Ed Evangelidi testifies:
This is a polluted version of the Savage. Lots of mine drainage has destroyed the quality of this poor stream. Paddle this stream for the rapids, as it often is up when the Savage may be too high or too low (Savage is partly dam controlled). Also note that because trees have been substantially removed from this valley, strainers are usually not evident except where railroad abutments are right in the middle of the creek and catch stuff. However, there are a number of blind turns where one should still be alert for possible strainers, both trees and junk that might have been pushed into the stream. There is a big dam about 2/3 of the way down the run with a small pool in slightly fast water and a very nasty hydraulic at the bottom. Carry on the left but make sure you donÂt drift too far downstream in the eddy. Georges Creek at Franklin should be around 4.6Â or higher.
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Ran this with a group of five in May 2011. Two things you should know about this creek:
1) Do not run it. The decent stretch of III+ whitewater does not come close to compensating for the noxious, horrendous water quality. The run starts off nicely with easy class II water meandering through town with lovely stream buffers (thickets of flowers line the creek). As you make your way down the creek, the whitewater quality increases while the water quality decreases. The run progresses to a sold stretch of class III/IV with some decent holes.
How gross is this water? So gross.
You first get a clue that something's wrong when a trickle waterfall coming in on river right stains/bleaches the wall and the rocks below it an unnaturally bright white color. If there's such a thing as fluorescent white, the rocks were this color.
Waterfalls and creeks come into this stream as you make your way down the run, adding some scenery and water to the streambed. Most of these waterfalls are fine, and some stain the rocks red for brief stretches, but nothing abhorrent, until you reach the sludge pipe entering on river left. The pipe smells like human waste. The drive back to the put-in after the run indicates the pipe was the outflow of a waste management facility. “Waste management facility” is a nice euphemism for “place that deals with human poop.”
Still, none of these things in isolation is enough to deter my pursuit of whitewater. As a kayaker, I’m willing to suffer ill health for my kayaking. I’ve paddled down the sewers of D.C.-area suburban creeks (Rock Creek, Cabin John, Difficult Run). I take pleasure in running the mud-brown Potomac at flood. I take pleasure in playboating the Potomac during its grimy, bathtub summer lows. Even the acid-stained red tinge of the rocks in some Pennsylvania and West Viriginia creeks don’t deter me. But I will never run George’s Creek again because of what happens later in the run.
At no particular landmark, the water quality worsens and infects the air. Breathing tastes like an oxygen mask filled with aluminum vapors and your hands after sorting pennies. This air continues through the most difficult whitewater section on the run and doesn’t really dissipate ‘til you reach the confluence with the North Branch of the Potomac. I’ve dubbed this section of the run “aluminum alley.” In aluminum alley you spit constantly.
If this doesn't deter you, and you make the mistake of thinking, 'Well, I should run it at least once, just to check it off my list,' or 'how bad could it really be,' let me reiterate that this run contains both acidic mine drainage and human waste.
If still, this doesn't deter you, then read the pages at the following links. Things used to be worse:
If still, this doesn’t deter you, then...
2) Beware of the death culvert near the take-out.
There’s an obvious take-out on river left immediately after the bridge where George’s hits its confluence with the North Branch of the Potomac. If the water is high enough that the trees near the take-out are partially submerged and if you miss the obvious take-out, head to the middle of the river and find a suitable take-out spot further downstream on the North Branch. Do NOT hug the left concrete wall that looks like it will mellow out and provide you with a reasonable eddy. You will end up in a fast-moving, narrow concrete culvert that begins to elevate you from the rest of the river. With a few extra inches of water, this culvert could form a low-head dam type of thing filled with trees and rocks and its base. It’s hard to describe without photos, but at certain water levels, it could be very dangerous. That said, if you follow bullet point one (“do not run it”), this shouldn’t be an issue.
Recommended min from Ed Evangelidi (see below).
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