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We were happy to be greeted on Saturday morning by a strong 2 to 3 mph current which made the 25 miles to Riverbend Park very enjoyable. With just a few paddle strokes, a 5 to 6 mph pace was not hard to achieve.
As I paddled along I contemplated the history of this section of the Chattahoochee River. I saw the names of the historical Indian towns that bordered the river on my GPS, and imagined how the inhabitants must have traversed up and down this section as part of their daily lives. What was a weekend adventure for us must have been about survival for them in order to hunt, fish, and trade.
We stopped at Engineerís Landing for a short break and again at Uchee Creek Marina where I enjoyed a fresh honey bun and a free cup of coffee, and picked up a couple of fire logs to assist with starting the campfires. When possible, we explored a few side creeks along the way. We set up camp at Riverbend and enjoyed a very pleasant evening by the campfire. We had deposited firewood the previous Saturday at both Riverbend and Rood Creek in preparation for the trip. We each turned in for the night, and then as if someone opened the gate, the Bubba Circus showed up. It is truly amazing the amount of traffic that shows up in the middle of a sub-freezing, dead of winter, December night - - from drive-through cars making a raucous display of their audio systems reminding me of just washed tennis shoes tumbling in a dryer, to a host of overly vociferous duck hunters, and fishermen arriving well before daylight, so excited about the upcoming day that they just canít sleep, but would rather wait for the sun at the boat ramp, go figure! Thank goodness for ear plugs!
Sunday morning was clear and cold; thankfully, we were able to restart the fire which is always a nice place to enjoy a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning. We launched at 10 am into a different river from the previous day, same Hooch yes, but little to no current and a steady headwind out of the south, definitely not the effortless ride we had enjoyed on Saturday. We had approximately 24 miles ahead of us to reach Rood Creek.
We stopped at Bluff Creek Campground for lunch and left at 1:15 pm with 13 miles to go. We reached Rood Creek somewhat beleaguered from the paddle and definitely looked forward to retiring for the evening. I was not present when the firewood was dropped the Rood Creek gate and on my third attempt to locate wood pile, which now is in the dark; I heard a rustling coming through woods directly towards me. I had already heard coyotes howling in the distance as I set up camp, and I knew coyotes werenít known to attack, but nevertheless something in the brush was coming toward me and I didnít know what it was! I shined my headlamp in the direction of the commotion trying to glimpse this dreaded terror still drawing ever closer. I stomped my foot repeatedly and yelped loudly with hopes of diverting its course but to no avail. Then all of a sudden, two armadillos emerged from the brush as I broke out into laughter. If I had remained still, I believe these two hard-shelled geniuses would have trotted right over my foot. Laughing while my elevated heart rate slowly returned to normal and watching the nocturnal adventurers disappear in the brush; I continued my search for the firewood but was unsuccessful.
On my return trip to the campsite, I was again startled as I jumped a deer in the edge of the woods. I scared the deer and the deer scared me. I switched my headlamp over to the red LED light and observed red deer eyes staring back at me through the treesÖ..talking about a deer demon, now thatís spooky! As I stared at this four-legged demon I wondered, "Did the deer think a red-eye Cyclops demon was staring at him?" Who knows?
With my creature encounters now over, and with the exception of my fellow lumberjacks in the nearby tents, the night was very peaceful; evidently the Rood Creek Campground is not a tour stop for the Bubba Circus on Sunday nights.
We launched Monday morning at 10 am with plans of meeting the shuttle crew at Lakepoint at noon. As we exited Rood Creek into the main river channel, we were greeted by white caps and a strong easterly wind. We reached the Alabama side of the river channel and were protected from the winds as long as we headed south. When we turned west into Cowikee Creek, the winds were fierce! "Grip my paddle firmly, put my head down and go", were my thoughts. We endured this relentless beating for two miles and were certainly glad to reach the landing. We loaded the equipment and celebrated our trip by enjoying a great lunch at the Cajun Corner in Eufaula.
I want to thank my friends for joining me on this trip. It was definitely trying at times, but overall it was great experience to see sections of the river for the very first time.
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