Ichawaynochaway Creek meanders through Calhoun and Baker counties in southwest Georgia before joining Chickasawatchee Creek and then emptying into the Flint River above Bainbridge. The entire creek is 85 miles long, making it more of a river than a stream.
The name appears to be a Muskogee Indian word that refers to beaver or deer. The most popular theory is that it means “the place where deer sleep”. This seems plausible because this large creek runs through some of Georgia’s best hunting land. Barb says her father and people of his generation called the creek by a shorter name: Nochaway.
Paul Fryer and I have been talking about doing a local canoe trip for a while. We are both busy people. Paul is a lawyer and field representative for Congressman Sanford Bishop, and I have a lot of irons in the fire. Our tight schedules finally found an opening on Mother’s Day this year to allow us to do a half day of paddling the creek. Luckily Barb didn’t work until 4pm that day, which allowed the three of us to start early and finish in time for Barb to take her usual place at Home Depot.
A rain storm two days before our trip ensured the water level would be high and the creek fast. We stopped at the Milford Bridge on Route 216. The first few miles were marked by a series of class I and II shoals that certainly quickened the pulse and tested our paddling skills. The river mainly flows through a very rural, heavily wooded landscape. Cypresses, willows, pines, beeches, flowering catalpa and oaks predominate on the banks of the river. Occasional rocks and semi-submerged branches break up the usually steady current and contribute to a welcome gurgling variation of bird calls.
We didn’t meet any other people or even see any signs of other people on the about three hour paddle. Every once in a while we passed a seemingly abandoned river house. Glad to say we didn’t encounter any litter along the river. What we encountered was cloudless, dappled blue skies through overhanging trees, and warm temperatures.
When we reached the Hwy 200 bridge, we beached the canoe and kayak, pulled them up the muddy bank and said a pleasant goodbye to the creek. As a reward for our efforts, we returned to Bainbridge and indulged in a late Sunday lunch at Yesterday’s Diner.