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HomeNL-2013-01 Mud Ghost Bayous

Mud and Ghost Bayous
Dec. 1st, 2012
by Dave Kitson

This was a tune up or exploration trip in preparation for Tom Douglas’ “Cypress Wonderland” trip to take place on Dec 8. Tom was wise to explore the proposed route before the trip since conditions in this area can change, surprising even the most experienced Lake Charlotte area paddler. Joe had suggested that we check out the put in on the west side of the Trinity under the I-10 bridge, so Joe Coker, Tom Douglas and myself met there on Saturday Dec 1. The put in on the west side has plenty of parking and two nice concrete boat ramps so it is another easy put in point. This location has the advantage that it is probably a mile shorter driving trip than the east side by the time you go over the bridge and make the loop back. There were a fair number of fishermen putting their boats in here which would make it congested for a large group but it worked just fine for the three of us.

We set off up the Trinity and into Lake Pass on a beautiful day with blue sky, puffy white clouds and perfect temperatures. The fall colors were in full swing so we had not only the beautiful colors of the forest but also the reflection on the still water. Enough leaves had fallen so that light was streaming through the trees backlighting the Spanish moss and forming shafts of sun that created a cathedral like atmosphere. We saw one baby gator that was no more than 12” long with momma nearby. Since the water level has been constant for a while the sediments have had time to settle out making the water crystal clear pretty much throughout the trip. It is a treat to paddle on water where you can see the bottom. The water on the Charlotte gage was around 8.3 feet so we had plenty of water for the planned trip.

After taking the right into Miller Lake we looped around into Mud Lake Bayou. This end of Mud Lake Bayou has significant saw grass so we did a little bit of pruning to make the trip on the 8th easier for the less experienced folks. We also cut some of the larger fallen tree branches. Not far past the hairpin right turn Tom found two Swamp Lily blooms and Joe spotted a Cabomba bloom; something that is not often seen. But it was also here that we began to see clumps of Giant Salvinia weed (Cue the theme from Jaws). This water weed is something between Duck Weed and Hydrilla. As we proceeded down the bayou it got thicker and thicker until it was hard to paddle through. By the time we were approaching Mud Lake it was a real slog trying to push through the water. The presence of this weed will be a serious problem for paddlers if it establishes itself in this area.

     Mud Lake Bayou   Photos by Dave Kitson

We broke out into Mud Lake and decided to return to Miller Lake by way of Ghost Bayou, which was so named by Tom and Linda because it is hard to find and tends to appear and disappear as you paddle down it. It exits Mud Lake in the southwest corner and wiggles its way to the south/southwest to an intersection with a small lake/bayou that runs east/west into Miller Lake at its southeast corner. As we made our way the Salvinia got thicker and thicker until the only way we could make any progress at all was by poling the boats. We felt like those arctic explorers who find themselves completely surrounded and locked in by solid ice. I suppose this was the price we had to pay in order to enjoy the incredible beauty of the cathedral like forest. When we finally arrived at the little lake we found it, as expected, covered by Hydrilla so we turned west and paddled thru the forest. There was a little less Salvinia here so the going was easier.

Exit to Mud Lake   Ghost Bayou

We emerged into Miller Lake and made our way out to Lake Pass and back to the put in with the setting sun lighting the forest in all shades of red and orange and yellow. What a show! The trip ended up at 7.6 miles and 5.9 hours. I expect Tom will make some adjustments to the route for the 8th, probably returning via Lake Charlotte to Lake Pass, but the folks signed up for the Dec 8th trip are in for a real treat. While it was tough going thru the water weed, the reward of the great beauty of the forest was far more than well worth it and I think all of us would do it again in a heartbeat.

Lake Pass
Dave's complete photo album: Mud & Ghost 12-1-12

Photos from Joe Coker:

Entering Mud Bayou
from Miller
  Classic Mud Bayou  
Clearing path on
Mud Bayou 
Slogging through weed
on Mud Bayou 

Entering Ghost Bayou
from Mud Lake
There’s water
under there!
Tom in Weeds
Tom---We made it
back to Miller! 

The author, Dave Kitson