Murder
Creek arises south of I-20 near Mansfield and stores water in swampy
river bottoms, until it begins to run free in the Oconee National
Forest west of Eatonton. Murder Creek didn’t quite make the Sehlinger
and Otey guidebook, nor the Welander revision. It’s described briefly
by Will Reeves on the AW website.

Seeing
200 cfs on the USGS satellite gauge, we drove down to have a look.
The gauge is above the bridge on

Glenwood
Springs Road. Brown water ran over broken ledges just below the
bridge. We found a put-in on private but unposted land on the NW
corner upstream. I was quickly on the water, while Ellie stayed
ashore to look for hikes.

Both
banks were forested. The right was USFS land, while the left bank had
a few cabins. Murder Creek runs fairly straight SE from there toward
its junction with the Little River. There were no more rapids for
about 3/4 mile, but then a class 2 series of broken ledges appeared.
A canoe-like craft was pinned vertically against a rock at the top.
It seemed unlikely that anyone would spill a canoe before even
getting into the rapid. Maybe a flood tore the boat from a cabin
mooring. I had no difficulty threading the chutes.

There
was another mile of forest and flat water before the next rapid
appeared, framed by rocky slopes on both sides, and with Baker Branch
entering through a notch on the left. The USFS now owns the left
bank, and some of the right. This was a more challenging rapid, one
of those I am reluctant to disparage as a class 2, because it did not
have open chutes or easily recognized and negotiated routes. Peering
over the top, I found a tight, rough route left of center. Smaller,
easier ledges followed, and then Murder Creek subsided again into
flat water for almost another mile.

Rock
bluffs on the left signaled the approach to the final rapid, a ledge
crossing the entire creek. I could see a USFS overlook high up the
left bluff. The ledge appeared to have about five feet in total drop,
with more in the sloping approach. Even with almost 200 cfs, I did
not think there was enough water to just boof off anywhere, so I
looked for a sloping cross-chute I remembered from the Will Reeves
photo on the AW site.

The
problem was a very strong tailwind. I needed to get through shallows
between rocks on the approach to find the top of the chute, but the
wind kept blowing the Synergy sideways. By the time I saw where the
chute entrance must be, I was blown too far left. Going down next to
the left bank was my only option, and I couldn’t even do that
cleanly. A rock spun me around, and I finished the drop upright and
dry, but backwards. I ferried back and forth to see the ledge from
below. Quite scenic and impressive, though it offered no holes or
waves at this level.

There
was another mile plus of flat water to the $3 boat ramp on the west
bank above the Hwy 441 bridge. Cabins dotted the right bank. The
river bottom forest on the left bank was marked by Weyerhauser signs;
in fact it is now USFS land. I spotted Ellie bushwhacking, so I
pulled over to have her board and ride down to the take-out. Murder
Creek often exceeds 200 cfs in wet months, and I le

ft hoping to catch
it higher.

by
Gary DeBacher
March
11, 2005.

From
The Eddy Line, Sept 2006