Paddling the Alabama

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gregn

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by gregn »

Gerry, excellent report! I can hardly wait for the winter, so we could meet at Canyon Lake and make a trip to its end (followed by another fantastic report, of course!)

K7Baixo

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by K7Baixo »

gregn wrote:Gerry, excellent report! I can hardly wait for the winter, so we could meet at Canyon Lake and make a trip to its end (followed by another fantastic report, of course!)

Thanks! I was wondering if anyone was reading my dribble so the feedback is appreciated. I'm looking forward to meeting you also.

K7Baixo

Six and done

Post by K7Baixo »

Friday dawned early and as I packed, I had a couple of small concerns. One was snakes - we had spotted a rattlesnake near my kayak the night before. I was also concerned about getting out of the creek and back on the river - the water level was pretty low when I came in the afternoon before.

Remembering both personal experiences and what I've been told over the years, I made my presence known as I prepared to move my kayak off of the bank and back into the water. In fact, I took my paddle and tapped along the length of the hull and then flipped her over.

From there, I opened both hatches so I could see inside completely and make sure there were no sharped-fanged surprises will ill-intentions.

Seeing none, I loaded the kayak and escaped down the creek towards the Alabama River towards Old Cahaba, six miles distant.

This was another day to be savored on the river. I had only the odd bass boat for company but for the most part, I was alone with my thoughts and the voices in my head for company.

At one point, I had coasted over towards a bank for a brief rest when I heard a rather large splash behind me. I knew it was an alligator - the splash was way too large for a garr or a turtle.

I backed away from the bank and spotted the 'gator in the water. Must have been around 7 ft long so I made sure I had my camera ready in case he wanted his picture taken. No such luck.

I eased down the river and came to the confluence of the Cahaba River and the Alabama River. This is the site of Alabama's first capital city and quite a historical site that is largely un-noticed by the citizens.

From http://www.cahawba.com/

"The grand Saltmarsh Hall rose as a site for balls and parties, a female academy was established, as were many grand homes that stagger the imagination such as the Perine, Kirkpatrick, and Crocheron residences. Records show that by income, Dallas County was the wealthiest in the state and ranked among the top five counties nationwide. Cahawba again seemed headed for greatness and was one of the state's most cosmopolitan cities with an estimated population of 3,000 to 6,000. Then came the Civil War, effectively crushing any hope of it becoming the great inland town of Alabama, much less the New York of the South as many had hoped."

The street grid still remains and you can clearly see the outline of the old prison that was built during the Civil War. Castle Morgan was not a very welcoming location for prisoners. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahaba_Prison

The landing at Old Cahaba wasn't accessible - no water to paddle around to it, only a 5 inch stream. I tried to walk back into the area and promptly sunk down into the mud.

I paddled back up the river and came to rest in an area that appeared to be conducive to getting the kayak out of the river. After climbing up a 8 ft. bank, I knew I could do it - I just had to take my time.

First order of business was to unload the kayak completely. Between the stuff to be removed, the banks of the river and the distance to the picnic tables, I knew it would take some patience. You really can't get in a hurry with it's 95F and 95% humidity.

The next task was to get the kayak up the bank - which really wasn't difficult. I simply took it apart and make three trips. One for each half and one for the hull. Simple.

It took my father about two hours to meet me so I used that time to wander around the site taking in the beauty of it all. I found a turtle who was laying her eggs so I did my best not to "worry" her.

Image

The sites all contain little message boards that talks about that site's previous occupants. This one is from the church - which is in the process of being relocated to just outside the park.

Image

Near the river:
Image

The old prison site:
Image

Once my father located me, we loaded up and had an enjoyable drive back to his house. It was enjoyable since he provided a running commentary about his growing up in the area. That I enjoyed as much as the trip itself.

K7Baixo

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by K7Baixo »

Final thoughts - I truly enjoyed meeting Chris, Chris and esp. Richard. Great guys, great kayakers.

My wife highly recommends the SPOT device - it enabled her to "see" that I was fine and locate me on the map. I also had four others who received the emails - just in case the wife decided not to send help. :-)

I also provided the team with daily maps of where I would be (google earth shots) and a spreadsheet of the proposed distances and phone numbers for the local sheriff's dept in case of an emergency.

Cellphone coverage was decent but weak. Don't count on it in this part of the US.

You can filter water out of the river but be prepared to clean the filter with every gallon filtered.

Food and other services are far and few between but depending on the section, you can always get help from a local homeowner. Trust me, the locals are friendly!

No great thoughts as I wrap this up. I grew as a kayaker and proved that I can do the miles of a multiday trip. The worst parts were the heat and humidity and the best parts were the people. I can't wait for the next trip - even if I have to do part or all of it alone. No worries.

Questions, comments and even criticism are greatly welcome.... thanks!

kayakamper

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by kayakamper »

Gerry, I have been reading your report. Your self portrait looks like a hot, humid scene. I am so glad to 'see' farther down the river and sad I was not able to do it with you. It was great meeting you and the other 'weekenders' we had with us.

A lot happenning with my boat inventory here in just a short time since leaving the Alabama. I'll fill you in later as I am getting ready for Alaska.

Chris

Romainpek

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by Romainpek »

Thanks for this trip report, I enjoyed very much reading it :)

K7Baixo

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by K7Baixo »

kayakamper wrote:Gerry, I have been reading your report. Your self portrait looks like a hot, humid scene. I am so glad to 'see' farther down the river and sad I was not able to do it with you. It was great meeting you and the other 'weekenders' we had with us.

A lot happenning with my boat inventory here in just a short time since leaving the Alabama. I'll fill you in later as I am getting ready for Alaska.

Chris
Yep - in fact, I was asking my father about the temps compared to this week and he confirmed it was much hotter when I was on the river. I managed ok though. The worst day was camping on the dock when I had no shade but I amused myself by filtering water and drinking it mixed with Tang. The ice I purchased at two campgrounds was a welcome relief!
Romainpek wrote:Thanks for this trip report, I enjoyed very much reading it :)
Thanks! Appreciate that!

Alm

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by Alm »

Technnical questions:
Things are more difficult in heat and humidity (for me, anyway). Did you clock the time - how long it took from the wake-up to the kayak launch (with or without breakfast, whatever was your habit)? MK1, being much roomier, should've taken less time than Kahuna (at least, this was my experience). In multiday trip this usually takes me over an hour and a half (with full breakfast), often over 2 hours.

And another question: what is "Tang" - some powdered drink? In hot weather I'm crashing dry cranberries in filtered water with a tablet or two of vitamin C. I don't trust those powders with unknown components, but may be there are good ones out there.

K7Baixo

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by K7Baixo »

Alm wrote:Technnical questions:
Things are more difficult in heat and humidity (for me, anyway). Did you clock the time - how long it took from the wake-up to the kayak launch (with or without breakfast, whatever was your habit)? MK1, being much roomier, should've taken less time than Kahuna (at least, this was my experience). In multiday trip this usually takes me over an hour and a half (with full breakfast), often over 2 hours.

And another question: what is "Tang" - some powdered drink? In hot weather I'm crashing dry cranberries in filtered water with a tablet or two of vitamin C. I don't trust those powders with unknown components, but may be there are good ones out there.
It was generally an hour and 15 minutes from the time I fell out of the hammock until the paddle bit the water for the first time. In fact, no matter how much I tried to hurry the process, it still took at least an hour. The only time that it took longer was when I was some distance from the water and had to make mulitple trips to load up.

Tang - kind of an orange drink that is concentrated enough to travel well and doesn't contain too much sugar - at least compared to the original. Makes even river water taste good. :lol:

While I drink it to help get something in me besides water, its nutrtion isn't too bad. From one site:

No saturated fat
No cholesterol
Very low in sodium
High in niacin
High in vitamin A
High in vitamin B6
Very high in vitamin C

It still has a lot of sugar though...

kayakamper

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by kayakamper »

Alm wrote:Technnical questions:
Things are more difficult in heat and humidity (for me, anyway). Did you clock the time - how long it took from the wake-up to the kayak launch (with or without breakfast, whatever was your habit)? MK1, being much roomier, should've taken less time than Kahuna (at least, this was my experience). In multiday trip this usually takes me over an hour and a half (with full breakfast), often over 2 hours.

And another question: what is "Tang" - some powdered drink? In hot weather I'm crashing dry cranberries in filtered water with a tablet or two of vitamin C. I don't trust those powders with unknown components, but may be there are good ones out there.
The Kahuna did take longer to pack Alex. I was always amazed that Gerry and the other two were on the water, or at least ready to go before me everytime. I just thought I was slow :lol: .

Funny story about Tang. Gerry's idea prompted me to buy some for the next trip. When my wife returned from Costa Rica last weekend, she threw me some individual packets of different flavored Tang as she unpacked her suit case! Neither of us have used Tang in years. Now we have a 6 month supply!
Pretty wierd :shock:

Chris

K7Baixo

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by K7Baixo »

That's funny - I hadn't decided on what to take to flavor the water and the Tang was literally a last-minute choice - as was all of my other food - while in the grocery store on Thursday morning.

I did "OK" and really didn't go hungry on the trip. On Sunday, Chris gave me two bottles of water and Richard gave me two cans of peaches. Both were greatly appreciated! In fact, I used those bottles over and over again along with my plastic fancy container.

Alm

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by Alm »

Man, it's almost pure sugar, 22.6 g in 25 g portion.

kayakamper

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by kayakamper »

Alm wrote:Man, it's almost pure sugar, 22.6 g in 25 g portion.
I think it is best to spike your water with it sparingly. After drinking plain water all day, it is good to add a little flavor to your supply as well as an additional drink for breakfast with your coffee in the morning. that is probebly how I'll use it.

A word about nutrition here in hot climates. Water alone will not replenish the system after a hot day of paddling as most of you know. I try to keep some salty snacks for breaks and at the end of the day. I think Tang in moderation is good as well. It is also an easy storage and packs well.

Chris

Christov_Tenn

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by Christov_Tenn »

I find lightly salted peanuts and roasted almonds make an excellent, filling paddling snack in Tennessee's hottest weather - last summer had some 106 degree days. I does not melt or become sticky, and actually tastes better when hot. Just a handful of each in a sandwich bag or other small container is more satisfying than leftover pizza.

Alm

Re: Paddling the Alabama

Post by Alm »

A word about nutrition here in hot climates. Water alone will not replenish the system after a hot day of paddling as most of you know. I try to keep some salty snacks for breaks and at the end of the day.
Yep... Not to mention very pure fresh water - like the one sold in big plastic tanks or per gallon, or water pumped through reverse osmosis pump (makes fresh water out of sea water - very slow, you don't need it on river). After a week of drinking flitered water purchased at the beginning of Bahamas trip and the water from RO pump, even though I crushed vitamin C and cranberries in water - I suddenly felt an urge to drink sea water. So I started adding it to my meals - about 1/10 in proportion to fresh water. I think, I should carry multivitamins on such trips (with some minerals). I can't think of any other compact source of vitamins.

Salty snacks ... I don't know. Energy bars with water from flask work well for me on breaks, they are well balanced. At the end of the day I can easily make an instant salty meal - instant soup or instant mash-potato from powder, and usually do this, when arriving to overnight campsite well before the late dinner time. Those soups are salty, and so is potato powder.

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