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Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Six Bits Creek Paddle, July 21, 2001

The sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows on the ground of three boats. The boats of three great explorers. They met at a local trading post owned by a man named Bruno, who had shot and killed the previous owner, Delchamps, in a duel.

After they stocked up on provisions for their journey, they made way to the launch site of the grand expedition. They came to the landing known as hurricane, and met with the other sojourner of their group, now four strong. They paid the harbormaster three schillings for the use of his land. The bows of the four boats, called kayaks by the locals, sliced into the slime covered waters of Hurricane Bayou. Bits of morning fog still lingered in the shadows, as well as a small alligator peering from the murky depths.

Our four explorers: Fritz the swift, Captain Gene, Tom the brilliant, and Slo-mo Matt (also pronounced Mo-slo, and is also known as Windy), are on a mission of their own making. They are off the to explore the reaches of Six Bits Creek.

Local accounts tell of great beauty and impressive wealth. Gene, an old salt of local fame, did not know if this grand adventure was possible. However, with the security of being surrounded by such great boatmen he headed off with them.

After leaving the bayou they encountered their first great challenge, crossing the mighty Tensaw River. The gods of the sea were with them as they crossed with ease. They entered the river that led to the Basin Negro. The river was lined with great swaths of American Lotus flowers. Fritz and Tom discovered an inlet creek and decided to follow it. Upon seeing that creek went on for a long ways, they decided to leave it for another day. The river forked, and our group took the channel to the East. Local lore tells that this time of year is a bad time to see flowers, but our explorers would tell a different tale. They saw many American Lotus, numbering in the thousands. That is not all, our heroes also saw Leather Flower Clematis, Trumpet vine, Swamp Lilly, Pickerel, Water Primrose, Alligator Weed, and Water hyacinth all in bloom. They were also fortunate enough to see a large alligator on the river to Basin Negro. They passed by Smith Bayou, then Owl Creek, and then to the point at the top of the island. They were at the South end of the vast Basin Negro, and the mouth of Six Bits was only a couple of hundred yards away.

The entrance to Six Bits is a most glorious site. Flanked on both sides by grand Bald Cypress trees. The channel of the creek is narrowed on both sides by encroaching water plants. On the South side is Water Primrose and Alligator Weed, as well as a floating plant that has the texture of a cats tongue, that Tom noted was a floating fern. On the North side is the venerable American Lotus.
The explorers cruised up the creek past hanging limbs and floating gardens. They thought to themselves, "This truly is a beautiful place." As they reached the navigable end of the creek, it bequeathed its great treasure: a noble giant of a cypress. The four travelers gawked in amazement at its size and beauty, and wondered why pirates of a foregone era had left it be. They pondered that if all four surrounded the tree there would be gaps between their hands. It was a true reminder of what had once been, and what will hopefully be again. Our heroes ate and drank, took pictures, and did other things one must do after having been in a kayak for three and a half hours.
Fully satisfied with the success of their journey, they ventured back. The group split at the island. Matt and Fritz went back down the East fork, as Tom and Gene ventured down the West. Tom broke off from Gene to hunt Fiddler crabs (apparently his food was running short). There was a gentle breeze as our heroes crossed back over the Tensaw, after a short break. They came back to there stagecoaches at four o'clock, having departed at nine that morning. The entire journey was 14 miles (or 8.2 nautical miles). The harbormaster and his mate were amazed by the explorers interesting mode of transportation, and wondered how many times they had capsized. Our heroes chuckled, rallied their horses, and rode off into the sunset.
-The End

All illusions of grandeur aside, this was an excellent paddle, due in great deal to the weather. There are several other creeks in the area that I would like to paddle, and most are closer than Six Bits if you are looking for a shorter paddle. We left out from Hurricane landing, which is in between Cliffs Landing and Byrnes Lake. It's never really crowded and it's only $3. There is also a restaurant right at the launch. The area is very safe for you soloers out there. There was moderate boat traffic, mainly concentrated on the Tensaw. To get to Hurricane landing go west from the four way stop on Hwy. 225 in the town of Crossroads, then take the right fork in the road. The four way stop is the first one you come to if you are heading North from Hwy. 31 in Spanish Fort. If you have any other questions about the area just email me at iama@backpacker.com.

- Matt Darring