I’d been busy with other vintage wet season
runs, but here was Murder Creek beckoning again, an easy drive from
Atlanta, and up around 280 cfs. A good level for finding out just how
much water it might take to make a smooth run.

First
we drove from the Hwy 441 take-out to find USFS 1108 to the overlook
above the final big ledge on Murder Creek. The road entrance was hard
to spot, almost like a neglected driveway. It is on the north side of
thehighway, about a block SW of the paved road to Note.

USFS
1108 was pocked with large, muddy puddles, but they proved to have
solid gravel bottoms, and we were able to get almost all the way to
the overlook in the Accord. Short trails led down to the water’s
edge, and it would not be too hard to take out right below the ledge
if drivers are willing to ford the puddles. We stayed long enough to
get some pictures of the ledge system from above.

For
my first run in March, I’d put in at Glenwood Springs Road, just
below the USGS gauge. This time I planned to add 2.4 river miles by
putting in at Hillsboro Road, for a total of almost 6.5 miles. We
drove north to the hamlet of Note, jogged east a long block on
Glenwood Springs Rd, north to Hillsboro Rd, and west to the bridge
over Murder Creek. I found it possible to drive the Accord down a
track on the SE side to a landing under the bridge, though most sedan
drivers would not like how I did this.

Leaving
the bridge on
a strong current, I was carried into shady river
bottom forest. There were a few deadfalls in the first half mile. At
this level I was able to slip or hunch over the worst of them. I saw
catalpa and basswood along the banks, along with river birch,
sycamore and maple. There was a mimosa with a
trunk over a foot
in diameter. When the creek ran into some heights, pines appeared.
Murder Creek twisted through a tight meander where there were rock
outcrops and a couple of small ledges, just about submerged at this
level.

Then
the creek turned SE and ran steadily down between low forested hills.
There were no more rapids on this stretch, although a friend who has
a cabin nearby says that at low summer water levels, there are small
broken ledges all along the creek. Wading ledges, not running ledges.

So
again, I found the first significant rapid just below the Glenwood
Springs Bridge. A half mile down, the pinned boat I had seen in March
was gone, and the rest of the rapid was more easily run. Running
through shade where possible to beat the heat, I came to the rocky
defile at Baker Branch. Even with more water than in March, the only
route was to thread down left of center, using water-cushioned rocks
to make adjustments otherwise impossible. Not your textbook class 2.

A
small rapid signaled the approach to the final ledge. Pooled water
allowed me to plan my route. I worked through smaller ledges toward
the rock just left of the top of the crossways chute. This time I was
spooked not by a March tailwind, but by parents and kids wading
through the shallows in the middle of my approach! I dodged between
them, rattling into and down the chute. Not that smooth even at 280
cfs. For my last trick, I hopped out of the boat for a long soak in
the cool water.

So,
Murder Creek was improved at 280 cfs compared to 200, but I think
around 400 cfs might be the ticket for a quick, smooth run. Recall
that the Nantahala runs around 600 cfs in typical releases and the
Toccoa needs at least 400 cfs for a good run. Piedmont streams like
Murder Creek and its neighbor the Little River spread wide across
their
shoals and need plenty of water.

by
Gary DeBacher
July
7, 2005.

From
The Eddy Line, Sept. 2006