Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Wolf River Ghost River Trail

Growing up my family loved to go canoeing. We spent countless Sabbath afternoons floating down the Hampton River in Virginia looking for wildlife. Just about every summer we would make the trip up to the family camp in Maine where all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins canoed down the Little Androscoggin River with our grandparents. I’ve been in Memphis for four years and still go up to Maine every summer for a father-daughter camp & canoe weekend. But I’ve never been canoeing in Memphis and being a transplant never thought that the two went together. So when my co-worker, Classic Hits 94.1 FM WKQK’s Brad Carson, invited me to join him for the Wolf River Conservancy’s Media Canoe Trip down the Ghost River Trail, I jumped at the chance. The WRC works to conserve and enhance the Wolf River corridor and its watershed as a sustainable natural resource. Believe it or not, the Memphis Sands—located on the Wolf River—are the source of Memphis’s drinking water. We met up at the Bateman Road Bridge parking area and were then shuttled to our special launch point. The standard Ghost River trip is a 9 mile ride from La Grange to the Bateman Road Bridge. But in their infinite wisdom, the WRC let us launch from their private site which cut the trip down to 4 miles and would take us through several different eco-systems including swamp, lake, and marshland sections. According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s website “The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water ‘flows’ through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps. Blue trail markers show the way for paddlers through the disorienting maze of willow, cypress, tupelos, and stunted pumpkin ash.”

Bateman Road Bridge Bateman Road Landing Site--This was our meeting place and where we finished. Brad is ready to go!

The entrance to the Ghost River Trail didn’t look like much and if it were not for the blue markers I would’ve sworn we were going the wrong way and a dead end was just around the corner. There were some tight turns, but Brad and I made it through into the marsh and swamp areas. We made several pit stops along the way to learn the history of the Wolf River. Since I hope that someday you will take a guided trip on the Wolf River, I won’t spoil the stories for you but will tell you that Davy Crockett pops up. One of the most beautiful sections of the trail was Spirit Lake. It is here that you realize the vastness of nature. We could have spent hours just taking it all in. But since we were in a group—near the back, but still with the group—we trekked on to our dinner spot on the beach. A veggie wrap perked me up while Brad enjoyed the sesame chicken. We both thought a second helping of the brownies was just what we needed to finish up the final mile of the trip.
If I was on my own, I probably would've gone to the right and wrote this off as a dead end. Now I know better.
These little blue markers were a big help. They were on almost every tree when you first enter the Ghost River Canoe Trail.
The last mile was a little bit tricky as the current was much swifter than we had seen all day. But watching the sun just beginning to set and paint the bottom of the blue sky in shades of pink is not something I will forget anytime soon.
I'm ready for my next trip down the Wolf River.

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