There
was a very high degree of interest in our February smooth water
adventure on the Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers in southern
Georgia. The prospect of low water and limited facilities made it
necessary to limit the Alapaha trip to 15 canoes and the Withlacochee
trip to 20. As a result, the spots were quickly spoken for and we
maintained a waiting list. A forecast for very cold weather over the
weekend thinned the original list somewhat and all but the last four
people on standby had an opportunity to go. We wound up with 21
folks in 13 canoes on Saturday (Alapaha) and 31 paddlers in 19 boats
on Sunday (Withlacoochee).

We
left Atlanta in billowing snow and set up a cold and windy camp at
“Nature’s Little Hide-Away” campground at Alapaha Plantation,
(call Jan Zeigler at 912-242-9685). The campground owners provided
us with a key to their private boat ramp, which not only gave us
excellent (and quick) access to the river, but also cut three miles
off an anticipated 12 mile trip. We were very pleased to find the
Alapaha at a good level after months of being nearly dry.

It
was a beautiful day. Somewhat cold, (high of 54), but with bright
sun and not a cloud in the sky. After a brief mishap at the put-in
(getting into the canoe can be the trickiest part for some folks), we
had an absolutely seamless day. The “rapids”, ( a class I-II,
horseshoe-shaped ledge across the river), could be run three
different ways, but also had a short portage option for those who
didn’t want to risk getting wet on such a cold day. Everyone came
through dry and warm except for one “hot dagger”, who made a
successful run, but just had to side-surf his brand new Dagger boat.
A series of small ledges and shoals livened up the remainder of the
trip and after a short stop at Cow Creek, we were off the water by
four o’clock.

Our
group split about half and half on Saturday evening with the Real Men
(and Real Women) staying at the camp while us Whissies headed for
Valdosta and warm motels. Some of us gathered for dinner at the Old
South Barbecue House, our meeting place for the next day. Sunday
morning started out much warmer, clear and very sunny. We paddled an
eight mile section of the Withlacoochee River from Rocky Ford Road to
GA 31.

This
section dips into Florida just before the take-out, then heads south
into Florida a mile or so further on. It tends to be a “basic
broad” stream with occasional sets of ripples over lime rock shoals
and one, more interesting, set of ledges. The “S-Curve” nature
of this “rapid” proved to be challenging for our smooth water
group and we did have two minor mishaps. Both were set aright in
short order and, after quick repairs with borrowed duct tape, we were
on our way. While the corridors of the river were high and heavily
wooded, we had no difficulty in finding rest stops.

Participants
for the weekend included Billie & Harold Joyner, Bev & Louie
Reynolds, Beth & Bucky Scarborough with son, Chapman, Clyde &
Amy McClain, Bill & Mary Ann Evans, Dick & Barbara Gearhart,
Ken & Jean Wood, Parker Lewis & Allison Snell, Dan Roper &
Ronnie Floyd, Bill McLendon & daughter, Julie, Dave Barker &
Laura Fulton with Sean and Kevin Hall, Liz Carter & Butch Horn,
Sheila Small, Dick Sturtevant, Ed Schultz, Mike Kaplan, and Tom
Martin.

Many
thanks to Dick Sturtevant for helping to arrange these trips, to Bill
McLendon and Tom Martin for driving the shuttle vans, and to Sheila
Small for being co-coordinator. Thanks also to all the participants
who were, as usual for a GCA group, absolutely tops!

by
Liz Carter

February
17 & 18, 1996.

Also See Alapaha and
Georgia River Database