Kayaking the Choccolocco Creek in Alabama
My wife and I had basically stayed home for the last six months as Covid-19 swept the country. So when a high school classmate of mine, and his wife invited us to join them for the July 4th weekend, we decided it would be a great time to finally get out of the house and take the five hour drive from Florida to Alabama. Part of our decision was the fact that we didn’t have to overnight night somewhere for the trip.
The day after arriving, the suggestion was made to take a two hour kayak trip down the Choccolocco Creek. So after a scrumptious egg and spinach quiche breakfast, the four of us hopped into the car for the drive to the Choccolocco Kayak rental office on the Choccolocco Creek. This creek flows through the town of Oxford towards the Coosa River. By the way, this waterway is the largest stream in Alabama designated as a creek and not a river. The name Choccolocco means “Big Shoal’ and is derived from the Native American Creek words chahki” and “lako.” The meaning of the Creek word is “Big Horse” which was the name given to Chief Choccolocco.
Now, the four of us must have presented a very interesting sight to the other 8-10 kayakers signing up at the Choccolocco Kayak organization with our faces covered with masks, We were the only ones wearing masks. After sign-up we all hopped into the vans hauling the kayaks and off we drove to the creek launch site, approximately 20 minutes away. We let the other groups head down the creek before us because we knew that these four older folks would be taking their time paddling down the creek.
Once in the creek it was slow going. The deepest part was probably about four feet and the current for the most part was probably no faster than about a mile per hour and in some spots nearly standstill. It was a very enjoyable cruise until I got about 1/2 way through the cruise when this sudden sinking feeling came across me with the urge to take a “dump.”
“Oh my gawd, what am I going to do.”
There are very few sand bars to beach the kayak. The sides of the river are sheer cliffs of about 20 feet. Do I stick my @$$ over the edge of the kayak, in which case I would certainly capsize or do I tough it out.
Paddle faster. Maybe you can find a sand bar.
Paddle faster. Oh goodie, there’s a sand bar ahead. Paddle faster.
I’m going as fast as I can. C’mon, C’mon, can’t you go faster?
Desperately, each stroke went faster when finally I reached the sand bar , ran up the small incline and into the woods I skirted. Aww, relief. Into the creek I dove, again what a relief.
Unbeknownst to me, my wife had come from around the bend and photographed me coming out of the woods. As she approached my kayak and pulled me off the sand bar, she asked “What were you doing in the woods?
My reply “I really really had to take dump!”
Laughing uncontrollably and almost tipping her kayak, she asked “ did you use a leaf.”
“Ha, ha, not funny. I really had to go.”
The rest of this adventure was unremarkable until we got to the return area. Since this area was basically an inclined slope of about 30-40 degrees, there were only concrete stairs and a hanging rope from a wooden structure to hoist one’s self out of the kayak. Think manual crane, your arms being the power of the crane. I hadn’t done pull-ups since I left the Corps, and that was several decades ago. Fortunately no one was there to photograph my struggles, it would have made a great “America’s Funniest Video” episode. However, my high school buddy wasn’t so lucky (he, he, he.) I was there to photograph his struggles.
What a great time we all had. Upon returning home, showering, having a frozen margarita, and “passing out” from exhaustion while watching “Star Trek, The Next Generation,” it was time to grill dinner.My friend grilled the steaks and I grilled the Maine Lobster tails I brought up for the meal.
Cell phone screens in bright light and wearing polarized sunglasses are not the best devices to use for photographing, but what the heck, we had a great time.
We all slept very well that night.