No hunting allowed

I can’t go hunting this weekend. Seems I’m too far north to look for gator. I’m in Tell City, Indiana at Ironstock. For those that don’t know, Ironstock is a Hauntfest where I can get together with other Halloween geeks and learn better ways to give trick or treaters a good scare.

So while I’m not hunting my local cryptic monster, there are plenty of crypt monsters here! I’ll have more photos later, but for now here is a taste of the fun:

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A few of my favorite things

Looking at pictures on my iPhone today.  Realized that I had a picture of two of my favorite birthday presents on there.  So although I’ve already shown them to you once, I’ve decided to show them again.  Because, well… today IS my birthday.

So, here it is, two of my favorite all time presents:

Two birthday presents for the price of one.

Two birthday presents for the price of one.

There they are.  And yes, I’m including the boy as one of my all time favorite birthday presents.

Surprised?  Well here is the story.  Five years ago today, in the offices of the Madison County Probate Judge’s office, the judge banged down a gavel and the boy in that picture, much much younger at the time, became mine.  Sean’s adoption was finalized on June 23rd, 2004.  I turned 34 the same day.

I’m now 39, and in seven more days, Sean will turn 6.  He was just shy of turning one when we got him.  Of course, he had been living with us for a while by then, but five years ago today it became official and I became a dad in the eyes of the law, even though I’d been the kid’s father for several months by then.

Since then my family, and my boats, have grown.  But it all started with that little boy.

Sean shortly after adoption

Sean shortly after adoption

Lots of things have changed, but little about the last five years would I give up.  We missed the first 7 months of this little buggers life, but I hope we’ve made up for that in the last 5 years.

Next week we take him to a special place for his 6th birthday.  But I’ll keep those plans under wraps till we get back.

Happy Birthday to me, but more importantly – Happy Adoption Day Sean!

Clown Car of Canoe and Kayak Goodness!

Here is the clown car of canoe and kayak goodness!

First, the Clown Car of Canoe:

If you see this rig running around North Alabama, it isn't a clown car.  That's me looking for gators!

The Clown Car of Canoe

And now, the Clown Car of Kayak:

The Clown Car of Kayak

The Clown Car of Kayak

I don’t know why it rotated like that.

It’s too funny, I’m not changing it.  Tilt your head already.

Seriously, I love this little car.  It’s my father-in-law’s ancient Ford Festiva.  It’s indestructable, gets great milage even with a canoe/kayak on top, and just works great hauling my gear around the county.  I wouldn’t take a long trip in it, and I wouldn’t double haul both the canoe and the kayak on it, but on the whole it might work funny, but more importantly it works!

This just in from Cryptomundo!

One of my favorite blogs, Cryptomundo, just had this in their batch of stuff for the day:

Screaming Fishermen Confirm Gator Sighting

Seems some poor chaps fishing from a floating platform on a lake in Indiana saw a gator and refused to come off the platform for fear of being attacked.  This post caught my attention for two reasons.

One, it is in Indiana.  Far north of my hunting grounds and if it isn’t a pet, then I’m convinced gators are more elusive and successful than many people think.  But I bet it is a pet.  It was four feet long and I doubt an alligator could live in such a peopled place for long enough to grow that big without earlier sightings.

Two, is gators don’t attack.  They aren’t hunters.  They don’t chase prey.  With their cold blooded systems and anarobic muscles they can’t afford the energy.  Gators just don’t randomly attack.  They lurk.

Okay, a ticky tack difference.  If you’re the unlucky recipiant of a gator lurking, you don’t really care that it didn’t “hunt” you.  But its still true.  A gator isn’t going to hunt you down, but if you’re unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the right time, a gator might just get you.

But a four foot gator would be more likely to silently watch you pass than attempt to take out prey that much larger than itself.  Not saying it won’t, but it is less likely.

I’m counting on this in my hunts.  I’m hoping my 10 foot kayak or my 14.7 foot canoe is large enough to keep even 12 foot lurkers from thinking of me as oppertunistic prey.  Maybe I’m the one with the foolish concept of gator hunting techniques.

Buying A Kayak

For Father’s Day, my kids got me a kayak.  Which means, since my kids are little, I picked out and got myself a kayak.  But it sounds better to say the kids did it.

This involved much research on my part. And by research I mean I went to the outfitters and took pictures of boats I could afford on my trusty iPhone.

My Son tries out a Perception Sundance.

My Son tries out a Perception Sundance.

I had basically narrowed my search down to the two kayaks I could afford that were big enough that my 6’4″ frame felt comfy in.  It was either going to be a Swifty or a Sundancer, both by Perception.

Really, they are the same boat.  The Swifty is a big box standard sold at Dicks Sporting Goods and REI, among other places, and is a solid boat.  The Sundance is basically a Swifty with an upgraded seat and deck.  I found the Sundance at Gander Mountain.

The Sundancer was about $30 more than the Swifty, and ultimately that was the deciding factor.  The nicer seat and better deck rigging was worth the $30.  So off I went to Gander Mountain last night to pick up a new Perception Sundance.

Only I didn’t.  My price point was around $300, and the kayak I wanted was $379.  I couldn’t justify the $79, even though I was justifying $319 for the Sundance.  I gave up on the one I really wanted, and was pulling out a Sundance to take to check out when, in passing, I mentioned to the guy helping me that I really wanted the other kayak.

“Why aren’t you getting it then?  It’s cheaper.” he said reasonably.

“No it’s not.  This one is $399 with a 20% off sale, so its $319.  You’ve not included that one on the 20% off sale, so its $379.” I explained to the dimwitted salesman.

“What do you mean it’s not 20% off?” he said.

I pointed to the sign that said “All Kayak’s 20% through Father’s Day” and the fine print that clearly said the kayak I wanted wasn’t included.

“Oh yea,” the salesdude said.  “Well the flyer that we sent out on the sale was misleading.  The two kayaks featured for the sale weren’t included in the sale.  So we decided to include them.  So yea, it’s 20% off.”

I was stunned.  I REALLY wanted that other kayak.  It was longer (longer means faster) had a better seat, had knee pads, a bigger rear deck for gear.  The only thing it didn’t have was deck bungees, but it didn’t need them since the cockpit was huge and roomy.  (It’s practically a sit-on-top, even though it is a sit-inside)  And the reviews on the net were extremely positive.

I pointed to the kayak of my desire and said “That kayak is on sale?”

“Yes.”

“That one there?”

“Yes.”

“The one that EVERYONE on the planet is selling for $379, you’re going to sell to me for 20% off $379?”

“Only if you stop asking me about it and buy it before tomorrow.”

“It’s on sale?”

He didn’t answer me that time.  Instead he put the bright red Sundance back in the shelf and said, “Do you want the blue or the orange?”

About that time the kids had caught up to me.  “Kids,” I said, “do I want the blue or the orange?”

Much crying and discussion later, the two kiddos agreed (after a bribe of ice cream) to the orange.

My son and the Old Town Vapor 10 I ended up buying.

My son and the Old Town Vapor 10 I ended up buying.

So I walked out of Gander Mountain the proud and quite surprised owner of an Old Town Vapor 10.  And at $303.  That’s LESS than the Sundance and a mere FOUR DOLLARS more than the less equiped Swifty.  Plus it’s a half foot longer, tracks better and, well, just rocks!

I am a very happy kayak owner.  And apparently an Old Town Canoe and Kayak loyalist.  My canoe is an Old Town Guide 147.  Heck, Old Town Canoe should be paying me to advertise for them or something.

Ya hear me Old Town?

Why won't Old Town sponsor me?

Why won't Old Town sponsor me?

First Attempt At Gator Hunting

This post is about a week late.  No, it’s exactly a week late.  This is the story of my first attempt at hunting for the elusive North Alabama Gator.  It took place on Sunday, 14, 2009.

As I said in a previous post, I’ve decided to track down the North Alabama Gator.  Rumor has it that the gator can be found in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, but there are few pictures available, if any.  And no pictures of active nests.  In fact, since the gator release in the 70’s, only one nest has been found and that was in 2001.

Limestone Bay at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Limestone Bay at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

So I went looking.  My first attempt at finding the gator was to try the backwaters of Limestone Bay. I put in at Arrowhead Landing, but that may not have been the best choice.  Everyone claims the gators are in the various backwater swampy sections, so that’s where I wanted to go.  Arrowhead Landing, however, is a long paddle to the backwaters.  Over a wide bay that can be quite windy.  But I made it to the backwaters and explored as far as I could after the long slog.

Water Lillies in the Backwaters of Limestone Bay

Water Lillies in the Backwaters of Limestone Bay

Actually, I was willing to explore more, but my GPS wasn’t working at the time, and I came to a point where I wasn’t sure I could find my way out if I continued.  So I turned back instead.  Quite disappointing for the first time out.  But the trip wasn’t wasted, as I learned quite a bit about myself and my abilities.

One of the interesting things I learned is how and why eyewitness testimony in the search for cryptids isn’t the best of evidence.  I was on a channel where I’d heard rumor that gators had been seen.  I was coming up on a log, and thought I saw a turtle sunning itself on a branch.  As I reached for my camera, the “turtle” jumped off the log.  Only as it left the log and I got a better, if fleeting, glimpse of the creature I realized it wasn’t a turtle.  Now I can’t swear it was a gator, but it sure looked like one.  It had the typical markings of a young gator, with the yellow bands found on the very young.  But it could have just been a typical turtle and I could have had “gator on the brain” and seen what I wanted to see.  Without the picture to identify the critter, I basically have nothing.

Take a look at this picture of a young alligator:

Yes, these two cuties are on the back of an adult gator, but you can see the color difference between the big one and the very young.  You can really see the yellow stripes in this picture.

Now look at a common turtle in the refuge:

I know what you’re thinking, how can anyone confuse these two critters.  They are clearly different.  But think about a quick glance as it slips off a log to disappear into the water.  Add to that the fact that you’re looking for a gator, and trust me, you can get them confused.  So I don’t know what I saw.

(BTW, I shamelessly pirated those pictures off the web.  Bad researcher!)
This is the area I think I may have seen a baby alligator.  Maybe.

This is the area I think I may have seen a baby alligator. Maybe.

Now I do know this, if it was a gator I saw, Momma wasn’t far away.  The American Alligator is one of the very few reptiles to care for their young.  It is thought this is a throwback to the dinosaurs, which really the American Alligator is a modern version of a dinosaur.  So if it was a gator, I was damn close to my ultimate goal of seeing and photographing a North Alabama Gator.  Frustratingly close.  I didn’t see momma anywhere, so I’m leaning toward believing I saw a turtle.

I didn't come up completely empty.  I managed to anger this momma mallard.

I didn't come up completely empty. I managed to anger this momma mallard.

But I clearly had gator fever.  Every splash, every rumble and every log was thought to be a gator by my brain.  It was completely infectious, I was convinced I’d see one around the next bend.  It got me to wondering about field research into mystery animals.  I can see how someone could easily get Big Foot Fever when out in a camp for the purpose of finding Big Foot.  How ever sound, every falling acorn, could become the creature you’re looking for and how hard it would be to stay objective and watch for real signs of your quarry.

So I learned alot about this project of mine.  Not all of it just about looking for Gators.  I learned using a kayak paddle in a canoe isn’t a good idea.  There is a reason canoes use canoe paddles and kayaks use kayak paddles.  I got that.  And I got to test out my new waterproof digital camera.  I’m pleased with the results, and the video isn’t half bad.

And now, I’ll leave you with a video of the point where I decided it was time to return to my car and slog back across Limestone Bay!

Gator Hunting In North Alabama

The Big Foot Hoaxers at the nationally televised press conference

The Big Foot Hoaxers at the nationally televised press conference

It’s a little embarassing to admit this in public places, but since the big flap over Big Foot last August, I’ve been somewhat interested in the idea of cryptozoology.  For those of you who missed the flap, a couple of goobers from Georgia got swirled up in hoaxing the finding of a big foot body.  Their press conference announcing the find ran on most of the cable news networks and was quickly proven to be a hoax.

I’ve always been facinated by mystery animals, and in 2001 when I took a trip to Europe with friends I insisted, to the point of giving up the “right” to pick any other destination or activity, that we go to Inverness just so I could take a ride on Loch Ness and look for Nessie.  I got that trip, and spending time in Inverness is still one of my favorite memories, right up there with my wedding, the arrival of my son and the birth of my daughter.

Scotlands famous Loch Ness

Scotland's famous Loch Ness

Other than that fruitless cruise on Loch Ness, I’ve never done any “searching” for any type of weird animal.  In 1994 I did do a search for, and eventual found, a nesting pair of Bald Eagles near Winchester Tennessee.  That was more an accident than a mission, I saw a bald eagle land on a telephone on my way to work at the newspaper in that small community.  I was told I must be mistaken, since there were no bald eagles in that area.  I saw it again the next day, and managed a fuzzy picture of it.  Next thing I knew biologists from the University of Tennessee wanted to know more and they found the nest.

Since then, my interest in animals has been as an observer.  I’m not the field research type of guy, prefering to watch animals from the comfort of my sofa.  But if you’ve read my blog, you know I like to paddle about in a canoe so I’ve recently been up close to wildlife more than ever before in my life.

A snake sunning on a log I found on one of my trips.

A snake sunning on a log I found on one of my trips.

I’ve seen some weird things, such as muskrats diving in deep pools and blue herons skimming the water in front of my boat.  I’ve tipped over in snake infested waters and have been scared out of my wits by large fish jumping next to the canoe.  I’ve developed a healthy respect for wildlife and the world we share with it.

In the 4 years I’ve been paddling, I’ve never gone looking for anything.  Well, occasionally a snake or two, but I’ve been focused entirely on the trip and not the sights.  But something has been brewing in the back of my mind and I finally acted on it.

There have been rumors of alligators living successfully in North Alabama for a while.  Most biologists will tell you that it isn’t possible for Alligators to survive our occassionally harsh winters and lack of suitable habitat.  Yet sightings continue, including a recently captured gator in DeKalb County this year and a gator found in a pond in Morgan County last year.

Ultimately it was a post to Loren Coleman’s blog, Cryptomundo, that prompted me to action.  Coleman is one of the premier cryptozoologists, and he writes on all things weird and wonderful.  He posted about out of place gators found around North America, and it included the following:

On Friday, June 5, 2009, The DeKalb County Animal Adoption Center in Alabama got quite a surprise when someone dropped off an alligator (above). Director Leslie Johnson told the local paper it’s the first exotic animal the center has received.

“A man brought it in the back of his truck,” Johnson said. “He said he found it on U.S. 11, and that’s all we know.”

Johnson said she is unsure where the 2-foot gator came from. Little River Superintendent John Bundy said it is unlikely the gator is from the area. State Lake Supervisor Jack Turner said there are gators native to central and South Alabama but not North Alabama.

“It’s a bit too far north and a bit too high in altitude for alligators in North Alabama,” Turner said. Turner said the reports of alligators in North Alabama are sporadic and there is no reason for him to believe there is a population of the reptiles in the area. Lt. Michael Casalini with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said if alligators were breeding in DeKalb County, there would be more sightings.

–Loren Coleman, Cryptomundo

Is State Lake Supervisor Jack Turner correct?  Perhaps, but there are plenty of sightings in Madison and Morgan county indicating that there may be a breeding population there.  And there is at least one KNOWN alligator living wild in North Alabama in Madison County.

“Stumpy” lives on Redstone Arsenal, the area’s primary employer.  Stumpy crawls out onto one of the test ranges at the army base and gets his picture taken now and again.  He’s a big fellow, and missing part of his tail, hence the name.  If you work on post, you’ll see his picture in the Redstone Rocket now and again.

So if Stumpy is real, why can’t these other sightings be real?  Where would a breeding population of Alligators live in North Alabama?

If the rumors are true, the perfect place exists between Huntsville and Decatur, in the Wheeler Federal Wildlife Refuge.  If you visit there page, you won’t find alligators listed among the regular inhabitants, but buried on the FAQ’s page is this little tidbit:

Although seldom seen, American alligators do inhabit the Refuge. In the 1970’s, the alligator population had been reduced drastically, so 50 alligators were released here in an effort to help restore the species which at that time was federally listed as threatened. An estimated 40-50 alligators currently inhabit Wheeler NWR and at least one active nest was located during the summer of 2001.

—Wheeler Federal Wildlife Refuge website

My First Trip Gator Hunting in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

My First Trip Gator Hunting in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

An active nest in 2001?  Now since 1980, we’ve had several harsh winters.  And yet the population has stayed stable?  I’m not sure I buy this.  In fact, I believe, with nothing to back me up, that the population is larger than this and that they are breeding successfully.  Our summers are warm enough, our winters are typically mild enough and the American Alligator can survive up to two years without food, and can go dormant for long periods of time without moving, a sort of hibernation.

If you see this rig running around North Alabama, it isn't a clown car.  That's me looking for gators!

If you see this rig running around North Alabama, it isn't a clown car. That's me looking for gators!

Now I’m not suggesting that the refuge is teeming with alligators, but I do think the population is growing and spreading.  And besides, no one around here believes the alligator stories.  Everyone looks at me like I’m nuts when I mention the possibility of seeing a alligator from my canoe in North Alabama.

Well this is my birth month, and the presents came a little early.  I got a new paddle and a waterproof digital camera.  I’ve got a GPS system, thanks to my nifty iPhone, and it all seems to have come together.  I could go look for these gators on my own, take a picture, record the GPS data and possibly find a nest.  Or two.  Or three.  Prove that the Gators are growing.

So this past Sunday I started the project.  I went out to Arrowhead Landing, put my canoe in the water, grabbed my new paddle, and headed out in search of alligator.  But I made a lot of mistakes, most of them before I ever put the canoe in the water.  So while I had a wonderful paddle, I didn’t turn up any alligators at all.  Well, one possibility but that’s another story.

Stay tuned for an update on the first trip out and about on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

Teaser from my most recent canoe trip

Okay, I just finished writing an epic novel about LAST weekends canoe trip since I’m so ridiculously far behind in my blogging.  Excpecially about the canoe. So this is a short little teaser, with a test.  I got a new waterproof camera, and it even shoots simple video (like they make any digital camera’s that don’t) and I visited Wheeler Wildlife Refugee to test out the camera and another birthday present.  So here is the video I shot on that trip.

I’ll write up this weekends trip.  Maybe even before the week is out.  But after paddling 6 miles today, and writing the previous entry, I’m done.  I’m going to BED.

Catching Up On The Flint

This one may be a long one, since I’ve got three trips to catch up on from last weekend!  So bare with me here, I’ll give you the shortest version I know how.  (Hey you! Stop rolling your eyes at my long windedness!)

Trip 1: June 5th – Highway 72 to Little Cove Road

The Remains of a boat on the Tennessee River

The Remains of a boat on the Tennessee River

One of my regular canoe buds met me at Little Cove Road straight after work.  Jim and I had done most southernly sections of the Flint River together in the past, and had done this particular section before.  Other than the rather tough take out at Little Cove Road, I didn’t expect this trip to be difficult at all.  And starting around 5pm, I didn’t expect it to last very long either.

I was half right.  It wasn’t very long.

We did this section in under 2 hours.  That’s better than the last time I did it with my other canoe regular Bill.  Although that time was in early January and we had a log flip us.  We spent a good deal of time drying off and warming up on the bank on that trip.

Jim and I handled this section with relative easy, keeping an eye out for trash on the river since the next day was a major clean up effort spearheaded by the Flint River Conservation Association.  We saw some interesting things along the Flint that day, including two Raccoons living on the bank at a group of riverside homes.  They were fat and happy, no doubt raiding the homeowners trash for some easy food.  We also saw a Coot living in the same area.  We found plenty of deer sign and raccoons sign, but never saw a deer.

As for trash, the only thing of note was the remains of a wooden dingy we found and photographed from various angles.  Not sure why it impressed me so, but I rather liked it.

A wooden Dingy

A wooden Dingy

As for our troubles, we had a bit within sight of the take out, or at least the bridge over the Flint at Little Cove Road.  We got caught up in a snarl that didn’t look bad, but turned out to be.  The problem was our inability to swing the canoe around the log, and instead getting astride it.  Normally that isn’t a big issue, but this time the current was too strong and we were quickly swamped.  Now my canoe floats fine full of water, but not with two men in it.  So we bailed out, and Jim stood up in less than a foot of water.

I wasn’t so lucky.  I was in a deep hole and went quickly downstream.  Both Jim and I had the foresight to grab the bow and stern ropes respectively, so I didn’t go far.  As soon as I reached the end of the rope, I managed to get to shallower water and stand up.  Unfortunately it was also fast moving water.  Jim and I stood there a minute trying to decide our next move and WHAP! a log clipped me and I went with the current again.

No damage to me from the log, except an unexpected dunking.  Again.  We got the canoe emptied and made it the 100 yards or so to the take out with no more difficulty.  From there it was a simple matter of pulling the canoe up the steep bank and getting it out of the water.  We quickly put it on Jim’s car and headed under the bridge to change clothes.  Of course, that’s when a family of fisherpeople decided to show up.  Oh well.  Hope our flashing didn’t scare them too much.

Weirdness of the Surgical Glove

Weirdness of the Surgical Glove

One other odd thing.  When we arrived back at 72 to pick up my car, there were a bunch of surgical gloves blown up and tied off lying on the ground behind it.  Don’t know if that means anything.  Maybe it was part of some voodoo ritual that left me cursed for floating the flint or something.  Weird, but I left them there since the clean up was the next day.

Trip 2: June 6 – Highway 72 to Little Cove Road

My Canoe, Floating, June 6, 2009

My Canoe, Floating, June 6, 2009

For the Flint River Cleanup, I did the same section of the Flint as the day before.  Only this time I did it solo.  Other than tooling around a bit in very sheltered coves I’ve never attempted a solo trip before.  I was a bit nervous.

I hadn’t planned on canoeing at all that day.  The intention was to go take the family to one of the sites for the clean up and help on land.  We got to Little Cove Road and while there were tons of cars, no one was there.  So we cleaned up the landing the best we could, and while doing so a scoutmaster showed up.  He was waiting for his troop which had started at Highway 72.  We got to talking and it turned out his troop had left about 30 minutes earlier.  A quick calculation in my head, knowing the first portion of the Flint there was pretty simple, and I figured I could catch them easily and hang out with them through the tough stuff.

We scooted over to 72 to put me in the water, and I jumped to it, unloading the canoe (which hadn’t been unloaded the night before) and getting it ready to go.  In no time I was prepared to leave when suddenly from upriver there came a canoe.  It was going a bit fast and nearly missed the take out, so I pitched in and pulled them ashore.  Next thing I know the landing was covered with little kayaks.  Seems the canoe was leading a bunch of folks from an upstream put in that I didn’t know about, and had been on the water for a little over an hour.  All in all I’d guess there was 20 boats in that group and they weren’t there for the clean up, just a group that did things together including hiking, kayaking and riding their Harley’s.  I guess they were a biker gang of sorts, but cool in that “I’m retired now, I’m gonna have fun” kind of way.

So as they pulled out to eat lunch, I learned they were going to do the next leg of the Flint too.  I figured if I couldn’t catch the scouts, then surely if I had trouble these folks would help.  So I set off solo with the intention of catching the scouts or waiting for these folks before attempting the scary part that Jim and I had trouble with.

Surprisingly I found the Scouts really quickly.  They were goofing around and taking there time, and collecting a goodly bit of trash.  But they left a good 45 minutes prior to me, and I caught up to them in 15 minutes, just around the first bend.  I hung out with them for a while, but damn they was slow.  So I soon took off on my own, heading down the river and getting cocky that I was having so little trouble solo.

At about the half way point, I saw two canoes at the campsite area Jim and I had noted the day before.  We liked it because it was up a high bank and it was near a cliff.  Well protected in the event of a storm.  I thought maybe they were cleaning the area since if Jim and I thought it made a good campsite, surely others did as well.

Very cool Cave found on the Flint

Very cool Cave found on the Flint

Turned out they were looking at a cave that you couldn’t see from the river.  But Jim and I nailed it about the campsite.  There was a prepared camp there.  Someone had built a fire ring and had ground cloth stowed away.  I don’t know who owned the land, but it was accessible only by the river, so I doubt the owner had the camp set up.  More likely some hunters since it looked long disused.  But I took the time to explore the cave, at least a little since it was rocky and I wasn’t really prepared for a spelunking trip.

As I got ready to leave, I saw kayaks headed my way.  Surely the scouts had finally caught up to me!  Nope, it was the kayakers from 72, lunch finished and they had passed the scouts themselves.  Well, great!  I’d just float the rest of the river with them.

It was a peaceful float, and I chatted with various folk.  They had passed me by the time I got down the bank and back into the canoe, but my 14 foot canoe had no trouble catching the 9 foot kayaks.  (longer is faster)  As a passed through the group chatting, I had a good time.  By the time I got to the front, we were approaching the snarl.  I noticed a cross cut that Jim and I hadn’t seen, one that would take us around rather than through the snarl.  So I took that, making sure the lead kayaker saw it.  As he waited to pass the word, I floated on down to the takeout with no worries.  The only bad part was the fact that by avoiding the snarl, you arrived on the far side of the river and had to cross a swift current to get to the takeout.  But arrive I did, and the scoutmaster was still waiting.  With his help I quickly had my canoe in place out of the river.

I waited around and helped the kayaking biker gang out of the water.  It was a hoot.

Trip 3: June 7 – Ryland Pike to Highway 72

As I mentioned, the biker gang put in farther upstream at a put in I was unaware of.  Ryland Pike crosses the Flint about 2 Miles north of 72.  I called up my other canoe buddy Bill and we headed up to do that short section on Sunday.

Canoe Blog - 20

Cool remains to an old bridge

There’s not much to say about this section.  I moves quick and there isn’t much to see.  You do go between the remains of an old bridge, which was kinda cool.  And under a railroad bridge, which is loud if you arrive as a train crosses.  You’re in the flight path of planes leaving Moontown Airport, which was neat.  But all in all, a very quick fairly peaceful float.  No close calls to talk about, no limboing under anything.  Clean, nice easy and fun.  Bill and I had a good time looking at the various things along the way, but nothing really stands out as cool.  Hardly worth loading up the canoe just to do that section of the river, but its yet another new section for me to knock off my list.  (and again, the canoe hadn’t been unloaded from the day before, so it wasn’t like I loaded it up JUST for that trip!)

Summary

A Train Bridge north of 72!

A Train Bridge north of 72!

A very busy canoe weekend with what totalled out to just under 20 miles of river tripping in just over 7 hours total time on the river.  I had a good time, saw a new section and managed to take both my canoe buddies AND a solo trip.  A good weekend all around.

The only complaint is I rubbed a mole on my back to the point of bleeding and hurting.  For the next week, that damn mole hurt and every time I moved it seemed to get tugged on.  It was right over my spine, and hurt like you wouldn’t believe.  But on Saturday, June 13th I finally saw a doctor and they removed it.  So no more worries there.

Canoe update

I owe a major canoe update. Managed three trips this weekend including a solo trip. Need to write up the trips but not via my iPhone. Need the real computer for that. Lots of pictures and managed a new leg of the Flint. I have maybe 15 miles of the river I haven’t traveled, all in the north. Maybe once I get the kayak, since that region is so shallow, I can get it accomplished.