After much deliberation and contemplation, I have decided to speak of my latest adventure – or perhaps misadventure – in the printed media. Or in other words, my column. Today, I am going to tell you a story that many of you have already heard. However, for those of you in the far reaches of Trigg County and beyond that haven’t heard it, I hope you enjoy. It is important to note that I shared this story in the newspaper with the consent of my good friend and fishing buddy, Mike McGill. With that said, put on your lifejackets and let’s go canoeing. Oh yeah, you might want to have a flashlight handy while reading.
I guess there is no better place to start than the beginning so here goes.Last Thursday, June 14, dawned as a beautiful day. By noon, the temperature was reaching the low 90s. By noon, something else was in the works, as well. Mike McGill and I were beginning the preparations for a fishing trip down Little River. We began by making a trip to Trigg County’s newest bait and tackle store, St. Andrew’s. After the purchase of some mud leeches and other items, it was on to the grocery for snacks to fill our cooler and later our bellies. Finally, we were headed toward our destination. We left Mike’s truck at the bridge at Glenwood Mill Road. From there, we headed to the Trigg County/Christian County line where I backed my dad’s old truck down to the river at the bridge on Highway 164. We were as far as you can go in Trigg County in that direction.
Somewhere around 1 p.m. we put our canoe in the water and began heading downstream and fishing. As always, Mike was in the front calling out the logs and obstructions, and I was in the back.
Let me tell you about this stretch of Little River. It is beautiful, wild and full of life. It is also not a leisure trip. A long canoe trip down Little River is not for the faint hearted. The depth of the water constantly alternates from two feet to over one’s head. There are also many gravel bars and grass islands located in the middle of the river. Many times we would have to get out of the canoe and walk through the river, pulling the canoe through those shallow spots. Alas, for every shallow area there is a deep pool. It was in those pools, often set against rock bluffs as a background, that we caught some fish. Mike and I were not setting any records, but we did catch some largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and some beautiful red-eyed perch. We fished, canoed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery that is Little River. We knew we would probably never make it to Glenwood Mill Bridge, but we hoped to at least make it to Hardy Road Bridge. Remember, we had never fished this part of the river together before.
By 6 p.m., we had been on the river for five hours. It was at this time that we passed under a bridge. There was also a creek running into the river at this spot. That bridge just happened to be the bridge at Hardy Road, even though we were not aware of that very important fact. Mike and I briefly discussed taking out there but we decided that we could get closer to where we had left his truck. That was the biggest mistake we made on the trip. Well, that and a couple of other things that I will get to later.
From 6 p.m. on, we did more canoeing than fishing. We did, however, spend a few too many minutes at a couple of holes that produced some crappie. Anyway, at 6 we knew we had only two and a half hours till dark. With every minute that passed, the intensity of our paddling increased. We did not want to be stuck on the river after dark. We did not have any source of light with us. No flashlight, lighter, match or anything to produce even a flicker of light. Oh, by the way, did I mention that our cell phones had absolutely zero service the entire time we had been on the river? By 7:30 p.m., Mike’s cell had lost all power without ever having any service. Like magic, my phone suddenly showed one bar of service, but the battery was just about to go. We decided that I should call Mike’s wife Dorris and ask her to pick us up at Hardy Road Bridge at 8:30 p.m. Again, not realizing that we had already passed under that bridge an hour and a half earlier. I reached Dorris and gave her the message via a scratchy connection as my phone went dead. I was not even sure if she heard the request to pick us up at Hardy Road.
Meanwhile, we kept paddling. 8 p.m. came and went. By 8:30, darkness was upon us. There was, however, just enough twilight that we could make out images and some of the logs and obstructions in the river. By 9 p.m., we were enveloped in total darkness. I could not even see Mike in the front of the canoe as I sat in the back. The canopy of trees over the river further served to blacken the night. We continued to paddle downstream till 10:30 p.m. At 10:30, after nine and a half hours of canoeing, it happened. In the midst of current, rocks and logs, our canoe capsized, hurtling us both out of the canoe, into the pitch-black night and under the dark water of Little River.
Tune in next week for the conclusion, featuring the Bluff, the Ravine and Men of the Corn.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.