Cahaba 50 Miler, 2000

Troop 371's long term camp for 2000 was a canoe trip down the Cahaba River. We departed from Auburn on May 29 and returned on June 3.

After traveling to the Harrisburg bridge (about 10 miles south of Centreville, AL) we spent the rest of the week on the river, finishing out trip at Alabama's first capitol, Cahawba. The section of the river that we traveled was 69.8 miles. This was quite an accomplishment for these young men (and for some of us older ones too).

Day by Day

10.2 miles
Leave Auburn around 8:00 AM and drive to Centreville. We were in the river before noon and stopped on the first sand bar for lunch and to adjust our gear.

After numerous canoe swampings we finally picked out a camp site around 6 PM, seriously short of our goal for the day. After a hamburger supper, we all slept good on the sand. Everyone was in bed shortly after dark (about 8:30).

21.8 miles
An early morning, and a chilly one.  Those who slept outside because their tents were wet found a heavy coat of dew making them even wetter. Sausage and eggs for breakfast, then back in the boats.

We reached our projected Monday campsite about Noon. Everyone was getting a little concerned about being able to go the distance we had planned. 

After a HARD day of paddling, we made up part of the distance we were behind. After roast beef, mashed potatoes & green beans for supper, it was bed time. Tuesday's camp site was rocky and not as comfortable to sleep on, but we were tired enough that it didn't matter much.

After reviewing the maps, our position, and our projected schedule, we decided to stick with our schedule and meet Mr. Hartford at the US 80 bridge Wednesday afternoon. That meant another 20 mile day on Wednesday.

20.8 miles
Pancakes for breakfast then in the water ASAP. Zach Smith woke up sick, stomach ache, head ache and a fever over 102.  After lunch it was obvious that he would need to go home with Mr. Fowler when we reach the US 80 bridge.

More roast beef for lunch and a hard afternoon of paddling ahead. We decided to split into 2 groups, the older guys with Mr. Fowler would go ahead, not waiting on the 3 slower canoes. They arrived at the US 80 bridge about 3:30 and Mr. Hartford drove to Selma to refill our water jugs. The rest of us arrived about 4:00.

Homemade brownies, rice crispy treats and cold orange sodas made all the difference to the kids. After a break to enjoy these treats that moms had sent, it was back on the river to look for a camp site, now with higher spirits.  Zach and Hiram go home with Mr. Fowler and Mr. Hartford joins us for the rest of the journey.

Another rocky bar was all that could be found. An earlier finish today gave the kids a little more free time. Spaghetti for supper then a good night's sleep, until the howling of the coyotes woke us up at 4 AM.

17 miles
Sausage and eggs for breakfast and another long day to Cahawba. We know the distance is shorter but the closer we get to the Alabama River, the less current there is to help push us.

No boats turn over today, the only day of the trip when no one gets wet. Tuna for lunch but we still haven't reached the Highway 22 bridge yet.  By mid afternoon, everyone is yelling to the canoes behind them to "Keep to the right, there is an alligator in the water by the left bank".  Some of us didn't see him but just below the Highway 22 bridge it was obvious that there were alligators living in the area. A couple of alligator slides and tracks in the sand were enough to convince me.

The small amount of current that we had enjoyed is now gone and the river is not moving at all. After a hard afternoon of paddling, we reach Cahawba about 5:30 to find a very steep bank where we must unload.  Thankfully, there was another group there who offered their help.

Finally, a comfortable camp site in the midst of a beautiful moss covered pecan orchard. Ham with shells and cheese for supper, then a good night's rest.

Work Day
Grits, country ham and peaches for breakfast then off to start on our hike and service project. We collected trash as we walked to the Cahawba Visitor's Center. Once there, Mr. Coleman showed us the work that needed to be done on their nature trail.

After shoveling up 30 year old garbage, we all learned the importance of disposing of our trash properly. 

We also enjoyed seeing the historic sites of Cahawba, Alabama's first capitol and earning the Cahawba Historic Trail patch.  Chicken and dumplings for supper, then to bed.

Going home
After a long hard week, we decided to finish our service project back in Auburn. Pancakes, grits and ham for breakfast then we hiked to the Visitor's Center for a slide show and educational presentation by Mr. Coleman.  We learned a lot about the history of Cahawba, from the Native American Indians, to the capitol period, then the Civil War and beyond.

After returning to camp, we packed up and were almost ready to go when the church van arrived about 11:00.  Ci Ci's Pizza on the way home was great.

All in all this was a trip that none of us will ever forget. We conquered the Cahaba!

Cahaba Adventure 2000

Monday 10.2 2.8 mph
Tuesday 21.8 3.2 mph
Wednesday 20.8 3.3 mph
Thursday 17.0 2.7 mph
Total 69.8 3.1 mph
Top speed in 
Mr. Moore's Canoe
7 mph
Number of times a 
canoe was swamped
about 12
(we lost count)
Number of Alligators seen 1
Number of Bald Eagles seen 4 or 5
Earliest Morning Tuesday (5:30 AM)
Average River Current about 1.5 mph
NONE for the last 10 miles