In July GCA put on a “Kid Friendly” trip on the Dawson Forest Section of the Etowah River. While my own kids are grown, I have several friends whose kids or grand kids are much younger. We chose this river section for relatively warm and shallow water and the many things of interest and lastly because the drops are few and small.

We did the standard GCA safety talk and ensured that all young people had a properly fitted PFD. We set up a sweep and a lead boat. Oddly both of these were paddling Whitesell Pyrannah canoes. We had four boats with younguns. Those young paddlers were Josh, Braxton, Ellie, and Evan. All were in tandem canoes with a parent or grandparent in the stern.

We stopped at a gravel bar for lunch and a swim ignoring the 30 minute rule. We snugged our PFDs and floated several laps by the gravel bar. While on the gravel bar Josh and Ellie’s dad tried their luck fishing. We stopped at the campsite near Bear Foot Falls to admire the water falls and to seek a geocache. This was the first time I had walked to the upper falls and they were pretty cool. Several of us climbed to the top of the hill and used our GPS units to find a geocache. We signed the log book and put the cache back in its hiding spot.

Downstream we found the first of two drops. Everyone made a successful run . Here we split into two groups, one heading to the take out and one hanging around to play in the pool below the rapid. Next we made the second drop with out incident and proceeded to the take out. The rain waited until we arrive at the boat ramp ,then poured huge drops on our heads. We completed the shuttle and headed to the Chinese Buffet in Dawsonville for some dinner.

Hopefully all the young people enjoyed their day and will grow to appreciate and protect our waterways. I have already been invited to paddle with Josh and his granddad and cousin in September. I take this as a good sign.

By Vincent Payne
From The Eddy Line, September 2010