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Amos Odyssey Day 22

Article Published in Rome News Tribune Sept. 17, 2012

Amos Odyssey Day 22: 200-Mile journey ends on Weiss Lake

Published in Rome News-Tribune Sept. 17, 2012


Cedar Bluff, Ala. — On August 25, I set out on an odyssey in the mountains of the Cohutta Wilderness. Two hundred miles, 22 days, four rivers, and one reservoir later, I have completed my journey. I thought this would be the trip of a lifetime, but I never imagined it would be this incredible.

My goal in undertaking this trip was to document and “put a face on” the biodiversity of the upper Coosa River basin. After observing holiday darters, Conasauga logperch, redeye bass, longear sunfish, freshwater drum, redhorse, river otters, river cooters, snapping turtles, kingfishers, muskrats, pistolgrips, three-horned warty backs, washboards, osprey and Conasauga crayfish (just to name a few), I have discovered first hand that we do live in North America’s most biologically diverse river basin.

Too often we confine ourselves to our habitats: Rome’s downtown area, Dalton’s carpet factories, Calhoun’s outlet mall or Cedar Bluff’s lake houses, and we tend to forget that much of our region is still wild — and our rivers are one of the area’s last strongholds of all things wild.

It’s that wildness that draws us to the river. All winter we dream of floating the waters of summer. Every time we cross a bridge, we crane our necks to catch a glimpse of the life below. I’m like many of the people I met on my trip. Like them, I just love rivers.

And, although I traveled just 200 of the more than 700 miles of the Coosa River system (it’s more than 500 miles from Weiss Lake to Mobile Bay), I found that every day was a completely different experience — from the rocky shoals of the mountains to flat water of the Coosa.

As I approached Weiss Lake, I had a nostalgic feeling from my childhood. I remembered taking long car trips down to the Florida panhandle for family vacations on the coast. Those car rides would end with me waiting in anticipation for that moment when the landscape opened up and I could see the vast Gulf of Mexico.

I got that same feeling reaching Weiss Lake on this journey. I still had that ecstatic feeling of reaching the open waters, but this trip’s emotions were quite different. There was a feeling of sadness knowing that the odyssey was over. There will be a lot of things I miss about these last three weeks; the fishes, the sunrises and sunsets, but most of all, the rivers themselves.

Our bodies consist of 70 percent water. Having grown up in the Coosa River basin, drinking and bathing in its water most of my life, I’m mostly made up of the water of the Coosa River — the same water I have paddled and explored for the last three weeks. I set out to get to know these rivers on a deep personal level, but as it turns out, I was also getting to know myself.

 

Editor's Note - This is the last report from Amos Tuck, Coosa River Basin Initiative program coordinator. Amos is currently organizing educational programs utilizing his images, video and stories from his journey. If you have a school, civic or church group that would be interested in learning more about Amos’ Odyssey and North America’s most biologically diverse river basin, contact Amos at 706-232-2724 or via email at atuck@coosa.org.

Readers can make donations to support Amos’ Odyssey and CRBI’s education efforts at www.coosa.org/events/amos-odyssey Donations of $35 or more receive a year’s membership in CRBI and five raffle tickets to win a new Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak from Cedar Creek Park.

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