Before leading a group into the Cypress Wonderland on June 2, Tom Douglas arranged a small scouting party to check out conditions in the Lake Charlotte area. Joe Coker, Bruce Bodson, and I were only too happy to scout the area and we duly met first at Crawdad’s (FM 565 and I10) before proceeding to the public boat ramp (exit 805 Trinity River Boat Ramp/Turnaround) and bumping down the dirt road.
At the ramp, we were intrigued at the shallow water activities of many blue crabs herding minnows up against the shallowest part of the ramp in anticipation of lunch, and fighting for the best turf. You can see the crabbie action on Youtube at: youtu.be/VXEl5ldKU6U and youtu.be/LsvIJtJ6880.
There were wildflowers in bloom too:
And whopper-sized grasshoppers:
The intrepid explorers paused for a photo:
Our route took us first upstream on the Trinity and into Lake Pass. The first side trip was into Triangle Lake;
Lake Pass as ever is a beautiful paddle any time of year and deep enough to be paddled even at low water times in the summer.
We soon poked our noses into Lake Miller and headed for the south shore for our lunch spot.
As you can see, the spot was well-kneed, and the vegetation so thick behind us we decided pushing for the Miller memorial site would not be a fun thrash. From lunch we headed north along the shore and into Ghost Bayou. The water was noticeably much shallower than last time I was there so we did not venture very far upstream. Here we are exiting back to Lake Miller.
Of course we planned our patriotic tribute, in our red, white, and blue kayaks just in time for Memorial Day.
About this time the outflow from a passing thunderstorm whipped the lake up to a froth but thankfully didn’t soak us other than the water that came over my cockpit. Should have had my sprayskirt on, which I soon corrected and as ever, that was deterrent to any additional storm activity.
From here we headed back to Lake Pass and on to Lake Charlotte, checking out Sand Point which passes muster as a good lunch spot for a larger group – or indeed the Ghost Bayou point just off Lake Miller. Here is what Sand Point looks like after Harvey and uprooted bushes on its west shore.
We noticed abandoned trotlines in the water just off Sand Point and wasn’t long until Bruce and Tom were working at removing them. A gar had become ensnared on one of the hooks as Bruce was hoisting the line out of the water but thankfully that encounter was enough to get it unsnared. Here is a video of Bruce removing the trotline – sorry I didn’t catch the gar as well. BTW, Bruce IDed the three gar that occur in our area were in Charlotte and environs that day; alligator gar, spotted gar, and longnose gar.
The video is available at: youtu.be/VPTr0jITqDM
We decided to explore the possibility of a Mud Lake Bayou passage. It didn’t look particularly promising at the mouth of the bayou and we discovered that tall stand of alligator weed was indeed very tough to paddle through. Our misfortune was that indeed the passage was not deep enough to make it the whole way to Miller Lake – so we had to thrash through the weed a second time. Here is a still photo of the alligator weed, with two people in it:
Yes, their boats are floating and it was REALLY hard work getting through. Here is a video of Tom thrashing through. Love it that he always has a smile on his face, no matter the challenge. Video is at: https://youtu.be/U1hKhWHUh3Y.
The excitement of the day was not over yet. Once already we had an alligator go into thrashing/water-heaving histrionics as we apparently approached too closely. We thought it was simply trying to get away from us and got caught up in the willows; but this happened a second time as we exited Lake Charlotte into Lake Pass. I was so astonished I failed to get this on video, or the quarter mile it torpedoed and rolled and thrashed down Lake Pass in front of us. Maybe a female “guarding” her next with the “broken wing” in alligator style to lead us away? None of us had ever seen anything like this, and twice in one day was really exceptional.
It was a fabulous day out and about in the Cypress Wonderland. I know Tom’s trip is oversubscribed so maybe you can’t get out there this time, but it’s an area well worth visiting, any time of year. Get out there and enjoy it.
You happy paddling ex-librarian, at lunch with red cameras and Bruce Bodson.
Trip Stats and Map, courtesy of Tom Douglas:
Lake Charlotte Scouting Trip – May 24, 2018
10:34 Dep I-10 Boat Ramp
10:51 Arr Lake Pass
11:44 Arr Miller Cut (following a side trip to the triangle lake)
12:09 Arr Miller Hill
1:06 Arr Cut to Alt Lunch Spot
1:24 Dep Cut to Alt Lunch Spot
1:34 Pass Mud Lake Bayou Entrance
1:43 Arr Lake Pass
1:56 Arr Lake Charlotte
2:07 Arr Sand Point
2:29 Arr Mud Lake Cut
2:46 Arr Mud Lake Bayou
3:32 Dep Mud Lake Bayou
3:37 Arr Ghost Bayou
3:40 Dep Ghost Bayou
3:47 Arr Mud Lake Cut
3:55 Dep Mud Lake Cut
4:02 Arr Sand Point
4:09 Dep Sand Point
4:15 Arr Lake Pass
4:26 Pass Lake Miller Cut
4:58 Arr Trinity River
5:12 Arr I-10 Boat Ramp
Meteorological Observations of the day:
Temperature range, 82 at 10:30 to 90 at 2 p.m., back down to 82 at 5 pm (observed at Ellington Field).
Winds: East at 7mph at 10:30; ESE at 2 pm, 12 mph; 11 mph at 5 PM, also ESE. No measurement for the gust that got us on Lake Miller.
Gage reading (USGS 08067118). 7.37 at 10 a.m., falling slightly to 7.31 at 5 p.m.
You might also enjoy having a look at additional photos of our advance scouting party’s adventure, in photo albums by Joe Coker and Bruce Bodson.