It
had rained hard on Thursday, raising our hopes for running one of
North Georgia’s prettiest creeks, the Amicalola, but the water level
was only 0.5 and falling by Saturday. I had been on the Amicalola at
this low level and it was not fun, so we checked some other options
and settled on the Coosawattee. Our group included Alan Read
(Kayak), Byron Jones (Kayak), Larry Fisher (Sit-on-Top), and me
(Kayak). We met in Ellijay and ran shuttle using the four wheel
drive take-out to avoid three miles of flat water on Carter’s Lake.

I’m
grateful to Tom Martin for introducing me to the Coosawattee in 1995.
I was the only one in our group that had been on the Coosawattee
before, but with a small group of good paddlers, the river didn’t
present any problems. The water level was 2.1 at the East Ellijay
gauge, the Sehlinger and Otey guide says that 0.7 to 4.0 is
acceptable. The water was colder than I remembered, but the weather
was typical of December in the south, with sunny skies and
temperatures forecast to reach the sixties (I’m told that our
northern counterparts paddle with something called “ice”
this time of year).

The
first three miles from the Ellijay put-in is flat water with some
class I riffles and housing development much like the Cartecay. You
can expect the rapids to start getting more difficult when you pass
the two story lodge on river left at about the halfway point. The
last three miles of the river had nicely spaced class II rapids and
an occasional technical class II+ thrown in to keep you on your toes.
Everyone had a chance to play and no one swam.

Both
Alan and Byron took advantage of the many surfing opportunities on
this river. Larry showed us that a Torrent can play on a river with
the best. We could have had even more fun if we hadn’t been pressed
for time. We put on at around 10:30 and got to the take-out at about
4:30. This is a seven plus mile trip, and in the winter you have to
watch your pace or face a four wheel drive take-out in the dark. If
you take out at the Ridgeway Boat Ramp on Carter’s Lake, this becomes
a ten mile trip, long for winter’s short days. But the Coosawattee
is worth the effort.

The
Coosawattee is a pretty river with miles of great class II fun and no
crowds — only an hour from Atlanta. I know that everyone in our
group plans to paddle this river again.

by Dave Chaney, Trip
Coordinator
December 15, 1996.