Monday, May 29, 2006

Lafayette Passage Paddling Trail

Yesterday I decided to try the Lafayette Passage Paddling Trail. I had been told that it was wonderful, like a little Okefenokee tucked behind the Piney Z development, and while it didn't live up to that description, it was quite nice. It probably would have been more pleasant had I started a bit earlier in the day and the temperature hadn't been in the 90s, but I got a good 3 or so hours paddling in, plus four portages (to and from the boat launch, which is nice because it precludes motorboats, and between two lakes).

I started at Piney Z Lake.
The similarity that it bears to the Okefenokee is that it is full of spatterdock and bladderwort. (It really is, it's not simply that I like to say "spatterdock" and "bladderwort.")And there are lots of waterlilies.
The paddle across Piney Z Lake is very scenic and peaceful -- especially considering that you are less than half a mile from U.S.27! The best part was that there were no motorboats and the only other people I saw were one fisherman and two bicyclists. I did hear and see lots of birds, but I didn't see a single alligator. This was surprising, although not entirely disappointing due to all the recent gator hysteria and the fact that I had to get in and out of the water several times in high grasses. While the drama of being hauled off by an alligator appeals to me, yesterday didn't seem to be quite the day for it. As I was pulling my boat up one side of the berm separating Piney Z Lake from Lower Lake Lafayette I did feel my ankles being clawed but discovered that the culprit was nothing more sinister than spiny wild blackberries.On either side of the two lakes I could hear ospreys squawking, and could see one distantly on a platform on the edge of the Piney Z Lake. Almost as soon as I entered Lower Lake Lafayette I sighted a family of birds. See the mother up on the tree and the nest down below to her left? I couldn't get a great picture of Pa because he was too quick for me and he was becoming very disturbed by my presence, but he's in the nest with some chicks. Here's a bit of his wing.He was very happy to see me leave.I paddled all the way around Lower Lake Lafayette (below) but I never could find the passage to Chaires Lake.It might be grown over or I might have been dazed by the heat; regardless, I had had about enough after several hours in the raging heat and was ready to go home. I might start from the Chaires end next time and see how far I get.


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