Place:
Etowah River – Falls
Section
Date:
Saturday March 20, 2010

Put In: Dahlonega
Hwy 52

Take Out:
Dahlonega
Castleberry Bridge

Miles:
8.5
Water
:
270 cfs
Weather:
Sunny and 70°

It
was an absolutely gorgeous day on one of the prettiest river sections
in North Georgia. The Etowah River – Falls Section offers an
abundance of vegetation, rock formations, high river banks and plenty
of small rapids. The most gorgeous spot on this section is the Falls
with their 15 foot drop and large rocks from river left to river
right. This spot has a very accessible and short portage point for
all who are not crazy enough to try and go over the Falls.

It
seemed like everyone came out of winter hibernation to join our trip.
We had an energetic group of 25 nature loving enthusiasts. Age ranges
were a very sprightly 76 year old (Lamar Phillips), to a very
talented paddler of just 12 years of age (Rosemary Robinson).

We
had a brief but thorough safety meeting led by an experienced
paddler. In order to capture everyone’s attention he (Vincent
Payne) wore very bright orange shorts. It must have worked because
everyone paid attention to his speech and we had no problems on the
trip. Everyone in the group was properly outfitted with helmets and
pfd’s. There were plenty of whistles and several had throw ropes
just in case we might need them.

By
the time we ran shuttle it was about 11:00am when the first group of
7 people started paddling down the river. The second group of 18
people began paddling down river around 11:30am. We split into two
groups because a few people needed to get back home earlier. We also
thought it might be easier to avoid bunching up on rapids.

The
water level seemed perfect with no bare spots whatsoever. We had a
nice medium current that required very little stroking of the
paddles. The water was clear in spite of all the rain the past few
weeks. The conditions were close to perfect for this river section. (Trip Photos)

At
about the 3 mile point and just after Chuck Shoals, we stopped for
lunch. Elvin & Nancy Hilyer were gracious enough to allow us to rest on
their private river bank. They even provided us
with coffee, cokes and a roaring fire. Jean Brown shared her
delicious brownies with everyone (but only after Buddy Goolsby ate
his fair share of them)! It was the best lunch stop ever!
(Video)

Everyone
enjoyed their lunches while listening to beautiful natural background
music of roaring water from Chuck Shoals. The guy in bright orange
shorts (Vincent Payne) was so moved by nature that he ate a small
live crawfish found on the river bank. Lisa Haskell took a photo of
him holding the creature just before he devoured it. I’m sure
anyone would have shared their tuna or peanut butter sandwich with
him had they known he was that hungry!

After
about a half hour lunch break we ventured on down the river. Jamie
Higgins joined the second group with her video camera. We enjoyed
having her paddle with us and taking some great photos. There was
great anticipation, as the Falls section was only about 2 miles ahead
of us. As we approached the Falls section, everyone moved to right in
order to avoid the middle current. There was none brave or stupid
enough to go over the roaring rocks in their boats. However, we all
did very much enjoy taking a break to admire the gorgeous water
falls.

We
got back in our boats just below the Falls at river right. We took
our time and played in the several rapids just below the water falls.
All enjoyed watching each other ride the waves and it seemed to
bring the inner child out in everyone. Lisa got a precious photo of
Jean Brown as she rode one the waves and exclaimed “women rule”!
Lisa enjoyed the waves in her whitewater kayak and did a great job of
navigating the water with her hand paddles.

After
a few more miles of river the group approached the last set of
rapids. It’s a sequence of small drops with a few rocks as
obstacles. Everyone went from left at the top, to center in the
middle, then back to river left and down the rushing rapid. Normally
a middle run will work, however on this day there were a couple of
jammed logs in the center rapid. One kayaker (Michael Barkwell) did
try the middle run, he got wedged sideways against the log. The
current caused him to get stuck against the log. He did a wet exit
and was able to get his boat and paddle. We did have a crew member
and a safety rope for him in case he needed help.

After
this last set of rapids all were glad to see the take out at
Castleberry Bridge. One by one we exited the river onto the bank.
Most had vehicles parked at the take out. A few kind paddlers did
shuttle back to the put in, and we thank them for it. We got out of
the river around 4:30pm and most people headed back home. About a
dozen of us did meet for dinner at a great Chinese restaurant off GA
400 Exit 13 called Chop Stix.

It
was a great ending to a wonderful day on the river. The time shared
with friends on the river is only equal to the enjoyment found on the
river. Many thanks to everyone that joined us for this great day on
the Etowah!

Canoers:
Buddy Goolsby, David Robinson, Keith Haskell, Robert Harris, Allan
Wadsworth, Angela Sauve, Leif Hauge, David Brytowski, Dave Leigh &
William Gatling

Kayakers:
Lamar Phillips, Rosemary Robinson, Jean Brown, Lisa Haskell, Jamie
Higgins, Karla Vinnacombe, Jamie Heisserer, Michael Barkwell,
Jennifer Payne, Vincent Payne, Melissa Karasek, Shane Calvert, Matt
Carrol, Don Parker & Jay “Storm” Davis


By Don Parker – Trip Coordinator

For more river information see:
Etowah Falls Section