had never seen this quality of water in all our previous expeditions.
So back to our trail, we went up Brady Bay and after the normal turns and twists, we decided to explore the South end of Goss Bay, into a shallow area not explored before, where we found more fun breaking the ice and laughing full mouth at our kiddy experiences. We took a break to eat some snack and recuperate our energies
After the break, we continued our way back through Goss Bay and then turned left on the Calcasieu River section (the boring part) until we finally made it back to the put-in place.
This was a unique experience for some of us (in particular for those from the sunny tropics) and a test to our endurance and courage (a bit of self advertisement), but all in all, it was a unique experience for this lower latitudes.
Total distance paddled = 5 miles