We
had a sunny but cold day and opted for the shorter Upper Chestatee
run from Tate to Garnet bridges, Otey & Sehlinger’s access points
B to C. We met at the Copper Mines, where we changed and set our
shuttle. Paddling were Debra Berry, Derek Hunter and Travis Owens in
kayaks and I in an open canoe.

We
got off to a somewhat inauspicious start when our only paddler who
did not have a wet suit or a dry suit went swimming at “Priscilla
Falls,” the first rapid, and then again shortly thereafter
trying to dodge a downed tree. Fortunately the fire at our early
lunch stop was warming, and everyone thereafter stayed in his boat.

Shortly
after lunch we were greeted by a friendly black, Labrador
Retriever-like dog who hopped into my boat when I pulled over to pet
him. I tricked him into jumping out and made a hasty retreat.
However, he had already bonded with our pack and swam and trotted
along the bank with us the rest of the day. Derek said that he had
done likewise with his party when they had paddled this stretch last
summer.

He
often swam and splashed in the river for ten and fifteen minutes at a
time, and his tolerance for the cold water was incredible. At one
point, however, we became truly worried about him. He had already
been swimming for about ten minutes when we came, about a mile from
the take-out, to a sharp left bend in the river where he was menaced
by four large, growling dogs who seemed strongly to resent our
invasion of their territory. They would not let him out of the water
but fortunately were not reckless enough to plunge in after him. By
the time we had passed their territory and our river dog felt safe
enough to exit the river, he was shivering badly.

At
the take-out he jumped into Debra’s trunk, curled up and was set to
spend the night. With difficulty we pried him out, but he managed to
jump into the back seat. We agreed that Debra’s car heater was a
fine thing and sympathized with his like-mindedness. However, we
were able to get him out again and last saw him sprinting behind us
as we all headed back to the put-in.

The
trip itself was a fine one: great stream, sufficient water, beautiful
day, fine, safe paddling, congenial crew. A great day!

by
Roger Nott
Sunday, January 12, 1997.