This is the trip report from our Upper Ocmulgee river trip on July 22. It was a nice sunny summer day and the river was running close to 1000cfs since the recent rains from the north filled up Lake Jackson nicely. It has been a couple of months since the Ocmulgee has had any kind of release from the dam and has been really dry. We had 9 people make the trip. A few of the local paddlers Larry Tomlinson, Chad Copeland, Randy Barfield, Matt Hicky, and Cameron Lathem myself dropped vehicles at the take out and met the 3 paddlers that wanted to make this run for the first time. Cheryl and Tim Houston were there in their rec boats and Ben Richards was there in his canoe.
We put in at the Jackson Dam and got some warm up strokes in the water. A few of us hit some practice rolls and then we paddled over a few small ledges and did some eddy turns and peel outs. After these brief ledges there is a decent stretch of flatwater where there were more rolls and general playing around. We saw some turtles and the normal ducks and other birds.
Finally we reached the seven islands section and after a short stretch and hydration break we proceeded down the river. The river really changes its character here and there are a few easy shoals and ledges before we got to the 2 foot drop at Admission Rapid. I heard they named it that because if you paddle the flatwater section you had paid the price of admission to run the fun stuff. We dropped over a few more shoals and arrived at a nice little drop that is about 2 feet that has a nice wavetrain at the bottom and some good surf and play areas. After getting everyone through here and playing for a second we came around the bend in the river and there was about a quarter mile straight section that ended with Smith Mill Shoals. As we got closer the sound got louder and a noticible horizon line made it look like the end of the river. As we got closer you really see how the river gets really wide here.
Larry, Cheryl and Tim decided to do the far left side of the river which has a lot of nice class 2 to 2+ ledges as they didnt want to run the larger class 3 drop next to the island on river right. The rest of us worked our way through the approach ledges and I finally stopped next to a rock at the opening of the first drop to boat scout for wood or other hazards. After a good look I paddled upriver about 10 feet then peeled out and lined up for the first drop which is about 6 feet. As I dropped over I leaned my boat so I could take advantage of the side current at the bottom to direct my boat towards an eddy I wanted to catch so I could film everyone coming over. Everyone made some nice eddy turns then I peeled out after the last paddler and then went down the second drop of the rapid and then we ferried over to the island and portaged back up and ran it again. After the main rapid there is a section of the river that has plenty of ferry and eddy practice spots. Ben was really working this area and looked good in the canoe.
After a brief paddle the final ledge at the takeout was in sight. We dropped over and Larry said that was the best looking hole he saw all day on the river which drew some looks from the sunbathers. Pretty shortly the ledge looked like surfers rapid on the Nanty as we had boats lined up waiting for there chance to surf. I got in there and ended up on the river right side and couldnt believe how strong the hole was. It reminded me of the hole at the bottom of Nanty falls. I got surfed prettly good and used this as a good learning experience.
After some more fun we packed up our gear and several of us ended the day with some good bbq at Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson. Good day after all.