On March 27th, I joined 20 plus paddlers on a Georgia Canoeing Association (GCA) trip on the Etowah River. We put on at the Highway 52 Bridge and took out at Castleberry Bridge, which was around 9 miles downstream. The day was absolutely gorgeous with temps in the 70’s and sunny.

I pulled together two videos. The first is a video that covers the entire day’s trip and the second is a video of most the folks going over Chucks Shoals.  I think both videos are entertaining and amusing.



Don Parker was our trip leader and did a great job of organizing all the folks. I brought along my camcorder. I’ve really enjoyed videoing paddling trips and editing them afterwards. This would be the first time I would video tape any sort of whitewater and I was in my whitewater boat.

We started in two different groups. I went with the first group (led by Lamar Phillips) with the intention of paddling and videoing them. I figured I would meet up with the next group and video tape them as well. Since we had such a large group, I figured I could video tape folks as they went by and then paddle hard to catch back up. Needless to say, this provided me with a nice work out.

The first 3 miles of the paddle are all flatwater with a few minor class I riffles. Although it isn’t lots of rapids, the river is extremely beautiful with rock outcrops and the river is very narrow and intimate. Just after the Highway 9 Bridge, we encountered a near river wide strainer. Earlier this year the strainer stretched across the entire reach of the river, but it has since moved a bit so you can fairly easily negotiate around it.

I soon found out that videoing in a whitewater boat was a challenge. With my other rec boats and sea kayaks, I can fairly easily float downstream and shoot video. In a whitewater boat, I would float a bit and then my boat would do a 180. I learned I had to catch an eddy and then shoot video. Sometimes, I would have to get out of my boat to shoot video, which sometimes isn’t easy or convenient.

After the strainer, we heard the roar of the first rapid called Chuck Shoals. It is a class II slide. I went down first hoping to be able to shoot some video. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get situated in the eddy so I wasn’t able to get any good video.

At the bottom of the slide, is the home of Elvin and Nancy HIlyer, who are GCA members and super nice folks. They were expecting our arrival and had a fire, sodas and coffee for us. This was a great treat. We decided to hang out at the Hilyer’s and eat lunch. I figured I would hang out and shoot video of the second group of folks coming down Chuck Shoals.

About 20 minutes later, Don’s group of paddlers one by one made their way down the rapid. Standing on dry land, I was able to get each one of them going down the rapid. I got a huge kick videoing these folks and it was more fun watching them over and over as I was editing the video days later.

Lamar’s group headed on downstream and I hung out with Don’s group. I paddled with them the rest of the trip. After a leisurely lunch, Don’s group hit the river again. The rest of the river is class I and mild class II. The mac daddy rapid on the entire Etowah River is Etowah Falls. It is a class IV rapid and is a spectacular site. No one in our group paddled it and we opted to portage it.

At some point in the video, you’ll see “Barking Dog” rapid, which I named for obvious reasons. If you look closely at the first clip of the dog, you’ll see the dog hiking his leg and quite literally saying, “Piss on you”. I got a huge kick out of that clip.

As you can see watching the video, we all had a wonderful day. There was a lot of laughing and yahooing going on. I think everyone just absolutely enjoyed the river and companionship. The one cool thing about editing the video is that I got to re-live that awesome day over and over again. Now I and others can always go to you tube to remember another special day on the river. This section of the Etowah is an absolute jewel of North Georgia and I encourage everyone to paddle it.

Jamie Higgins
re-posted from www.riverratrambling.com

For more river information see:
Etowah River- Falls Section