Raft Guide Thanksgiving

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A year or two ago we started a tradition of a Raft Guide Thanksgiving at our Ocoee Rafting outpost.  Peter smoked some turkeys and all the raft guide brought their best dishes.  We all had a blast!  This year we didn’t have a chance to do it during the rafting season, so Peter was supposed to host it at his house sometime in November.  Life (and a trip down the Grand Canyon) got in the way of that plan, so finally it was decided to have Raft Guide Thanksgiving in conjunction with a Super Bowl Party at Peter’s house.  We had a blast, good times, great food, great friends, and (mostly) understanding neighbors which all in all made  it a big hit.  We’d love to invite you to this next year, but sadly you’ve got to work for us to do that!  Interested in working for us?  Check out: http://www.ocoeeadventurecenter.com/other/working_with_oac.htm

Terri and Hunter

Terri and the future Mrs. George S.

Tammy - You might have seen her taking your picture!

Lovely Ladies of OAC

Trip Leader and Kayak Instructor Eric and his lovely wife Chris, who also teaches kayaking for us

We had a little bit of food...

There may have been a little flare up with the grill!

Peter (Back when all his hair was where it belonged)

Evandre looking on as I show off my new hairdo

It's a good thing they shoot great pictures, as Brent and Tammy aren't getting hired as mechanics anytime soon!

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High Water Ocoee River Rafting

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Did you come out and play with us on the Ocoee River this past weekend?  If not you missed a heck of a weekend!  Saturday’s forecast called for rain all day.  As usual though, the weather man got it a little bit wrong.  The rain held off until our trip got off the water, and then it really let loose.  Sunday’s forecast called for more rain.  We woke up to a perfect blue sky and warm sunny weather.  Never believe a weather forecast up here in the mountains – often we’ll end up sunny when they call for rain and vice-versa!  And hey – what’s the worst that can happen if it does rain – you get wet?  And finally, the only way to experience the Ocoee River at high water is during or after a huge rain event, so don’t let a chance of showers slow you down!

While driving to the putin for training, we noticed that the Upper Ocoee River was running.  Not wanting to miss the rare opportunity of running the Upper Ocoee during April, we stopped and dropped our rafts in at the top of the Olympic Course.  This allowed us to show the trainees a new section of river, and at a significantly higher flow than normal!

Amy on the Olympic Section of the Ocoee River

Amy heading for the Eddy to look at Godzilla and Humongous

This day we had about 1000 cubic feet per second more water than normal on the Upper Section of the Ocoee River.  Godzilla and Humongous like to chew up rafts and spit them out at normal levels, at this water level they were true mutants.  Amy and I took a quick look and decided to skirt them to the left.

Peter skirting Godzilla and Humongous

Peter skirting Godzilla and Humongous

Big Water Upper Ocoee River

Big Water Whitewater Rafting on the Upper Ocoee

More Big Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

More Big Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

Double Trouble on the Middle Ocoee River at High Water

Double Trouble on the Middle Ocoee River at High Water

More Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

More Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

Hell Hole and Powerhouse get really big at high water – below are the trainees hitting the meat!

Ocoee River Big Water - Hell Hole

Trainees going for the meat of Hell Hole

Did I mention that Hell Hole and Powerhouse, the last two rapids on the Middle Ocoee River get huge at high water?  Peter and his crew almost went back in for an unintended surf here, but fortunately their strong paddling pulled them out – Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting is most definitely a team sport!

Big Water Rafting on the Ocoee River

First of a series of Peter and crew at Hell Hole

High Water Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

Big hit at Big water on the Ocoee River

Ocoee River High Water Rafting

There's a raft in there I swear!

High Water Ocoee River Rafting

Starting to emerge from Hell Hole

High Water Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

Are we out yet?

Ocoee Adventure Center Guides and Friends on the Tallulah

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Every April and November the mighty Tallulah River Gorge is blessed with whitewater releases.  The Tallulah is just a few minutes south of our Chattooga River Rafting Outpost, Southeastern Expeditions.  If you’re not up to paddling this river on your own, there are still many great hiking and camping options around the Tallulah – it should definitely be on your list of places to check out!  Several of our Ocoee River Rafting Guides made the trip over this spring and were kind enough to shoot some pictures for us.  Don’t try this at home unless you’re experienced enough to!  Featured Ocoee River Guides include Dave P., Daniel R.,  and Daniel S.  Also featured are Katie, one of our Southeastern Expeditions Guides and Jon, a friend.  Pictures are courtesy of ultimate kayaker, Mark.  For more information about the Tallulah area, see http://www.gastateparks.org/Tallulah.

Awesome view from the overlook

Ocoee River Rafting Videos – Surfing the Ocoee River

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Wednesday April 14th, Highway 64, the Ocoee River Road opened a few days earlier than planned, after the Road Blocking, plan crushing, big pain in the rear rock slide which kept it closed all winter, allowing our opening weekend to go on as planned.  We had several whitewater rafting trips go out in the beautiful spring weather, and the world returned to its proper state!  One of our Whitewater Kayaking instructors, Christine paddled along with our first trip of the year and shot these videos and pictures, thanks to her for sharing them with us!

There are many whitewater rafting companies on the Ocoee, so sometimes it might be a little hard for the average rafting customer to tell the difference.  One major difference that gives the Ocoee Adventure Center a big leg up on the competition is the amount of time we spend on the river – 33% more time in fact.  We surf and play our way downstream, as the following two videos show.

Here’s Eric, one of our awesome guides, Trip Leaders and our head whitewater kayak instructor surfing and spinning it up.

So what exactly do we mean when we say surfing?  When water moving quickly downstream flows over a rock that’s just below the surface, if forms what we call a “hole” or “hydraulic”.   The water flows over the rock and reverses it’s course by heading back upstream.  If a hole is powerful enough it can recirculate whatever is in it.  In some cases this can be a problem, causing the boat to flip or have an extended “surf” in the backwash, but in others, as in “Hollywood Hole” below, it gives an opportunity for big fun, by surfing the hydraulic almost as you would an ocean wave.  On the Ocoee Adventure Center’s Ocoee River Rafting trips our experienced Ocoee River Rafting guides know which holes to avoid and which ones to play in, and our rafting trips are designed with this in mind, leaving us plenty of play time while other companies cruise on by.

Amy spinning the day away, surfing Hollywood Hole

Christine was also kind enough to get some great pictures of the trip from places where you don’t often see still photos, here are some of them!

Ocoee River Raft Surfing

Firestone surfing it up at Hollywood on the first trip of the year

Ocoee River Rafting

Daniel with the old school helmet, getting his surf on

Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting and Surfing

Amy surfing Hollywood Hole on the Ocoee River

Chattooga River Overnight Trip

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One of our Ocoee River Guides, Mark sent us this trip report he and his special girl did this spring.  If this looks like something you might enjoy, we offer overnight camping trips on the Chattooga River as well through our sister company, Southeastern Expeditions – you can do a trip like this, or if you want more excitement try out our Section III and IV overnight rafting trip and experience some really big rapids (and incredible Wild and Scenic surroundings).   Here’s Mark’s report:

Some people just aren’t ready to tackle Long Class V overnighters like the Middle Kings or Upper Cherry Creek (editors note – these are really hard trips in California that Mark runs regularly!). If this is you, then Section II of the Chattooga may be more your speed.

Chattooga River Canoe

Scenic View from the Canoe

Normally when doing overnight runs, the scenery gets better the harder the rapids are. Fortunately, the wild and scenic Section II offers spectacular settings that are hard to beat along with gentle water.

Chattooga River View

Typical Scenery

On my trip down the mighty Chattooga we decided to put in on the West Fork and travel around 10 miles to Earl’s Ford. This section only requires basic paddling skills, but allows the paddler to enjoy crystal clear water and easy to find camping sites.

Chattooga River Canoe

Mark's friend Megan enjoying the float

We found a nice site about halfway down at a white sand beach.

Chattooga River Campsite

Mark at his campsite for the night

Once you have reached a camping site, look for the Chattooga River trail located on river right. This trail goes along most of the river and you can find spur trails off it. Enjoy the river, and remember to practice “leave no trace” ethics.  Here’s a few more pictures of the trip.

Spring Hatch Time

A wicked hatch!

Canoe by the Chattooga River

Chattooga Riverside Scenery

Crystal Clear Water and Blue Skies!

Awesome tangle of roots

Chattooga River, Wild and Scenic

Biggest Rapid on the trip

Big Creek Hike

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The Ocoee River area has many beautiful hikes, and the spring weather we’ve been having lately has really motivated me to get out there and enjoy several.  I often try to do new hikes, but there are a couple of favorites that I keep coming back to over and over again.  Big Creek falls in to the do it over and over again category.  It really holds a special place in my heart, my old dog Jester and I came here quite a bit, she loved the water and really enjoyed the many times the trail crosses the crystal clear water of the creek.

The trail starts next to some wonderful free, primitive camping sites.  When the weather is nice there’s usually a few people camping here but I’ve never seen it crowded – a great place to camp to be sure.  Even cooler about the hike is that once you’re past the first or second creek crossing, there are no signs of human life – no people, no trash, just a crystal clear creek with uncountable swimming holes, awesome rock formations, and spots for quiet contemplation.   If you’re interested in seeing this special spot, look us up – we offer guided hikes, or if you’re feeling adventurous will tell you how to get there.  If you go though, please respect the environment, practice leave no trace ethics and be prepared to get wet, and pack plenty of food and water!

View on the drive to Big Creek

View on the drive to Big Creek

One of the great parts of the Big Creek Hike is getting there – above is one of the views on the dirt road drive.  It’s only about 20 minutes from our Ocoee River Rafting Outpost, but feels like another world altogether!

Mikey thinking hard about getting her feet wet

When you decide to do the Big Creek Hike you’ll want to make sure the weather is warm.  The trail crosses the creek countless times.  Although Mikey’s old sister loved this hike for that reason, Mikey isn’t so sure.  Above you can see her hesitating to cross.  She was a real trooper though, it was about crossing #20 before I had to drag her!

Swimming Hole

Awesome swimming hole

Above is a picture of an amazing place to swim right near the start of the hike – more pictures below

Swimming Hole #2

Peter paddling the swimming hole drop

Believe it or not Big Creek is an amazing run to paddle as well – it just takes a lot of rain, 3 or more inches.  Above is the swimming hole drop with a bunch more water in the creek – if Big Creek is running its a safe bet that the Ocoee River is running at really big water!  Here’s some more pictures of Big Creek with lots of water in it.

This drop is within spitting distance of the Ocoee River

Awesome Waterfall

My goal on this hike was to make it to the waterfall above, unfortunately Mikey was tired of crossing the creek and insisted we go home!

More Big Creek Scenery

Another Big Creek Rapid

Outpost Mascot Mikey

More Big Creek Scenery

Pretty Sure that's not Mikey Poop!

One thing to keep in mind when hiking in this area is that it is wild and scenic – which means you may well have other creatures in the woods with you, even if there aren’t a lot of people – pretty sure the pile above wasn’t from Mikey!  I’ve seen wild boars, turkey, all kinds of birds, and several bear in this area.

Crystal Clear Water

The greenest part of the water above is over 15 feet deep and you can easily see the bottom, just beautiful!

Creek Crossing

More Scenery

What a special place

Clear Water

Typical scenery away from the creek

More clear water and beautiful rocks

More Big Creek Scenery

Another Creek Crossing

Awesome Rock Wall

Big Trees at Big Creek

More Big Trees

Jester and Mikey at Big Creek - RIP Jester!

Brush Creek Mountain Bike Ride

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Today was gorgeous – 70 or so degrees and sunny by mid-afternoon!  Ocoee River Whitewater rafting season is coming soon, and we’re getting busy getting the outpost ready to open, but it was just too nice after too long of a cold winter to stay inside so I took a quick trip to Brush Creek for a mountain bike ride.  Brush Creek is one of the trips we offer on our Guided Mountain Biking Trips One of the great things about our Ocoee River Outpost is it’s proximity to the Ocoee River and the Cherokee National Forest.  A 5 minute bike ride on the shoulder from our outpost had me within the Cherokee National Forest and on the Brush Creek Trail.  Brush Creek is one of my favorite trails around, not too technical, rolling hills – every time I get tired of working my way uphill you get to fly on a nice downhill stretch!  Oh, the scenery isn’t too shabby either!  A good portion of the trail winds along above Ocoee Lake #3, the site of our Ocoee River Lake Kayaking Trips, and the source of the water for rafting on the Upper and Middle Ocoee River.  Here’s some pictures from the trail today.

Ocoee Lake #3

Nice view of Ocoee Lake #3

Trees blocking the trail

Another reason for a guided bike ride!

Brush Creek Mountain Bike Ride View

Awesome view from the Brush Creek Trail

Ocoee Lake #3

The lake above the Upper Ocoee River

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