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Hartselle Enquirer

Camping by the creek

One of the summertime pleasures my brothers and me shared during our boyhood days on the farm was camping out on the banks of Fox Creek in Clay County, AL.

The small stream was a tributary of the Tallapoosa River. Its origin was in the foothills of the Talladega National Forest and it weaved its way through multiple hills and valleys before emptying into the Tallapoosa River.

We pitched camp on a rock and sand-covered bank one-half mile from our farm. A swimming hole was nearby and several fishing holes were located downstream within easy walking distance.

We were always on the lookout for conditions that would enable us to get the approval of our parents to go camping. Namely, the next day was not a school day or Sabbath day and the soil was too wet to work in the fields. Of course, it was understood that our chores would have to be done before our departure.

If we were really lucky, heavy rain would fall the day before our campout. It would keep us out of the fields for a day or two, give us the time we needed to dig bait and allow us to pitch camp before nightfall. We preferred daytime swimming because we had to share our swimming hole with water snakes. It was also easier to bait and stake out our hooks for night fishing when we could see what we were doing.

Even though we had no roof over our heads and we lurked around in the bushes with creepy, crawly varmints, our overnight campouts were a blast. We’d swim and fish until we were exhausted, build an open fire and fry our catch and spend a good part of the night checking on our set hooks.

At the break of day, we’d rekindle the fire and prepare a breakfast of fried bacon, scrambled eggs and hash brown potatoes. With full stomachs, we’d retrieve our fishing poles and inventory our catch, hoping we’d have enough to dress and fry for supper. Finally, we’d enjoy an early morning swim and break camp and head home where chores waited to be done.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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