Frigid Friday

Only the Rocky Mountains could bring such piercing frigidness to a spring-time Friday. Slushy balls of ice and snow pelted the windshield of our Jeep as we snaked down the mountain. The day was forecasted as sunny, but the clouds settled in over the valley, bouncing around the surrounding peaks like a caged animal, dumping the wintry mix throughout the day and night.

The town of Clayton, Georgia was sprinkled over the bottom of several peaks that limited its size to a few restaurants, hotels and beds and breakfasts, all snuggled against the main road.

The oldest B and B in Georgia is
The York House.

Our resting place, the York House, was five minutes from the main part of Clayton and 15 from the Southeastern Expeditions outpost.

Near the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, between Mountain City and Dillard, lie’s Georgia’s oldest Bed and Breakfast Inn — The York House — tucked away in a valley. The Inn was originally a wedding gift given to a young couple whose family made their living in harvesting fruit trees.

The York House offers a year around warm welcome with deluxe accommations and mountain hospitality and wonderful scenery. Shaded by large hemlocks and rare, pre-Civil War Norwegian spruce, the Inn has been keeping guests comfortable since 1896. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it began as a two-room log cabin. Famous guests have included Walt Disney and American author Joel Chandler Harris.

Click Photo For The York House

Click Photo For
The York House

Rail workers would stay with the couple for some much-needed rest. The house became popular and people started vacationing in the town and stayed at the York House, which eventually grew to double its original size in order to accommodate all the visitors.

All thirteen beautifully decorated guest quarters are individually furnished, each with their own charm. The main rental quarters is located in the addition to the house and are quite quaint with soft colors and large fluffy beds. The windows stare out over the mountains. Each room has its own bath and an entrance opening onto wide-railed porches and breezeways, inviting people to walk around L-shaped house and breathe the country air.

A large dining room and "Great Room" can accommodate groups; as a guest at The York House you will enjoy a substantial old fashioned bacon and eggs breakfast with gourmet coffee.

Now the house sits adjacent to the main road and shrouded by two enormous softwood trees, the biggest of their kind in Georgia. White paint covers the outside and large planks of hardwood flooring creak beneath the feet as the warmth of the house welcomed us.

We fell quickly asleep under the newly pressed blankets and slept in anticipation of our rafting adventure the next day. .

Get Your Outdoor Gear HereWhatever your age or interest, you will find no shortage of recreational activities to enjoy, such as waterfalls along some of  the best hiking trails in the eastern U.S., including majestic Tallulah Gorge, the oldest and one of the deepest canyons in North America, and Black Rock Mountain, Georgia's highest state park.

The York House also provides a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere for business conferences and meetings. Horseback riding is available just minutes away, as are the southernmost ski resorts in the country. And if you're inclined toward the arts, antique shops and galleries beckon in Dillard, Mountain City , and Clayton. At the inn, enjoy a shaded picnic across the creek by the Old Spring House, or relax under the cathedral of hemlock trees.

The York House is located between Mountain City and Dillard, a quarter mile off highway 441. The York House Inn rooms are non-smoking, but smoking is allowed on the porches. No pets allowed. Inquire about their child policy when making reservations.

White-water rafters can take advantage of the six lakes and rivers that lie within a half hour of The York House. And that’s why we are here.

The river that James Dickey
wrote about in Deliverance.

Proof of Survival

The water was as blue as I had ever seen. Velvet waves barely crested, gently rising to greet fallen leaves and water skippers that piggy-backed the gentle stretch of the Chattooga River. The sun had just peeked over the highest mountains, laying a warm blanket over us. The water seemed refreshingly deep, surprisingly broad, and softly calling for those standing on the pebble shore to join her in the first rafting trip of the year.

I stood holding a wet suit in my hands 30 minutes after the alarm clock went off, wondering how a person gets the idea of rafting the same river that the movie Deliverance was filmed, starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. The outpost of Southeastern Expeditions, was steaming off the cool morning dew as the sun started bringing life to the area. The birds were awake, happy the day before was just a memory. Large fish swam beneath a bridge we stood on with our new gear, wetsuits, and rain jackets, and we became nervous about what lies ahead.

Why we wear wet suits!

The main building of the outpost held the tell-tale signs of adventure, with shirts depicting people taking deadly tumbles out of rafts and words saying “this is not a souvenir but a proof of survival". The office was crowded with roughnecks — people with names like Snuffy and Chicago, beards reaching sternums, bodies wrapped in Gore-Tex, and coffee steaming from campfire mugs. They loved the water and the adventure, wanting to raft until they died or die rafting.

The Wild Bunch!

The bunch looked as excited as we were and smiles started stretching across their leather faces as the head guide yelled for the group to gather round. We went over some safety tips, things like how to position yourself if you fall out of the raft and what to do when a rope is thrown across your chest with white water capping over your head.

We were salivating at the adventure and when the bus fired up, the guide simply told us to "go rafting". Most of the first stretch of water was rowing training, learning to work as a group. We learned how to paddle together and listened to the commands of Snuffy, whom everyone said was the best guide on the Chattooga.

A deep running riot.

The silence of the bank where five rafts, four people, and a guide to each, plus two kayaks and a canoe, was charming but ultimately misleading. The water was deep and crystalline and near ice water, but lazy and calm for the first quarter mile. The winter rust was hardly shed when our guide, Snuffy, started barking orders to all forward. We were going to hit our first big whole and the adrenaline started pumping through our veins, courtesy of a thumping heart, when we saw the raft in front of us hit the waterfall and disappear. We could only hear loud voices, some excited, others terrified, but as Snuffy started getting more anxious with his commands and we paddle fearlessly to a seven foot drop that would cause the boat to become completely vertical, did I realize we had lucked into our most adventurous trip to date

Paddle Swagger.

After the first few holes, our crew was comfortable and pumped to hit the next. We thought we were professional rafters, with a paddle swagger all our own.

The water was violent, capping over jagged rocks and pooling between massive boulders, but the rafts glided over the frothy water like an out of control roller coaster. We all cheered after each hole, giving high fives and guides telling us we were making good runs.

The Chattooga River was loaded with Class V rapids with the seven hour trip ending with a stretch of five straight fives. The holes had names that were descriptive adrenalive, like Jawbone, Seven Foot Drop, and Sock ‘em Dog.


on DVD

Snuffy told us over 40 people had died on the Chattooga, most getting caught underneath the rocks and drowning, including Snuffy’s best friend. But our trip saw only two or three people in the water and Southeastern Expeditions took every precaution to make sure we all made it back to the bus.

It was a hell of an adventure, one that you couldn’t believe you made it through when it was over and also wanted to turn around and go again.

The Chattooga runs through the Appalachian foothills of the Chattahoochee and Sumter National Forests  forming about 40 miles of the wild and scenic  GA/SC border.  Rated one of the ten best runs in the country, the Chattooga is blessed with stunning scenery and outstanding whitewater. The Chattooga is split into five sections, two of which are suitable for whitewater rafting.

Click to raft with Southeastern Expeditions

Click photo for
Southeastern Expeditions.

The Chattooga River is open for rafting 7 days a week beginning mid-March through the end of October.  Call Southeastern Expeditions at 800/868-7238 for trip times and availability. They have trips for all levels of experience. Don’t forget to ask about their off-season rates!

If you are looking for a little more adventure and would like to guide yourself down the river, they also rent duckies (inflatable kayaks) and rafts on Sections II and III of the Chattooga River.  It is recommend that you have some experience on the Chattooga prior to renting these items.  You must register yourself as a private boater, and have at least two boats on the river at all times.  Southeastern Expeditions will help you decide the best place to put in depending on the water level.  To rent these items you must provide your own shuttle service.  All prices include paddles, helmets, and life jackets.  They
also run the Ocoee River in eastern Tennessee.

 Feature by John Ross, Jetsetters Magazine Tennessee Correspondent.

Go Raft

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Whitewater River Map: Chattooga Section III

Whitewater River Map: Chattooga Section IV

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A Chattahoochee Album: Images of Traditional People and Folksy Places Around the Lower Chattahoochee Valley

The Riverkeeper's Guide to the Chattahoochee River

Flowing Through Time: A History of the Lower Chattahoochee River

Adventures in Chattahoochee Hollar

Chattahoochee (DVD)

Whitewater River Map: Upper Chattahoochee River

River Song: A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers

Fair to Middlin': The Antebellum Cotton Trade of the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee River Valley

Georgia State Atlas & Gazetteer

National Geographic TOPO! Georgia

National Geographic TOPO! Georgia - Mac Version

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