To the military to be AWOL is a less than desirable situation. To a
group of women in the upper northwest corner of South Carolina it is a
weekend of learning to fly fish, camp, and enjoy the outdoors. The
annual AWOL (American Women on the Loose) weekend was organized after a
group of friends, some with experience in the outdoors, some not,
gathered on the banks of the Chattooga River for a weekend of "roughing
Roughing it for some was not too bad, for others, pure torture. This
was a test to seperate the women from the girls. The girls didn't have
blow dryers, make up, running water, or flushing toilets. The girls
brought in loads on wagons, down the quarter mile walk into the
campground. The women had everything in a backpack. Each person was
respoonsible for setting up their own tent, without help, whether you
knew what you were doing or not. The hilarity was unbelieveable. Pop!
Pop! Pop! Pop! That was what the guys had told Jenny to do to set up
her tent. Just open it up, crawl inside and pop the sides out. This
was not your typical tent, it was a canopy used by the telephone
company. There was no floor in it. So the question was asked "Whatcha
gonna do if it rains?" It took two hours to set up camp. Everyone,
and I mean everyone, was ready for a dip in the river.
After cooling off the fly casting instruction got underway. Easy
enough, everyone got into that with no problem. Several of the women
had met the week before at the local fly shop for casting lessons.
(Another story in itself). So off to the river, which had been stocked
the day before. I explained riffles, runs, and pocket water. I talked
with great enthusiasm about dry flies, nymphs, and hatches. Everyone
stared at me like I was from another planet, speaking in unknown
tongues. What they wanted was a couple beers and a decent meal. After
one checked out the understructure of the river, that was an excuse for
everyone to go back to camp.
The rest of the evening was spent around a campfire sharing stories of
our lives, telling jokes that would make a man blush, and just
Bright and early the next morning after a breakfast that would feed an
army we hiked to King Creek Falls. The die hard fly fishers took their
rods. The falls were magnificant, as always, as was the fishing. The
hike back to camp was quiet and reflective.
And then the forest rangers arrived, two of them. Checking out the
campsite with all those women. This could be heaven or this could be
hell. They hesitated before entering, shook their heads and backed
away. Guess compliance to the regs of the campground weren't a
priority at point in time.
Four hours later, and losing count of the trips to pack all the "stuff"
out, everyone left exhausted, dirty, and sore. By later accounts,
relaxed and content. So ended the first annual AWOL weekend. There
have been several AWOL weekends since, but not so memorable as the
The annual AWOL weekend has grown from seven women. Plans are in the
works to extend the two day event to a four day event. The next
weekend will include white water rafting, fly fishing, and hiking for
the year 2000. For more info contact me at:
~ Susan Cox