Bainbridge locals take canoe trip on Ichawaynochaway Creek

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Ichawaynochaway Creek wanders through Calhoun and Baker counties in southwest Georgia before it joins the Chickasawatchee Creek and then empties into the Flint River above Bainbridge. The entire creek is 85miles long which makes it more of a river than a creek.

The name appears to be a Muskogee Indian word that refers to either beaver or deer. The most popular theory is that it means “the place where deer sleep”. That seems plausible because this large stream runs through some of the best hunting lands in Georgia. Barb says her father and folks in his generation called the creek by a shorter name: Nochaway.

Paul Fryer and I have talked about doing a local canoe trip for some time. Both of us are busy people. Paul is a lawyer and field representative for Congressman Sanford Bishop, and I have many irons in the fire. Our tight schedules finally found an opening on Mother’s Day this year for us to do a half-day paddling on the creek. Fortunately Barb was not working until 4pm that day, making it possible for the three of us to start early and finish in time for Barb to take her usual place at Home Depot.

A rain storm two days before our trip insured that the water level would be high and the creek swift. We put in at the Milford Bridge on Route 216. The first few miles are marked by a series of class I and II shoals that certainly quickened the pulse and challenged our paddling skills. Mostly the river traverses a very rural,very wooded landscape. Cypress, willow, pine, beech, flowering catalpa and oak trees predominate on the river banks. Occasional rocks and semi-submerged branches break up the usually steady current and contribute a welcome gurgling sound variation from the bird calls.

We did not meet another person or even see any signs of other people on the roughly three hour paddle. Now and then we passed a seemingly abandoned river house. It’ a pleasure to say we did not encounter any trash along the river. What we did encounter were cloudless, blue skies dappled through the overhanging trees and warm temps.

When we reached the bridge at Route 200, we grounded canoe and kayak, pulled them up the muddy bank, and waved a pleasant good-bye to the creek. As a treat for our endeavors, we drove back to Bainbridge and indulged in a late Sunday lunch at Yesterday’s Diner.