Etowah & Chestatee River Volunteer Project: Hiking or Paddling Option + T-Shirt & Riverfront Campfire! - Sat, Oct 12 2019

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

Etowah & Chestatee River Volunteer Project: Hiking or Paddling Option + T-Shirt & Riverfront Campfire!

The Basics:
Event Type:Volunteer
Event Location: GA mountains near Dahlonega, about 1 hour north of Atlanta   Volunteer: Etowah & Chestatee River Volunteer Project: Hiking or Paddling Option + T-Shirt & Riverfront Campfire!  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Oct 12 2019  8:45 am >> Sat, Oct 12 2019 4:45 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Thu, Jul 18 2019 9:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Oct 11 2019 9:00 pm
Event Duration:8 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D2: Easy to Moderate
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:45
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 28 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


 Weather Update as of Sat AM:  Still looking great!  Today's "spot forecast" for north GA's upper Etowah vicinity expects ideal fall weather, with partly cloudy skies and only about a 15% chance of an isolated shower or two.  It's expected to be about 60 degrees at 8:45 AM and warm quickly into the 70s by midday.   Water levels are low due to the scarcity of recent rainfall, but on the plus side plenty of debris will be exposed and easy to pick up along the rivers' channels, tributaries and banks. - Posted by Charlie, Oct 12 at 5:30 AM

Calling AOC volunteers!   Please support our annual participation in this very worthwhile - and fun! - cleanup & beautification project along the riverbanks and channels of North GA's lovely Etowah and Chestatee Rivers.
  Our gracious "Rivers Alive" hosts, the Hilyers, will treat us to a delicious kickoff breakfast and post-cleanup riverfront cookout & campfire at their mountain home overlooking the awesome
 "Chuck Shoals" rapids on the Etowah near Dahlonega - see Directions & more event details below.  Each volunteer will be awarded a nice "Rivers Alive 2019" T-shirt.  Youth Volunteers are welcome to participate if accompanied by their parent or guardian, but youth do not register directly through the AOC - see more below.

Each fall for many years now dozens of AOC members have had a blast "giving back to nature" by pitching with Rivers Alive, a festive annual statewide cleanup of Georgia's streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, and wetlands.  There are dozens of Rivers Alive focus projects (including this one) with thousands of volunteers of all ages and levels of experience participating.
Our past President Paula Schubert spearheaded our Club's first Rivers Alive participation beginning in 2008 at Olde Rope Mill Park and continuing each year since.  We're proud to have built on that AOC tradition by also offering this annual Etowah-Chestatee volunteer opportunity each October since 2013.


Option 1:  By Water in our own boats: Those of us who can bring our own kayak or canoe (+ paddle & PFD) and have previous river paddling experience will focus on cleaning up an assigned section of river channel and riverbank while paddling together down the river.  Each of us will be assigned to a paddling subgroup and river section that is appropriate for our own individual experience level - novice thru expert.
  Option 2:  By Land: We encourage AOC members who don't have a boat to sign up instead for the "Land" option!  Walking volunteers can do equally valuable cleanup work with your designated team on an assigned section of riverbank frontage, accessed by carpooling to a convenient parking area near the river.

Please let us know in the "Notes" section of your registration whether you prefer volunteering by water or by land.  If "by water" please indicate the type of kayak or canoe and other gear you expect to  bring - also a brief summary of your past river paddling experience and if you have extra space in your boat for another volunteer (or perhaps bring an extra boat & gear for an experienced paddler).

TWO DRIVING OPTIONS and MEETUP TIMES:  Each of us who registers for this AOC event/cleanup may choose either of the following two driving options:
A.  Drive directly to the Event, arriving by ~8:45 AM
 (See Directions below for the Hwy 9 roadside parking area - Different this year!) OR
B. Meet Charlie at 7:30 AM for carpooling at the GA-400 Mansell Rd  Park & Ride lot near Roswell (See also "Carpool Directions" below to that free lot.)  Each driving party is welcome to caravan with us to the event if you prefer.

 AOC members Elvin and Nancy Hilyer and their son Forest are long-time organizers and sponsors of this Rivers Alive project and host the event each fall at their gorgeous home.  In the morning prior to the cleanup they and their friends will provide a delicious Breakfast.  Then after our teams return, they'll treat us to a big riverfront Cookout & Campfire with hot-off-the grill burgers and brats, plus an assortment of delicious side dishes & refreshing "liquid libations"!  Each volunteer or group of carpoolers is welcome to "split" at any time, but hopefully we all can take the time to relax a bit and enjoy the cookout, camaraderie and amazing riverfront scenery - feel free to stay until dusk if you like.

 At our initial morning gathering we'll each be asked to sign the Rivers Alive liability waiver.  The event organizers will then assign us to appropriate cleanup teams and distribute trash bags, loaner work gloves, etc. - also discuss team directions & logistics before sending us off.

This award-winning annual Rivers Alive event is sponsored and hosted by the following fine "sister organizations" of the AOC:  Rivers Alive and the Lumpkin Coalition(Click these two websites for more details):  

Although as usual no one under 21 can register via the AOC, younger volunteers are encouraged to participate as guests of Rivers Alive and the Lumpkin Coalition.  Parents and guardians of any under-age participants should be prepared to sign a waiver form on their behalf after arriving at the event.  If you expect to have one or more young volunteers with you please mention their names, ages, etc. in your AOC registration notes.

Required Items to Bring:

- Your own Kayak or Canoe (if you wish to participate in the "By Water" cleanup option) + your own Paddle(s) and Coast Guard approved PFD (personal flotation device).

- Hydrate well and consider carrying with you during the Cleanup some Water and perhaps a Snack
 (e.g. in a light Daypack or Fanny Pack) .

- Wear Rugged Clothing and Sturdy Closed-Toed Tightly-Fastened Sneakers or River Shoes - ideally things you don’t mind getting wet, dirty or muddy!  Lean toward LONG PANTS and LONG-SLEEVE shirts & jackets since we may occasionally encounter briers, vines, etc.  Old Sneakers are fine (with Wool or Wool-blend Socks for extra warmth when wet) but make sure any shoes you wear are not easily "sucked off," since we occasionally may be walking or wading in mud.  A tight-fitting Cap or brimmed Hat is also a good idea - also if the forecast expects the possibility of showers some light-weight Raingear (stashed in a fanny pack, etc.).

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

- If you like bring your own favorite pair of Work Gloves or rubber Dishwashing Gloves(Gloves are useful for handling sharp or muddy objects or larger items such as tires - also for avoiding briar cuts, etc. Our Rivers Alive hosts normally provide "loaner" or "keepable" work gloves.

- If you happen to have a mechanical "Grabber" (a 3- or 4-foot long device for picking up light objects from the ground, tree limbs, etc) - please bring it!  They're especially handy for river corridor cleanups!  A few "loaners" of these devices may be available.

- Consider bringing a Clean Dry Change of Clothes in a bag to stash in your vehicle in case you get wet or muddy during the event and wish to be more comfortable during the post-cleanup cookout or while en route home..

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

DIRECTIONS to ELVIN & NANCY HILYER'S RIVERFRONT HOME by the ETOWAH RIVER near DAHLONEGA, GA  (This is where we Rivers Alive volunteers will gather both before and after our assigned cleanup excursions and avoids the more distant parking plan that was used in 2017 & 2018. )  GPS Users can enter the following concise "Lat/ Lon" as your destination driving address in conjunction with the detailed Directions below.  (Be sure to include the comma & minus sign.) 34.5119, -84.0630

From the GA-400/ I-285 Interchange in north Atlanta:
1.  Take GA-400 North about 42 miles to the traffic light at GA-136, which is 3 miles NORTH of the huge GA-400/ GA-53 junction & traffic light.  (If you need a pit stop there's at Wendy's on the right , just beyond GA-53.)
2. Turn Left (off GA-400) onto GA-136 West and go about 6 miles to the 4-way stop at GA-9.
3. Turn Right onto GA-9 North, go almost exactly 7 miles, and look for a small sign with the number "3865" on the right side of the road.  (This is just a few feet before the Hilyers' driveway which descends through the woods to their home.)
4. Park along the shoulder of GA-9 in the vicinity of that "3865" sign (or in the little "eyebrow turnoff" near it) and walk down the Hilyers' driveway. We AOCers will gather and check in at their front-door entrance at ~8:45 AMMany other nice volunteers from the "public at large" will be arriving at about the same time.

For a zoomable map or satellite view (of the Hilyers' driveway vicinity along Hwy 9) click on the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article.

p.s.  Several of our AOC paddling volunteers traditionally clean up the beautiful 6-mile "Jay Bridge" section of the Etowah just upstream of the Hilyers' home, taking out on river-right just upstream of the Class II "Chuck Shoals" rapid beside their home.  The GPS "Put-In" address for that driving excursion (if your cleanup group is assigned to it) is 34.5594, -84.074 

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):90Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $36.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.


This event normally always proceeds rain or shine and will be affected only if unusually hazardous weather is expected.  Regarding our "By Water" cleanup teams, consideration will be given to water levels that may be judged to be unsuitable for safe paddling.  If adverse conditions are known in advance, boaters will be notified.  Participation in one of the "By Land" teams will remain an option for all.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.