While heading down the Tombigbee one morning, I came across a yacht named Gumby II that had swung on it’s anchor and was a bit stuck on a sand bar. I chatted with the owner, Scott, while sipping coffee and hanging on to his dinghy. He had left Jacksonville in March on the Great Loop and was nearing Fortunately, in less than an hour he freed himself and was cruising again on down to the Gulf. Scott snapped this pic and we exchanged information but I just couldn’t bring myself to accept his offer of a boat ride to the Gulf.
The sunsets in fall and winter have begun to display their vibrant and rich colors. The shot below was taken at the final lock and Dam before the river flow freely to the Gulf. It feels great to have those monstrosities behind me.
It wasn’t the first gator I came across but certainly the closest. This deceased male alligator was roughly 6-7ft and judging by the bloating had been here for a bit. Paddling up to this great predator I kept waiting for it to spin over and attack. The well worn claws and prehistoric skin made me feel like I was in the presence of a dinosaur. My how the river has changed since WV.
Down in the Tensaw Delta, the mosquitoes have yet to dissappear for winter and required wearing of clothing head to toe and a bug net. The ever present hum at night ebbs and flows as the pests probe through my hammock for any morsel of blood. What more could I expect from the swamps of this biodiverse state.
Down in the historic port town of Blakely, opposite Mobile on the east side of the Tensaw Delta, I pulled in to the boat ramp and nearly ran over this fisherman’s lines. Dewitt Hooks, yes that’s his real name, is a local in his mid 70s who has been fishing these waters since he was a young boy. His extendable poles and light test were hooked with worms for baiting brim, crappie and any small catfish that may come by. After a setting up my camp near the boardwalk, I struck up a conversation with the old-timer and picked up every other word of his rich and thick accent. Tilting his slimey plastic bucket towards me, he offered me some fish to cook for dinner. Now I love fish but so far have avoided eating locally caught fish due to the pollution in the Ohio and Tennessee. Gladly accepting his offer, he tossed two nice brim into my cockpit and I promptly cleaned them on shore and pan fried them in onions, garlic and curry spices. The white meat was juicy, tender and flaky leaving only the small bones tossed into the live oak forest for a scavenger of the night.
Sunset down on the boardwalk beneath the Spanish moss draped live oaks and cypress.
The last railroad bridge to cross before reaching Mobile Bay just happened to have a freight rolling across when I paddled beneath.
In case you were wondering, there’s a floating shanty at the end of the rainbow.
In the lower delta, canals cut through the tidal swamps and offer an escape from winds that picked up. At low tide, the paddle would frequently scrape across the muddy bottom and the bank is at eye level. A big splash ahead was none other than a gator making a break for the water at my approach. This is a tight channel to share with such a large predator. Sheesh.
I-10 is the last major highway bridge to pass under before arriving at Mobile Bay. The rumble of trucks and cars carries for miles, reminiscent of the surf on a stormy beach far away. I’ll be at the beach soon enough!