The beauty of the old Lock sites along the way is they offer a ramp in an otherwise natural river. At night it is comforting to know I’ve got somewhere to pull into that isn’t a mud bank. Many of the locks are technically closed overnight but since it is such a rural area, there isn’t much enforcement. The hammock is tied up at sunset and untied before sunrise. This morning found me floating past the noisy railroad bridge, trains passing in the night causing an uproar not far from camp. Soon the fog burned off allowing for some river miles to be covered. Later that night it would rain hard and heavy winds began to blow. I sat out one of the rainy weather days as temperatures plummeted into the 40’s – not the best daily conditions for paddling.
The following days were much more enjoyable and I made my way down to Lock 5 park by sunset. There were two boat launches here and a brief walk up the road to the local Turtle Creek Cafe revealed a shuttered establishment. I guess I’ll have to enjoy another meal of eggs, cheese and tortilla down by the river. The bathroom’s utility door was open and I found some power for my radio and a spigot to fill my water jugs, the only two real necessities on a day-to-day basis while paddling.
In the morning, the sound of trailers clanking and two stroke engines racing was a sure sign of a local fishing tournament. At 7AM, the leader gave a few rules and then everyone took off in a roar of smoke and waves in a race to make it to their fishin’ hole first.
A brief look at the satellite view revealed some back channels that would head off from the main river but eventually cut back in saving a couple miles. The flow here was still noticeable as I swept through the forest and reeds on my way back downstream to Demopolis.
Pulling the boat up in the Municipal Park, I chained it to a metal anchor and set out on foot for a 3 mi walk around town, to the grocery store, library and a bite to eat. There is a quaint charm to Demopolis with the many historic homes decorated for Halloween. The leaves crunch under my feet as I walk past brick lined sidewalks and eventually into a rougher part of town where crumbling concrete just ends at a grassy block and train tracks. I continue on and eventually return to the boat at sunset to finish some miles before the day is through. The offer from a family to join them at 9PM for the Rocky Horror Picture Show shown outside on a sheet is tempting but I know it is way past my bedtime.
Now I’ve seen all manner of devices to shore up a bank but never tombstones and coffins! This area near the south side of town was a real shock as the broken and crumbling caskets tumble down to the water’s edge.
The shorelines are littered with the crafty remains of the beavers which are responsible for damming and cutting many willows and cane along the shoreline. I’ve always enjoyed the pattern of their gnaw marks.
White Bluff in Demopolis at Sunset.
At a certain point I ran out of maps and started making my own. The library was closed in Demopolis and instead of hanging around for another day waiting for it to open, I just began hand drawing my own maps on the blank backs of the existing. They were a little rough but I found them more usable than the hard to read satellite view maps provided by the corps.