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HomeNL-2014-06 Cypress Wonderland

Canoe/Kayak the Cypress Wonderland
May 3rd, 2014
by Tom Douglas

Our group of 18 paddlers was greeted by clear skies, a temperature of 70 degrees, and low humidity that would drop even lower as the day progressed.  The water level, which held fairly constant at a little less than 8.3 feet on the
Lake Charlotte gauge, made for an easy launch at the Interstate-10 bridge, and gave us ready access to many parts of the swamp system. 

After a relaxed paddle up to the mouth of the Lake Pass, we left the riparian forest of the Trinity River behind, and headed eastward into the largest cypress swamp on the Texas coast.  At the entrance to the old channel into Lake Miller, we paused to recall the nearby site of an early French trading post and the Spanish response to remove it.  Spectacular rows of slender cypress trees along both sides of the channel ushered us on to the small cut that leads south into Lake Miller.  Crossing that lake was relatively easy, except for the last 50 feet or so, which was blocked, first by a floating mat of water hyacinth, then by a mat of giant salvinia, and finally by a myriad of small cypress knees standing in the water near the bank.  During our lunch break on the south shore of Lake Miller, we introduced ourselves, traded stories, and thanked our lucky stars for the remarkable absence of mosquitoes. 

Gateway to the
Cypress Wonderland
by Richard Cunningham
    Approaching the
Lake Miller Cut
by Linda Shead
   Pushing Toward
Shore for Lunch
by Kent Walters

Crossing the lake again, we continued northeast up Lake Pass to Lake Charlotte.  The moderate breeze from the west to southwest provided perfect conditions for us to paddle among the trees along the west side of the lake, and then out to Buzzard Roost to observe a water bird rookery.  For many of us, the view of a flock of bright pink roseate spoonbills was a highlight of the day.  Being careful to keep a safe distance back from the nesting birds, we circumnavigated Buzzard Roost and headed back toward home, retracing the route that we had traveled earlier in the day. 

Story Time
During Lunch
by Kent Walters
    Lake Charlotte's
Western Shore
by Richard Cunningham
    Roseate Spoonbills!
by Linda Shead

As we emerged from Lake Pass back onto the main stem of the Trinity River, we knew that we had been fortunate to visit a very special place.  Although this was one of our longer paddles, at 9.7 miles, even the beginning paddlers in the group came through in good spirits.  Chances are that no one had any problem getting to sleep that night, though. 

Loading Up to
go Home
by Tom Douglas
   Dave Kitson -
Trip Scout
by Kent Walters
   Where We Went
by Tom Douglas

Many thanks to Dave Kitson and Joe Coker for scouting the route for this outing ahead of time, and to Richard Cunningham, Tom Douglas, Linda Shead, and Kent Walters for providing photos.

                             Photo albums: Richard Cunningham Kent Walters

The author, Tom Douglas