Today, we scouted once again Day 1 of Paddle Georgia 2009 on the Coosawattee River. When last we set paddle in this river, it was flowing at 1.6 feet on the Ellijay gauge. Today, the river lapped at the 2.7 foot mark. Two inches of rain fell in the area Friday, swelling the river and washing out the technical rapids that kept us on our toes back in November. Today, there was no diffculty finding routes through the shoals. Instead, we pointed nose downstream and rode out the waves. It’s true: you never step in the same river twice.
The run reinforced the need for all our paddlers to be prepared. Unlike previous Paddle Georgia journeys in which Class I rapids were the norm, the Coosawattee does throw Class II rapids at us. If your expereince on whitewater is limited, try making some runs on fast moving water this spring in preparation for PG Day 1.
To insure a safe trip, we’re taking two special precautions:
1. An alternative six-mile trip on Day 1 will be offered so that novice paddlers can avoid the biggest whitewater located between mile 6 and mile 9, yet still enjoy the beauty of this run while getting a taste of the white stuff.
2. Due to ACA insurance requirements, everyone must wear a helmet on Day 1. This includes those taking out at the six-mile mark as there is one Class II rapid in that section.
For those wishing to take the six-mile take out, we’ll have a shuttle bus and a canoe trailer waiting for you. The trailer will take your boat to the Day 2 launch site, and the bus will return you to our campsite, Gilmer County High School, where you can relax, take part in a river festival being held in town that day, and take in one of a pair of interesting tours being offered by the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce.
Georgia River Network, through the help of our sponsor, The Outside World, will be offering a special group rate on helmets so that you may purchase or rent a helmet at a reasonable rate. Details on this offer will be included in registration packets which will be sent to you this week.
The highlight of the day, aside from the big waves, were the waterfalls.
High water and full tributaries provided access to several waterfalls a short paddle up a tributary or a short hike up riverside trails.
Along the paddle route numerous tributaries offer a chance to see small waterfalls spill down to the river, and at the Ridgeway Boat Ramp (Day 1 take out), a Corps of Engineers trail leads about a half mile to a beautiful falls and swimming hole on Tails Creek. Hopefully, in June there will still be enough water flowing to enjoy these special places.
In other planning news…registration packets coming to you within the week will include a full slate of special tours that will be offered this year during Paddle Georgia. You’ll have the opportunity to visit apple orchards in Ellijay, organic farms in Ranger, historic sites in Calhoun and Rome and you’ll even have the opportunity to participate in an active archaeological dig.
On food…everyone’s favorite caterer, Satterfield’s from Macon, will bring their food to North Georgia for us, providing dinners and lunches. ..I know that many said they actually gained weight during Paddle Georgia last year, in large part thanks to Satterfield’s banana pudding and other delights.
Sponsor Kettle Chips returns for the second year. Kettle Chips are by far the best chips I’ve ever put in my mouth, and I’m not just saying that because they’re a sponsor! Looking forward to having them back in our lunches!
And, one more plug…the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s WATERFEST IX event takes place this weekend, April 17-18, at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. The event includes a 13-mile paddle/race down the Oostanaula River, Georgia’s only Canoe and Kayak Tug-O-Wars, a live snake show, live music and the world’s largest portable aquarium. Learn more and register for one of the paddling events at www.coosa.org.
See you in June.
April 11, 2009