The Day We Went to Alapaha : Part II

The Day We Went to Alapaha : Part II


This post is about our afternoon on the Kinchafoonee Creek with our friends. Click here to read about our visit to Alapaha River WMA that morning.


We enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches and trail mix in the car as we sped home to re-kit for the afternoon. We were meeting our friends at 2:00 PM—that gave us an hour to get home, thirty minutes to change clothes and load up the canoe, and thirty minutes to get to the Century Rd launch on the Kinchafoonee Creek just south of Leesburg, GA.

The Kinchafoonee is a beautiful creek that starts near Plains, GA and terminates at its meeting of the Muckalee Creek just north of Albany, GA. The Two creeks contribute to the Lake Worth reservoir created by the Flint River Hydroelectric Dam in Northern Dougherty County.

Our plan was to meet at the launch and paddle down to Suttons Landing on Highway 19, the last boat ramp before entering the reservoir. This run of The Kinch is gentle and beautiful. It is about five miles of winding creek that features fern covered cliffs of sandstone, riverbed blue springs, and the occasional waterfall.

We managed to get packed and make it to the landing by 2:30 PM. We had given our friends a heads up about the tardiness and as a result we arrived first. During our short wait I had time to admire the improvements Lee County has made to the Century Road Launch, which I had not visited in several years.

This leg of the Kinchafoonee has always been a popular paddle for local and visiting enthusiasts. Some years ago, there was a bit of ugliness between the creek-side property owners and the paddle enthusiasts. In response, the County had to close the Century Road Launch for a while.

Looking around the launch that day we could see that Lee County had really embraced creek-borne tourism and in the process had improved access to the waterways in their jurisdiction. I am told they also increased their presence on and around the waterways to curtail bad behaviors and improve safety on the creek.

It was approaching 3:00 PM when Anthony and Taylor pulled up with the other boats and we helped them unload. As we waited for Robert and Morgan to arrive, we gave Jodi a crash course in canoeing. She and Taylor would be launching together and could use a little advice.

Rebecca and I mused over our last canoeing adventure, which was our first time canoeing together—and her first-time canoeing. The lower Flint is not as forgiving as the Kinch and as we entered the shoals in downtown Albany, we rolled the canoe at the first sign of trouble. A feat Rebecca did not consider possible until I told her—about thirty seconds before our bow caught a sunken tree and we were spun across the current.  

But who goes canoeing without expecting to swim?

Taylor and Jodi sharing a canoe.

Robert and Morgan arrived and after a brief but jubilant greeting we brought our craft down to the water and set out on the creek. We were first to launch, it was Rebecca’s first time on the Kinchafoonee, and I was excited to share its wonders with her. The first few minutes in a canoe are always the worst: coordination is difficult, balance is sketchy, and every shift in weight brings you tipping towards the water. It is easy to let that fear grab you, cause you to over-compensate, and leave you diving into the water on the other side. Your best bet will be to remain calm, talk with your partner, and move carefully. Hopefully after a few minutes the nervousness will subside, and your balance will adapt.

There are a number of techniques you can use to improve stability in the water. The easiest is to lower your center of gravity—you can do so by sitting or kneeling in the floor of the canoe. Always let your partner know before you move and do so cautiously. You may want to try different positions and postures to find what is comfortable for you.

Rebecca and I in our canoe.

In the state of Georgia, the waterway is considered public property, but the shore may not be. This means that you should be mindful of where you stop and respectful of the land while you are there. Respect for the lands and the waterways we visit is a big deal to us. We do our best to curtail trash along the way by collecting both our trash and any wayward trash we come across.

Lee County hosts regular cleanups to help maintain their waterways and you can find more information about those or similar projects on waterways throughout the state of Georgia by visiting the RiversAlive Website. Robert, Jodi, and I organized such a cleanup some years earlier while coordinating volunteers as The Kattalistt Group. We led more than thirty volunteers from the Century Road Launch to what is now called Suttons Landing and accumulated nearly 700 pounds of trash and debris from the creek bed.  

A photo from the day of our RiversAlive cleanup eight years ago. A lot has changed on the creek since then.

With our whole crew launched we began a meandering paddle through gentle currents. The waters on the Kinchafoonee tend toward brown and murky with close banks dotted with knobby kneed trees, but on a hot day the shade is cool and the water refreshing. The frequent turns of the creek present diverse landscapes: one curve reveals sandy shores with thick forests and the next sandstone bluffs ripe with mossy ferns and trickling waters. The shores are populated with Cyprus trees and the occasional fallen Oak frequently topped with turtles sunning themselves.

One major attraction of this float is the Blue Hole, a natural artesian spring that opens on the western shore of the creek bed about one third of the way into the journey. On a good day, the brisk clear water bubbles into a cove and clings to the shoreline for a few hundred feet before mixing fully into the muddy water. And the spring water temperature can be felt for some distance further. The creek bottom surrounding the Blue Hole is sandy and shallow, it’s a favorite hangout of creek goers. We soaked in the chilly waters before moving on.

We spent the day lazily racing other groups of paddlers south. We would pass one group, take a break with another group at one of the smaller down creek springs, and watch the first group overtake us knowing that we would pass them again. Such passing interactions are very similar to how humans make friends—and as we traveled down the river that day, we reflected on how valuable our friends are to us and the activities we undertake and share in with them.  

Anthony in his kayak.

Over the past year, a few of us have sought to build a closer bond and we have taken up calling ourselves DECS Scouts. DECS being short for Discover, Explore, Create, and Share. As a group our only cohesive goals are to learn from each other, share experiences, and support each other. It’s a fairly straightforward friendship pact for adults, but with adventures, education, camping trips, and merit badges.

Morgan in her Kayak.

As we closed on Suttons Landing, we enjoyed a view of the small waterfall at Uncle Jimmy’s Lane. The falls have been blockaded to keep paddlers from climbing on them. The view is nice, and it marks the last leg of the journey. From here the creek winds through its sandy banks with houses appearing more frequently on both sides.

The small waterfalls near Uncle Jimmy’s Lane.

A short time later we reached the landing, packed up our canoes, and began our farewells. Jodi, Rebecca, and I had a full day with many friendly faces and we were ready for a restful night.

The bridge at Highway 19, with Sutton’s Landing just beyond.

-JCM


Read about the morning we spent at Alapaha River WMA.


Credit for photographs goes to our friends who shared them with us so that we can share them with you.

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One comment

  1. Jonathan DeMott

    What a peaceful writing style, I felt like I was drifting down the creek with y’all. Thanks for writing about the activity in the community and local government too.

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