Archived Story

Tallapoosa perfect for paddling

Published 11:24pm Friday, September 27, 2013

I had the great pleasure of joining a team of people who paddled an 8-mile section of the Tallapoosa River Friday morning as part of the project to develop a canoe and kayak trail for Tallapoosa County.
Shane Harris, Harold Banks, John Thompson, Billy Barrett, Joan Alexander (from Anniston), Sabrina Clark Wood and her husband Teron Wood and Steve Clark (Sabrina’s father) met up near Frogeye at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at Germany’s Ferry Bridge at about 3 p.m.
The Clarks know that part of the river like the back of their hands, and Steve might as well have been our guide for the trip.
But we also had Harold along, who knows all kinds of interesting information about the Tallapoosa River, having famously paddled the entire length of the river.
Shane organized the trip and is heading up the effort to create a paddler’s map for Tallapoosa County.
We were supposed to be experiencing the river as tourists might, taking note of identifiable landmarks that could be used on a river map, shooting photos for promoting the river and, of course, having a good time.
We succeeded.
That stretch of the Tallapoosa contains a number of Class 1 rapids – easy riffles that sound nice and stir up the intoxicating smell of wild water and generally make paddling more fun. It’s a nice place for people of all ages and paddling skills to visit. That’s in the first half of the trip.
The second half is all flat-water paddling on a slow moving river and is not that different from paddling a lake. It’s not as much fun, but if you’re out for exercise, you’ll get it.
Friday was a near perfect day for paddling: bright blue skies, a breeze that kept us cool and was often at our backs, very agreeable air and water temperatures.
Here’s what we didn’t see: snakes, gators, mosquitoes, redbugs (at least none had shown up by presstime) or anything else that would hinder a perfect day.
Here’s what we did see: an amazing, beautiful natural resource that is way, way under appreciated.
We were the only people we saw on the river. Harold said he’s gone many days at time when he didn’t see another human-powered craft on the Tallapoosa River.
It’s hard to believe that more people don’t take advantage of our “county’s” river. After having such a wonderful time Friday, I want to go back today.
As we floated down the river, we passed several large flocks of Canada geese that we spooked up several times. Once they wheeled back in three low-altitude V’s and flew up river, over my head, honking as they passed.
At one small island with a gravel-and-sand bar, we stopped for a break and heard that a nearby Baptist congregation comes to that spot for baptisms – the dunking kind. We are sprinklers in our church, but I imagine a deep-water baptism in that river would be a beautiful sight to behold.
Over the course of 8 miles, I caught four or five nice bass – two good keepers – and Billy caught a number of nice fish, too. If the two of us didn’t have to play catch-up with the non-fishing crew, I bet we would have loaded the boats with bass.
By the way, I didn’t tell my fellow paddlers because I was making a wake for the landing, but the last set of rocks in the middle of the river looked a lot like three hippopotamus heads to me, so I’m suggesting the addition of “Hippo Heads” for the map.
I know I’ll be talking about paddling the Tallapoosa for weeks to come.
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.