Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

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Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:39 am

We are visiting Liz’ mother in Waynesville, NC, about an hour west of Asheville at close to 3,000 feet. A quick search showed a few whitewater rafting options. We soon found the Chattooga, one of few Wild and Scenic Southeast rivers, Class III-V and only 1.5 hours south of us. The Chattooga forms in North Carolina, flows south and becomes the northernmost section of the Georgia/South Carolina border.
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We signed up for the more challenging Section 4.

The 1972 movie Deliverance was filmed on the Chattooga, so the bus driver greeted us accordingly.
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There were six groups, four of them high school student campers probably too young to get the movie reference.

The put in was near the Highway 76 bridge.
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There are a few class 2 and 3 rapids to warm up before Seven Foot Falls, where the river company photographers set up. Liz and are in front for this as we have more prior whitewater experience.
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Clyde and Austin behind us were first timers from Arkansas, but they picked up the pace easily and we never heard clanging from paddles out of sync.

The Chattooga has quite a steep gradient, big drops with calmer pools below. The company Wildwater stations extra guides with throw ropes beside the bigger rapids and also a kayaker to pick up stray swimmers. Here’s a kayak in Seven Foot Falls from below.
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This was as big a drop as any I’ve done in California. It’s Class IV not V because it’s short and if you fall out you are soon in calmer water.

We had a brief break and walked maybe 100 feet to view Long Creek Falls on the South Carolina side.
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The infamous “love scene” of Deliverance was filmed just above this smaller creek on the Georgia side.
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Lower down is an intense section of Class IV and V rapids dropping 90 feet in ¼ mile. We were usually one of the earlier rafts to run some of these, which gave me the opportunity to take great action pictures of the later rafts.

Here’s a group on the upper section of Corkscrew, guide in red helmet and 5 customers in white helmets.
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The raft is folding like a taco shell in a hole here.
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Note only 4 white helmets now. There’s an upward facing paddle in the right front of the raft where someone fell out.

Here’s the same raft below me, only 3 people in the raft now .
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You can see one person in the water with his leg up on the raft. Note also that the red helmeted guide is missing.

We have to portage Crack in the Rock.
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Jawbone is the longest runnable steep rapid, a Class V, so we ran it with two guides, one in front and one in back. Here’s a raft on the first part, with another guide on the rock with a throw rope ready.
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Closeup after completing the upper section successfully:
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But they soon got stuck on a rock here.
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One of the guides had to get out on that rock to help dislodge the raft.
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They finally broke free but were too far to the right so a guide just below me threw them a rope.
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Reeling them in:
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We have to portage Sock ‘Em Dog, but we were able to paddle up to the hydraulics below it and surf for a while.
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The river finally mellows out so we stop for this rock jump.
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We then had a lunch break and soon thereafter reached Tugaloo Lake, where a motorboat towed us to the takeout.
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The bus driver greeted us this time playing a didgeridoo.
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Our souvenir shirt shows the detail of the rapids.
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This is probably the most impressive daytrip whitewater I have done, aside from the Zambezi below Victoria Falls. The comparable California rivers, notably Forks of the Kern, are longer and require overnight camping.
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Re: Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:17 am

Excellent pix and report. =D>
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Re: Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

Postby Marc_C » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:02 am

Thanks for all the pics! Gave a good feel for something that I'll never, ever do.
-marc
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Re: Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

Postby EMSC » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Not that my list of whitewater rafting is all that extensive, but I can't say that I have ever heard of a trip involving quite so many stops where you get out of the raft and even have time for pictures from the shore multiple times. Usually stop and exit for lunch and maybe one jumping off rock at a deep, slow spot in the river.

Nearest I've done relative to this itinerary is about 2 hours West in Tennessee on the Ocoee river (Class III-IV). As with your trip, Deliverance is on a great many folks minds when rafting in that part of the Appalachians.
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Re: Chattooga River Rafting, SC/GA, July 18, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:39 pm

EMSC wrote:I can't say that I have ever heard of a trip involving quite so many stops where you get out of the raft and even have time for pictures from the shore multiple times.

It is not unusual in California for a portage or two past a rapid considered too dangerous for commercial groups. There were two factors contributing to the excellent photo ops.
1) There were six paddle rafts and we tended to go early as 4 of them were high school students from summer camps and we were probably among the most experienced.
2) The difficulty of the rapids here were mainly due to the big drops, but since they were relatively short, it was easy to pull out into an eddy and walk a short distance up to an ideal photo spot.

In California with longer rapids and just two or three boats the early rafts nearly always wait in the raft for the other ones to come through.

EMSC wrote:Nearest I've done relative to this itinerary is about 2 hours West in Tennessee on the Ocoee river (Class III-IV). As with your trip, Deliverance is on a great many folks minds when rafting in that part of the Appalachians.

The Ocoee is definitely the other highly regarded commercial rafting in this vicinity. It is dam controlled and only rafted on weekends. The Chattooga was closer to where we were staying in Waynesville and likely more natural and scenic.

For the hard core in the Southeast there is Linville Gorge, about 60 miles NE of Asheville.
https://www.americanwhitewater.org/cont ... l/id/1093/
This requires a canyon hike descent to the put in, similar to Forks of the Kern. From the description above, there are usually numerous portages and dangerous sections, so I doubt Linville Gorge is ever run commercially.
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