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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reelfoot Lake - Cypress Knees - March 29, 2015

Reelfoot Lake State Park                                            3.6 miles today              523.6 miles total
11:45 to 1:45, put in at end of Carrington Road
Me, Scotty, Dina, Dick & Nashville Outdoors Meet up Group/Kelly, about 30 total?
Morning started off at 25 degrees, got up to 58 degrees on the way home.

This trip was with Nashville Hiking Meetup.  There were 7 canoes total and about 10 kayaks.  Several of the group had camped the night before.  Thank goodness I was at home in our nice warm bed - it had been a cold night.  This group was a little different than most of our paddles as I think the majority of the people had none to little kayaking experience.  This was a great trip, though.  The scenery was unlike any other paddle. We went through many cypress trees and there were lots of cypress knees.  Apparently, this route can only be paddled in the spring before there is too much foliage, and also possibly the water level goes down.  We had to go through a canal like part at first and then we got out into the cypress trees.  We saw a huge eagles nest, it was about 10 feet wide.  There was one section of the lake filled with gar.  As we paddled through, they were jumping everywhere.  This was also the section where there was a duck blind.  The ranger said that the vultures like to sit on the blind AND if you go under and surprise them, they react with fear and regurgitate as you go under.  There were also 2 tree house structures here.  Years ago, Reelfoot Lake introduced eagles into the park.  For 6 months, there were some volunteers that lived in a structure here and every 2 hours climbed up into these houses to feed the baby eaglets.  At the visitors center, we saw owls, hawks and eagles in cages.  I think the majority of these birds were rescue birds.  Inside the center were also some snakes.
On the way home, we ate at Trollingers Barbecue in Paris, Tennessee.  It was a 3 hour drive over, but a beautiful way to spend a Sunday!

The 'canal' section leading out to the cypress trees.

The large 10 foot Eagles nest.

Duck Blind.

Houses where baby eaglets were introduced years ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Western Lake, Coastal Dune Lake - March 11

Western Lake - March 11           maybe 4 miles  520 miles total
A bit overcast, low 70's temperature
Put in at the end of Hotz Road in Grayton Beach
Me, Scotty, Rachel, Sydnie

This paddle wasn't like any other paddle we've done.  Western Lake is a coastal dune lake that leads into the gulf.  It appears as if it doesn't rise very much.  We could see water marks on the sand surrounding the lake and it didn't look like the water rises any more than 8 inches from today.  We put in at the only public ramp in Grayton Beach and paddled to our right which led out to the gulf.  So cool!  It twists into a canal past these homes that are on the small strip of lake, then twists again out to the beach.  I was able to get out of my boat and walk into the gulf.  The water here looks red.  It is that tan color that comes to some rivers in Florida from the foliage surrounding the lake.  We paddled back towards the ramp, then went out further into the lake under a bridge.  The lake is surrounded by grass and very tall pine trees.  The sand dunes around the lake are protected and there are signs stating that you can't clime the dunes.  There is a camping area at Grayton Beach State Park and we could see one motor home through the grasses.  We didn't see any fish in the lake, but did see some ducks.  It was such a cool paddle being in a lake, yet being able to hear the waves crashing in the gulf.

With Rachel around, you have to be READY when she has the camera!

Look at the beautiful white sand dunes!

These are the houses sitting right on the lake - the part that leads to the gulf.

The water has a reddish tint.

Sydnie is now a pro at kayaking.

Here you can see the reddish tint of the water.

The gulf!

The lake winds around so I could see Scotty over this sandy beach.


Sea oats.

Leading into the larger part of Western Lake towards the state park.

Sea grass and interesting pine trees.

Rachel took the kayak into the gulf -BUT it's not an ocean kayak and filled with water.

Emptying the gulf water :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Econfina Creek - Tadpoles! - March 10

Econfina Creek, Florida - March 10                                          4.2                    516 total miles
75 degrees, beautiful blue skies
Me, Scotty, Jerry, Patsy
10:45 - 2:00 (half hour lunch)

We put in at SR 20 bridge and kayaked upstream. (towrds Walsingham Park until the trees wouldn't let us go any further!)  It was tough going, but lots of beautiful foliage along the banks - magnolias, ferns, some kind of pink blossoming tree, palm trees, pines and more.  The water was very clear - a brownish tea color.  Apparently, some rivers in Florida have a resin like appearance from the plant life along the banks.
At the very top of our trek, we encountered many trees down across the river.  This made for interesting passages through.  I believe we each got stuck at different times.
The guides said there were many springs, but we didn't see 'many'.  At one point, we came into a small lagoon with the biggest dang tadpoles any of us had ever seen!  They were about 5 inches long!   The bodies were bigger than a silver dollar.  I wonder what the frogs in that area sound like at night?
We had lunch along a bank covered with deer tracks - better than alligator tracks!  The banks were mucky and my shoes got stuck in the mud twice!
Going back was WONDERFUL!  We could have made it without paddling at all if we had wanted to just float.  But, we paddled some.  It took us 2 hours to get upstream and 1 hour and 15 minutes to go downstream - with a long stop at tadpole lagoon.
Two days of paddling and my arms are tired, but happy :)

My phone died, but we went from bottom to top, then paddled back downstream on this route.

Getting in at SR20.

This is actually at the end - getting out.

One of the docks we passed.

How cool is the scenery here?!

Another launch.

I'm going to call this 'Tadpole Lagoon'.  The tadpoles here were about 5 inches long - huge!

Jerry and Patsy Halvorson - friends we met on meetups in Tennesee.

Beautiful, clear water!

A palm tree!

Not sure what this pink blossoming tree is, but it sure is pretty against the blue sky!

An interesting paddle along the route.

We had some tricky passes to get through!

I tried to put my hand in to show the size of the tadpoles.  Can you see the one under my hand?

More tadpoles under my oar.