Trip Report: Lake Pass/Lake Charlotte 7/15/00
This trip was facilitated by Natalie Wiest. 8 boats peopled by 16 paddlers made the trip.
We put in on the East side of the Trinity River under the I10 highway bridge, meeting in the parking lot around 4 and were underway up the Trinity by 4:45.
Matt Dunaway brought his digital camera, and the following images from Matt help to tell the story.
As trip facilitator, I started off on the wrong foot, arriving well after 4 p.m., and noting as I pulled off of I-10 that I had also messed up the driving directions - the proper exit is #806, which is marked "Frontage Road" - not #807 "Wallisville" as the highway department had told me. Anyway, there we all were, kids, adults, grandparents, canoes and kayaks in the sweltering heat. Ellington Field in Houston was recording 102 degrees F at the time we were putting in. A short paddle upstream put us in to the mostly shaded Lake Pass and it at least seemed a bit cooler.
Here are Paul and Sonny heading upriver.
Theoretically, if Front Page and I are communicating, these photos are "thumbnailed", so if you click on them they will increase to original size.
Here we are heading upstream into Lake Pass. Let's see - what's the craft? C3, K1W? Heck, I need full credit, as you can see I'm doing all the paddling with my double blade, the rest are keeping their paddles from sliding out of the boat.
Note the cypress "knees" along the bank. This is very characteristic of the edges of Lake Pass.
Since I last paddled Lake Pass, it has been improved considerably by the removal of many of the tree jams that occurred in many places. Paula told us that a ranger (warden?) who works the area did that at the request of boaters who had difficulty navigating the pass. A side benefit of its now being a lot easier to navigate is that the wasp nests are now a lot less numerous, and generally out of range of careless paddles. I've never personally had a problem with wasps here, but the potential certainly has existed.
Matt and Kay reported seeing three groups of wood storks winging overhead.
Here's Paula under way
Below are Rheda and her partner on Lake Charlotte, the end point of our paddle. Original plans called for paddling about a quarter mile farther, to Bird Island, where we could all get out of our boats to have dinner. Only problem with that calculation was the level of Lake Charlotte. The Lake Charlotte gauging station for the Trinity River was reading 6.8 feet. We now know this is too low to paddle out as far as Bird Island. Rheda's boat is in fact grounded in the mud. Another interesting feature of this water level is that the water was flowing into Lake Charlotte from Lake Pass, not out of it as one would expect at higher levels.
I didn't get to chuckle at the mud too long, as my method of discovering the drift of the boat and the depth (or lack thereof) of the mud soon landed my boat in the same predicament. It took us a while to get un-stuck and to join the rest of the group at the edge of Lake Pass, where to our chagrin we found the mud was only 2" deep over the "solid" ground. Oh well, at least the mosquitos weren't too bad. My friend Sandra also learned about hard and soft footing as she pushed the boat off after dinner - she was quickly over her knees and sinking fast 'til she got enough flotation and foot hold to back onto more firm ground.
We also found the side pass in to Lake Miller was passable at this level, but didn't try to venture into the lake - probably only inches deep there too. At the far edge of Miller were probably hundreds of great (white) egrets. Here's Matt's view of the passage to Miller:
More photos of our group:
And as our group paddled along with the setting sun, the I10 bridge came back into view, high above the Trinity River.
Air temps of the day from Ellington Field: 3:50pm, 102.2 degrees F; 4:50, 102.2; 5:50, 98.6; 6:50, 95 - no readings after 6:50.
Winds: at 3:50 p.m., 6.9 mph; 4:50, 8.1 mph; 5:50, 8.1 mph; 6:50, 11.5 mph; 7:50, 12.7; 8:50, 10.4mph (as recorded at Ellington Field)
River gauge reading, station 08067118, Lake Charlotte near Anahuac, TX = 6.8. If the USGS link is working properly, you can click here to see the current level. If this link doesn't work, try the pages for water levels in Texas at http://tx.waterdata.usgs.gov. From the Trinity River Basin, click on "08067118 Lake Charlotte near Anahuac TX".
Text by Natalie Wiest, HCC Paddler; photos by Matt Dunaway, HCC Paddler