The Chattahoochee River at Omaha, Ga is the one of my favorite places to plunder. One side of the river belongs to Georgia while the other side belongs to Alabama. On this trip I mostly hung out on the Alabama side. I camped in Bluff Creek Park downwind from a paper mill. I grew up in a paper mill town and I knew the air would be stinky but figured I could take it for one night. The campground was really nice and sparsely populated. I could hear the drone of the paper mill through the woods. I tried to imagine the sound like that of waves on a beach. Oh well, close enough.
Having car camped for a while I’m getting pretty good at knowing how to pick a spot for maximun isolation. In this campground everyone naturally wants to camp along the river bank and there are some pretty nice spots to be had. But I camped by the entrance, away from the river, in a section everyone passes by on their way to the find the perfect plot! No matter to me, I was going to be on the river all day.
What drew me back to Omaha, GA is a hugh beautifully designed train bridge with the middle jacked way up high; permanently! This bridge is a “dead stick” with the track still laid on either side getting devoured by South Georgia/Alabama Southern wildness. The paddle from the campground to the bridge was about 6 miles. Along the way, I cut up a shallow side creek to inspect a small, one lane, road bridge in Omaha. That little wander yielded the discovery of a crusty old lumber barn rotting away in the woods. Heading out of the creek I startled a gator warming himself on the sand.
I reached the main event, the train bridge, by mid afternoon and it was damn hot outside. A summer heat wave was beating down across most of the South. No matter, I was around plenty of water to chill in. I pulled over on the bank next to bridge to take a swim when a baby gator came up for a look. I didn’t know if there was a big mama close by so I decided not to go swimming. Instead I geared up for a walk in the woods, dragged the kayak out of sight and headed for the desserted train track.
The track was high on top a rock bed that was covered in briars and other nefarious small scrub. It was a real bitch to crawl over but once on top, the abandoned track offered a high walkway with a great view of the river and countryside. And not a soul in sight. I walked the track into the woods until it split with another track that headed off in it’s own mysterious direction. On the way out, I walked the track as far out towards the bridge as I dare go. I stopped when I was about to put my foot down on some rotten timber with no hint of solid ground underneath. When I turned around I discovered an oversized stop sign covered in vines. The red color of the sign and the letters were nearly disintegrated as it stood bolted to a wooden pole. I tried to pry the sign off but it held tight.
By the time I returned to where I stowed my kayak in the woods a couple of fisherman had anchored under the bridge which gave them a clear view as I stumbled onto the shore with my big yellow boat in tow. I just didn’t care what they thought and I don’t think they cared to even notice. That’s just the way things are down here and another reason why I love coming here.
I sat on the shoreline gulping down my water supply while taking in the view of the bridge as it turned colors in the afternoon sun. Before leaving I decided to take a short walk along the river’s edge to scavenge around and I’m glad I did. I looked down and couldn’t believe what was half buried in the mud. I pulled out a baby doll head. This was a rare find and made my day. It will make a great addition to my collection.
I killed a little bit of time exploring the perimeter of the paper mill and it was dusk before I made it back to the landing. Perfect timing. The garmin registered a 14 miler. A Ribeye went on the grill back at my isolated campsite as I prepped the van for sleeping. The next morning, I awoke to find a deer grazing in the plot next to me. That didn’t last long thanks to Dawson. I packed up and hit the road just as the paper mill was pumping out it’s morning toxins. Smelled like victory!