Although Burt Reynolds would have been more than welcome to come along.
My friend and fellow blogger Jacob and I took a little three day backpacking trip this week down the Chattooga River Trail. Although for many people it's a running gag to invoke the first few notes of "Dueling Banjos" when entering the woods or venturing into a particularly rural part of the country, a trip along the banks of the Chattooga makes it a little less funny because this is where the classic 1972 film Deliverance was actually shot.
While it would have made for a more interesting blog post, I'm happy to report that nobody squealed like a pig nor were we forced to kill any toothless hillbillies with a bow and arrow. But we also didn't get to enjoy the company of a cocky and strangely bare-lipped Burt Reynolds either, so I guess there's always room for improvement.
What we did enjoy was a trail that follows one of the most beautiful rivers in the southeast, if not the country. And I'm not the only one who feels this way: The Chattooga was designated a national Wild and Scenic River in 1974. It is well known among whitewater enthusiasts for it's wild, roadless nature and imposing rapids, and I'm sure this is well-deserved. For now I'll have to take their word for it, though, because the lower half of the 30-mile trail kept us well away from the river, up on the ridges among the impenetrable forests. We could hear what sounded like some serious cataracts down on the river and the occasional whoops and hollers from exhilarated rafters, but the action was well out of view.
The upper half was a different story: the trail spent long stretches winding beside the river and we encountered a slew of waterfalls and trout-filled pools. Our campsite the first night was actually located on a tributary between two scenic waterfalls, the lower of the two cascading directly into the river, creating a nice deep pool that was perfect for a pre-dinner swim. Not too shabby as campsites go.
Other highlights included a close encounter with a copperhead snake, Mark Doucette's left-behind fuel canister (writing your name on your litter must be worth a merit badge), a spirited thunderstorm that drove us to seek shelter in a conveniently located and temporarily unoccupied camp kitchen (probably saved my camera) and innumerable downed trees and a washed-out bridge resulting from the deluge.
You can see some pictures of our journey here. I highly recommend it. And coming soon, I should have another shaky video set to music you've never heard of. I can feel the anticipation building already.