Friday, October 24, 2008
Paddling Lake Paula??? Part 2
Finally, the long-awaited part 2 of exploring north of the Calvary Road causeway, into Lake Paula and up Hostetter Creek. Just to remind you of where we left off, we just finished with the line truck clearing fallen timber from a power line we didn't know existed.
Picking the narrative back up at spot E (the second of the two spots labeled "E"), this is a good place to orient ourselves for the northern half of this paddle. The photo to the left shows the view to your left as you paddle north. This is the breakwater between the inlet proper and Lake Paula. Note the dead sunken timber, some of which is still rather large and erect and not very sunken, at least not yet. There are a couple more persimmon trees in this picture, both growing on the breakwater.
If you look to your right, there's a marshy area with some convoluted pathways for Hostetter Creek water to get into the inlet proper. There's also a ton of birds up here: big herons and egrets and lots of duck. There are also some raptors up here we haven't identified yet and well as some birds we northern transplants have never even seen before. If you blow up the photo here, there's a lovely egret hiding in it.
Here we are at spot F. Now you can clearly see a lovely little neighborhood full of nice lawns, pretty houses and all sorts of little dredged boat channels all fed by Hostetter Creek. We're going to paddle north here and then turn right along the northmost shoreline.
Here we have paddled along the north shoreline to spot G, where we can go no further. This is as far east as we managed to go. And here we turned right again, to briefly go south and circle what turned out to be a little island, complete with foot bridge. We first tried to go further up Hostetter Creek, which on the Google Earth images, looks like it should keep going aways - but alas we couldn't get through and still get the kayak turned around. A little sit-on-top kayak might not have to same problem as we did. While Ascospore's 20 foot length makes her really really fast, getting something that long in and out of tight little creeks is not what she does best.
And here we are at spot H, where we've turned right yet again, to head back west, circling the little island. It was like our own little secret stream channel...though it was really a dredged canal. The little island, unexpected with it's little bridge, was cool.
Here's a view a little further along the channel around the island, still paddling west.
Having paddled a bit further and fully circled the island, we had a choice at this point to go back the way we came in or to veer to the left along another channel. We went to the left and found we could get back to the inlet proper heading through some shallow water with encrouchments of duck weed and other copious water plants. The photo is at spot I, where we discovered we could get through. It was fun since we were sure we'd get stuck and have to turn around.
At this point, we did try to go up what we thought might be another outlet for Hostetter Creek water but we couldn't ge through. Lots of fun poking around. Tons of birds through here too, not to mention sagans and sagans of fish.
We decided to make for one of the gaps in the breakwater and enter Lake Paula proper. Having done so, we turned north and found this forlorn broken and half flooded peddle boat (spot J), which obviously had escaped someone's dock and been blown to this spot during the hurricane. We debated what to do here since it look like it might be salvagable but had nowhere to leave it so someone might claim it. The peddles looked like they still worked though it was obvious the steering mechanism was broken. Poor little boat. We ended up leaving it. I never did find a spot where there might be a registry of lost and found Lake Conroe boats from the hurricane. As you can tell from the trip map, we then paddled in circles along the north end of the Lake Paula breakwater and then turned around to head back home.
Now we need to go back to the lower half of the map. After going in circles and poking down many little channels and coves, our route home went fairly straight south.
Here we are at spot K, where we found some interesting pens but up by the State of Texas Dept. of Parks and Wildlife. I have no idea what they are for.
Now according to one of my fishing maps, and confirmed by the number of fishing boats we've seen in this area, between these pens and Stow Away Marina is another hot spot for fish, especially black bass. I have yet to confirm this for myself.
Here we are at spot L, almost back to Stow Away, where we scared up a flock of ducks. Did I mention that this area is filthy with birds?
Here along the north side of Stow Away is a place where you can rent a kayak, at the North Lake Conroe Paddling Company. You can go to the website for these folks and see their selection, which appears quite substantial. Personally, I don't think I'm thrilled with the owner's choice of life preservers, but that's just my opinion. I do think your "PFD" however should be fitting firmly under the arms such that you are supported in the water without the PFD running the chance of rising above your neck and not keeping the mouth and nose out of the water in the event you get a head injury or just plain pass out. And I don't like the concept of inflatable life preservers since if you're unconscious, you can't inflate it after the fact. But what do I know? I've only been boating for almost 50 years and only had at least one friend and fellow experienced boater saved from certain death by his life preserver when he was unconscious in the water. Anyway, that's just my personal take on things like safety. You can't plan accidents - that's why they're called accidents afterall - you can only plan to be prepared for the accidents. Safety should always trump comfort, especially with PFDs. Regardless, check out the website if you think you might rent from these forks - AND call ahead too. The only day they are guaranteed to be there is on Saturdays.
And that's it, folks. We're at the end of the trip in the inlet north of the Calvary Road causeway, where much exploring and useful time killing was successfully carrieds out. It certainly beat sitting around in the heat in the non-air conditioned house waiting for the power to come back on after Hurricane Ike.