|Stretch:||Zeda Chkutuneti to main road bridge|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+|
|Flows:||No Gauge. Estimate at put-in: 1,200 cfs|
|Gradient:||167 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Road that drops down from Zeda Chkutuneti to the river.|
|Take-out:||Road bridge to Chikuneti|
|Shuttle:||5.4 kms (20 minutes one-way) Plus 30-45 minutes of hiking for ~2 km|
|Season:||Spring and ?|
|Featured in A Wet State #130 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Our thanks to our trip leads at Two Blade Adventures.
Republic of Georgia 2017 Day 6 Morning:
Waking up at our host families house, we were greeted with a breakfast that rivaled the previous nights dinner, which we devoured. We then went to the museum that the father of the host family runs to see artifacts from the area's history. After that leisurely morning, we headed to the river.
To do the Upper section, you have two options. First is to hike in on river left. This gets you in as high as you can get on the river without a permit. To go higher gets you into a standoff area near the Turkey border. You can also access this section on river right, but doing that drops you in a few rapids downstream. Still worthwhile for sure, but if you have time the hike in section is nice.
From the hiking put-in, you get to the first few rapids nearly immediately. You will notice them, the first one in particular is worth scouting as it is a big folding hole, thought at our flow it also flushed. Once through the first three, the river changed to be continuous boogie in the class IV range. I thought it was like the section of Cherry Creek (on the Tuolumne) before you get to Jawbone. The river then changed character and got a little bigger boogie where you entered a small gorge and there was a pipe of water over the river. Things continued as you worked your way deeper into the gorge which then led to the crux of the section. This rapid would be burly class V on the right, with the sneak on the left that is commonly run. The sneak was a boof over a hole into a caldron, worth scouting. The exit of the sneak was in small channels down the right before rejoining the flow at the bottom of the steep rock filled rapid. The gorge continued briefly with a wonderful waterfall entering on the right before it opened up and you soon found your self at the bridge, which is the put-in for the Middle section of the river.
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- Put-in (III). Just below put-in is a tight constriction with some weird seams. It is mellow. Then below that there is a nice little rapid with a small ledge that we ran right of center on. We then caught the eddy on the left at the lip of the first rapid to take some pics.
- First and Second Rapid (IV). The first rapid was a slide into a curler with a pocket on the left. You wanted to punch into the curler to penetrate and avoid the pocket. It is easier the higher up you headed right into the curler. The second rapid is immediately below and was a mellow enough small ledge that we ran down the middle/right.
Third Rapid (IV-). A few eddies exist on the right, and then you get this rapid. This one is a ledge with a decent hole. You want to run the right side of the main flow but boof with a little left angle.
Boogie (IV). The boogie below here is non-stop class III and IV rapids, making this section all feel class IV. It is like the paddle into Cherry Creek on the Tuolumne. Super fun and low stress.
- Alternate Put-in. Egor pointed it out when we went by, it looked completely non-descript so I am guessing a trail doesn't even exist for the short way from the road to the river. If you drive up the river right side you can put-in here just before the road pulls up. You definitely miss some fun stuff, but it also takes some of the hardest boogie out.
- Slot (IV). A fun rapid was more of the same old boogie, but then tightened next to a very large boulder. You want to be pretty far left, against the right side of the boulder to have a slide appear for you to go down. There was also a waterline overhead to mark this rapid.
Wall (IV). As the river goes left, there is a large wall forming the left shore. Here, stay left of center and move back left for a serious of holes that are all easy enough to punch. Just downstream is the biggest rapid. Most will head to the left shore to scout the sneak.
- Cascade (V). I actually didn't get a look at the main line, I saw lots of large rocks and a lot of exploding water. I have no idea how runnable it is. We went straight over to the normal line, the sneak. The sneak is the far left sun-channel. It consisted of a 5 foot boof over a bit of a hole, and then it exited through some constricted spots, also with holes. It was of utmost importance to be in control her as below, you need to head left into a micro channel to drop over a 5 foot ledge and then move around the last boulder choke via the micro channel. You then re-enter the flow directly below.
Waterfall (III). Directly below was a fun small rapid that ends with a nice waterfall entering the rapid on the right.
Boogie (II). The river then opens up and you get some boogie down to the take-out or continue on down to the Middle section which is a step easier.
Put-in / Take-out: Use the GPS coordinates in the map and a mapping program on your phone. The street names will not be legible anyways...
Put-in: Either, hike in from upstream of the town of Zeda Chkutuneti on river left follow the markers on the map. Most is on a road, but it is too rough to drive on. We did go off trail a few times to cut switch back corners. Then, after the switch backs, in the forest, turn left on a small gated trail and follow this down to the river. The other option is to put-in on the side of the road on river right.
Take-out: At the bridge over the river, the only bridge over the only spot above the Middle take-out where the road crosses from river left to river right.
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