We
were ready to run something local so 6 of us headed up to run the
Copper Mine section of the Chestatee near Dahlonega on May 17.
Paddlers were: Robert Harris, Jean Brown, Buddy Goolsby, Lamar
Phillips, Tracy Cruce and myself.

We
got an early start, got the boats to the put-in and set about
dragging/carrying the 3 canoes and 3 kayaks down the embankment and
the 1/4 mile to the put-in below Copper Mine rapid. Copper Mine is a
Class 3 rapid, and is usually runnable, but there is a tree
completely across the main center chute and that only left some
rather dicey sneak routes which most of us wouldn’t even consider.
We opted for putting in below the rapid, hence the long carry.

Anyway,
we got off to a great start and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery
and the riverside flowers. This section clips along with a shoal or
small rapid around every bend and the current was good. The rock
formations on the river bottom run parallel to the current, and that
got us in trouble a couple of times. I picked a route which ended up
bottlenecking into some technical rapids. It definitely sharpened our
river skills.

We
got to Blasted Rock Rapid and scouted for wood. This is a solid class
2—2+ rapid and some rock dodging is in order here. Most of us ran
it clean around the big rock at the bottom, some went right over the
top and we had a few rock climbers and one swimmer. The second drop
sent another one swimming, but we all enjoyed the excitement. Around
the bend several tried their luck side surfing on a small but
surprisingly strong little drop. Tracy headed in for her first side
surf in her rec kayak with no skirt and ended up chest deep in water,
still in her kayak. It was a hoot to see her paddle her little
submarine over to the side to dump it. We all had a good laugh.

There
is another good little rapid on downstream and there was an
assortment of runs through this. Robert and I managed to do some rock
hugging here and I got through backward. Robert took a swim, but not
before giving us some good photo opportunities on how to do a brace.
It was over too soon with the run only taking about 3 hours. The
takeout is brutal under the Highway 52 bridge and Lamar found a
better spot a little ways upstream by an old bridge abutment that we
will use next time.

Keep
in mind if you run this section that it is public land where you put
in above Copper Mine Rapid, but you must cross private property to
put in below the rapid. Please be courteous, quiet, don’t linger
here and pick up any trash others may have left. The take out is
public right of way and has parking on a small dirt road before the
bridge on the right from Highway 52.

By Karen Saunders