Crystal Gustin 07/03/2019 | Posted in Creeking, Internationalisation, United States, Video, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
Almost 2 years ago I got my first PDF on section 00 of the Chattooga River (full article – https://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2016/03/06/next-level-exploratory-kayaking-chattooga-style/). After going back in this previous weekend I wanted to update a few things. As of March 2, 2019, there is lots and lots of wood! The trail getting to the river has been updated and it is for the better. It took us about 40 minutes. The trail starts slightly uphill and you know you are near the top when you hear the river. At this point, there isn’t much more climbing. The trail will soon fork with a sign that says “Old Iron Bridge 5.2m” follow this to the left and shortly after this, there will be another left and this trail is all downhill.
Once on the river, you start off with some flat, with at least 2 down trees that you need to get out of the boat and hop over or hike around. Next, you get to First Falls which is a clean rollercoaster style rapid. A little further along there is a chute that runs next to the left wall. Paddle a stretch of flat water and you will then embark on the huge log jam. Last time, I went up and over on the left. This time, after retracing my footsteps and scouting far left and heading right, we decided to head across the pile of mess toward river right. With teamwork, we were finally back down to the river. We then kayaked to the left bank, jumped out of our boats yet again to scout Separation Falls. Looking at this for a while, I decided to run what I called the “crease” move, which was different from the right line I ran before. I took a left over the curler and another left as I shot down. I feel good about this line. The runout of this has the river being split with a left and right channel. You want to go left and watch out for the piton rock in the middle of this channel.
Not far downstream you will get to Potholes Left, Logs Right. At 500 cfs, there was no way to run this safely. The left line is backed up with a piton rock from hell and the right line isn’t clear due to a large tree. I went around on river right. This is actually really scenic as you are still in the river bobbing and weaving through a rock jumble.
Your next section according to AWA is called Beauty and Beast. This area is constricted and gorgeous. Beauty is a series of read and run rapids that feed into Beast. At this time there is no way to run Beast. The right is clear of wood but a very narrow chute that feeds into a slightly undercut rock. The left is a big tree with the root bed that has been trapped by the left line. This made things interesting to get back in the water. We scooted with our bow touching the rock wall, our stern on the log and ourself on the log. Actually getting into the boat once down the log was interesting and entertaining all at the same time. It is a balancing game for sure. AWA says this is an easy portage around. I couldn’t disagree more.
Right after this, you have Sieve Rapid. Super sketch. Physically and mentally demanding. I paddled slowly as far right as possible. Held myself on a rock slightly submerged, popped my spray skirt and slowly got out. Secured my boat on some rocked and then jumped back in the water to help Erin (the other crazy individual on this trip) get out safely. I then scaled the rock wall (not an easy climbing section thanks to mud and it being wet), got across to a huge boulder, roped the boats one at a time down into the river and pulled them up to where I was. We didn’t want to chance our paddles being thrown back in the water so Erin maneuvered the paddles along the way as she scaled up the rock wall. There was a point that I looked at the line on river left to see if Erin could run it and there is no way that I can see at 500 cfs. This is a legit full on portage in my opinion so be prepared.
I opted to walk around Crease Boof as I didn’t want to risk the potential hazard for a narrow line. Finally, I was able to slide back into the water with my kayak. You don’t have much after this point to the end, Bull Pen Rapid. A couple of read and run rapids that you can eddie hop through. There is a final class IV-ish rapid right before Bull Pen. You can get out on river right to look at Bull Pen. There is a small tree on the far right boof. I went pretty much down the center and followed the flow. This is a really fun rapid and would recommend it.
In total, we had a 40-minute hike, 4+ hours on the water and what felt like 3-4 rapids (that is an exaggeration). I was incredibly tired, sick of scouting, sick of portaging and ready for bed! In my honest opinion, with the amount of wood currently in this section, I wouldn’t go back. Let’s hope some storms clear things up soon.