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
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.
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
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."
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$#!@!"
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
WHILE THIS STORY IS GENERALLY TRUE, NAMES AND SITUATIONS MAY HAVE
BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE GUILTY AND THE EMBARRASSED, AND INSULT
THE INNOCENT. NO WARRANTY IS IMPLIED. NEVER RUN WITH
by Kip U.
From The Eddy Line, February 1998 For more river information see:
Lower Cartecay Rd - Stegall Mill
Stegall Mill - DNR