Date: February 24, 2001
A NOT SO FAMILIAR MULBERRY FORK
Several years ago I talked with a gentleman who related a story about a great float fishing trip that he had been doing. He told me about a whitewater stretch of the Mulberry Fork River which lies well above both the standard Mulberry Fork run and the "Upper" Mulberry Fork stretch. He and his partner, neither of which are whitewater paddlers, paddled and fished this segment of the Mulberry several times at low water until he broached his canoe under a tree and decided that this was just a little more river than he wanted to canoe. I filed the idea of running this portion of the Mulberry away in the back of my mind after visiting the put-in twice, each time the water was too low to run.
In the meantime, Mark D' began the worthwhile project of running, photographing, mapping and publishing every possible whitewater stretch in the state of Alabama. Well, my procrastination led to Mark being the first HCC paddler to run this segment of the Mulberry Fork. My hat is off to Mister D'Agostino; his description of the run and the water level requirements were right on the money.
The weather forcast for Saturday, February 24 didn't sound too encouraging. The Weather Channel was predicting high winds and afternoon showers, but the temperature was to approach the mid 60's. The water level seemed about perfect, 5.5' on the USGS Mulberry Fork, Garden City gage. We decided to try and beat any rain so Bob and Brenda Barnett, Si Klueger, Curt Ruffing, Kay and I left Hardy's at 8:30 a.m. A short drive to just above Rainbow Crossing led us to the put-in on Route 67. Parking is ample at the put-in; there is a wide paved shoulder on the downstream-river right side of the bridge. The gentleman who owns the property at this location said we were welcome to park there anytime. The shuttle run has to be one of the quickest of any run in the state; I believe that it may be shorter than any of the convienent shuttles on the nearby Locust Fork.
Bob, Si and I ran shuttle while Curt, Brenda and Kay took the boats down to the river. Curt managed to step on a stob (that's my west Tennessee lingo for a sharpened sapling that sticks up from the ground) and puncture his paddling shoe and a good portion of his foot. By the time shuttle was complete, the girls had emptied the blood out of his shoe, treated the wound and applied bandages. Curt decided that a little punji stick puncture wasn't going to ruin a good day's paddling, so off we go with only Mark's description to guide us.
I won't go into a blow-by-blow description of the trip, but it was a pure class I-II delight. The river flows right along with no really dead pools. As you proceed down the river, it progresses from Class I shoals to Class II drops. Toward the end, the run again backs off to Class I. This stream is a pure delight. It is what most beginning paddlers look for and never find; a non-intimidating whitewater run that can both build confidence and provide a playground for newly acquired skills.
Again, many thanks to Mark D' for documenting this stretch of river. By the way Mark, is this the Upper-Upper Mulberry or the Upper-Upper-Upper Mulberry?