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HomeNL-2014-09 Chocolate Bayou

Chocolate Bayou
August 7, 2014
by Natalie Wiest


Once in 15 years was just not enough, and good paddling friend Dave Kitson wanted to see the bayou for himself, so off we went; for Sophie and me, the second trip of the summer. Thankfully Dave had his camera as I’d forgotten mine, so all but one of the photos are by him.

Water levels looked good again from our put-in at Chocolate Bayou county park, which basically has no signage and a somewhat hidden access road despite a “public boat ramp” sign on down the road.  Gage 08078000 as it turned out was reading just under 10’, so very similar to the trip at the end of June.

Sophie had been lured to this trip again with anticipation of easy-picking of lots and lots of elderberries. Imagine our surprise to find that someone (likely Brazoria County Flood Control District) had cut down virtually ALL of the taller vegetation next to the creek, downstream of the put-in and for miles, at least to the low water dam. Even that was no match for a person with determination, and still a harvest was had:

 

 
 
Now there’s a mound of elderberries! And there were still some grapes too, note the evidence at end of article.

However, most of the berry-picking was lagniappe after another very nice discovery – almost three miles of upstream paddling under a forest canopy. That’s three miles more of the bayou than I’d ever paddled and I’m sorry it took so long to discover this beautiful part of the bayou, not denuded for whatever purpose. Here’s what it looked like:



And more, my favorite kind of paddling:
 


Wildlife sighting of note: feral hogs and piglets a short distance from the put-in. I only got a quick glance at the dark shapes disappearing over the top of the stream-bank but Dave and Sophie got a good look at them.

After the surprise long upstream trip, we returned to the put-in and then went on downstream to the saltwater barrier dam; again easily paddling over the top of it. At least one huge oak tree was spared the bank-clearing.



As we were coming up on the 9 mile mark at the saltwater barrier, we decided we’d had enough paddling in the heat and headed back to the put-in, making it an 12.4 mile day. As continuing tribute to a good day on the water, we headed to Joe’s Barbecue in Alvin to cool off and recharge. Yummy good barbecue and a fine day on the water.

However, never content to just put in a full day paddling, Sophie went home and went to work – another batch of delicious wild fruit jellies, and here is the final result:



Go Sophie!

Your author, Natalie Wiest, on the water: