Blue Hole Summer 2005 Roadtrip Diary

Here's the final update for my 2005 journeys up to Tennessee and to Blue Hole. :)

2005 Summer Roadtrip Diary

Dates Plans Comments
Friday May 27th, 2005 Surprise Fri roadtrip made I had the day off work, and was looking at the forecasts for the area near Blue Hole (basically Ducktown is the closest 'city'), and at the last minute, with the forecast showing partly cloudy, highs in the low 80s and a 20% chance of showers, I decided to head up there -- if nothing else, I could scout the route for any changes and pick up my Cherokee National Forest pass (a bargain now at $20 after May 1). It turned out to be a really great day! The water was a good bit chillier than normal but I never actually wore a wetsuit, and the sun was blazing from a clear sky most of the day -- I've gotten somewhat redder! I only brought three diving masks down to the river and I wish I'd brought more, as there were a surprising number of people there considering the chill in the air. Great, and very early start to what will hopefully be a great summer at Blue Hole!
June 9th-10th Thurs-Fri roadtrip made A surprisingly fun two-day trip despite less-than-optimum forecasts. On both days it rained at Blue Hole before I got there, but the weather stayed mostly dry for the remainder of both days. Water-level started high due to rain runoff and increased 6 inches or so during my stay on Thursday. Friday was steady but still high. Water was relatively cold but not bad enough to require a wetsuit, although I did let one kid borrow one for a while. Cloudy water on Thursday, too, but better on Friday. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Arlene is moving in for the weekend. :(
June 23rd-24th Thurs-Fri roadtrip made Had an awesome time! Weather was nearly perfect on Thursday and the water-flow was the lowest -- and the warmest so far this summer, with clear water, too. Saw several familiar faces including Asa with his bro and kids, and Adam and Cody and their crue from a previous weekend. On Friday the water was a bit higher due to some rain in the basin the previous night, and much cloudier, but the flow steadily decreased during the day. I went up to "Little Blue Hole" early in the afternoon to lay out and scope things out -- the two 'parallel' tunnels up there are now mostly blocked by a submerged deadfall of broken tree limbs.
Meanwhile, back at Blue Hole itself, I hung out with Marty, who I'd met the previous year and who's active-duty in the Army, and Steve, who I'd also met up there the preceding year.
July 2nd-4th Weekend roadtrip made With our one-week timeshare cabin/villa in the Ellijay mountains starting on Saturday, I went up with my sisters and helped move in on Saturday, then we went over to Tennessee to pick up some fireworks that still aren't legal in Georgia. :) On Sunday, since the water was high for rafting at Blue Hole, I went to Mac Point Beach -- pretty boring and the water was cloudy -- and then up to Chilhowee, which was a lot better despite a big storm moving through. I saw a HUGE turtle on the bottom that kinda scared me! Then at around 7:30 I drove by Blue Hole to see if the water was low enough to swim yet, but it wasn't. I got quite a few pics of the area with the water still quite high. On July 4th I went back up to Blue Hole, but the water was still somewhat high, chilly and quite cloudy. It was swimmable, though, and I met several cool people there and some familiar faces as well.
July 7th-8th Thurs. and Fri. roadtrip made With Tropical Storm Cindy drenching the area, I had a feeling there would be water issues, and I was right. The Ocoee Whitewater Center staff told me they had an unscheduled release when I called on Thursday, so I drove up, got some pics -- the water was easily high enough for kayaking, but surprisingly, there were no kayakers there -- and then overnighted at our time-share villa in Ellijay. On Friday the water was reported to be "okay for swimming, but kinda cloudy," and upon arrival I saw it was running pretty high -- not impossibly high, but with strong currents through the tunnels. The sun had returned in full force, though, so I did some suntanning and then drove down the river to the Chilhowee beach and spent some time there. I drove back up to Blue Hole later in the day, figuring the water level and its cloudiness would have dropped a bit, and it had...a bit. I spent the rest of the evening there and headed back to Atlanta to do WREKage.
July 20th-22nd Wed. trip cancelled; Thurs-Fri trip made! Due to Hurricane Dennis and continuing rainfall in the basin, the Whitewater Center told me on Wed. the 20th that TVA had to have unscheduled water releases every day for a week and a half. So, I went to work instead. :) The next morning, however, I called and was told "they're swimming today, water is low" so off I went! Two good days of sun and fun and boy am I toasted now on Saturday! On Thursday the water was higher than normal and quite cloudy, but the weather and water was warm. On Friday, as expected, the water was lower and clearer (although not quite clear enough for underwater photos, sadly). Saw some familiar faces, like Andy, Cody and Garrett, and finished off a Fuji disposable underwater camera at last. Late 2004 and lots of 2005 pics are now posted here!
August 4th Thurs roadtrip made! Went up on Thursday only, since Friday I'll be at the Gigantour show, with Dream Theater, Megadeth, Nevermore, Fear Factory, Symphony X and others. Great weather and low water, nice and warm and clear. Met a lot of cool people in-between large church-groups and stayed until about 9pm, about 7 hours in the river. Really wish I could've stayed up there for Friday, too! Got a couple of underwater shots but wish I'd gotten more before the water got a bit cloudy from all the foot-traffic.
August 18-19th Thurs, Fri roadtrip taken
"The Great BlueHole Flood of 2005"
My friend Josh rode along for Thursday and Friday. We had two good days of fun in the river...until 6:30pm on Friday when, without warning, a wall of water poured down the riverbed, stranding swimmers, imperiling young children, and washing half of my skin-diving gear down the river. It also soaked my cellphone and my new digital camera, and Josh's cellphone. Sure, the signs say "Water may rise rapidly without warning," but it's a miracle no-one was badly hurt or killed; several kids were swept around the riverbend and had to be rescued by a human chain. Indeed, TVA has a lot to answer for.
August 22nd One-day Monday roadtrip made
"The Recovery Mission"
I went up for a quick one-day journey, as I'd swapped offdays at work, but since I'd lost a whole bunch of equipment up there because of the flood, I was hoping to find some of my lost masks and other stuff....and I actually did manage to find some lost masks, with some help from a lot of cool people who were at Blue Hole that day. Nearby colleges (UT Chattanooga and Lee University in Cleveland) hadn't started classes yet, so there were a lot of college kids enjoying a last chance at Blue Hole. I'm forgetting all of the names, but maybe some of them will come back after I get the underwater disposable Fuji developed. (Josh was able to save it as it drifted away in the current last Friday -- a strong swimmer, he'd been prepared to jump in and save the kids if the current washed them downriver. They escaped the current, so Josh was able to snare the camera.)
Pics from this last journey and a few prior trips are posted here.
August 29th One-day Monday roadtrip scrapped I was too busy to go :(
September 1st-5th Dragon*Con A leetle party we throw for about 20,000 of our closest friends. Needless to say, I was a bit too busy to go to Blue Hole. :)
September 14th-17th ProgPower USA VI The finest progressive and power-metal musical event in the world. I sponsored the Swedish band Therion for it, so I guess I had to show up, huh? The pre-pre-party was on Wednesday, the pre-party was on Thurs., and then the actual festival ran Friday and Saturday, so no chance to go swimmin'. Damnit. But Therion kicked all of our asses. \m/
Late Sept. into October No roadtrips made :( It was too cold to go....

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