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HomeNL-2013-12 Wiggins Bayou

Wiggins Bayou
Nov. 9th, 2013
by Dave Kitson

Joe Coker, Will Blumentritt and I set out to explore Wiggins Bayou on Sat Nov. 9. Wiggins Bayou is located on the east side of Lost and Old River to the north of I-10. Joe and I had done an exploratory trip about a month before to see if we could get to Wiggins and whether it would be suitable as a club trip. We were able to make it about half way up the bayou before turning around. We had put in at Hugo Point and the addition of 4 miles in open water made the total trip 14.5 miles, 4 of which was open water. This would not be a workable club trip except for the real intrepid types. It looks like a much better choice would be putting it on the west side under I-10 near Crawdad’s. The Bayou is beautiful and makes for a wonderful paddle so we decided to try a little closer to the bayou entrance.

  

Joe had studied Google Earth and discovered that Wiggins might actually connect to Lost River at the top as well as the bottom which would allow us to make a loop so the plan was to check this out. The other goal of the trip was to find the two streams that lead into Square Lake which is located just north of I-10 near the Trinity River Turn Around.

We set out at 9:40 on a lovely cool day and paddled up to the private bridge over Lost River. There is some sort of oil extraction installation on the west side of the river here and it appears that at one time there was no bridge and that a ferry was used. The ferry is still there just rusting away and the pulleys that pulled it back and forth across the river are also still there.

     

We made the right turn on to Wiggins and paddled to the oxbow that marked the furthest Joe and I had been; from here on it was new territory. Wiggins Is a little different from what we are used to in that area. It is mostly marshy grassland with some trees, really beautiful and peaceful. As you go further north there are more trees and less grass until the top end which is mostly trees, in some places forming a canopy overhead. Google Earth showed many side channels so it would be difficult to find the correct channel to tie into Lost River. Knowing this I had printed out maps from Google Earth. In any event, we ended up more or less lost and went up at least 3 wrong channels. While they did not lead where we wanted to go they were beautiful places and well worth the paddle. Will and I were intently studying our maps and GPSs to no avail. Finally Joe picked a channel that turned out to be the right one (Joe don’t need no stinking GPS) and we followed it to Lost River. The key was that this channel had some flow. On the way we surprised a small herd of white tailed deer on both sides of the stream that let us have a pretty good look before bounding off. None of us had ever been here before and based on the difficulty of finding the path I suspect that not too many folks have ever made this trip.

Back on Lost River we discovery a storage tank lying on its side on the west bank. I suspect that Ike picked it up and moved it there and nobody has ever salvaged it. A little south of the tank we found a stream connecting from the west that looked promising so we headed up it thinking we would paddle a quarter mile or so before it petered out. We ended up paddling about a mile upstream and stopped for lunch. It is a very peaceful stream, starting out relatively wide but getting increasingly narrow until finally the trees met overhead to form an arch. The stream continued on although it was getting pretty narrow so it may not be passable too much further on. It seems to parallel the east shore of Lost Lake for most of the way. At the lunch spot there was an animal trail running through the mud. It looked like it was mostly feral hogs that used the trail. There must be quite a few hogs in this area because we saw or heard several as we paddled along. This trail is well worth a visit and, like the upper end of Wiggins, none of us had ever been here before.

  

After lunch we headed back to Lost River and south to try and complete the other goal of the trip, finding the entries to Square Lake. The two entries to Square Lake appear to be side by side on Google Earth so we took the first, more eastern, one and sure enough after about a quarter of a mile we were rewarded with the view of Square Lake. Paddling down to the southwest corner of the lake to find the other entrance there was a fine view of the Trinity River Bridge. We searched the south side of the Lake for a place to get through the underbrush to put in on the lake but saw nothing promising. If it were possible to park at the Trinity River Turn Around and put in at the lake the trip would be shortened by a mile or two of less interesting bayou. The two entrances have somewhat different looks even though they are very close together. Both are excellent with a combination of trees and marsh grass and well worth a paddle.

Back on Lost River anticipating a nice paddle to the take out we heard the sound of a motor which quickly got very loud then suddenly a two-seater, open cockpit helicopter came flying around the bend at maybe 100 mph and only 15’ above the water! I was afraid this thing would fly right over us and maybe capsize a boat but it passed 75’ to the west. I can’t imagine what the pilot was thinking; if they were to encounter even a slight downdraft there would have been no time to react and they would have crashed into the water and could easily been killed. Not only that but I think it is illegal to fly below 400’. A few minutes later the copter came back the other way, still only 15’ above the water but this time there was a piper cub on his tail flying at maybe 50’ above the water! The plane flew up and headed to the west and the helicopter flew up to 250’ or so to cross I-10 and then descended back to water level on the south side. It would appear that passing an intelligence test is not required to get a helicopter license.

What a great day we had, beautiful weather and the chance to explore new places. The trip ended up at 14.8 miles and 7 hours. After putting the boats up we stopped along the north side of the turn around and tried to find a way down to the lake but although there are a couple of possible spots it would appear that the best bet is to put in on the west side under I-10. This will add about 1.5 miles round trip but it is a good put in.
Will Blumentritt's photo album from the trip can be viewed here


 

The author, Dave Kitson