Despite Iffy Weather and Obstacles, 16 paddlers Conquered West Chick.



Narrative and photos by Eric Fleming.


On July 15th, 16 paddlers ran shuttle and put on the West Chickamauga Creek at Reeds Bridge to paddle down to the Dietz ramp in Ft. Oglethorpe.  The creek gauge showed an inch of rain Thursday and 1.5 inches Friday afternoon near the Dietz ramp which raised the creek level from 2 to 6 feet and back to 2.5 by Saturday morning.  Luckily, the rain was very local as the creek would have stayed high if the whole watershed had gotten that much rain. The flow also went from 150 cu ft/sec to 800 and back down to 200, with 100 being normal summer level.

First obstacle was the little white-water section by the Route 2A bridge which was pretty flat with double the normal summer flow rate.  Next up was the massive double log jam.  I had run the section the day before (Friday) to make sure we didn’t get any surprises and found a huge log blocking from the first jam and up the bank. I could only cut off the last foot in the water as the water was too deep, and then dug into the bank to make it wide enough for our boats.  When we got there, we found that the extra four feet of water the previous night had lifted the log up and carried it four feet and wedged it in the bank again. My clean up didn’t even last a day!! The good news is that it’s higher out of the water now and will be easier to cut.  We had to get out of our boats in three feet of water, pull them across the log, and then get back in. Went smoothly with BG on one side of the log and me on the other.

Next up was the second part of the log jam, where we had to cut from the left bank to the right bank and behind the root ball. Had one swimmer there, but otherwise no more issues for the rest of the trip. First swimmer we’ve had in over two years so I guess we were about due!!

As we approached the take out a light rain started. We had planned to go to the nearby O’Charleys afterwards, but by the time we got done loading up we were all pretty wet and decided we wouldn’t be very welcome at the restaurant, so we just headed home.  Took a shower and then Ruthie and I went out anyway.

Glad that we did the paddle though, and had some fun on the beautiful W Chickamauga Creek.