Stories from the Chattahoochee Basin


9/1/2012 - South River

This event was a cleanup followed by a paddle; I was happy to have some after-work fun planned.  Glen had already spent a lot of time on the South River and had told me that there were a couple thousand tires easily seen from the banks.  Our goal was to remove at least a hundred.  We got into our boats, paddled around the first curve and wow—tire graveyard. All but a couple of our group were women—yes, I am being sexist here—so I had my doubts about our chances of success. But this crew was amazing!  I am still in awe of Faye, who at age 74 worked away digging up tires from the riverbed and rolling them to the bank. We had plenty of other work—lots of beer cans, most of which were full of mud—but the tire crew that conquered that small stretch of the South River was awesome. The paddle that followed took us past all of those tires that Glen had mentioned—truly thousands.  I couldn’t help wondering how long they had been there but more importantly—how long it would take to get them all. 

Suzi Parron

Multiple Dates - Peachtree Creek: South Fork 

Glen and I had been on many cleanups in the past, but I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for us on South Peachtree Creek!  The first section is fairly deep, so at least we able to paddle most of the time.  But the trash—ugh.  Not the usual Hooch trash of beer cans and golf balls.  Here we found large children’s toys (think playground slides),  lawn furniture,  shopping carts, pieces of fence—just an unbelievable array of trash that someone thought would disappear if shoved into the water. 

I worked three of the six sections of the creek, but the first was most gratifying.  About  a week after our cleanup, a friend who lives near the creek and walks her dog on the path along the bank remarked that some club at Emory must have had a huge crew out cleaning up the creek.  Having lived there twelve years, she had never seen it look better!  “Nope,” I said, “Not a bunch of Emory kids--just a handful of crazy paddlers.”

Suzi Parron

Multiple Dates - Chattahoochee

Our home river, though it’s about half an hour’s drive to the nearest put-in.  I submitted a list with about a dozen Hooch trips whose dates I have recorded, but we visited many more times—a couple of cleanups with the River Keeper, a moonlight paddle from Azalea Park, and one of our favorite little paddles—Jones Bridge.  Being a two-paddler household means that we head out often without a crowd but it also means that we try to avoid taking two cars.  We found that we can drive to the Gwinnett County side of Jones Bridge, paddle upstream three or four miles, and then paddle back down through the rocks at Jones Bridge Park.  Often we play with the kids who are wading in the shallows; one sweet memory is Glen giving boat rides to the little ones, pulling one after another up and back in his boat, with others singing out, “Me, me—me next!”

My most memorable Hooch paddles: 

January—Twenty-eight degrees at the Morgan Falls put-in.  I was decked out in multiple layers, with a polar bear hat and gloves with hand-warmer packets in them, and I still froze my butt off. I have always called that paddle “The Things We Do for Love,” as I wouldn’t have been along except that Glen was the trip leader.  I could claim that I have come to appreciate winter paddling, but this Florida native may never get used to it.

June—Glen’s 50th birthday paddle, from Buford Dam to Settles Bridge.  I have been through the “Rescue Rock” rapid at least ten times with no mishap.  This time I was in my new 14-foot boat, as I had let someone else borrow my Pungo.  I thought it would be fun to sit at the top of the rapid and watch others go through.  Oops—the river grabbed my boat and pulled me into the rocks sideways, and I was in the water!  Next thing I knew, I heard Richard Grove paddling down the rapid shouting, “Grab my boat!”  I did, and went through the rapid and wave train that follows holding onto the back of his boat, gulping for air every chance I got.  Glen corralled my boat on the bank, and once I got settled, he and Richard put me back into it.  I paddled no more than three strokes and over I went again!  ARGH!  

I switched back to my 12-foot boat for the rest of the trip and made it across the river.  I was made to promise to never ever paddle that 14-footer again.  What can I say?  I paddle a lot and love it, but great boat control continues to elude me. 

October—The Chattahoochee River Keeper’s McIntosh Reserve Paddle.  This was our second year, and we really looked forward to the weekend trip.  As we arrived Friday night, several who had been on the trip last year greeted me with, “Suzi, will there be a show this time?”   “Hey, Suzi—don’t look!”   You see, last year, the weather was unseasonably cold, and I had once again ended up in the water.  I knew that I needed to get into my dry clothes quickly, so I stepped onto a clump of rocks and shouted, “OK, Y’all—don’t look!” as I proceeded to remove everything but underclothes and replace them with dry.  Apparently, after someone shouts, “Don’t look,” everyone WILL look, as evidenced by the amount of good-natured teasing I endured this year. 

Note: You will find that “Suzi in the river” is a reoccurring theme in my narrative.  We all have to be known for something, I suppose.   

Suzi Parron 

9/7/2012 - Chattahoochee River

Paddle #7 - I, along with five friends, paddled the Chattahoochee River upstream from Lula Park (Ga. 52 bridge) to Belton Bridge put-in and back - about 6 miles total - on September 2. We saw a number of interesting birds, including an immature green heron (still in white feathers), an osprey, and a great egret. We also saw some great summer wildflowers, including a halberd-leaved rosemallow. Here is a photo of some of our crew, posing for a portrait on a sandbar at Belton Bridge boat ramp after lunch.

Roger Nielsen

Summer, 2012 - Nickajack Creek

Paddle #13 - A friend and I rode the Nickajack Creek right behind my house in Mableton, where we started at the Covered Bridge in the historic district and took out at Nickajack Park a mile or two short of the creek's entry into the Chattahoochee near Vinings. Our paddle lasted over 6 hours for 5 miles!

Bobby Marie


6/9/2012 - Chattahoochee River

Paddle #2 - Back to the Chattahoochee River Race & Festival - 8 miles from Garrard Landing Park to Riverside Park.  We participated in the recreational division that started at 9:00.  It was a VERY organized event with LOTS of volunteers.  They let four boats go at a time.  They would blow a whistle when each group was allowed to start.  We started paddling about 9:30 & finished about 11:45.  It's a very nice paddle.  The water is cold, & the air is very refreshing coming off of the water. Lonny & I both "parked" our boats a few times in the sections with rocks just below the surface, but we were able to make it through the shoals.  We saw a lot of ducks & geese & a few herons.  We saw HUNDREDS of golf balls & aluminum cans on the bottom. :(  We ran into some of our Paddle Georgia friends. Looking forward to seeing them next week!!   

Lonny & Rhonda Martin

6/6/2012 - Chestatee River

Paddle #1 - We did the Appalachian Outfitters' (in Dahlonega) "Chestatee River" paddle.  Lonny parked the car at the take out, & they (AO)brought him back to the outpost where he'd dropped me off with the boats.  Supposedly, it was a 6 mile/2 to 2 1/2 hour paddle, but according to our GPS it was only 4 1/2 miles, & it took us about 1 hour 45 minutes.  I claim to prefer "rivers with NO class", but there were several class 1 sections, & I still enjoyed the paddle very much.  We saw LOTS of turtles & could hear birds almost the entire trip.  We missed 2 busloads of military school summer camp campers & had the river almost to ourselves.  At one point, there was a large rock where teenagers were taking turns jumping off, but other than that it was a quiet/peaceful trip.  The guys at Appalachian put our boats IN the water.  I wish they had been there to take them out. :)  The steps at the take out were a little steep for me when trying to step up with one end of the boat.  It was a great paddle....definitely a "do over". 

Lonny & Rhonda Martin

4/1/2012 - Chattahoochee River

April Ingle served as the sweep boat for 100 paddlers down the Chattahoochee on the last day of GRN's Weekend for Rivers conference. This was paddle #1 of her 12 in 2012 challenge.

2/15/2012 - South Fork Peachtree Creek

On Wednesday the 15th of February, I and two others got on the South Fork of Peachtree Creek near Emory University in metro Atlanta. We paddled (?!!!) and walked the South Fork to its confluence with the North Fork Peachtree Creek and Peachtree Creek itself where we took out on Adina Drive after a short paddle up the North Fork. The take-out was a scramble up a 70 to 100 foot slope to get to the truck. We roped our boats up the slope and over a fence through the brambles.

We were met by a pair of Atlanta's finest who were prepared to lecture us on the dangers of the water quality in the creek. We ended up having a nice conversation after they got to understand that we were doing a survey to see about clean-up opportunities AND that almost every urban stream and creek up to the Chattahoochee itself has the same issues to deal with when we kayak on them. There is a lot of trash and debris in some areas that could be targets for clean-up, other areas are a little harder to find a way out of for both cleaners and the trash.

On a brighter side, there are many stretches that are very pretty with the Morningside Nature Preserve and its new suspended bridge being just one. One of my favorite spots was under the I-85 bridge where there is some pretty incredible (though illegal) graffiti on the bridge abutments. For a total urban environment, I was a bit surprised by the clarity of the water and lack of any objectionable odors along the whole paddle. All in all a great day of exploring in the middle of Atlanta! Next stretch is Peachtree Creek from Buckhead to the Chattahoochee! 

Bobby Marie

1/11/2012 – Chattahoochee River

Good Morning,

I and two others paddled upstream on the Chattahoochee from Jones Bridge for about 4 miles then back down on a cold January afternoon on the 11th. It rained on us a couple of times, but the paddling kept us warm. We passed empty golf courses and leafless trees. We did see several herons and a couple of raptors hunting the river.

Bobby Marie

1/11/2012 - Chattahoochee

I was one of the two other paddlers in Bobby's report. He didn't mention that one of the paddlers, me, decided to swim on this crisp January day. I've gotten into and out of my boat many hundreds of times but this time I stepped out of the boat on to nothing but river (water). I fell and went under water before I could catch myself. 

The water was only waist deep so I quickly stood up but I was soaked. In assessing the situation I found that I had left my mobile phone in my pocket. On every other trip I've put it in my dry box but today I had forgotten the phone when I put my keys and wallet in the box. During all this I was shivering profusely. I wasn't in medical danger but I was very, very cold.

While I was changing clothes and trying to warm up, Bobby and our other partner carried my boat and gear to my truck and loaded it. I could've helped carry/load or even carried and loaded it myself, but my friends jumped in and helped when I need them. This trip reiterated two lessons to me:  First, check your pockets twice because phones are expensive! Most importantly, paddle with friends because even in a non-emergency they'll be there to help you.

I said so then and will say again:  Thank you Bobby and Tom for everything. (see Bobby's above)