23rd
Annual New Year’s Day Event
Chili
Run Honors Jay and Carol Srymanske

Some
200 canoe  and kayak paddlers, mountain bikers and other friends of Jay and Carol
Srymanske gathered on New Year’s Day on the Cartecay, on the roads
of eastern Gilmer County and especially at Mountaintown Outdoor
Expeditions (MOE) for the 23rd Annual Chili Run. The event, jointly
organized by GCA’s Edward Stockman and Mark Neisler of Atlanta
Whitewater, honored Jay and Carol Srymanske, longtime operators
of MOE, both of whom passed away on November 21.

With
the combination of paddlers, mountain bikers and friends of Jay and
Carol, the attendance was larger than for most Chili Runs in the past
few years. Reasonably mild weather and a decent water level in the
Cartecay, along with the emphasis on honoring the Srymanskes,
contributed to the turnout. I met bikers , canoe and kayak paddlers who told me they
had come from Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama, and at
least one group of paddlers from Vanderbilt University. Though I
didn’t meet them, I heard a couple had come from Florida and
paddled inflatables.

I
also heard conversations about paddling in “the old days,” in
then state-of the- art aluminum canoes, and others about the early
days of mountain biking in Georgia. The guy manning the BBQ, whose
name I never did get, turned out to be a college roommate of Jay’s
who dated Carol before Jay did. Shuttles were provided by MOE and by
the new outfitter, Cartecay Watershed (Ellijay Outfitters), which
replaced River Right. The new outfitter has spruced up the put-in at
the river and Lower Cartecay Road.

Some
20 contestants participated in the chili cook-off, more than had
participated in any of the past 5 years. I avoided the chilies with
words like “hell” in the name, but still sampled a wide range of
chilies. There was also other fare, including “real” Brunswick
Stew made with squirrel meat (as indicated by the stuffed squirrel
beside the pot).

One
purpose of this year’s Chili Run was to raise funds which, at the
Srymanskes’ request, are to be donated to the American Cancer
Society and Georgia Mountains Hospice. A primary fundraiser was
long-sleeved red t-shirts with pictures of Carol and Jay and the
words “Thanks for all the Love and Fun” silk screened on the
back.

Unfortunately,
this may well have been the last Chili Run. The MOE property is for
sale ($199,000 for property, fixtures, furnishings and goodwill, if
you’re interested). Unless the property is sold and the purchaser
continues the business and the Chili Run, or some other person or
business steps up to provide sponsorship and a location, the Chili
Run will likely become just a collection of memories.

by Rick
Bellows
From The Eddy Line, February 2009