Blue Hole Summer 2003 Roadtrip Diary

Here's the final diary for my 2003 journeys up to Tennessee and to Blue Hole. :)

2003 Summer Roadtrip Diary

Dates Plans Comments
June 14th-15th Saturday overnight roadtrip made This turned out to be a pretty good trip, despite dire forecasts and chilly water at Blue Hole. My friends Ripper and Josh rode up from Atlanta Saturday evening and we had dinner with friends in Tenn., overnighted in Cleveland and spent a good part of Sunday at Blue Hole with my friend Gabrial joining us. The water was clearer than I expected, one day after Saturday's highwater flow, but it was cold with a lot of rainwater runoff upstream and the skinny guys (i.e., not me) used my three wetsuits. :)
June 18th-19th Shortened roadtrip Wed. night and Thurs. It was just me for this trip, and I'm kinda glad. Flooding rains had hit the area on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, so I left late on Wed. and just stayed overnight at Dirk's. Got an early start to Blue Hole on Thursday but the rain had been heavy enough to cause a huge increase in the normal flow....at least 7 inches above normal, and the water was chilly and extremely cloudy. This made the tunnels a lot more of a challenge. :) The water slowly improved in visibility during the day, from perhaps 1 ft. to around 3. Pics of the tunnels and Blue Hole, with the much higher flow and the brown cloudy water, plus some nice shots of the Ocoee #2 diversion dam and rafting put-in, are in this gallery. Spoke to lots of folks from Fla., part of a church group. Drier weather is forecast for the next several days, thank goodness!
June 21st-22nd Weekend roadtrip made Whew, finally a weekend of cloudless skies and sun! Air was a bit drier and cooler than normal, though. Went up (alone) on Saturday and made my first sojourn to Chilhowee, which has a lake, beach, walking trails, etc. up on the mountain. 7-mile drive up from US64 which takes around 15 min! Met my friend Gabrial there and spent most of the day in the water, which felt great. Pics from the mountain overlooks are posted here. The last few show the Lake Ocoee Inn and Marina and, way to the right, a pointed mini-mountain and Ocoee #1 Dam.
Overnighted at Gabrial's and went up to Blue Hole on Sunday. Water was still flowing higher than normal and was therefore chilly but it was as clear as you'd expect for one day after high-water for rafting. Met some cool people including Tim and friends, rafting guides from Nantahala Outdoor Center. Masks were loaned out often.
June 28th-29th Weekend roadtrip made Since my roommate Adam had the weekend off, he rode up for the weekend also. Spent a cloudless Saturday at Mac Point Beach, overnighted in Cleveland, and went to Blue Hole on Sunday. Water was a bit lower than last weekend but still higher (and chillier) than normal. We had one bout of minor rain but then good weather and lots of sun; Adam got pretty burnt. :) By the end of the day the water felt a lot warmer. We were going to meet up with Gabrial and Derek at Jade Palace in Dalton that evening, but to no avail and we had to go it alone. :)
Pics of Blue Hole showing rafting, with the high-water running, are in this gallery; there's also one pic of the commercial rafting put-in area for the upper Olympic whitewater course.
July 3rd-6th Shortened roadtrip made Due to Tropical Storm Bill, there was high water (due to rain runoff) on the 3rd at Blue Hole according to the OWC, so I scrapped plans for Thursday and got some stuff done here. On the 4th I went to my mom's for cookout and fireworks, and then Saturday was spent up at her time-share in Ellijay. Since it's not too far from Blue Hole, my sister's fiancee Billy and I went up there for a few hours on Sunday so I could show him what it was like. Water was still pretty high and cold but it was do-able and Billy liked it. Saw some folks I'd seen before including Ben and Wesley but the water was chilly enough to keep people from swimming for too long.
July 11th-14th Split roadtrip (Fri., then Sun-Mon.) made I went up for a one-day sojourn on Friday and then returned for Sunday, overnight into Monday. The water was the warmest so far this season on Friday but still high from rain, and back to its usual clarity on Friday and Monday, finally! Weather was good, with a passing thundershower on Friday, a late storm on Sunday and no rain on Monday. On Friday I met lotsa cool folks, including Heath, Harold and a friend, and also Jeff and Jesse. On Sunday I met several cool folks, including Roy and Brian, formerly from Atlanta but now in McCaysville; masks were loaned out often and two straps broke. Time to go to Wal-Mart again! On Monday, I bumped into Heath and Harold again and took them up to Little Blue Hole to show them where it was. Water was much colder for them than on Friday and I let them borrow the wetsuits after we returned back to Blue Hole. Hung out with them for awhile and then with Billy and Kyler, two locals who I'd showed the tunnels to last year. Great fun even though the water was still chilly, especially early in the day. Pics from the earlier part of the weekend are posted in this gallery, and the later pics are in this gallery.
July 19th-20th Saturday overnight into Sunday roadtrip made Once again, I broke my own rule and didn't call the OWC first before heading up there!
I went up late Saturday and stayed overnight at Dirk's; we were all gonna go Sunday to Blue Hole. Sunday morning I picked Gabrial up in Cleveland and we headed for Blue Hole. Oops! The water was running high. Apparently TVA was repairing Blue Ridge Dam, and they had to draw down the reservoir, so it was running high from Thursday all the way through Monday afternoon.
So we all went to Chilhowee instead (Gabrial's wife Shawna and Dirk both came up later, with kids in tow) and had a decent day. Good weather and Dirk took me on the 1.25-mile hike to see Benton Falls. I got some pics and they're located here.
July 23rd-24th Wed. and Thurs. roadtrip made More heavy rain earlier in the week, then cool Canadian high-pressure settled in, so the water was still higher than normal but, with bright sunlight both days and no rain, warmed up steadily during the day. The air was drier and cooler than normal, though. I was there from 3-7pm or so on Wed. and from noon 'til 7 on Thurs. I visited all my Cleveland-based 'posse' on Wed. night. Saw lotsa cool people including Ben from before and his friend James.
July 26th-27th Sunday roadtrip made A great day for swimming, too, with a mostly-cloudless sky. Water was still somewhat high but not too chilly. Saw lots of cool folks including some from previous visits, like John, Asa, Ben and James (?). Gabrial came up with his wife and a neighbor and his kids for the day also, and the latter ended up staying later than me! This was Snake Day at Blue Hole, with at least two or three harmless snakes spotted at various times, including in the tunnels themselves. (!) Pics are now posted in this gallery.
August 2nd-3rd No roadtrip Weather was kinda clousy with flood advisories posted for eastern Tennessee, plus I had Dragon*Con website work to do -and- a new computer to install. :)
August 6th-7th Wed. and Thurs. roadtrip made My friend Jason Homesley came along. We did Blue Hole on Wednesday (weather was kinda clousy and the water was higher than last week and chilly). On Thursday the water was high due, apparently, to rainwater runoff, so we went to Chilhowee instead.
August 9th-10th No roadtrip made I'd been planning on going up on Sunday to make up for the previous Thursday's debacle, but I was feeling a bit sick (tired-out) and I went to my sister's birthday gathering at my mom's house instead.
August 16th-17th No roadtrip made I called ahead and confirmed that the water was still high due to work on Blue Ridge Dam.
August 23rd-24th Sunday-only roadtrip made Probably the best day so far, water- and weather-wise. Water was the slowest-flow we've seen all season and probably the warmest. Saw several folks I knew from before including Asa, and met some cool people including Josh and friends from Lee Univ., Chris and friends, and Jay. Sadly, this was the last 2003 sojourn to Blue Hole, as the water was being run high and then the weather got chilly. :(
August 29th-Sept. 1st No roadtrip It was Dragon*Con, a leeetle party for 25,000 or so of our closest friends. :)
Sept. 5th-6th No roadtrip It was ProgPower USA 4.0, our power- and progressive-metal festival here in Atlanta. I'm an Associate Sponsor. :)
Sept. 13th-14th No roadtrip Forecast for Sunday was for mostly-cloudy skies up in Tennesee.
Sept. 17th-18th No roadtrip Water was high (through at least 2pm) due to work on Blue Ridge Dam.
Sept. 20th-21st No Roadtrip The OWC told me during the week that TVA had scheduled a release on Sunday due, presumably, to work on Blue Ridge Dam.
Sept. 27th-28th No Roadtrip The weather had (finally) gotten too cold, darnit! Many fond memories of this summer, even though overall it was disappointing due to high (and chilly) water from rains and surprise damn dam work. :)

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