The
Upper Chattahoochee was at about 700 cfs (maybe 1.3 feet). The group was
Allen Pogue, Steve Smyth, Edward Stockman, Douglas Ackerman and Allen
Hedden.

I
wasn’t able to get any time off during the arrival of the remnants
of Tropical Storm Faye. Fortunately there were still a few things
running four days later, including the upper section of the
Chattahoochee River. The “Upper Hooch,” as it is known, is a free
flowing Class 2-3 run that ends up in Lake Lanier. The weather was
excellent, if a little hot, and the level was sufficient, around 700
cfs early in the morning, slowly dropping throughout the day. Steve
assured me that it was the highest he had run it.

The
water was slightly cloudy and had a peculiar smell to it. I’m not
sure if this was due to impurity or if it was some natural odor. I
decided not to worry about, being glad to run a free-flowing river
for the first time in a few months.

The
geology of the river shortly downstream from the launch features a
lot of boulders and bedrock formations. At the level we had, this
made for highly technical Class 2.

There
were frequent signs of the recent high water levels in the Hooch,
mostly in the form of obvious erosion of sand deposits. Many were
cleanly cut away to expose the lamina.

After
a somewhat lengthy shuttle-setting process due to some confusion
about the proper meeting point (situation normal), we got underway.
The Upper Hooch immediately impressed me with more rapids than I
anticipated. I had been expecting more of a Class 1-2 run but the
river has many solid Class 2 and even some 2+ rapids with numerous
possible lines and an abundance of play spots. Most of the play spots
are of the type suitable for squirt moves and flat surfing moves such
as flat spinning. The lines tend to be very technical and the
riverbed is a maze of shelves, slots, chutes, and boulders. It’s an
eddy-hopping playground.

In
terms of scenery, the Upper Chattahoochee was much better than I expected.
There are some houses and well-marked private property, but for the
most part the run is tree-lined, with some cool rock formations in
places. You can easily imagine that you are immersed in wilderness,
at least during a few lengthy segments.

The
only thing that detracted from the experience was the abundance of
outfitter clients and non-PFD-wearing locals. At first we didn’t
see many other paddlers, but after a while we started to see a lot of
rental boats and “civilian” amateurs on surf-skis and ocean
sit-on-tops.

There
were a few guys in jeans, tennis shoes, and tshirts, with no sign of
a life jacket. As far as I could tell, they swam every single rapid.
You could always look ahead into the distance to identify the next
rapid by the fact that someone would always be standing up in it
trying to turn their sit-on-top right side up.

Eventually
the geology seemed to change a bit and there were more even ledges,
until we got to the last big rapid, Horseshoe. Horseshoe was the most
interesting single drop to run, although the adrenaline was somewhat
stymied by the fact that some kid just deliberately jumped in and
swam the rapid like it was no big deal.

After
Horseshoe, the river quieted down a bit, with only a few minor Class
1 rapids and plenty of time to talk before we reached the take-out.
It was another great day on the river and I get to add a new stream
to my list. Thank you Steve, Edward, Douglas, and Allen for allowing
me to join them for some tropical storm free-flowing water.

by
Allen Pogue
August 30, 2008
From The Eddy Line, October 2008

For more river information see:
Upper Chattahoochee

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