On May 31, Earl and Yvonne Moore, Wes and Susan Jones, Allen Lewis and I explored the section of the Oconee River just above Lake Sinclair. We found a very scenic unspoiled river with miles of old-growth forest, largely flatwater but with some peppy shoals. Amongst the islands and granite outcropplngs in the middle of the
run we found series of class l and Il rapids. Nearing our takeout, we encountered an unexpected obstacle, the huge completed spillway of the, Laurens Shoals Dam. The portage looked appalling, but I had grave misgivings about running any man-made spillway because of possible hydraulics. The spillway looked hard to climb, so we scouted as carefully as we could from upstream. . I from the bank and Allen from his canoe as close as he could safely get to the brink.
It visible from where we.stood and was clearly okay, There was a suggestion of backflow in the sharper second drop, but I inferred a minor step which would impede no boat with any momentum. The small haystacks at the end, should have worried me: so much water. sliding; down unimpeded as I supposed, whould have created 3 foot stacks. I decided to run. still wary but expecting nothing serious
Once committed, I saw the huge, ugly hydraulic in the second step., MY Cd-1.thank fully dove deep and carried me past most of the back flow,. Surfacing upright but at a bad angle. I fought free after. 15 seconds of frantic paddling.
Allen, not appreciating my plight was right behind. His. canoe was; stopped dead: He tumbled for three awful minutes with it before diving deep to escape. His brand new Blue Hole tumbled for 10 more minutes. Earl and Wes, meanwhile. proved that the spillway could be scaled easily with fear supplying the motivation. Before we had formulated a worthwhile plan, the canoe miraculously turned lengthwise, did a pop-up and escaped, scuffed but okay. The others portaged, and it was appalling. The morals: Run no spillway until you scout_it `from above and from downstream: you can’t see hydraulics from upstream!
We will run the Oconee before it goes under, with some help from you 4-wheel drive owners so we can takeout above the dam.
Gary DeBacher From The Eddy Line, July, 1975