The
sun was unobstructed, the temperature was in the high 60’s, and the
day was just gorgeous for this day of paddling. On this wonderful
day we had 14 boats for this river trek. Paddling kayaks were
Jennifer Elrod, Jason Burrell, Debra Berry, Tim Rich, Tom Piper and
Michael Pirtle; Open Canoe paddlers were Dick Sturtevan, Warren
Piper, Wyatt & Matthew Dominic, Charlie Pirtle & trip
coordinator Bart Keith and myself. Bill Kahler and John Walsh
paddled an tandem canoe.

The
gauge at the 52 bridge was unreadable, but Bart opted to make the
trek because Copper Mine rapid could be run. Later at the take-out
we discovered that the gauge was a little above 1.6 and it was
determined that much lower would have been a very scratchy run.
Someone mentioned that the local outfitter was not going to be
running this section in the future because of a landowner dispute,
another job for the River Access Committee.

We
worked our boats through a maze of tents at the Copper Mine put-in.
Bart and the other drivers ran shuttle, while the rest of us watched
the boats. Upon returning, Warren & Charlie ran Copper Mine
without incident, though it looked like both took on a little water.

After
a meeting on a sand bar we discovered that there were a few paddlers
who were unfamiliar with the Chestatee. Warren was to run sweep with
Charlie as back up. Bart ran point. Now the paddling plan was set —
to get the most out of this perfect March day the trip would be slow
and easy.

Warren
tried every possible harder route through the rapids than the rest in
the group took. All went well except for a surfing mishap for Jason
and a swim or two for Bill & John in the tandem canoe. It was
their first experience with white water and as much was to be
expected. We expect to see Bill & John on future GCA trips.

At
Blasted Rock Warren decided to let us all watch him run the rapid,
which on first attempt the small eddy at the top did not lend enough
room to make a complete turn to proceed down the chute, and a rock
got the better of his Probe 12 halfway down. Warren proceeded to
walk up the submerged rock stairs on river right and then took off
for a second attempt through the scattered rocks, landing on the
island at the end of the chute to set a rope.

About
a third of the group decided to portage on river right, which did not
look too easy for them. The remaining paddlers made Blasted Rock
unscathed after a few bumps here and there to their boats. The
remaining paddle to the route 52 take-out was relaxed. Apparently
the group didn’t want this day to pass too quickly.

Richard,
Jason , Jennifer, Bart and I had a dinner at Carosoe’s in Dahlonega
that made for great talk and a great meal. New paddling bonds were
made this day which will last for many days on the river to come.

Please
enjoy the Middle Chestatee before anything happens to the access at
Copper Mine.

by
Cathee Gallant
March 23, 1997.