Paddling the Ocoee River for our three day weekend getaway is always a memorable trip for
me and my family. Although we were on one river, our experience this weekend made it seem
like we paddled two totally different rivers.
We arrived at the top of the upper or Olympic section of the Ocoee. Not realizing how early our
arrival to the put in, we noticed it was dry bones. It wasn’t long and we heard the siren go off
as a warning that the water was about to release.
We positioned our boats in the dry river bed waiting for the surge or what some paddlers refer
to as riding the bubble. We noticed very quickly that our boats traveled much quicker than
the water itself. In areas that we thought were flat water paddling turned out to be dodging,
scraping, and sliding through rocks and getting pushed into some very intense situations. At
times the surge would push you down narrow and steep passages with no eddy for protection.
It seemed as though you would be swept into a dry boulder garden or potentially pinning
situations, only to feel the water appear beneath your boat, and float you to safety. Above all
that, we had to avoid the convoy of rafts backing up behind us as the surge continually released
them from being stuck on rocks.
The Olympic section was now in our sights with the typical onlookers waiting for their loved
ones to arrive as they stood on the bridge. With the surge now backing up just above what
is known as the elevator rapid, (a rapid that elevates you as you paddle into the seam in an
attempt to ferry to the other side) we notice there was quite a drop off with a nasty looking
deep hole to the left. I boofed off to the right of the drop, only to look back at a nasty beat
down hole under the ledge. The picture shows my son and friend, Eric, safely dropping
through the seam at low water.
Since that time we have experienced riding the surge of the middle section of the Ocoee and
have enjoyed the paddle of an old river into a new exhilarating and creeking experience.