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HomeNL-2013-09 Picketts Bayou

Pickett's Bayou
July 14th, 2013
by Natalie Wiest

Participants: Dave Kitson, Paul Woodcock, Ellen Shipman, Natalie Wiest

Our trio of canoes met the water at the Picketts’ Bayou boat ramp, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, at 9:30 a.m. and were shortly underway, paddling down the still bayou and its dark waters. Hardly a breath of air was stirring, and the air felt every bit of its 80 to upper 80 degree range.

The “artist” who has hung the wind chimes has been at work again – a string of floats hang from another tree downstream, and a large buoy from another. The area has been further defaced with a “Linda’s Narrows” sign. I believe these items are on private property, but still, it’s not an improvement on the beauty of the tall trees.

Anhingas flew occasionally overhead, and green-backed and little blue herons, an occasional kingfisher. Thought I caught the yellow flash of the prothonotary warbler. Even the birds seemed to be fairly quiet and still this day. A couple of fishing boats floated although they weren’t reporting great luck.

Dave wanted to show off a side passage he and Joe had found earlier, so we paddled on down to the Cutoff, then west past what had been an impassable log jam. The side passage got narrower and narrower, and finally so many trees down we turned around and headed back. A small shelf of (thankfully) solid silt gave us a lunch spot where we admired some very large footprints. We’re fairly certain these were made by a good-sized alligator walking across our lunch spot. Yikes, glad he didn’t decide to rest or walk there while we were eating.
Tree knees on the bend     Narrow passage     Cutoff passageway 
We took a break on our return at the small sand island formed at the narrowing spot for Pickett’s Bayou. More gator signs there, with a long slithery tail-dragging trace left behind. I saw only two gator heads poking above the surface as we paddled. With regular alligator hunts in the area, only the most wary and shy gators remain. The wasps sure weren’t wary, and they were busy reproducing and building more and larger nests all along the passageways. Best to watch where your paddle is going – or your boat or your head, as you don’t want to stir these critters up. A swipe of my kayak blade got a katydid to jumping and it landed on Ellen’s shoulder.

Group looking
at mystery print
    Gator print     Gator slide

Our 10.5 mile paddle concluded by about 3 p.m. I had to go to Champion Lake to see what the water level was like there. You would be hard pressed to find enough water to make any kind of a paddle there. Water lotus filled the shallow lake right up to the “fishing” ramp right by the putin.
Island formed at east
end of Pickett’s Bayou
    Nature abhors a vacuum -
vegetation taking over an
abandoned floating dock
    Champion Lake –
with only enough water
to float a lotus

Photos by Natalie Wiest & Dave Kitson.

The author, Natalie Wiest