Saturday,
April 6. The Cartecay was running 2.5 feet. The calendar said it
was spring, and that night I was going to have to figure out which
way to move the clocks for daylight savings time. But the day was
wintry — cool and overcast. There was rain and fog on the drive
up, although it didn’t rain while we were on the river.
Temperatures were in the forties. And we all swore it was noticeably
colder when we got off the river in mid-afternoon than when we had
put on that morning.

We
did the run down to Blackberry since the DNR take-out wasn’t open
yet and no one wanted to go all the way to Beacon Sports. Our group
included David Bookstaver, Jeff Garrow, Jim Harvey and Brannen
Proctor.

Our
group would not have won any diversity awards; it was all guys, all
canoes. There was one person signed up for the trip who, had she
appeared with her two-bladed paddle, would have added variety to our
trip. However, she called the morning of the trip to say, “I told
you I wasn’t going if it was miserable and rainy. Well, it is
where I am, so I’m staying home!”

But
back to the trip. I quickly realized Jim was serious about his
paddling. We were barely out of sight of the put-in when he did a
practice roll. And every time he went out to surf, he put on his
nose clip with great deliberateness as if he might really need it.
Jim had a great day surfing every hole and wave.

During
the trip, Jeff, who is a City of Atlanta police officer, regaled us
with amusing tales of adventure inside I-285. I felt heartened that
the good guys are still holding their own.

There
was only one swim (except those which occurred while playing, which
don’t count). David decided to hit head-on the mound of water at
the bottom of Stegal Mill Falls (aka Blackberry). If you’re like
me and have been there, done that before, then you can guess the
outcome. However, undeterred by this initial setback, David pulled
his boat back up to the top and ran the falls again, this time
flawlessly.

While
I was doing throw rope duty on the river right bank below the falls,
a Blackberry Mountain security guard approached those of us on the
bank, which included two from the GCA group and about three other
people who were part of a group from Huntsville. He asked if we were
Blackberry Mountain property owners. When we replied that we were
not, the guard stated this was private property and that we were
trespassing. A person with a throw rope from the Huntsville group
asked the guard if it was all right to stand in the water, rather
than on the bank. The guard said standing in the water was OK, just
not on the bank.

The
guard said they had been instructed to do this by the Blackberry
Mountain homeowners. He said the guards generally didn’t say
anything unless there was a large group of boaters there. He was
firm but courteous. Since everyone in the GCA group had run the
falls, I stowed my throw rope and got back in my boat. The persons
from Huntsville either got back in their boats or stood in the water.
Satisfied that the bank was cleared, the guard left.

We
played in the falls for a while and didn’t see the guard again. We
eventually decided we had had enough fun for one day and drifted down
to the take-out below the bridge. All in all, another great day on
the river!

by Brannen
Proctor
From The Eddy Line, June 1996