Kayaking the Alabama: Did I mention that it was HOT?

The distance from the riverfront to Cooter’s Pond is only about seven miles but let me tell you, it was damn hot at noon. There were all manner of paddlecraft in the water including a couple of those little shorty whitewater boats.

Now, I didn’t technically see them leave for Cooter’s and I was hoping they decided against it. There were other people who also had no business trying to paddle that distance but I didn’t say anything – the organizers had a few rescue boats in the water to help out.

Chris and I talked as we paddled getting to know each other and made one short rest stop to stretch out. I believe we’re both slightly north of 50 so every stop allowed us to stretch out a little.

We covered that distance in about two hours and as we pulled into this place called Cooter’s Pond, it was clear we had no idea where to go – it’s huge. Chris spotted the boat ramp and I kept thinking that I had heard something about a golf course which was in front of us.

Luckily, we went to the ramp and Chris walked to the top and determined that we were in the right stop.

Rule number one: if there’s a sign (southern: if they’s a sign) that says, “Welcome Bass Fisherman”, just keep paddling down the river.

We scouted around and found a good spot up on top for our tents and such and started the process of unloading our boats. Then, we decided that it might be better to take a spot down near the docks which would be out down and away from the parking lot.

The organizers had a dinner that night so we confirmed the time and location and started getting our camp organized.

Chris set up his tent and I hung my hammock. By the time we finished, it was dinner time so we headed to that location.

Dinner was great – typical souhern fare: barbecue, ice tea (sweet and unsweet), baked beans and pie. I think I drank about a gallon of tea… it was clear that we’d have to be careful not to get dehydrated over the next few days.

It was at dinner that I first met and immediately liked Richard. We also met his friend Chris also from ATL. Now, Richard was in true form – sitting wiht some ladies and clearly he was in charge so we gave him some room to …err…. operate.

That evening, we watched various boaters come in – one guy put one a clear display of disregard for “no wake”. As his wife/girlfriend/sister got off the boat, she apologized to us for her language and then said something about never getting on a boat with a drunk again.

The next morning, the noise started around 0400 or 0430. Boats launching, guys yelling, motors cranked, etc. Have you ever heard the sound of ~62 boats and teams preparing for a bass tournament? You can’t fight it so go with it. We got up, prepared (southern: fixed) breakfast and packed up.

The water had dropped quite a bit overnight – we were glad our kayaks were on the dock since they’d be in the mud if we had left them in the first spot we considered.

The bass folks didn’t complain too much – I guess they assumed (southern: figured) that if they can make noise, they can also step around our boats – not that too many of them used the docks in the first place.

The fleet massed just outside of Cooter’s on the river and they did a numbered start calling off each boat’s number and crew names. They got 62 teams off in just over 10-minutes I believe. We were pleased that most of them headed up river too.

We had determined the night before that we’d be on the water by 0630 and I think we were close to that. I’ll have to check my notes for the distance and destination but it was clearly going to be a good if not warm day.

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