Wildcat Bridge Bump
There’s a reason the little old Broad supports three private outfitters: the 13-mile paddle that we have the pleasure of indulging on our first day.
During the summer months, this section is crowded with locals and University of Georgia students from nearby Athens that come to spill over rapids like Rooster Tail, Horseshoe and Brown Shoals. And, given that the Broad is unimpeded by dams and depends solely on rainfall for its flows, water levels can be finicky. Too little rain and we’ll scrap and tug over shoals. Too much rain and we may be forced to an alternate route due to unsafe water levels.
The day starts out calm as we launch from local outfitter Slow Water’s put in at the U.S. 29 Bridge where signs read “Still Play with Boats.” For the first seven miles we will float on mostly flatwater through a wooded landscape with occasional high bluffs and rock outcroppings flanking the river. In places, small tributaries spill over rocky cascades into the river.
Wildcat Bridge Road and the Broad River Outpost, another of the Broad’s private outfitters, mark the beginning of the Broad’s whitewater—six miles of Class I and II rapids, including the famous “Waterfall” and its six-foot drop. In this stretch, we’ll pass through the Broad River Natural Area, home to the sandbar shiner (a rare fish), and over a historic fish weir.
At high water levels (above five feet) this run gets increasingly difficult and as the water levels rise, this section attracts true whitewater paddlers who relish playing in the Broad’s big, rain-swollen waves. Fortunately, average late June water levels are about three feet.
Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise (and good lord willing and the creeks don’t dry) June 19, 2010 will be filled with plenty of whitewater fun. Be prepared to get wet. Our motto is, “It’s not a paddle trip until someone gets wet!”
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