Nine intrepid GCA explorers met at Maccy-Ds in Blue Ridge on Friday morning, April 8, 2011 to explore the mighty Fightingtown creek: Richard Salenfriend; Don Parker; Lamar Phillips; Buddy Goolsby;
Jay Davis; Jean Brown; Lisa Haskell; Elise MacIntyre and yours truly,Dan MacIntyre. This was an exploratory because no one on the trip, particularly the undersigned coordinator, had paddled the river for many years.
We took off for the put-in on Madola Road, which runs off of Old Hwy 5, which intertwines with (new) Hwy 5. There are several right ways to get from Blue Ridge to the put-in, all of which are apparent if you get a Google map of the proper scale. There was a very parkable shoulder and a very passable trail on the northeast (river right and road right) corner and a nice sandy beach under the bridge from which to launch.
The shuttle to the takeout is short and sweet. You keep going straight on Madola Road, turn right on Mobile Road and in a few miles, you cross the river at the take-out. (It is also possible to paddle another mile of flat water down Fightingtown and up the Toccoa to a developed outfitter takeout.) We ran into our greatest excitement as we were exploring the takeout. A size large local showed up in a golf cart, providing an unfortunate role model for his grandson who was riding with him, and began making unfriendly noises like “go home” and “we dont want yournkind around here.” We went about 100 yard further to a very nice (plant) nursery were we were pleasantly greeted and allowed to park. The proprietor also invited us to take out on family property and a dirt road on the other side of the river.
We returned to the put-in and an uneventful launch. There is no gauge on Fightingtown of which any of us are aware. The best way we figure out to approximate the flow was to subtract the flow from Lake Blue Ridge (115 cfs) from the Ocoee gauge which is downstreem from the Fightingtown-Toccoa confluence (632 cfs). The river was full but not in flood. We had plenty of water to have clean routes at all times. I believe it would run clean down to 300 cfs, and might be passable down to 200 cfs.
The river is narrow (20-40 ft) and swift. There is a class 1+ shortly after the launch, then a period of flat but moving water. The action is fairly continuous after that, including a 4+ foot ledge right in the middle. We encountered no bad strainers, but a couple of us got tangled up in limbs hanging over the river. There is nothing scary, but you have to pay attention and steer your boat the entire trip. There were many mellow waves and small holes to surf. We swapped off the probe boat role, and Lisa ran sweep. A good time was had by all.
Someone should lead lead a trip on Fightingtown every Spring that we have normal rain.