NANFA-- Little River trip (long)

Roselawn Museum (
Wed, 29 May 2002 11:17:24 -0400

Hi All

I left early enough Saturday morning to stop at the falls that begins the
descent down into Little River Canyon. My wife and I discovered it by
accident almost a decade ago, and it remains one of my favorite spots in
the South. Back then, the area really wasn't regulated that much and folks
were free to climb the rock face beside the falls. I still had three kids
at home at the time, and they all made the climb with me. Beneath the falls
is a very deep pool that was a favorite with swimmers. A huge rock juts up
from the middle of the pool, allowing adventurous swimmers a 30' plunge
into the water below. Unfortunately, through the years some dummies
insisted on jumping from the falls. That's okay if you clear the rock face,
but some of them didn't, and hit the rocks instead. Now, jumping in the
area of the falls is forbidden and the park rangers keep an eye on it.
Anyway, I took some pictures, remembered other times, and headed down to
the park several miles away.

Three different parties got lost on the way over, and I suspect that they
went to the falls area by mistake. Only one of the three eventually found
us. My daughter Andrea, her husband Anthony, and their three kids finally
showed up late in the afternoon.

After failing to get Prez into a wetsuit (a feat that would have
necessitated neutering, liposuction, and a mastectomy), Casper and I
reluctantly left him in the shallows, and began snorkeling the crystal
clear water. It was a long time before I even considered the water
temperature (I think Casper said it was 69F) I was so caught up in what lay
below us. The water was quite deep in places, but the bottom was almost
always visible. This view of the true bottom of the canyon is one that only
a handful of people ever see. Jagged rock shelves would drop suddenly into
15-20' pools inhabited by trophy-size largemouth bass, freshwater drum, and
channel catfish. I was so busy trying to follow the catfish that I
completely missed the gar Casper tried to show me. Large AL shad flew
passed at incredible speeds, far less tolerant of our presence than the
slower bottom dwellers. The tranquility of this underwater world is hard to
adequately describe, because you feel it as much as you see it. The sense
of touch becomes secondary only to vision, making aquatic life much more

In the wider places the current wasn't too strong, but it was still not
easy to remain in one spot without holding onto something. In the shallow
riffles, however, I had to really hang on to keep from being tossed around.
That's where we began to find the shiners and darters, some of the latter
displaying brilliant coloring. At the edge of a reedy area a small turtle
swam right in front of my mask. I grabbed it quickly and turned to show
Casper, only to find him coming toward me with the exact same kind. What
are the chances of that?

We reached a spot where the river forked around the park. The descent
begins with a stretch of surprisingly swift water where the channel
narrows. The stones on the bottom are mostly smooth, so it's possible to
ride it out without injury. Nevertheless, I went down feet first through
the roughest part. As soon as I dared, I switched back to the head first
position. Wow! What a ride! No theme park ever came up with a ride like
this. I suddenly found myself flying though a narrow chute, dodging
underwater logs and boulders wishing that I had a video camera strapped on,
'cause stopping was not an option.

All too soon, the stream broadened out again and the current relented,
giving me a placid drift back into the picnic area. For Memorial Day
weekend the crowd was surprisingly small, but the "bubba factor" was still
in effect. I was certain that I had spotted Jabba the Hutt among the
swimmers until it bellowed, "Day-um it's cold!" Bruce found me as I exited
the stream, and we returned to the picnic tables to wait for Casper who
emerged shortly afterwards. My daughter and her family showed up about that
time. After about a million rapid questions from the grandkids, they headed
to the water, which they found a bit too chilly.

In order to collect, we had to go outside the park boundary. Trying to walk
in the river proved much more difficult than snorkeling it. Round, slick
stones reminiscent of the Little Sequatchie challenged every step. Still,
we came away with some AL shiners, various darters, and a quick look at a
spectacular blue shiner. My two grandsons were delighted to have their
picture taken with the Preident of NANFA. As the daylight faded, I headed
back to GA, tired and pleased. This place is so close, I know I'll be back

Steven A. Ellis
Kennesaw, GA
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