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HomeNL-2013-07 Spring Fling

Spring Fling 2013
June 15, 2013
by Joe Coker

Coordinator: Joe Coker

The 2013 4th Annual Spring Fling was another success!!


Thank you to all 23 participants (plus one wonderful dog) for making it a great day! ...And a special thanks to John Bartos, Philip and Tisha Matticks, Tom Douglas and Dave Kitson for their much appreciated assistance in handling the 20 boat flotilla.


  Cedar Hill Park
We met at Cedar Hill Park at 8:45am and were underway by 9:30.  Conditions were fine. Mostly sunny skies... 93 sultry degrees but bearable with a light breeze out of the south. Charlotte was glassy, and we were lucky to have an over-night spike in the water level to over 8 feet. The only downer was seeing how much the dreaded Salvinia had invaded the northern reaches of the 
lake.  It had indeed even formed a think carpet at the put-in, and accumulations all along the western shore were so thick as to prevent our treasured meanderings through the cypress forest. Such a shame. Significant floating mats out on the main body of the lake signaled even further disaster. Fortunately, Mac Bayou, the Sulfur Cut and Mac Lake are still clear, but random traces of the plague there too don’t bode well. 


Although it wasn’t in the original float plan, everyone agreed it would be fun to go down to Buzzard Roost and check the nesting activity. So we took advantage of the morning calm water and headed there first. Lots of action and lots of babies in the nests! Predictably, the scene was dominated by the spoonbills in their beautiful mating plumage. We hung around there for a good while taking it all in and snapping lots of pictures. Nature at its best!
night heron
    Nesting activity


From there we headed back north to Mac Bayou, hugging the shore most of the way. Pretty as ever, but the Salvinia discouraged the fun of paddling amongst the trees.  Soon we reached Sand Island which we circled around to enter Mac Bayou. None of the usual resident gators were in sight... probably all back in the shade and shallows of Gator Alley taking refuge from the heat.  Mac Bayou was wide open, and we made the roughly three-quarter-mile run to the Sulfur Cut pretty quickly. 

West shore   West shore   Mac Bayou

By then the sun was blazing and we were happy to linger a long time in the welcome shade at the very top of the lagoon. It was again a little surprising not to see the usual resident big gators nor babies common at this time of year basking in the willows. But no doubt, the heat again was a factor.


Lunch time was approaching, so we eventually made our way out to the Trinity and up to “Beach Bend”. Unfortunately the big strip of sand that used to be there has mostly eroded away. Even so, it’s still a nice place to stop for a break. A dip in the river felt really good!


Trinity River beach   Trinity River beach   Trinity Beach Memory

Refreshed and bellies full, we finally shoved off for the afternoon leg of the trip. This took us back down the Trinity to the Sulfur Cut and over to the north section of Mac Bayou that leads up to Mac Lake. Part way up we left the main channel for a quick paddle into “Secret Cut”, a relatively unknown area, rarely visited due to its seclusion. From there we paddled just a short way further up the bayou to another very active rookery mainly frequented by egrets. Again we lingered there quite a while watching the action and snapping many pictures.


Sulfur Cut   Mac Bayou   Secret Cut

Rookery photos            


By then, our time was drawing short, so some of the group elected to head for home led by Tom Douglas. The rest of us (9 boats) headed on up the bayou and out into Mac Lake. The most remote of the major lakes, it was as beautiful and peaceful as ever. I was tempted to paddle all the way to the top, but the meter was running and we had to get back. So, we began the leisurely paddle home, retracing our way along Mac Bayou. The breeze and light current were generally in our favor, and although Charlotte had kicked up a little, we arrived back at Cedar Hill at about 3:15, not too far behind the rest of the group.


“Tons” of ice-cold watermelon was the perfect end to yet another great paddle in the Trinity Basin. Thanks again to all who attended.


All photos of the Spring Fling trip may be viewed on the HCC website, here: Spring Fling 2013.


        Reporter:  Joe Coker


ps---Don’t miss Bird Fest 2013 on Sunday, July 7th. We’ll paddle a more southern route on Charlotte and focus on the Buzzard Roost rookery. By then, all the babies will be at their raucous, fledgling stage and fun to watch! Mark the date and contact me at for details and sign-up.


The author, Joe Coker