Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canoeing the Cahaba

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. We spent our Memorial Day in remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. We didn't do it in a especially meaningful or symbolic way, but in more a reflective fashion. My family of Funky Town spent the day on the river, canoeing. You might remember that we did it last year too. I guess it has become a tradition with our family.

We invited my parents to go with us, as well as my brother in law and his two boys, and Sister Sledge brought a friend with her as well. I always take delight in having children along and hopefully making them aware of what is around us they might not encounter on a day to day basis. Hopefully it will make them aware and teach them to truly take care of our world, because it really is so fragile.

It was a big crew this year, and we had such a pleasurable cruise. Perhaps not as memorable as it was scary as it was last year, but memorable in awe, as you will see.

(pictured is my nephew J with J Smooth, Sister Sledge in back with her friend T)

We loaded up mid morning and dropped in at Helena's Buck Creek.

The scenery is gorgeous the entire trip. There are many opportunities to see the railroad overhead.

(A rare pic of son, Bama, who doesn't allow photographs of himself, along with others in our group)

This was my parents first canoe trip like this. Many, many moons ago they took my brother and I white water rafting. They haven't been canoeing since. I was especially excited for them. I wanted them to experience the peacefulness and beauty at a pace that they could really take it in. Life is to short not to soak it up while one is here!

There was much to see on the trip. But what was most significant about our Memorial day trip was the large number of snakes who were out in full force.... 

BIGGGG Snakes!

I was involved in a "drive by shooting".
Er, photographic Shooting. (Smile)
And if we are being technical, it was more of a paddle by.

The snakes didn't pay me any mind. They were very aware of me, almost as much as I was them.
I was quiet and in awe of their sheer size. They were all giants!

But alas, I paddled on to the very thing I came for on this particular weekend....


You can see the grove ahead of the train trestle.

The lilly's are quite spectacular. And quite special. The Cahaba lily is an aquatic flowering plant native to the major river systems of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The best and largest populations in the Cahaba River are located in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. A type of spiderlily belonging to the amaryllis family, the Cahaba lily is noted for the striking beauty of its three-inch-wide white flowers. The lily requires a very specialized habitat—swift-flowing water over rocks and lots of sun. The blooming season is a small window, from mid-May to mid-June (or Mother's Day to Father's Day).  It's truly worth seeing!

(pictured below is my brother in law and his 2 boys)

The views along the route, incredible!

We paddled about 2 miles before we stopped along a rocky "island", created by the extremely low levels of the creek, where we decided to picnic.
The children had a blast with their nets, as they found tadpoles, crawdads and minnows to collect in their buckets!

It was a day of exploration & discovery for young and old"er" alike.
It's moments like this that I relish!

The kids wanted me to be certain to show off their catches of the day.

You might be happy to know we lived today on the catch and release program.

We didn't even bother catching this guy.
We didn't even come close.
We let him be as happy as he was.
And I sang in the tune of the Beatles song, "Let it Be, Let it Be. Let it be , yeah Let it Be!"

After lunch, we paddled some more.
I don't know what it is about having two bodies of water converge into one, but it's quite a thrill to me. As it was no different on Monday, when we paddled our way at the point of the trip when Buck Creek runs into the Cahaba River.

I mentioned the water levels being low.
It was very low. There were many points along our trip where we pulled our canoes and kayaks.
Or we allowed someone to do it for us....

But most of the time, we had no problems. Just an enjoyable day of togetherness.

Togetherness that included LOTS and LOTS of snakes!

And other reptiles.
Here T spies a small turtle on a log...

The canoe trip is about four hours long, depending on fast you paddle and how much you stop to look.
At the end of May in the state of Alabama, it makes for a hot day.
We agreed to allow the kids, and some of the adults,  to get out a swimming hole to cool off.

Until.....everyone piled into ONE canoe!

Why are ALLLLLL these people in one canoe?????

You probably guessed correctly!
Despite our checking the area..
Because of THIS snake (below).

It literally went after all of the people swimming in the water. Bama spotted the snake coming after them and yelled....Ive never seen people move so fast. Very scary moments...

We decided to move on.
And just so ya know....I wasn't crazy enough to get into that water!!!
After seeing how big the snakes were, I was positive that they could take on a big girl like me.
But kids....sometimes it is easier to be the lookout and let them learn.
And learn they did.

Moving on.

We paddled.
And walked/dragged some more.

(pictured below is my husband Big Daddy and  our son, J Smooth)

Enjoying every beautiful minute of it!

As exciting as it was!
I told you that we saw ALOT of snakes!

To give you an idea at how low the water was.....in the trees is a Christmas tree. It was probably washed away or put into the river for fish. Because one man’s trash is a fish’s new home. Well, the tree is IN the tree, deposited there sometime ago when water levels were MUCH higher.
About 12-15 feet higher.  It's not even officially summer yet and boy! We could use some rain.
The last significant rain we had came with the terrible tornadoes that swept through the state late April.
We also spotted this rock formation on the trip.
Just look at the layers!
It makes me think.
About how old? I'd love to know.
I am curious like that!

Eventually, we came to the end of our trip, just beyond this "golden" waterfall.

What a Memorable, Memorial Day.
I am proud to be an American.
And proud to be able to get outdoors and enjoy my surrounds.
And you KNOW....I LOVE to be on the water.

Being on the water makes Leigh a happy girl!

Hope today finds you Happy. And Blessed. And enjoying all that life has to offer.

I want to thank David Butler of Canoe the Cahaba, who does a fantastic job of small boat rental and supplies. David knows his outdoors and will offer suggestions and tips on making your trip the best it can be. This is David's passion, and it truly shows in his business. If you are interested in learning how you can canoe the Cahaba-or somewhere else in Alabama- contact David by email david42240@yahoo.com  or call (205) 874-5623.
You can also visit his website for more information on his services and trips: http://www.canoethecahaba.com/

I hope to see you back here tomorrow.
Thank you for taking your time to come by. You really mean allot to me.


Keetha Broyles said...

Oh girl - - - I'm a biology gal, and I don't mind snakes in their place - - - but I was just thinkin' when I saw your kids in the WATER swimming, "What about those SNAKES!!!!???"

And - - - whumph - - - dere it IS!!!

Are those moccasins? They've got spade shaped heads so methings they are fang-a-lishous!

Otherwise - - - looks like a lovely canoe outing.

Curtains in my Tree said...

way to many snakes for me to get in that river or canoe

I would rather face a bear

looks like the family enjoyed it and that is all that matters you were all together

Jane said...

Looks like it was a wonderful day...except for those snakes! I absolutely HATE them...fear them...used to shoot them (before they got me!). I grew up on a lake with a swamp next door. We saw LOTS of snakes...water moccasins, rattlers, coral...and the only snake I liked, the black snake. (I used to hope for these guys to come around...to chase off all the bad guys.)What kind were they? Their heads looked like "bad guys".

Best of all...you had your family together. That's such a special occasion!
Viva Familia!

HEWY said...

Love this post. I want to go now!

Jerri junque said...

Loved following you down the river but too many snake pic. LOL. Looks like fun.

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Oh my! I was thinking about snakes when I saw the swimming pictures -- ya'll are brave! Very brave! Loved the pictures of your river canoe trip .... well, everything except those snakes1 Yikes!

Jan@southernjunkin' said...

Lilies, and turtles, and SNAKES, oh my! Such a fun trip! You made wonderful memories! We love the Cahaba too! The lilies are fabulous!

Christy said...

Ok, I have lived in the Birmingham area for 35 years and have never canoed on the Cahaba. I'm not an outdoor person but your trip sounds like fun! Thanks for sharing!

Marylnail@bellsouth.net said...

Big Snakes!!!!!!!!

Patti said...

Just as I got to the part where everyone was swimming I thought "were they crazy??" Those are BIG snakes...I saw a snake in my yard the other day (YOU would have called it a large worm) and i ran away like a baby!! If it "slithers" I run! Looks like beautiful scenery and a nice relaxing trip!

Kristen said...

This is absolutely beautiful! It looks so peaceful and amazing. Well, except for the snakes. EW! Also, the water level. That is just sad. But it looks like you had an amazing trip. Thanks for all the pictures. Beautiful!

Eric said...

Just came across your blog through "NoSleep." Looking forward to keeping updated with you. Can you please send me an email with the who, what, where, etc about canoning the Cahaba. I was just talking to the wife the other day about doing that. My email is esnyder1979@yahoo.com

Linh C. said...

At first, I was thinking that my family should paddle down the Cahaba too...until I thought about snakes. I would freak out!

I'll just enjoy the scenery through your pictures. :)

Elizabeth Ann said...

Ok Leigh, I was just thinking about taking some of the family + dogs to the water fall by the old mill in Helena. Not sure now!!!! Maybe all the people would keep the snakes away.

Great pictures though. I alway enjoy your family outings. Thanks for sharing.


Eric said...

Looks like a great time except for the snakes. YIKES! Thanks for sharing your adventure.

jennifer said...

Oh yicks. No, I won't ever make that trip after seeing all those snakes!! Yicks! Yicks! Yicks!! You are so brave.

Kathy said...

We went down Buck Creek and the Cahaba a few years ago and have been dying to go again! We didn't see a single snake when we went...and we looked!