This
report might be subtitled Crisis on the Cartecay: The Perils of
Overuse. This trip was billed as for beginners, and we planned to
run sections 1 & 2, from Holt Bridge to Blackberry Mtn. Our 11
boats were on the river by 10:30, and luckily we had shuttled all
cars to the take-out but one. More later.

The
first section down to Burley Stover was a serene float, marked by a
pair of Great Grey Herons that served as escort part way, and a cow
in the river at one point. One of the party remarked that he had
heard of cow patty, but never cow eddy!! The great trees overarching
this section give a great sense of wilderness, even as you are
passing pasture land. The rhododendron was in full bloom, festooning
the shore.

At
Highway 52 we saw some people putting on. At Burley Stover we saw
more, then we began to encounter kayak clinics, random paddlers, and
tubers. We made it through S-turn before the jam hit. By Stegall
Falls, it was Grand Central. Later that day, I was told over 30
boats were lingering around the falls. We played hard, beginners,
first timers and old timers alike, though at times it was confusing
with all the other parties. I believe our GCA group was the only one
with throw ropes. We all enjoyed ourselves, and exited below the
bridge, hot and enjoyably weary.

The
parking lot was packed with vehicles, and they extended out the road
all the way to the top of the hill. If this is prologue to the
future, the Cartecy is in trouble from overuse. In 14 years of
paddling the Cartecay, I have never seen such congestion outside the
Nantahala. The safety issue is obvious, as is the quality of the
river experience.

The
developer of River’s Edge/Blackberry Mountain has already expressed
an understandable concern that property rights be respected (see last
month’s Eddy Line); I wouldn’t want this crowd in my front yard
either, and I would be concerned as to what risk I might run by
permitting such a crowd to use my property, should there be an
accident. It gets worse. Apparently, the Burley Stover put-in has a
new owner, who has indicated intention to close it and charge a user
fee, starting soon. Stay tuned.

Participants
were: Chris Jaswa, Brian Wilson, Bart Keith and Cathee Gallant, John
and Jay Williams, Edward and Dan Heller, Byron Jones, Sonha Payne,
Karl Hagan, James Galenzosky, and Dick Hurd. Thanks to Chris for
running sweep, and Bart and Cathee for helping shuttle.

by
Dick Hurd
From The Eddy Line, August 1996
Sunday June 30, 1996