My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, January 4, 2013

Extended New Year's Party, Part II - Lake Fausse Point Paddle

The final two days we were at Lake Fausse Point State Park we finally got in some paddling. On December 30, we wanted to show Bill the cypress trees with large buttresses. A buttress is a large swelling at the base of a cypress tree.  They form especially wide and high on trees that are flooded a lot, or grow mostly in water. It's believed that the buttress helps the tree remain upright in the mud.  It's knees may also help it stand and  may give trees growing under water more air.

Getting ready

White pelicans resting along the shore

Red breasted woodpecker

The boat launch is below Lake Fausse Point, eight miles south of the park,  so we had to paddle up a little canal lined with houses to reach the lake. Then we paddled around the south and west shorelines, paddling mostly within the trees. Invasive water hyacinths had filled in all along the shore so we were hard pressed to find a place to take out for lunch.

Finally I saw a little canal that had the entrance blocked by water hyacinths, but which had some clear water behind them.  I sped up and managed to get a little over a boat length into them.  Then it was a case of wresting a path from the tightly packed water hyacinths. (The high winds had pushed them tightly together.) I pushed my paddle against the plants to move my boat forward a few inches at a time.  I tried to push plants away from the boat, and I finally went to the bow and physically picked up plants and threw them aside. Bob along-side and we took turns moving forward, with the back guy holding his paddle out behind him to anchor the boat and push the front guy forward. Finally Bob was almost out and he took my camera to document Bill's and my efforts. Bill had to fend for himself but he had a much less clogged  path to come through.

Fisherman moving across the canal we'll go up to reach Lake Fosse Point

Looking at the buttressed cypress

Me fighting my way through the invasive water hyacinths

Bill poling his way through the water hyacinths

Our dry and pretty lunch spot

It all paid off with a nice sunny spot on the natural levy on which to eat lunch and enjoy the sunny warming day. After lunch we tried to explore the canal but were thwarted by another huge patch of water hyacinths a short way down the canal.  After having a lesser fight with the water hyacinths, as we exited the canal, we took a much more direct trip back, paddling across open water into the wind and waves. We still  had a little time left so we went  on south down the canal, past the put-in,  for about another half hour. We saw our only osprey on that leg of the trip. But all too soon we had to turn around and come in. We got the boats leaded up and traveled the eight miles home before sunset.

Exploring the little canal where we landed for lunch

Then it was time to enjoy appetizers before Bob grilled huge pork chops and sweet potatoes for supper.  I was supposed to fry apples but they managed to hide out in the refrigerator and so saved themselves from being eaten. One of the teen-aged campers came around and sold us candy bars so we ate them for dessert.