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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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

Trip Report January 23, 2010 – Piney River near Spring City, TN

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This Saturday several Ocoee Adventure Center / Southeastern Expeditions guides were looking to take advantage of (relatively) warm temperatures and generous amounts of rainfall. Billy Paul (Southeastern Trip Leader), and I were able to convince Eric Davidson (Ocoee Adventure Center Trip Leader and Head Kayak instructor) to join us for the Piney River, near Spring City, Tennessee. Eric had run the Piney before, and a guide was pretty important due to the length of the run and the short days in winter time. We met up with two guys at the putin who joined us for shuttle, showed us a little quicker route to the river, and ended up paddling with us most of the day. They got some pictures that I’ll hope to add soon, for now the pictures on this report came from www.americanwhitewater.org and aren’t of us, just to give an idea of the river.

The section of the Piney we ran is about 10 miles long. It is located about 1.5 hours north of the Ocoee River area. It’s mostly class III, with about a mile long section being class IV. Lots of fun, very scenic, very remote. Here’s a picture of one of the larger rapids, “Hungry Jack” . A large amount of water goes under and through the big boulder at the bottom of this rapid, forcing the paddler to drive hard to the left to avoid it. Billy, Eric and I all had great lines here. One of the other guys we met caught a little bit of the rock and had some issues, but it was a short, uneventful swim. Billy and I were content just to make it down the river for the most part, but Eric got in lots of quality surfing on his way down.

This area isn’t just for paddlers! There is a great trail system here which is part of the Cumberland Trail System (http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/index.html). Here’s a link to the area of the trail we were paddling on: http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/piney.html

For non paddling visitors to the area, consider a hike here on the day before or after your Ocoee River Rafting Trip. This area would be a short detour coming from the Ocoee River Area towards Chattanooga. For more information or any questions, please feel free to send me an email to Peter@ocoeeadventurecenter.com. A summertime hike here would be great as the trail winds down to the river in several really cool spots to swim and cool off in!

Think you might want to paddle this section of river on your own sometime, but don’t have the experience? Eric Davidson is our head kayak instructor at the Ocoee Adventure Center and would love to spend some time getting you started on your way to paddling! For more information check out Ocoee River Kayak Instruction.

Here’s a few more pictures of the river, when I get our pictures from this day I’ll post them to this page.