Five Fellows Have Fling On The Flint
Reynolds, GA--John Williams has a special love for the Flint River, and his idea was to have the traditional April trip on the section from Reynolds to Montezuma. He and the King had the trip all planned, but circumstances intervened which prevented either from making the trip.
Charlie Stines had made all the preparations and had the route ready, but in early March his doctor advised him that he would not make the trip since he needed to have heart surgery to repair an aneurysm. Conceit led the king to think that some people might elect not to go if they knew he was not going, so John and Art Shelfer agreed to keep everything secret and to lead the travelers in the king’s absence.
But, alas, just shortly before Charlie was scheduled for his open heart surgery at Emory, John had some business in Athens. While there, he suffered severe chest pains and went to the doctor. The doctors recognized an emergency situation, and John was having his heart cut out four days before Charlie. At that time, Art and Charlie decided it was best to level with everyone and tell them that the trip would go on, but John and Charlie would not make it.
John and Charlie survived their knife fights with the heart surgeons, but both were under house arrest and not permitted to paddle or even drive as of the anticipated date of the trip.
So on April 6, 2006, five Fellow Travelers came to the king’s house, picked up the Suburban Profane, three canoes, and the trailer. It was off to the Flint River for three days of paddling. Since the river trip was a short one, there was no need for pre-dawn departures or hectic drives to the put-in. Daniel Butler and Art Shelfer rode Art’s Tahoe to the GA 49 at Ogelthorpe and then joined Donald May, Hamp Chauncey, and Paul Tolar in the Suburban Profane for the ride to the GA 96 bridge east of Reynolds.
The weather was really nice on Thursday, and the river was slightly low. There was a good current, and the Flint was its usual silt color. Art and Paul teamed up in the Canadienne, Hamp and Donald took the Penobscot 17, and Daniel took the king’s Prism solo. Soon the group was canoeing past high bluffs and nice sandbars--although Flint sandbars are not as snowy white as those on some Florida rivers.
The group spotted the first of several alligators shortly after launching. Turtles were numerous. A large alligator entertained everyone except Daniel who missed it because he took a short cut.
There was a long and relaxing lunch break, and then it was downriver to find a campsite, which is not a difficult task on this portion of the Flint. A sandbar was chosen which was very near the campsite used by the group in 2001. There was plenty of firewood, and the men built a grand fire. Daniel was in charge of supper, and he prepared what he called “awesome burgers” along with some pressure-cooked lima beans.
After supper the campers noted that the place was unusually quiet because Charlie was not there. So the men called the king and gave a report. Some lies were told, and the group listened to satellite radio courtesy of Daniel’s major award. Hamp, the youngster of the group, roasted a few marshmallows, then everyone went to bed.
Art, the Weatherman, prepared a breakfast of dirty southern eggs with corn, black beans, and peppers, and served it with pita bread. The paddlers were headed downstream shortly after nine.
The wildlife was still abundant, and several gators swam near the canoes. A family of feral hogs caused visions of pulled pork to entice the campers, but no one saw fit to kill a hog. There were also turtles, ducks, and other birds.
Daniel stopped to inspect a 1950s Ford step van parked high on the bank. Try as he might, he could not get it started and left it to continue rusting itself away.
There was a rather long lunch break, and after that the paddlers continued downstream. The wind had picked up, and the weather predictions for Saturday now included wind and rain. The group passed the old ferry and a county road bridge before the campsite was selected.
Again, the campsite was a good one. There was more evidence of wild hogs and tracks of other animals. Daniel built a good fire, and then he and Hamp went for a swim in the cold swift but shallow water.
Art prepared roast beef and rice, and again served pita bread with the meal. Hamp again burned a few marshmallows. After supper, the fire was stoked quite high and Donald noticed a very small turtle escaping from the sand near the fire. The turtle appeared sluggish but unharmed. After taking several pictures of the map turtle, Hamp put it into a puddle to recuperate. After that, everyone listened to the hogs in the distance and again dreamed of pulled pork for supper. After a few more lies and listening to a little more music, all retired.
Daniel prepared a breakfast of cheese and sausage biscuits. Hamp found that the turtle was still in the puddle, so he decided to adopt it. After that, it was time to paddle on.
The weather forecast was correct, and the travelers encountered a heavy downpour for a short period. After that, the rain was intermittent for the remaining four miles or so to the bridge.
Upon reaching the bridge, Art and Donald went to retrieve the Suburban Profane. The invalids, John Williams and Charlie Stines, met the paddlers at the bridge, and brought Cindy and Diane along, too. After loading the canoes onto the pink trailer, the entire gang went to Yoder’s Restaurant for a really good meal, and then all went home.