This trip I decided we would paddle the waters less traveled on the south end of the lake. I waited until we were on the lake to make the decision about the direction to take because we had a 6-7 mph north wind. Once we crossed the lake to the east side, the wind was negligible so we paddled south first, which in my opinion is the prettiest part of the lake. There are beautiful groves of cypress trees on the north end but it is frequented by more visitors. The south end makes you feel as if you are the only people on this lake as you follow the bank in and out of coves lined with dense cypress and water tupelo. The amount of wood ducks that we scared up was more than 60.
We had a couple of Ville Platians with us, who did a wonderful job of promoting the area. We all learned a lot, I can’t wait to try out that new restaurant in the old bank. I also found out that the Pig Stand, an icon in Ville Platte is now closed and they knew the WHOLE story behind the closing and what led up to it. One paddler came all the way from Thibodeaux, he was one of the 50 something year olds that hung out later than the younger folks at which time the talk migrated to younger days of foolishness. I am not going to share this part of our conversations, all I can say is, you will have to go on a trip to hear the stories and laughter first hand. What happens at Chicot, stays at Chicot.
There were stories told throughout the paddle as we explored the coves. I heard from more than one paddler that they would return to the south end another day to enjoy the beauty Lake Chicot has to offer. There were lots of cormorant, anhinga, great blue herons, great egret, several woodpecker species, chattery Carolina chickadees and lots of turtles basking on logs (red-ear sliders from what I could tell). The one big surprise…as I was passing beside a cypress tree, with a raft of alligator weed, salvinia and water hyacinth on the east side of the tree, sitting right in the middle of the raft of vegetation was an alligator. I turned to some paddlers and said, “look an alligator.” They were looking off into the distance before realizing it was right next to my boat before swimming off. It was about 6 feet long and had no interest in us at all. It’s not often that I run across alligators at Chicot, especially one I can creep up on so close. I was hoping to see a bald eagle but that didn’t happen, lots of turkey vultures and black vultures, though.
We made our way back to the south boat landing just before 5pm. I helped the first couple of paddlers exit their boats, then my helper, Rachel, took over. I set up the dinner prepared by Hub City Diner, looking forward to eating what looked like a fabulous meal but had to load and tie down boats. It looked like everyone was enjoying the meal and once I served myself, I knew why. We had shrimp/okra gumbo, potato salad and French bread. YUMMY!! It was a great paddle in a lovely part of the lake with plenty of awesome story tellers and lots of laughter. Enough fun to make anyone envious!
-Stacey Scarce, Trip Leader
To see more photos from this trip, click here!