Dreaming of a Wet Christmas

McWhorter Gulf, Pigeon Mtn, GA
December 26th
by Cole Smith

It was the day after Christmas and the rain had been falling for days, and the itch to boat had set in like DTs. So after all the holiday celebrations my daughter and I decided to stop by and check the level on a rarely run creek (McWhorter Gulf) that runs off of a old but beloved friend of mine, Pigeon Mountain. When we arrived at the take out I could tell it was pumping pretty good so I then started recruiting some folks so we could get this second descent (to our knowledge).

After some texting I got three others (Mark Kieran, Terry Roberson, and Stephanie Whiting) to join in and do this adventurous run. We left out early the next morning for what ultimately was a long but enjoyable day.

We put on the the run off that comes out of Sawmill Lake at the top of the mountain on a stream barely big enough to float our boats, and after some bushwhacking and tree dodging it opened up a bit and we got to run some good drops and plenty of bedrock style slides. It was pretty clean for the most part.

After a couple of pins we decided to slow it down a bit, and just in time because we wandered upon the 1/4 mile stretch that was steeper than just about anything I’ve seen and had wood in some of the best looking drops, so at this point the portaging began. After it planed back out there were a lot of runnable sections, but some were shutdown due to wood or skill level.

All in all I thought it was a fun and adventurous run that I’ve always wanted to do. It would also be a nice Hike & Huck if someone wanted to spend a little time out there, but the rareness of it running is high. I’d say if you’re interested you should check it out.

See the video by Mark Kieran: https://vimeo.com/150787886

Tellico Ledges “Light”, a PFD
January 9th
by Adam Watson

Jay M Tellico Tellico-1

On Saturday January 9th, I decided to participate in a Tellico Ledges jump trip organized by Mack O’Rear. As he put it, the stars had aligned for a great opportunity to get a taste of the Tellico Ledges at a perfect level for a first timer. Since Paddle School last year, I have been actively participating in the “Mack O’Rear Rapid Learning Whitewater Program.” Up until Saturday, I had only paddled the Tellico Middle section about 6 or 7 times. The plan was to run the ledge drops down to Baby Falls and then portage Baby, Diaper Wiper, and Jerod’s knee. We met and assembled at the Tellico Exxon, and after a quick safety briefing from Mack, we broke up into smaller groups with a trip leader assigned to each group and headed up the river to set shuttle.

David McConnell was our group leader, and he did a great job at providing guidance, knowledge of the river, and support throughout the run. As we began to gear up, fear, doubt, and nerves started to kick in. In the short time I have paddled, I seem to always develop this anxious feeling every time I am running something new. However, I knew that the level, the weather, and the veteran support group couldn’t be any better for a first time run.

We launched a mile or so above the normal upper put-in. After warming up on some class II, we gathered together in an eddy to discuss the initial approach down the Top Ledge. David informed us that the approach into the Top Ledge was kind of tricky, and probably would be the most difficult section we would encounter down to Baby Falls. At this level, we got hung up on a few rocks on the approach, and it did get a little hairy, but we managed to save it and get down the first drop for clean runs out of our group. I finally began to relax a little. As we headed on down, I hit an alligator rock and flipped, but managed to roll up. We had no issues with the Dirty S, and proceeded on down safely to the Middle Ledge/Auto-Boof. After a quick boat scout, and Mack and David showing us the line, we each ran it clean with no problems. This one was probably my favorite, and the simplest to run. What a sweet drop! After peeling out at the bottom, I managed to somehow flip, but was able to roll up again. On down the river we went dodging rocks and finding water until we reached Baby Falls where we got out to scout. David and Mack gave clear instruction on the proper line to take, but I decided not to deviate from the original plan and opted to portage. Looking back now, I regret not running it. Up to this point, there had been no swims so I decided I would rather end on a positive note and save it for next time.

I met the others in my group at the Middle Bridge, and we continued the run on down to Wonder Woman. I was ecstatic to complete the day without swimming. Finally…It was a fantastic day! Nice level, great weather, amazing people, and one beautiful river.