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Who has been out on the water lately? Ocmulgee River trip

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Michael Grace, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    I've heard only a few stories from people who have been out canoeing lately, but surely many of us have been using our isolation time wisely. WCHA Member Wayne Hale and I went out recently on the Ocmulgee River between Atlanta and Macon GA. We went with a few other friends and had a great time. Lots of fishing and wildlife, but the most exciting part came at the very beginning.

    Each of the avid canoeists had his own canoe. I put in my Old Town 15' canoe Narcissus in, snugged up on the bank near the put-in ramp. While I was loading gear, one of our party backed his trailer down the steep ramp. He carries his canoe upright, fully loaded and ready to drop in and go. I had my back turned when I heard his engine rev and then the squealing of tires. Somehow he went flying backward down the ramp and then slammed on brakes just before the entire rig went into the river. Wayne was holding the long painter when the canoe went flying off the trailer and into the river, which ripped the painter out of his hand and the canoe went streaking out across the river and downstream with no one aboard! For a second we all just stood there with our mouths hanging open as we watched the canoe disappear downstream. I jumped into my canoe - the only other one in the water yet - heading downstream as fast as I could, eventulally catching up and somehow dragging the heavily-loaded canoe back upstream.

    Interesting way to start out. Maybe this is the way he always puts in?

    GRACE Narcissus on Ocmulgee sm.jpg Grace_Narcissus_Ocmulgee_sm.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
    Andy Hutyera and Norm Hein like this.
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    That'll be a tough one to top...
  3. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac

    Brings new meaning to the often used "Otter Launch". Too bad you didn't have a movie camera going. This would have been a good one for the WCHA youtube channel. TM...
  4. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy

    Well, I can't top that story, but I will answer the question. We had planned a trip to our French River cabin with our eldest daughter and her family, but that got scotched because the border remains closed for the foreseeable future. My daughter suggested a local canoe trip to salvage some portion of our vacation plans. We settled on Beaver Creek in SE Ohio. It is reputed to be a rather pretty stream with some class I and class II whitewater and a stream I have wanted to try for years.
    I found my book of Ohio Canoe Trips and looked it up. Unfortunately the book had no gauge references or minimum water level recommendations. I placed phone calls to canoe/kayak places in the area and got no answer. Finally I called a fellow WCHA member who I knew had canoed it in the past. He described a disaster trip he had taken as a naturalist guide of a bunch of bird watchers with little or no canoe experience. They wound up stashing the canoes and walking out and he wound up with a broken gunwale from a strainer. He opined that it was actually a nice stream and he did not think experienced canoeists would have a problem IF the water levels were OK.
    Armed with that information we set off with our kevlar canoes not wanting to risk our WC canoes in possible low water. We chose an entry point at an upstream bridge on the central branch of the creek. We found the bridge and my son in law walked down to the bridge and upon return opined that it looked doable. By sheer good fortune, a nice gentlemen out for a walk noticed our canoes and came up to me and inquired about our plans. He explained that he'd lived there for over fifty years. He was an avid canoeist and knew the stream well. He flat out said the water was too low and since our canoes were not Royalex, they would not fair well not to mention how much walking we would have to do.
    He gave us explicit directions to another remote bridge on another branch of the creek and said we would find it more to our liking. Taking his advice we set off for the bridge. Upon arriving at that bridge we tried to scope out a launch point but nothing looked promising. Good fortune struck again! A gentleman on a four wheeler came by and asked what we were up to. We explained that we were trying to find a place to launch from. He said "Follow me. There's a good spot down the road a ways." He took us to a perfect launch area. It was a huge sandy area with easy access. We promptly arranged our shuttle by going to a park near where the creek enters the Ohio River. This was a location given us by the first gentleman. The take out point was equally nice and had a large parking area where we could leave one vehicle for the trip back to the launch point.
    The stream turned out to be running low and there were several places we had to walk the canoes. However the valley was beautiful and uninhabited. There were also many stretches of easy fun whitewater before the stream became a slow backwater of the Ohio River near the end of the trip. The water was crystal clear (unlike almost all other Ohio streams) and we could see large schools of smallmouth scurrying beneath our canoes.
    I particularly enjoyed this trip as I have not had a chance to paddle rapids in a long time. I was beginning to worry that I had forgotten how. Turned out it was like riding a bicycle
    and as much fun as I remembered. (I was soloing a 17.5 ft Souris River.) It was especially nice for my twin grandsons who have been in and out of canoes since they were toddlers but had not really had much experience with moving water. They just graduated high school and the experience complemented their education where it is really important. I wish I had another twenty years to teach them all I know about canoes and canoeing.
    Rob Stevens likes this.
  5. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Michael- can't touch your 'launch' story either.
    I've been pa IMG_1900.jpg IMG_1898.jpg ddling regularly since the ice went out in mid April- initially on the Sturgeon River in Alberta, but more recently on Lake Simcoe and in the Peterborough area of Ontario.
    ( I've recently relocated back to Ontario, working for Ontario Gov't whose office is built on the site of the Peterborough Canoe factory.)
    The Otonabee River and Little Lake in Peterborough are a short walk away- but its a long heavy portage. Nice to throw in for an hour or two paddle on Little Lake then stop for a ice cream on the dock at Silver Bean.
    A favourite pasddle is on the Indian River- 20minutes away. Those who attended WCHA Assembly in 2018 may recall the paddle with Kevin Callan to the warsaw Caves- nice easy 2 hour paddle and the scenery is good. Turtles, loons, water snakes and all types of waterfowl.
    Paddled Buckhorn Lake in the Kawarthas this morning- too busy with all the boater traffic and jetskis now that the canal is open again. Lots of kayaks on the water but canoes are far fewer...


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  6. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Can't top any of those but I did do a short float I have been waiting 30 years to do. When I bought my property 30 years ago one of the reasons I wanted it was it had a great spot for a pond. Well last month I finally had it dug! It turned out to be just under 1 acre. We got a 3" rain that filled it enough to put a canoe in, so I did. It was a short float but one of the most enjoyable I've had.

    IMG_2838 (1).JPG
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  7. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have been reading “The Emerald” Mile by Kevin Fedarko, about running dories in the Grand Canyon among many other things. At one point he describes being able to read the current in the river much better in moonlight than in daylight. So when I woke up at 3:00 am, unable to get back to sleep, and looked out the window and saw a full moon that wasn’t going to set before daybreak I decided I might as well go canoeing, not that I needed to be reading any current. I hopped in the always loaded truck and headed for my nearby state park lake. I was on the water by 5 o’clock and oddly enough never saw another person. I had a beautiful couple of hours all to myself and was home by 7:30. The best time to go canoeing this time of the year with the temperatures heading to 100 degrees this week.
    05450B3C-CC0A-4F97-8D6E-5F203A8C7C4F.jpeg 76B3EDE0-20A5-4EBD-9E19-298AD925C869.jpeg 567C202E-F487-4815-9DB0-5CF47F45F196.jpeg FC8A1083-9A47-4136-8348-F63D66A36671.jpeg 95DE6B4D-5FB4-4264-BDAC-4708E9D8AC7D.jpeg 31AC11BA-4CD8-4351-A1A8-5C5310A8BE93.jpeg 81A7DE4C-3013-441A-ADAA-381339E66BFA.jpeg
    Norm Hein likes this.
  8. martin ferwerda

    martin ferwerda LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Finally got out last week, Timothy Lake, Mt Hood, and yes the water is really that color.

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    Norm Hein likes this.
  9. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I participated in the annual loon census this morning. Paddled downriver for an hour censusing; covered 2.5 miles from my yard to Cedar Point SP. The return trip was against wind and current, and was a great workout. Geoffrey Burke's Burly Laddie canoe handled the river conditions (waves and motorboat/freighter wakes) very nicely. Regrettably, no loons :(.

    No photos, but here is my gps track for the downriver leg. My house is the starting point on the left. The red line at the top is the Canadian border. Don't cross it!

    Edit: Just learned Lynn took a stealth photo of my return.

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    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
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  10. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    So your loon count zero and Lynn's count was one...
  11. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Goes without saying...
  12. OP
    Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Another fun trip in east central Georgia, this time with the summer sun beating down. This trip was on the Oconee River, named for the Oconee group of the Muskogean people. Paddling downstream below Milledgeville GA, relics of history were everywhere.

    Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia from 1804 to 1868, planned and created as such in short order. The Treaty of Fort Wilkinson (1802) took land long occupied by indiginous people on the western side of the Oconnee River. The following year the Georgia legislature approved the planning and construction of a new city, and in 1804 Milledgeville was named the new capital of Georgia in honor of the sitting Governor, John Milledge (came into office in 1802 and by 1804 had a new city built and named after himself to serve as the capital... hmmm...).

    The river carries many reminders of its past: Mississippian-era potsherds everywhere, along with glass and earthenware fragments from more recent settlers. And recently a couple of dugout canoes have been recovered from the area:

    IMG_2941 sm.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2020

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