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HomeNL-2016-07 Whites Turtle

White’s Bayou / Barrow Slough / Upper Turtle Bayou
June 18, 2016
Kent Walters

9 went out, 7 returned – acceptable losses for this kind of trip

This adventure began with a bang – the coordinator’s truck blew a tire on the way to the put-in, so all were not assembled until about 15 minutes after the official meeting time. The trip got underway after a quick check of waivers, PFDs and a short safety briefing (“Stay together and be safe”). A final total of nine souls hit the water, including Alice Nissen (HCC), David Portz (HCC), David Forster (friend), Terri Morgan (HCC), Larry Peterson (HCC), Dave Kitson (HCC), Michael Pollard (HCC), Karen Suggs (KCKC) and aforementioned coordinator, Kent Walters (HCC & KCKC). If we were fuzzy about the name of the guy we were talking to, “David” would nail it at least half of the time, with a higher probability of success for Mike, Larry and me. But I digress.

The three Davids:

David Portz      David Kitson      David Forster

The bayou above the water was many hues of beautiful bright green with lots of shade, meandering without any hint of a plan that was apparent to us mere mortals. The cicadas were practicing for a major production, sending us back in time to the primordial ooze (well, maybe not that far back, but at least to the Jurassic). As we progressed down the bayou, and as often happens, the awe of nature spawned comments of non-specific appreciation, which opened additional avenues of conversation. We chatted and got to know each other with random interesting factoids, stories and experiences shared from our lives as we glided by the subtly spectacular scenery. At about the 2-mile mark, far short of our intended goal, we came upon a very solid log jam between steep banks, and could see additional obstructions behind it. We pondered the situation. Since no one had thought to bring a chain saw, we decided it was time to bag the Barrow Slough portion of the plan and retrace our wandering route to the put-in, which we did at an appropriately leisurely pace.

Michael Pollard      Larry Peterson      Terri Morgan

The green bayou      The turn-around 

We had lunch at the put-in where we discussed two options for “Plan B” – either Upper Turtle Bayou or Atkinsons’s Bayou / Lee Gully / Albriton Gully. Dave Kitson won the coin toss and the coordinator seconded, and that’s how Upper Turtle Bayou was scientifically selected. We leave nothing to chance.

Terri and Larry left us at this point, and the rest of us continued north onto Upper Turtle Bayou.

At the beginning of the second leg of our trip, a portion of the group noticed some thrashing off to the side, made the detour, and found a 1-foot soft-shell turtle snagged in a trout line. Upon further examination, it was discovered that a hook was embedded in its shell. It took quite a bit of work by David Portz with Dave Kitson’s Leatherman tool to get the hook out, as the turtle was very angry and uncooperative. Persistence prevailed, and the ungrateful turtle from the black lagoon was released back into the bayou. Thanks to David for this assist to nature. It was later determined that this was probably a Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell.

By the way, last week in almost the same place, our group rescued a slider from fishing line wrapped around its neck, anchored by a hook in its shell. It was more cooperative. Back to this trip . . .

The upper portion of Turtle Bayou did not disappoint. At the beginning, it was wider than White’s bayou, which allowed us to see more of the birds and dragonflies. As we progressed further up, the bayou closed in considerably, and some of the cypress trees in the water were very interesting/bizarre. Perhaps the most memorable of them was in the middle of the narrow bayou and was growing around a fallen tree.

Weird tree growth      Alice Nissen      Karen Suggs 

After a little over 3 miles of paddling, we came to another significant log spanning the narrow bayou. Although we searched again, the chainsaw had still not turned up in any of our boats. We briefly considered using Dave’s Leatherman tool, but I’ll have to admit that that was a very quick assessment. It was a happy coincidence that we arrived at this barricade right at the time we had preselected for our turnaround point, so we did not overthink it and did an about-face and paddled south.

The mandatory alligator finally made its appearance near the end of the trip, swimming at a fairly good clip across the bayou right in front of us. She kept a wary eye on us, since she clearly noticed the battle scars on the front of Dave Kitson’s boat and knew that she would be wise to keep her distance. In all seriousness, the assumption was that this was a mother that was on the bank opposite her youngsters when she sensed the approach of our flotilla, and instead of sinking under to remain undetected per normal alligator regulations, she was making sure we could see her and, using her inter-species communication skills very effectively, made her point that we should not get between her and her destination. Her eyes clearly said, “Not on my watch.” We respected her wishes.


From the persistent smiles during and at the end of the trip, it seems that all had a good feeling about this event.

This is where we went:



Photo Album



10.5 miles:

Alice Nissen
David Portz
David Forster
David Kitson
Michael Pollard
Karen Suggs
Kent Walters

4 miles:

Terri Morgan
Larry Peterson

Club miles: (HCC members x mileage) = 59.5

1 green heron
2 unidentified largish bright blue birds with heron-like behavior
Lots of fish jumping
4 turtles
3 great blue herons
2 ducks
1 alligator
and a partridge in a pear tree

The author, Kent Walters