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Mud & Jim at Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River

Well, summer is quickly coming to a close. The long hot days of summer — although it has really not been a very hot summer around these parts — are all but a distant memory. In May I anxiously anticipate the long days of summer, but by the end of August, summer has worn out its welcome. One of my personal end-of-summer traditions is a day trip to Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River near Clayton, Georgia. There are several reasons that I go this time of year. One of those is of course to satisfy my aquaholic habit, and another is the flora. I will explain the latter in due time.

The Chattooga River, which is designated as a Wild and Scenic River, serves as the boundary line between Georgia and South Carolina. Highway 76 crosses the river and heads east into South Carolina. This location on the river serves as a takeout and launching area for the adventurous folks who raft and kayak down the river. As such, there is plenty of parking with just a short trek down to the river below. I am not sure where the name Bull Sluice originated, but I am guessing that it refers to the rock formations at this location. The river above Bull Sluice is around 185 feet wide, but because of a large rock outcrop that sits in the middle of the river the width is pinched down to around 30 feet. The rock formation also drops the river at this point by around eight feet, which results in the rapid being designated a Class IV+ rapid by the American Whitewater Association. This classification is on the upper end of the scale for those who tend to brave such turbulent waters.

Now back to the fun stuff. Sitting along the river at Bull Sluice is an escape from the hectic world that lies just 1,200 feet to the south at Highway 76. You might as well be a thousand miles from nowhere.  It is hard to explain unless you visit firsthand. Mud, my four-legged companion, likes the river just as much as I do. This is clearly evidenced by the wag of his tail and his constant reminders for me to throw another stick into the river. Mud is obviously an aquaholic as well. Must run in the family!

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed

My other reason to visit Bull Sluice at this time of year has nothing to do with water. It in is late summer that the North Georgia landscape explodes with a symphony of colors as provided by the graceful Joe Pye Weed (my favorite), Ironweed, Goldenrods, and native Sunflowers, just to name a few. The colors fill my eyes and my soul. And that is good! This show of color in the mountains is the next to last chapter of landscape color for the season. The final chapter is contributed by the leaves who take over the job in October.

Fall will soon be here and I am thinking of the cool crisp days ahead and that delicious smell of burning wood from the campfire.

Until next time,

Jim