(Madonla Road to Ocoee Confluence)

The weather was pleasant – just at the end of some
rainstorms, mild and overcast. Edward Stockman, the Trip Coordinator,
advertised the trip as a Fightingtown Creek trip but, as always,
Edward had a backup plan.

We
met at the McDonalds in Blue Ridge and debated whether to go with
plan A (Fightingtown) or plan B (Toccoa). We decided there was a
decent chance of water in Fightingtown, so we convoyed to the put-in
and did a visual check on the river and decided it looked minimally
runnable. Participants were Edward Stockman, Doug Ackerman, Jack
Taylor, Dave Soltice, Dawn Southern and Allen Hedden (OC-1); Steve
Smith, Kelly Harbac, Lisa Haskell, Christine Blumberg and Greg
Spencer (K-1). We set shuttle, leaving most of the vehicles at the
confluence with the Ocoee. Shuttle is short and straightforward:
Madola Road to Mobile Road, right turn, continue to take-out (name
changes near McCaysville). For the majority of the participants, this
was a first run on Fightingtown. The creek is usually only runnable
after a good rain or during very wet seasons.

Because
of the small, tight nature of the streambed and the propensity for
strainers and deadfalls, Edward had limited the size of the trip. It
can become quite a zoo getting a couple dozen boats over or around a
massive strainer. Setting off downstream, there were a couple of
riffles to warm up on, followed by sections of flat water
interspersed with short Class 1 & 2 rapids. We had a strainer
drill set up, with a signal from the lead boat, and designated
boaters to exit their boats to help others negotiate the strainers.
We used the drill several times. Some of the strainers were simple to
negotiate by nudging the boats over, others had to be portaged.

One
big triple strainer was extremely complicated, requiring several
assistants in the water to guide/push/pull boaters over and around.
Fightingtown is a beautiful creek, but has become well on the way to
being another Cartecay as far as development is concerned. Some of
the new homes fit fairly well into the scene, being set back from the
stream bed and having ample natural vegetation to screen their
presence. Others are more obtrusive, built on the flood plain with
expansive manicured lawns, decks, boardwalks, docks, etc. And there
is no shortage of “No Trespassing” signs.

The trip was uneventful
for the most part, with one exception. It was Dawn’s first time out
solo in her Sequel, and at one point on a bend in the river the
current pushed her into some overhanging limbs. As novices tend to
do, she leaned away from the limbs (and spiders) and the inevitable
happened: she flipped in the current. Several boats went by, seeing
her hanging on to the boat stuck in the overhanging limbs, and each
paddler implored her to “Let go of the boat!”What was NOT so
obvious was that her foot was somehow stuck in the boat, which was in
turn lodged in the limbs, and the only thing keeping her head up was
hanging on to the boat. Thank goodness she had the presence of mind
to ignore the advice of the passing boaters. A rescuer was able to
wade out to assist and hold her up while getting her foot untangled
from the boat and freeing the boat from the limbs. A very scary
episode for a new paddler!

Pictures
are at http://canoeist.smugmug.com/gallery/
4891351_RsoLM. Many thanks to Edward for coordinating the trip! A fun
day on a rapidly disappearing resource.


Sunday,
April 27, 2008.

Allen Hedden