It was such a beautiful afternoon, Friday, November 2, in the high sixties and cloudless; I had to get on the river. During this, our 100-year drought, we have had limited rivers from which to choose. But I figured that any section of the Etowah downstream of Highway 9 in Dawson County would have enough water.

I was itching to try my new pole and thus put in at Old Federal Road in Forsyth County (Suzanne Welander’s Access Point K), poled upstream about 7 miles to Kelly Bridge in Dawson County (Access Point J), and then paddled back to Old Federal Road. In all it took about five hours, just over three and a half to go upstream and just under an hour and a half to come back down.

This stretch is virtually flat at high water but had a number of little Class 1 rapids today, enough to make the poling interesting and somewhat challenging. There were a few deadfalls to dodge, but I was able to pole the whole way without having to get out of my canoe. The Canton gauge read 160 cfs, so there were about 135-140 cfs in this stretch.

I used my stable, flat-bottomed, 16-foot ABS Buffalo. Buffalo Canoes is the only manufacturer which still makes canoes from Uniroyal’s first, 1968 mold, from which all Blue Hole OCA’s were molded from 1969 to 1976, and will sell them for about $575 each.

It’s a lovely, mostly natural section with only one, well hidden house, high on the left bank, and only a few nearby fields. The water was very clear, and, using polarized sunglasses, I saw quite a few fish. I also encountered a lot of wildlife: several deer, turkeys, kingfishers and ducks and a few herons, hawks and owls.

I used a wooden, twelve foot pole I made for about $25 paid to Lowe’s according to a simple design I found at http://www . I enjoy poling. It frees me from having to run a shuttle. It gives me a way to explore some stretches of river to which there is only access from either upstream or downstream. It makes class I water challenging. It allows me to do an impromptu trip of whatever amount of time I have for it, maximizing my time on the water.

Poling is best done at low water, and we certainly have had a lot of that lately! And it’s fun!

by Roger Nott
From The Eddy Line, 2008