Wonders of Hatchett

Published 10:37 pm Monday, November 2, 2009

Once called one of the three natural free-flowing streams in the state, I had been on Lake Mitchell for a long time before I really got to know and appreciate the beautiful upper Hatchett Creek.Motorboats can’t get there because of the rapids and shoals, so the number of people going there was limited, accounting for the lack of litter and other signs that we humans leave behind.

My first visit reminded me so much of the years that my dad and I would wade the Cahaba River, fishing the shoals and pot-holes for the small bass called the “red eye” and with a copper wire would make a noose and snare the “red-hoss” sucker. At night, we would use a carbide light and gig the shoals for red-hoss, catfish and even eels—lots of excitement for a young boy learning to appreciate nature, something I was never to forget. And the appreciation only grew stronger as I came to Chilton County.

The young boys in the neighborhood, friends of Larry’s, would invite me along to go canoeing. I became hooked immediately. I would tag along every chance I got. They probably only wanted me to go as a “pick up,” but I couldn’t stay out of the canoe! I got to see some beautiful water that I would not have seen otherwise.

Among the most spectacular sights that I have ever seen was the rare water lily in one of the shoals on Hatchett Creek! After paddling through the quiet, tranquil beauty the creek had to offer, with enough rapids to add to the excitement and even two or three small falls, suddenly there they were. They were so white they almost hurt your eyes. So fragile, yet right there in this rugged setting—just the sounds of nature, birds, the rushing of the water as it flowed over the rocks with just enough sound to remind you of its power—this absolutely beautiful, wild, white lily, so tender to touch and with a sweet fragrance.I closed my eyes and thought, all this setting needs is music. Then this voice whispered, “Listen closely.” Before you grab your shovel—those of you who float there will understand this—I refuse to tell you the exact location or the time that this phenomenon appears, for only two or three weeks of the year and only on 1/2 acre.

Two things will keep us all from enjoying this type beauty: pollution—it will come, man will demand it!—and then there is man himself. He will find some way to destroy it if he finds it. The fact is that they will only survive in these undisturbed surroundings where God placed them.

We have a lot in common with the Cahaba River. Experts will tell you that the little red-eyed bass, known for its fierce fighting, is only found in the Cahaba River, and in fact it is named the “Cahaba Bass!”For the past few years, you have heard a lot of recognition and promotion of the beautiful water lily that for many years was known only to canoeists. Now, they are having a Festival of The Cahaba Lily! Keep the publicity, but leave our little bass and beautiful wild lilies alone!