Lazy Chattahoochee now a whitewater rush
By Jim Lynn
If you can imagine riding a roller coaster with no lap bar and being faced with fire hose at the same time, you begin to get a feel for what the Chattahoochee River has suddenly become.
For generations, the river has been a lazy journey from Atlanta through Columbus to Apalachicola. Mostly tranquil, lethargic, its path slowed by hydro-electric dams and the large, recreational lakes behind them, plus smaller dams that once generated power for textile plants.
No more, at least along the 2.5 miles through Columbus and Phenix City. Suddenly, for the first time in more than a century, it’s a very different, more vibrant river. The textile mills are now high-end condominiums, and the stretch of river just north of the Wiregrass is joining the ranks of the most intense whitewater rapids anywhere in the United States. What was just a few months ago glassy green is now foamy white. Traveling a small part of the course open one afternoon last fall was like flying blind through a waterfall. For brief moments that seem heart-stopping, there’s no up or down, just an exhilarating, blinding spray. GoPro meets Alabama.