Monday, September 06, 2010

Paddling Champion Lake

Rain
What the heck, we're going to get wet anyway.

It's been over two years since Seeker's Fate has been on the water. Being a fifty year old piece of patch-worked aluminum, taking her out can be an adventure even on mild waters. Luckily, Champion Lake (part of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge) is pretty mild, as long as you stick to the blazed trails. Of course, when have I ever stuck to the trails?

offthetrail
Okay, so sticking to the marked trails might have been a good idea. We only saw one alligator and a few water snakes, so this was probably quite safe.

Lone Star Chris has been trying to get me out to Champion Lake for several years, but for whatever reasons I never made it. Wow, was I missing a beautiful spot just an hour out of Houston! The place is filled with wonderful flora and fauna, well-marked trails (if that's your thing), tons of hungry fish, and very few people. Lone Star Chris parked himself at a good fishing hole while Clark, Valkyrie, and I continued deeper into the swamp in search of adventure.

LoneStarChris
LSC loves to fish.

Valkyrie
Valkyrie loves paddling.

ClarkandValkyrie
Clark in the bow seat of Seeker's Fate, Valkyrie in her kayak, and just peeking through the trees comes the first of several rain storms.

Blazes
Trail blazes were easy to spot as they guided paddlers through the tangled swamp.

Champion Lake2
Cypress trees look surprisingly similar, so it's a good idea to stick to the marked trails if you don't want to get lost.

shallow
Lost.

I had a map but I forgot it in the car. The lake isn't all that big so we weren't to worried about not finding our way out again and spent most of the time talking and laughing our way through the muck. Thankfully there weren't any leeches or mosquitoes around and we were having too much fun talking (and more often laughing) to ever feel any concern. Every little break in the trees beckoned us to see where it might lead.

swamp
Hmmm, that's not marked. I wonder where it goes?

Champion Lake
Too pretty to be scary.

GiantLilyPad
A giant lotus root pad. This thing was 20" across!

Eventually we found our way back to LCS and we all headed through the pouring rain to another section of the lake. There was a rock dam that was a nice, (relatively) dry place to rest and stretch our legs some. The rain even let up for a bit, making the break that much nicer.

dam
Valkyrie's kayak and the indomitable Seeker's Fate.

Crew
Left to Right: Clark, Merriwether, Lone Star Chris, Valkyrie.

Catfish
Like I said, LSC loves fish. Perhaps inappropriately.

fish
I caught this one with a rubber worm on my second cast.

Along with the fish, snakes, alligators there's also tons of assorted birds out there, if that's your thing. I'm not a huge bird person so I don't have any pictures of them. Clark is a bird person. Hopefully he'll add a comment about all the different birds we saw.

Champion Lake would be a good place to paddle even in hot weather as most of it is shaded by giant cypress trees and if you stick to the trails the water will always be deep enough, usually three feet in depth. No camping, fires, or firearms are allowed, though they do have lottery system for hunting out there. Being a wildlife refuge, access to certain areas are prohibited during nesting season of some migratory birds, though that more of a late winter to late spring sort of thing. The area is very primitive though it does have several fishing piers and a cement boat ramp, though you are limited to a maximum of 10 horsepower boat motor. There's one portapotty next to the boat ramp, but it's pretty nasty.

TrinityRiverWildlifeRefuge
A good place to spend a day.

Adventure! Excitement! Swamp!

8 comments:

gizmojumpjet said...

You didn't get rid of that kayak you got, what, a year or two ago did ya?

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to find out if camping was allowed there! Thanks for the info, now I'll start looking farther north.

Wildman800

clarktx said...

I'm glad you are not a huge bird person. Although being able to fly would have its advantages.

But we did see a lot of ibis, herons, and cormorants. Chris said he saw a roseate spoonbill. There was one I couldn't place, it was either a green heron or a rail. Next time I'll bring my bird book.

Merriwether said...

Hey Gizmo, good to hear from you buddy!! Yes, I still have the kayak, but since Clark is boatless we used Seeker's Fate.

Christina Rodriguez said...

Those cypress trees are so cool-looking! I just want to paint them!

Izzy G. said...

I really need to get off my ass and finally buy a Kayak.

Lone Star Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

My ribs really did hurt the next day from laughing so hard. Thanks for the great company! Nothing like a dose of outdoor and laughing therapy - and I so needed it. - Valkyrie