In the December issue of The Eddy Line, Stacy Patterson described a canoe and kayak trip on the Cartecay at seven feet. That trip ran from Owl Town Creek down to West Ellijay. But you may have wondered about Blackberry Falls, Clear Creek and the S-turns. Wonder no more.

Hazard Hal, Safety Sue, and I were up in North Georgia that weekend. I had picked up a new C-1 at the NOC sale on Saturday and tried it out on the Nantahala. Sunday morning I realized I had left my paddle up at the Nantahala and needed to run up there to find the truck I left it in. A long shot, but it worked. I got back to Georgia by 11 AM with my paddle. Now we needed to find a place to paddle. Safety Sue wanted to paddle so we thought we would head down to the Cartecay since she was new to paddling.

When we got to the gauge off highway 52 the water was rushing! We talked to some folks on the river to find out what some of the bigger rapids were like, but they had only put on a little bit above the gauge. This might have been Stacy's group. They did say it was running seven feet!

Well, we went up to look at Stegall Mill (aka Blackberry). Yeah, it looked big but there was a sneak on the left and even the center chute looked runnable. Hazard Hal said, "Kip, I think we can do this."

Now you have to realize that Hazard Hal was named because of a trip down the Ocoee in a Aluminum Grumman canoe a few years ago. He was new to paddling and thought the river looked like fun. He soloed that seventeen-foot barge down the river, surfing the hole at Double Suck, running the hardest lines he could find. Oh, he flipped some, and he swam some but he finally healed. He also ended up in a C-boat. And still paddles like a madman. So when he suggested we run the Cartecay at flood, my response was, "Bull$#!@!"

But why not? Safety Sue was there to rabbit for us. It looked like it might be fun. And when would I get the chance again? I had my paddle back and a new boat. Let's go.

We put on at the bridge and zoomed on down the river. The river was moving! Before we knew it we rounded the bend, and passed the island before the first real drop (nothing above really — all washed out). We wanted to scout the drop from the left. Seeing the owners of one of the houses getting into a car, we yelled from our boats for permission to scout. We had to cross a fence to get to the next property down to scout. The owners here were also friendly (though their dog wasn't).

I have heard this rapid called "Jump, Bump, and Dump" and the "S-turn". I'm not sure of it's "official" name but it normally has a rocky ledge that can be run with scrapes and an almost tricky move on the left. I was not expecting what I saw: HOLES! There was a hole on the right side below the ledge. There was a bigger hole on the left side with some real funny water.

The only route was right down the center. But it looked like the water would push into the third hole — on the left side over the usually dry rocks. I jumped first and, yes, the water pushed me toward that hole. I did not like this and turned sideways and paddled like mad to avoid it. I succeeded and found an eddy. Hazard Hal went next and avoided the hole as well.

We got to the next drop quickly. We eddied out way above the drop to scout from the left. We had to get onto a boulder four feet above the water to scout. This one (another "S-turn"? I don't know) usually has the swirling eddy on the right. Guess what, at seven feet it still does!

We crawled out on a fallen tree to get a better look. There was a hole at the bottom of the ledge in the middle. We didn't want to go that way. The right side was a swirling mass of holes. There might have been a route if you punched hard, but even then the hole in the middle might grab you, and it looked like a keeper. We could go left but that would be cheating.

Down came three kayaks and a canoe. Being intelligent beings, we watched their runs. They got through with a fifty-percent swim rate. We go left.

Stegall Mill (aka Blackberry) was next. Again we scouted from the left even though the rocks we would normally scout from were under water. Looked straightforward right down the middle as long as you have enough speed. Let's do it.

Whoosh! What a blast! I set up to eddy out on the right — but wait, no eddies. I got swept downstream but managed to turn the boat to face that way. There is a turn between the drop and the bridge to the right that is normally pretty easy. At seven feet it is kind of tricky. It bounced me to the right. Unfortunately I paddle on the left with little or no brace on the right side. Flip! I tried to roll but my new spray skirt popped off. Swim! S__t!

Hal was right behind me and managed the turn but slipped downstream. I got to shore and emptied the C-boat. How embarrassing. Here's the take-out.

The group we met upstream were there and ready to go downstream. Hal was ready to go. I ate my sandwich. As usual, Hal talked me into it. Why not? I can always sneak or carry. Let's go.

OK, now we had three kayaks, two C-boats and an open canoe. The more the merrier right? Kayaks are great rescue boats, right? Yeah, right!

We got to Mister Twister, which is a weird rapid at normal times. I boat-scouted from the left to get a closer look at the weird stuff on the right. Hmm, this looks doable. I started to work my way back upstream so I could set my line, and thump! I dropped over the left ledge in front of me into a little pool. Everyone else managed a clean run on the right. How embarrassing. By this time I realized that two of the yaks are new to paddling. They actually were using rental gear.

The approach to Clear Creek got pretty rowdy. The canoe had sped ahead of us and was probably over Clear Creek by now. But we were more concerned with the kayaker that had flipped in the approach and was swimming. He didn't make it to shore in time. Ended up going over Clear Creak without his boat. The one truly experienced kayaker blindly went over the drop (upright) after the swimmer. I saw the capsized canoe and paddler on the shore downstream. Hazard Hal, the remaining kayaker and I decided to scout, again from the left shore.

It was a river wide hole! I already knew a kayak could get through it but didn't know how hard he had to paddle. I wasn't sure I could punch it. I thought that any more bodies in the river would make things worse (we already had two swimmers). I got my boat and carried around this sucker. Hal and the other kayaker decided to run it. I got out the rope.

Hazard Hal went first but with not quite enough momentum. The hole stopped him and side-surfed his butt. He swept back and forth and couldn't get out. I smiled since I knew it wouldn't hold him if he swam. Oops, down came the kayak over the drop right at Hal. Hit Hal's stern but didn't knock him out of the hole.

Now they were both side surfing! Finally they hit each other and both turned over, and swam. I tossed the rope at Hal and he got to shore. An eighty-percent swim rate on this one! I got in my boat to start chasing down loose people or gear.

Everybody got to the side and we gathered up most of the gear. One of the kayakers had to use a canoe blade to finish the run. I think there was one more swim, but other than that it was just a long float to the take-out. The DNR six-mile take-out was closed so it was all the way to take-out at the GA 52 gauge. Even at seven feet it is a long paddle.

Overall the rapids were big enough to be at home on the Ocoee. Most of the holes could be punched with enough momentum or avoided with enough boat control. The Cartecay at seven feet is a blast! I'll look for it next time it is up that high.

From The Eddy Line, February 1998 For more river information see:
Lower Cartecay Rd - Stegall Mill
Stegall Mill - DNR