I'll be steppin out tonight
On the cool flow,
The bridge to the waters edge
I think I may have a new addiction.
I went with a fellow member of the NERA board (David "Bumper"), and the executive director of CRBI (Joe) who kind of helps NERA out from time to time. The purpose for this preliminary run was to make sure the river didn't have any obstructions along the route, to see how deep (or shallow) the water is, and to get together a map of the route that pinpoints points of interest and problem areas. But really, it was just an excuse for us to get out on the river.
The Conasauga to the left and the Coosawattee to the right.We paddled a good ways, and I just felt like the Lady of Shallot, man: only much less formally and more sloppily dressed - and much less mournful and dead.
After the wier, we came across a couple of bridges and even a few rapids! Well, I doubt anyone would really call them rapids, but it was fun going through some of those little shoals. There were a couple of areas that were pretty slow and without a whole lot of places of interest, but I enjoyed those areas as much as any. It was really peaceful and it was nice to just paddle and smile and contemplate for a while.
Peeking from inside a bit of a little cave.
From this point forward, I had begun to get a little tired and the wind was blowing directly into our faces, so I devloped a little bit of a headache. But that really didn't diminish my good time. For a couple of miles, we kept coming across features in the river we thought might just be natural shoals, but there were too many of them and they were too similar. They were basically piles of rocks coming from either bank, leaving a bit of a chanel in the middle. At first we thought they might be fish wiers that had been partially washed away, because they had the basic beginning of that tell-tale "V" shape. But after Joe thought about it and saw how many there were (at least four to my recollection), he concluded that they might be navigational structures used to keep the cotton barges from getting too close to the shallow banks. Made sense to me, so that's what they'll be in my head until it's proven otherwise.
After the series of navigational doohickies, we again came into some slow water, but at the time, it was pretty much what I needed. The sun had come out and I was getting rather warm. I also used this time to perfect my paddling technique until Bumper basically told me to give it up. Oh well. I'm sure I'll have it down by the time I go with Corey in August.
Toward the end of the 14-15 mile stretch, we came across the old landfill. There's still so much crap in the water, it's not even funny. I hope we'll be able to do a large-scale clean-up over there at some point, because it's ridiculous how much old shit there is messing up our waterway. Sigh. In any case, right after the landfill, we came to the old pump at the water treatment plant where Calhoun used to pump all its water. Now, as I'm told, they get our water from the Coosawattee, which did not experience the massive amount of carpet dye pollution in the 80s that the Oostanaula did. Back then, the water would turn colors and you could cut down a tree and see several multi-colored rings in the cross section. Why are people so stupid?
The last bit of the journey passed by the new river park, which has been sadly overlooked and half-assed by the city government. We're working on that too.
After several native mussel shells, a sunburn on my knees and the top of my hand (don't ask me how), and a pair of sore arms, we arrived at the Hwy 136 bridge, where we got out. It was funny, because my mom works right across the river from the boat ramp and she called saying she saw me. It was cute. My mom is awesome (most of the time).
I'm really looking forward to the official trip in August. It'll be SO MUCH FUN with Corey, and I'm pretty sure we'll both be asking for canoes this Christmas.
Here's some Old Crow Medicine Show doing "James River Blues" - they rule.