With
the water level dropping below 1′ I expected a sparse crowd for this
trip and even considered moving it to the Ocoee. However, seven
boaters registered, including five Five Falls first timers who wanted
to go at any level, so I decided, “what the h__l”, I’d
still rather be on the Chattooga.

We
met at 10 a.m. on the South Carolina side and by 10:30 only four had
showed — J. T. Prather, Mona Baldwin, Tim Rich and Mike Rowe, all
kayakers. None of this group had ever seen Five Falls and one had
been down IV only to Woodall, so this trip turned out to be a real
“first timers” trip. Fortunately, J. T. had brought along
a friend who served as our “shuttle bunny” and we all got
to leave our vehicles at the take-out.

We
put on about 11:30 am and took our time moving down river. I had
never been on Section IV at this level (0.95′ at the Bridge to be
exact) and was a little concerned about getting through some of the
rapids; however, all proved to be runnable. All of the participants
also turned out to be excellent boaters, well up to the challenges of
the river at this level.

Even
at this low level we treated Five Falls with great respect. Entrance
Rapid was relatively easy, with the only difficulty being the great
abundance of rocks and no clear line to the eddy above the drop.

Corkscrew
was clearly the gnarliest rapid on the river this day. Many people
believe that it gets more difficult as it gets lower, and it still
looked intimidating to me. We scouted, discussed, and I then
demonstrated — luck was with me and I did not embarrass myself with
a swim. All of my first timers had outstanding runs through
Corkscrew and I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt that we now had
the toughest behind us.

We
looked at Crack-In-The-Rock in great detail. Clearly Left and Right
Cracks were not options, so it was Center Crack or portage. Center
Crack had (and probably still has) a log in it running down from left
to right. I had run Section IV three weeks earlier at 1.1′ and not
really noticed the log, but at this level it was real obvious and not
too much water was making it over. We carefully climbed over Left
Crack (which had hardly any water running through it) and inspected
the log and the “hole” at the bottom.

After
much discussion, Mike Rowe said he could make it and took off — he
made it with no difficulty. We all followed successfully. I was
really concerned about getting my open boat over the log without
stalling out; however, I can now vouch that there is sufficient water
to get an open boat over the log at 0.95′. But any lower and it
would be a portage in my opinion. The hole at the bottom of Center
Crack is mild at this level.

Jaw
Bone becomes easier at low water, but you still have to respect
Hydroelectric Rock. After leading down, I set safety, which was
fortunately not needed as all again had excellent runs.

Sock
’em Dog was a puppy this day. The Launching Pad did not have enough
water to hit it solid, but it could be run by boofing off the left
side. I have always had trouble hitting the Dog just right, but on
this day I had a really good, dry run and all the others had
excellent first time runs. Several liked it so much that they
carried back up and made second and third runs.

Despite
the low water level, this was a very enjoyable trip. Four new
boaters became initiated to the best of Section IV, and it was doubly
rewarding to see all four have such good runs through Five Falls. I
suspect that we will be seeing all four back on Section IV in the
near future.

One
of the great pleasures of the Chattooga for me is the isolation,
i.e., the lack of traffic. This day it was even better that usual,
as we saw only four other boaters on the river all day — two open
boaters who put in as we were running shuttle (we never saw them on
the river) and two kayakers who pulled up at the take-out 10 minutes
after we pulled in (also never saw them on the river). We did see
two buck naked guys at Seven Foot Falls. As we paddled into the last
eddy above the Falls, these two guys took off with moons glowing.
They dressed and hung around taking pictures.

The
temperature was warm, the day was sunny and the water was cold — a
perfect day on the Chattooga.

by
Charles B. Clark, Trip Coordinator
Saturday, September 6, 1997