It
was early June but looked like late March — dark, overcast and
raining. Our group included Maggie Griffin and Jason Schnurr in canoes, Jim Griffin in a C-1, and me in the only intelligent boat, a
kayak. We had planned to run the Cartecay this Saturday but two
inches of rain Friday night put the Cartecay river just above four
feet. While all of us were experienced paddlers, we decided to look
at other options. I suggested Mountain Town Creek. We had all
paddled Mountain Town before and it was close.

Mountain
Town Creek is described in
Brown’s
Guide To The Georgia Outdoors
as
becoming “canoeable as it passes under the Ga 282 bridge west of
Ellijay.” We had found that when everything else was at flood
stage you can put in at Highway 52 and take out at Ga 282. This trip
of about five miles is continuous class II water with great scenery.
I use a rock up stream from the 282 bridge as an indication of the
water level; if I can see the rock the waters too low. The rock was
nowhere in sight.

Running
the ten mile shuttle we saw limbs down and other indications that
told us that last evening’s storm had been severe. Mountain Town
Creek is only twenty feet wide for two or three miles below the 52
bridge. This makes dead-falls and strainers a real issue for most of
the trip. In fact, the first “horizon line” on Mountain
Town isn’t a rock ledge but a large downed tree that spans the creek
about a quarter mile below the put-in. We encountered a total of
five creek wide strainers this day. We portaged three strainers,
pulled over one strainer and we used a saw to cut a path through the
last strainer.

I
always stop to scout this first drop because it is very prone to
collecting trash in the tree’s branches. The trash isn’t usually a
problem for canoes, but kayaks dive into the branches creating the
risk of a pin. Today it was fortunate that we stopped. Down stream
another twenty yards was a new creek wide strainer that wasn’t easily
seen when boat scouting. This section of the creek offers only micro
eddies so we portaged both the dead fall and new strainer on river
left.

Back
on the water we continued to enjoy the many play spots and great
scenery along the way. I had stopped on river right to watch Jason
and Jim play on a surf wave and an annoying stick kept bumping into
my right hand. I looked down at the offending stick just as it
climbed up my paddle, across my hand onto the lower part of my spray
skirt!

I
raised my hands/paddle above my head and an average sized copperhead
crawled across my rear deck and swam to shore. Another joy of
paddling small creeks is getting close to nature. I quickly ferried
away from my new friend and continued down stream.

This
section of Mountain Town reminds me of the Nantahala in miniature;
it’s fast with plenty of play spots and beautiful scenery. While it
is a class I-II+ creek, I would not recommend canoeing or kayaking the 52 to 282 section
of Mountain Town as a beginners outing due to strainers. If you’re
up for it and everything else is too high to paddle, Mountain Town
might just be the thing for you.

by Dave Chaney
From The
Eddy Line, September 1997