Dadeville man recounts April trip down Alabama RiverPublished 1:38pm Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Harold Banks, Special to The Outlook
In 2009, I paddled my solo canoe the entire length of the Tallapoosa River from its major tributary McClendon Creek in Paulding County, Georgia to its merger with the Coosa River at Fort Toulouse in Elmore County.
My claim to be the first to make that 258 mile total descent of the Tallapoosa River remains unchallenged.
However, when I pulled my canoe out of the river at Fort Toulouse on April 26, 2009, I felt the trip was really incomplete.
Although the Tallapoosa River lost its name when it joined the Coosa River to form the Alabama River, the same water I had followed from a tiny stream in Georgia continued to flow, and I resolved to someday follow that flowing water until its final dissolution with the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Three years later, I finally got the courage to make the attempt.
The plan: My intent is to launch my canoe from the Fort Toulouse boat ramp on the Tallapoosa River.
One mile below I will meet the Coosa River and the beginning of the Alabama River. I will then follow the Alabama River until it joins the Tombigbee River to form the Mobile River, turn onto the Tensaw River and meander through the Mobile/Tensaw Delta until I reach Mobile Bay.
Then, weather and waves permitting, I will hug the eastern shore of Mobile Bay until I reach the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Morgan.
If a crow were foolish enough to make such a trip, he would only have to fly 189 miles.
But the river hates straight lines, and according to the mapping program on my computer, my proposed path is 400 miles.
I have put a lot of thought into making this trip but don’t start seriously training until one month before departure.
I get in the best shape I can in this short time frame after a lazy winter and months at a desk job and try to prepare for every conceivable contingency.
I have told too many people I’m making this trip to back out now, but inside my head a nagging voice keeps asking if this is too ambitious a trip for a man about to turn 64 who should be in better physical condition for an odyssey like this.