What
a way to start the year. Water everywhere and lots of rivers to run.
For the first time in a long time, paddlers had to decide if there
was too much water for a safe run. Earlier in the week, after 7
inches of rain, this beautiful little creek had crested near 5 feet.
While the AW website classes this water level on the Upper as a
medium Class 2 run, most paddlers who have paddled this river above
4.5 feet would agree that its waves, holes and ledges take on a
decidedly Ocoeesque flavor, and are not exactly trained beginner
material. Due to the high water with low temperatures, short day
length, and the marked propensity for the Upper to produce world
class strainers, a small group of us did a scouting run on January 7
at 2.4 feet.

The
morning of January 11, the river was running at 1.3 and the
temperature was 32 degrees at 10:00 a.m Thirteen canoe and kayak padders showed up to
make the run; there were five kayaks and 8 whitewater canoes. The
merry band included Martha Abbott- Shin, Tom Bishop, Jake Collins,
Mike Collins, Kelly Harbec, Mark Holmberg, Gina Johnson, Jaimee
Johnson, James McCay, Edward Stockman, Pauline Thynne, Kate
Wilkerson, and your humble trip coordinator.

Located an hour North of Atlanta just East of Tate Georgia, this
entire section of the creek flows through public property. Much of
the shoreline is vegetated by mountain laurel, rhododendron, wild
azalea, silver bells, hollies, hack berries, and other native shrubs.
Spring time runs along this creek are spectacular with everything in
bloom. Many of the white pines have been killed by the bark beetles,
so eventually the banks will have an over story of hardwoods. Several
areas of tornado damage are apparent on this section.

The
rapids build in intensity to several challenging Class 2 drops prior
to the confluence with Cochran Creek. These drops have distinct
horizon lines, something unusual for Class 2 rapids. Edward scouted
these rapids and then guided the group safely through without
mishap.

Cochran
Creek is a large tributary coming in on river left. On this day, the
water coming out of Cochran Creek was very muddy, indicating that
some soil disturbing activity was in progress upstream.

Below
Cochran Creek, an even more dramatic drop awaited our flotilla. A
river wide 5 foot vertical drop provides quite a challenge on this
Class 2 run. Edward again acted as probe, and pointed the way. The
entire group successfully negotiated the ledge, thus reinforcing the
theory that upright is all right.

With
energy stores recharged by a lunch stop made short by the chilly
weather, we headed off to finish up this creek. Several more solid
Class 2 rapids were run with style before reaching the Devil’s
Elbow, a large meander with swirling eddy lines and the Steel Bridge,
which could provide an alternate take-out or put-in.

Downstream
from here, several more rapids challenged our group with only minimal
swimming until the dread play hole just upstream from the take-out.
The dynamics of this last rapid were not adequately explained by the
trip coordinator. Something about “run just right of the hole and
eddy out” did not correlate for quite a number of the troupe. A
number of nice runs, nicer combat rolls, and a few swims occurred,
but at least nobody swam all the way to the take-out. A few folks did
some playing but due to short-chilly-day syndrome, most people headed
for the vehicles. Shuttle was run relatively efficiently with only
one “aw $#*T!” moment resulting from keys left at the take-out.

Thanks
to all who participated in this trip. If we ever have a wet year
again, this could be a regular club run.

Haynes
Johnson
From The Eddy Line, March 2009