When the rivers are down take advantage of the fall releases. A few weeks ago I ventured out to Georgia to run the Tallulah for the first time. After hearing that a buddy from Ohio was going down for the weekend I decided to invite myself along. I didn’t know much about the river except that there is a big slide named Oceana. I couldn’t have asked for a better fall day: sunny, low 60’s, the leaves were in full color, and the water was ON!!
I always have mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness the first time I run something new. Here are a few things to know for your first time down Tallulah.
Stretch your calves – You may have heard this has a unique hike to the put in. There are 600 some steps to get to the river. Unless you have calves of steel, consider stretching them before and after the run. I did not stretch and woke up the next day with calves so sore lying in bed was painful. Another ways to prevent soreness is by staying hydrated something I often forget to do when I’m on the river. Also be prepared to wait to put on, there is really only space for one boat to launch at a time. We started our hike in just early enough to beat the line.
There’s no shame in walking a rapid- There are two rapids before you hit a big horizon line for Oceana. Most people scout it on river left and walk it on river right. I’m not going to lie; Oceana is very intimidating to look at. It’s a big slide with a rock ledge where the water piles up creating a big intimidating splash. I walked it; decided my I’d save it for a low flow day. Should you decide to walk the easiest way is to rope your boat down to a buddy from the shore on river right.
Follow someone who knows the lines- I went down with a group of people from all over several have been running the river for years. American Whitewater gives good descriptions of most of the rapids and the lines to take but it gives me more confidence when the people I’m with know the best lines down.
If it sounds easy it probably is- Bridal veil the next slide on the river is rated by AW as a 5.0. Don’t let that intimidate you. It’s super easy. Just stay left and be ready to punch the hole at the bottom. Not to belittle the rapid, definitely don’t go right the hole is super nasty on that side. A lot of the moves are very similar, moving from one side of the river to the other and punching a hole or two along the way. Don’t over think it. I had this river all worked up in my head and then when I finished the last rapid I felt silly because when you break it down it’s a very manageable run.
Bring cash- When you get to the put in it is $5 to park or to get on the river, honestly I’m not really sure what it’s for. The people taking money at the parking area will give you a waver to fill out. Take this waver with you, there will be someone collecting them at the top of the steps before making your decent to the river. Another $5 cash will get you a tow to the takeout. After the last rapid you have about a 1.5 mile flat water paddle to get to the other side of the lake but if you put that 5 bucks in your pfd there is a dude who will give you a ride across the lake. I’m told the paddle takes about an hour or so.
Smile- This is a really amazing run! Fun slides and moves, not to mention the gorge is beautiful. They release in the spring and in the fall, look for the releases to check out this amazing river…maybe I’ll see you out there.