Currently only one company operating white water trips on the river. It is billed as the longest urban trip but it is still only 2 miles or so. It is fairly easy rafting until the last set of rapids. Both have lots of energy, the left bank (Columbus) is the easier run of the. Two. The Alabama side can be a challenge.
The evening I went there were 18 rafts on the river at the same time which is way too many especially since we did two runs and the last run didn't start till 8:25 pm, just about sunset. We finished at twilight, got in the vans at dark. 13 of 18 rafts lost rafters, many flipped. When we came. Into Cut Bait there were already two flipped rafts in the hole, we lost everyone including the guide on our slide into the hole. Came up under the raft just found the surface a bit later. My wife came up on the GA side of the river. No worries though for us. Some folks got banged up, abrasions, lost shoes and paddles, nothing worse.
The rafts had good separation to start but then got together to transfer those out of rafts that did not want to go down Cut Bait. This could have been done during the 30+ minute period they were transferring the rafts from our first take out to the put in. The best thing they did was to account for all afters by having everyone return to their original raft after the 2nd run as most rafts finished up with different crews.
The lack of organization was very evident. It was the 2nd day of operations but the company has operated on two other rivers. They couldn't give the per brief until the got to the put in as the store was packed from those waiting to go out and those returning. They probably lost business as folks couldn't purchase shirts, sundries, etc. The raft trips were probably scheduled too close together and running 18 rafts at a time is way too much. Split that in half or at least 30 minute separation and you're running two safer trips instead of one giant cluster. Folks got minor injuries primarily because the rafts entered the last rapid way too bunched up.
Great guides except the leadership has to recognize separation scheme. It would be easier to also place safety guides onshore at the last rapids with throw bags.
Organization should improve and I would consider rafting at the end of the summer when the company has a chance to get better organized. Great project for a time management study--- safety needs to improve and they should not let inexperienced rafters on the high water route until they do the low water route or had a trip on the Pigeon, Nolichucky, Nantahalla, Ocoee, New, something wet, somewhere. Learning how to stroke on the high water course for the first time isn't safe. I believe the New, Gaulley and Russell Fork have per-requisites. Organization was the downfall for this trip. Lots of potential.
Great runs for kayakers...great rapids to play in without having long treks to the start. Plenty of hydraulics, big water.
Also check for discounts....didn't have any but heard they are out there.
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