1st Annual Cedar Bayou Voyager
October 10 was a beautiful day for a paddle in Baytown. All of the preparations that had been made by the Cedar Bayou Friends organization paid off: the logistics worked flawlessly, and we even had a light breeze at our backs while we were on the water.
According to plan, we met up at J.C. Holloway Park, where we were greeted with a registration table and plenty of goodies. We staged our boats and paddles in a cordoned-off area on the grass overlooking the bayou, and drove our vehicles to the takeout location 5.4 miles downstream at Roseland Park. The shuttle back up to the put-in was made easy by two recirculating busses that were provided by Harris County Transit.
Launch times were anywhere from 9:00 to 10:00, and there was a sign to remind us that “This is not a race. Take it easy! Be safe!!!” For those who didn’t have their own boats, rental canoes and kayaks were provided by SouthWest PaddleSports. A small wooden dock at the launch site even included an innovative rubber-lined slide-in ramp that made for an easy no-mud launch. The first section of the paddling route was along Cary Bayou, a narrow and shaded channel that runs between the well-kept back yards of homes lining Savell Drive to the north and Tompkins Drive to the south. At Milam Bend, we paddled out into the main channel of Cedar Bayou, which is wider - open and sunny, flowing through low banks of coastal prairie with occasional trees, much like the lower part of Armand Bayou.
Once we had crossed under Highway 146, the character of the buildings along the banks changed from residential to mostly commercial and industrial. But that didn’t mean there was a lack of native plants or wildlife – herons and egrets perched on branches along the banks, and blue crabs scuttled about in the shallows, just beneath the water’s surface.
All along the way, two boats carrying trained rescue personnel from the Baytown Fire Department looked out for our safety. And, knowing that this is a heavily-traveled commercial waterway, the event’s organizers had worked out an agreement with local businesses to assure that, for these several hours, we wouldn’t be sharing the bayou with barges.
About three miles into the course, a sign on the right bank guided us to the rest stop at Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church. Paddling into the mouth of Pond Gully, we discovered that the organizers had installed two wooden ramps to make for another mud-free water access.
Anyone who wanted to could stretch their legs, use the facilities, re-stock their supply of bottled water and soft drinks, and consume yet another doughnut or taco.
Then, on down Cedar Bayou to Roseland Park. A new canoe/kayak boat access is being planned there, but for now, we used the two concrete ramps that also serve power boats. Again, no mud! (This is the first time in recent memory that I have reached the end of a paddle with no mud on my shoes.) And, we had yet one more chance at food and drink before loading up our boats and heading home.
Several members of the Houston Canoe Club were there. The ones I know of are: Will Blumentritt, Tom Douglas, Roger Hathorn, Jessica Quintanar Kuhn, Terri Morgan, and Frank Ohrt. Sorry if I missed others of you – I was way back in the pack.
To read the complete article with photographs go to:
Houston Canoe Club, "Cedar Bayou Voyager October 10, 2015", Tom Douglas.