Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hog Bayou, Tivoli, Texas

The narrow pointed fans of the dwarf palmetto shook violently as we drew closer in our canoe. We were near Alligator Slide Lake and I wondered what was in the palm or what was rubbing on the tree..........
Val and George had been after us for some time, to canoe with them, in a bayou near Tivioli Texas. It didn't take much to convince us but worries of alligators and snakes bothered both of us as we headed north on Tx 35. Passing through Tivoli, Texas we crossed the Guadalupe River, Schwings Bayou, and then turned left to the boat ramp on Hog Bayou. The water was a dirty milky green and reminded me of the water in glacial lakes.
As we launched our boats a local man arrived at the ramp, and as he prepared to load his boat he showed George his big catfish! He also told George that the place, Hog Bayou, was a good place to fish for crappie and catfish. He even offered George some perch for bait,(Which we would call bluegills).
Now Val had kayaked before and she easily glided past us and up the bayou. She looked so graceful and skillful as she paddled, easily going twice the distance we did on a single dip of her oar. We did our usual thrashing in our canoe, finally achieving a nice rhythm to our stokes and slowly followed her lead. The wind was calm and we canoed under a blue sky as we passed down a lane shrouded by oak trees and dwarf palmetto palms.
The Bayou was actually quite broad and fish were jumping everywhere. Almost every large overhanging tree branch had a ribbon of plastic tied to it, many having a line for catfish. I wondered if there could be any fish left in the bayou! Occasionally a large fish swirled near our canoe, perhaps an alligator gar? We canoed for an hour going about halfway to the canal that connects to Schwings Bayou and the Guadalupe River.
We didn't see any alligators or snakes, or even turtles, but enjoyed the great blue herons and cardinals. At one place turkey vultures climbed into the sky as we disturbed their roost. A snowy egret flew by but didn't land. Unknown bird calls came from both sides as we glided past. We passed an anhinga drying its wings on a large brach of fallen tree, that had succombed to a storm. A small golden-winged(?) warbler carefully walked on a mat of floating water hyacinth.
Turning around we canoed back down to see George patiently fishing. He hadn't been disturbed by any fish, so he helped us land and then walked back to his pole. Getting out our lunch, we gathered by an old campfire. Trash and litter was everywhere, a typical and sad sight in Texas. We ate and talked of our day deciding to canoe down the bayou to Alligator Slide Lake, although Val said the bayou was choked with plants and that we probably couldn't get there.
We fought the wind and paddled with difficulty, just about ready to give up when we reached a bend where the bayou was sheltered and the water calmed. The bayou narrowed and little blue herons fed while wading and walking on the hyacinths. They allowed us to get close and Renita clicked away, being the official photographer for the afternoon paddle!
The bayou narrowed and meandered as we passed denser and denser floating masses of hyacinths. Another meander and the bayou was choked shut. A snake swam across the opening and disappeared into the vegetation, staying out of sight as we neared.
Stopping, Val took our photograph. The palmetto fronds appeared to sway from the weight of a large bird or the rubbing by an animal,but we couldn't see anything, perhaps it was only the wind?
Returning back the trip was too quick,but easy as we rounded the bend and the wind sailed us to the bridge and boat ramp. A turtle ducked its head and disapeared in the stained water. Both of us enjoyed our adventure and thanked Val and George for sharing the day with us. George told us that some locals had told him the area was the alligator capital of Texas and that we could have called the gators to us by slapping our hands on the water. No way!!!!! Clear skies.

(Val let me try her kayak and was it fast! It also was really sensitive to the smallest shift in my weight. I was somewhat amazed I didn't roll it!)

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