We
gathered under an inauspicious sky at the Ellijay Burger King, a slow
drizzle dampening our spirits. Nonetheless, there were only 4
no-shows, and by 9:30 the rain had ceased and the sun was peeking at
the edge of the cloud cover. We proceeded to Holt Bridge and
assembled an armada of 14 canoes and kayaks, 10 of whom opined they
wanted to take out at Blackberry. So we ran our various shuttles,
and began. One member realized at that point that she had locked her
keys in her car.

The
river was pushy from recent rains, and the scenery as usual was
verdant, with rhododendron in partial bloom. All went well to the
first drop at the S-rapid. We encountered a half dozen kayaks with
occupants sitting on the flat rock river left, contemplating the
falls below. They seemed glad to see some experienced paddlers,
admitted their novitiate status and requested guidance. I advised
that 13 more boats were about to descend on their perch, but to keep
their eyes open and watch how it is done!

The
area was getting crowded, so I elected to go first to set up a rope
at the bottom. I had a perfect run of the two drops, misjudged the
swiftness of the current, hesitated in deciding to eddy right or
left, and in no time was sideways against the undercut rock and then
flipped out of my canoe. Underwater scenes from ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’
come to mind.

After
surfacing, I floated through the third rapid, where two paddlers, not
of our party, had throw ropes already in the water. I grabbed the
first at hand. When I took up the slack in the line is when the
party on the other end discovered the laws of physics, almost getting
pulled in. I let go, and grabbed the other line, only to realize
that it was wrapped around my neck. I let go and quickly lifted the
loop over my neck. My Perception paddle floated by… the last I
ever saw of it. My semi-submerged canoe came by and fetched up in
the pool below the next rapid, where I eventually rescued it and
returned up river.

I
had missed all the fun! Donna Clark had taken a swim in similar
fashion to my own, as had several others. Charles Clark, known for
his powerful paddling stroke, was making a mid course correction when
his new paddle, against water only, broke at the base of the shaft.
That’s why we carry a spare. I saw this strangely deformed paddle
floating too, and then it disappeared, never to be found, so Charles
has no proof for his claim of manufacturing defect!

About
this time, a family of tubers we had passed further up arrived, one
of the children shivering in early hypothermia. They got out and
walked to Blackberry, while we had lunch. The rest of the trip was
uneventful, even the falls at Blackberry.

After
Blackberry. 10 canoes and kayaks got off, the sheriff was called to
bring the Slim Jim for the car keys, and the 4 of us continued on to
the DNR take-out. I asked the novices, after witnessing our display
of river skill, if they wished to accompany us below Blackberry, but
all declined. By days end, the sun was hot, and we were glad we
went, and I hope all had a good time, but for sure those of us who
went all the way had the best of good times.

Participants
included: Linda Delery, Jim Kautz, Craig Lyerla, Wes Dixon, Doug
Ackerman, Greg and Holly Rowland, Peggy Miller, Jerry Sims, Dena
Maguire, Darby Hodgetts, Donna and Charles Clark, and Dick Hurd.

by
Dick Hurd
June 22, 1997.