Camping on Fox Creek
One of the summertime pleasures my brothers and I shared during our boyhood days on the farm was camping out on the banks of Fox Creek in Clay County.
The creek was a tributary of the Tallapoosa River. Its origin was in the foothills of the Talladega National Forest. It snaked its way through multiple hills and valleys before emptying into the Tallapoosa River near the Clay/Randolph county line.
The water’s depth ranged from a few inches to several feet, depending on the amount of muddy water entering from rain-drenched farmland along its route.
Our campsite was a sand-covered creek bank half a 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 enhance our chances 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 lucky, a heavy rain would fall the day before our camp out. It would keep us out of the fields for a full day and give us the time we needed to dig and catch 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 set our hooks for night fishing when we could see what we were doing.
Even though we had no roof over our heads and slept under the stars on pallets with creepy, crawly varmints on the prowl, our overnight camp outs were a blast. We’d swim and fish until we were exhausted, build an open fire, 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, hash brown potatoes and warmed-over biscuits. With full stomachs, we’d retrieve our fishing poles and inventory our catch, hoping we’d have enough fish to dress and fry for supper.
Finally, we’d enjoy an early morning swim and head home, where chores waited to be done.