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Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Report on Recent Paddle: Bayou Tallapoosa Paddle by Matt Darring
August 12, 2001

The launch for this paddle is Rice Creek Landing. It's a wonderful landing for kayakers because there is hardly any motor boat traffic. In fact this was the first time in five times that I have actually seen a motor boat trailer. It's also free, which is a perk. Plus is wonderfully beautiful. It's very tricky to find, unless you have been there. I found out that even if you have been there it is still hard to find.

We met at the Stagecoach Restaurant in Stockton at 8:00 AM. I should say the old Stagecoach because they have a new building across the street. We left at around 8:15 and went to the launch all seven cars. I took a wrong turn onto Allen St. and my faithful companions followed. Needless to say that the little old lady that owned the front yard that we were now overtaking was a wee surprised. She took it in stride though, calm throughout. She even asked if we were looking for Rice Creek, which means this has happened before. Carl aced if she had breakfast waiting for us. It was quite funny. Anyway, we found the right street ("Rice Creek St.", go figure) and we had the boats unloaded and were in the water by 9:30. There were 9 people in 8 boats. It was a really good crew, but no new people unfortunately.

We paddled up Rice Creek to Tensaw Lake and took a right. We continued up the lake for probably 2.5 miles to the tip of an island. Just to the left of that island is the skinny inlet of Bayou Tallapoosa. It is very similar to Bayou Jassmine to the South, but unfortunately has some clear cuts nearby so the woods don't seem as Jurassic. Still a beautiful paddle. We continued up past a few minor log jams and such. Some of us got out and stretched at one point. There was a neat frog there. Carl showed us his cool "Launching from sitting on an overhanging tree branch" move. Rob probably has a picture of it posted on his sister website for the club. We paddled a good bit more to a much bigger log jam, that was passable but we had been out for a while. I suggested that we turn around since Fritz's gps said we had gone almost 6 miles. I only wanted to do 7 or 8 miles anyway, but the group came to a consensus that we were close enough to the Tensaw river to make a push for it. We paddled only a couple more tenths of a mile and reached the river. There we got out on the sand bar and chatted. Almost all of us went for a dip. Carl practiced his rolls out in the river.

We turned around and started to head back down the Bayou. There was a thunderstorm off in the distance, but it seemed to be heading south of us. The rather swift current of the bayou carried us quickly along. About halfway back down the rain started. It soaked us pretty good. We stopped at the end of the Bayou to group up and make our decision. We decided to go ahead and head back and stay up close to the bank to avoid lightning as best as possible. We made it back without much in the way of rain, and no one being struck by lightning. We did have a tail wind for a good bit. Can you imagine it? A tail wind at one of my paddles.

We got back around 2:30 if memory serves me, having paddled a little bit more than 12 miles. It was a great paddle, and the company was fantastic. It did end up being a little longer than I had planned, but that was mainly due to the experience of the group. It's not hard to convince me to stay out longer.

This is a great place to paddle. Even on a weekend I think we only saw 2 or 3 motor boats. There are several other places that I want to paddle in this area. There are no services directly at the launch site, but there are some amenities in beautiful downtown Stockton. If you have any questions about the area, or other places to paddle out of Rice Creek, feel free to email me.

-- Matt Darring, IAMA@BACKPACKER.COM