This past weekend, Suzie and I set out from Athens with the intent of scouting out the various streams that converge to form the North Oconee River.
We had a couple of points marked on Google maps, but didn't know what to expect in person. Dressed in long pants and long-sleeved shirts, we were ready to trek through whatever awaited us.
Our first stop on trip was in Maysville, GA, where our first sighting of the river was overhead from the bridge. From there, we drove into Hurricane Shoals State Park. As we rounded the last bend to the parking lot, the shoals appeared before us, illuminated brilliantly by the sunshine.
Next, we drove towards Lula, Georgia. Once we passed through the quaint, main part of town, our map took us to a residential area. As we descended the hill in the neighborhood, we saw a dip in the road below, and we knew the river had to be there!
And it was. It was piped underground beneath the road, but on each side trickled the small flow of water. We walked down to the streambed to make further observation.
, GA. As we drove northeast in the direction of Gainesville, we began to notice how the topography of the land was changing around us. The elevation was increasing, with areas of ridges and valleys alternating on either side of the road. Periodically, we would see low-lying land that indicated to us that a stream had to be flowing there. It is amazing how attuned our eyes became from being on the lookout for streams.
Rain moved into the area in early afternoon, but we didn't let that stop us from visiting the last of the points we had marked on the map. Even in the light rain, we were excited to find the hidden away streams. One stream was just off the heavily-trafficked Cornelia Highway near Gainesville, GA.
It is pretty amazing that the streams we visited (and the many others that we didn't have the chance to), all flow together into the North Oconee. Even more amazing, is that the North Oconee, on its way outside of Athens, joins other rivers to eventually become the Altamaha River, which drains all the way into the Atlantic Ocean.
Knowing the origins and destination of a river system serves as a reminder that our connection to the river needs to extend beyond our own limited locality.