This past weekend my family and I experienced the beauty of the Locust Fork River for the first time. One of Alabama's longest remaining free-flowing rivers, it twists and turns its way between ridges and cliffs just north of Birmingham. Home to several rare aquatic species, including a few stands of the beautiful Cahaba lily, the river meanders lazily in places, while at others its waters rush between rocks, over shoals, and, when I hit the chutes just right, over the bow and all over my wife.
The river also included an extra surprise: a rope swing that just begged the three boys on the float to take her for a test drive. Heath Ross (photo at left) braved the heights first, while his brother Ian went last. My son Aaron swung second, as seen here in this video. I can't think of too many other sights that scream summer fun more than this.
The Friends of the Locust Fork had offered this trip as a means of introducing the river to a few newbies. (Thanks to the Friends for their hospitality and my buddy Neil Ross for connecting me with them.) The group organizes a few trips each year on the river and serves as an advocate for keeping the river and the surrounding area ecologically healthy.
Ian Ross prepares for his maiden flight on the Locust Fork rope swing.
Judging by recent events the Friends have scored a few successes. They recently stopped a years-long attempt at damming the river and have lobbied Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust to purchase some 3200 acres along its banks that were to be used for the aforementioned dam. A vote* to consider that purchase is scheduled for this Thursday, June 11, 2009, at Jacksonville State University's Little River Canyon Field School (call 256-782-5697 for more information or visit the Outdoor Alabama website).
* This just in: The effort to purchase the 3200 acres along the Locust Fork is still alive. Alabama's Forever Wild voted yesterday (June 11, 2009) to have the property assessed. Once that step is complete, the real crux move of finding the monies necessary to purchase the property will begin.
Just one of many beautiful vistas along the Locust Fork in north-central Alabama