have been scouting the tributaries of the Oconee River for
canoe/camping suitability, and spent March 27 & 28 looking at the
Apalachee. This river is described in Sehlinger and Otey, but I was
unprepared for the monster shoals I found, which they described only
as “more impressive” than a pretty average grouping of
class II ledges further upstream.
can’t recall ever seeing a write-up of a trip on the Apalachee, and I
report this now because these shoals, which run for 200 plus yards,
would seem to offer a great place for developing white water skills
as well as maybe holding a rescue clinic. The distance from put-in to
takeout is only one mile on the river, so this section could be run
multiple times, or more likely, you would line the boats back up to
the top and do it that way.
the head of the shoals, there is an abandoned railroad bridge with
safe planking, and with a little effort you can climb up the grade
and walk out on the bridge for a great scouting view. Do this at your
own risk, of course. The shoals can be scouted from river left the
full distance. The footing in places is steep and rocky, so be
the railroad bridge about half way down, the shoals are bland, then
it gets very exciting, especially river left. It appeared that by
going river left around an island, you then enter some very fast
water that becomes a chute, leading to the top of several ledges that
offer multiple opportunities of varying difficulty.
center may also be another option. There is a large rocky island to
river right, and it looked as if the easiest way to traverse this
area is to run to the right of that, but I did not get to see it that
area is popular with locals for fishing and partying, and I would not
advise leaving a car there overnight. I look forward to running these
shoals myself, at a slightly lower water level. I would classify them
as class II/III, and at high water maybe a IV. Below the shoals, the
river runs 9.9 miles to the headwaters of Lake Oconee, with a
take-out on the left at the Hwy 278 bridge, if you wanted to do a
leisurely all day trip.
for the shoals section are as follows: Put-in: On Hwy 441/129, about
half way between Madison and Watkinsville with access river right
below the bridge.
Go about a mile north from the bridge on Hwy
take an acute right turn onto a gravel road (Tappan Spur Rd). After
crossing an abandoned rail line, encounter an intersection, take the
right, un-named fork. This is Old Madison Hwy, which will take you on
decent road all the way to the river, where there are sand bars for
easy take-out, and reasonable parking, but maybe not after a heavy
Sehlinger and Otey, these are access points “O” and “P”.
Before deciding to try these impressive rapids, I would suggest
taking a good look from the take-out. If anyone has run the
Apalachee, or these rapids, I would like to hear from you, and
likewise if anyone decides to run them based on this
From The Eddy Line, May
the May issue of The Eddy Line I
offered a scouting report on the above river suggesting that there
might be an interesting run from Hwy 441 to Lake Oconee. I had been
scouting the river for canoe/camping suitability, and had approached
every bridge crossing I could find, but had to rely heavily on old
data from Sehlinger and Otey. Shortly after this report was
published, I got some feedback from members who had tried this trip
in the past and viewed it as a canoe trip from Hell! Both Doug Massey
and Jeff Engel describe a river that becomes a swamp before
reconstituting as a river just above Lake Oconee.
thoughts come to mind: There is nothing new under the sun, and those
who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. I can only hope
nobody took my advice! I have researched my Eddy
Line archives, and discovered three reports of
ill fated trips on the Apalachee. Jim Patsios reported a terrible
experience from a trip on 11-19-1989, and Jay Palmer did likewise for
a trip on 6-25- 1989. Both trips ended in the dark, long beyond their
anticipated finish times. Dan Roper reported a similar cautionary
tale in October, 1993.
by all accounts the rapids below 441 are a fun activity, but below
that, only masochists need apply. Dan questioned whether S&O had
really paddled that section, and Jay advised that S&O’s writing
“merits the same degree of scrutiny as a contract from a used
car dealer.” Be forewarned yourself. Within our club there is a
lot of collective paddling experience, but distribution of that
knowledge is a problem. There is no Eddy Line archive as such, but
maybe there could and should be — the old issues contain a wealth
of paddling and scouting reports.
are .pdf files around going as far back as we’ve been doing the .pdf
version, and beyond that there are PageMaker Publication files saved
on the GCA computer going back to the early 1990s. Paper prints exist
of most of the older issues.
feasible project would be to index all the articles published in the
newsletter over its history and to post the index on the GCA web site
with a search function available. It would be relatively easy to keep
updated monthly or quarterly or so. Either paper prints or digitized
copies of specific articles could then be requested from the
archives, depending on what’s available.
anyone interested in such a project??? It could start out simple,
with the index only including paddling destinations, and later
expanded to include all articles. Contact me at
email@example.com if you would be intrested in helping out.
By Dick Hurd
From The Eddy Line July 2003