3.17.2009

Kevin, Zach and I got in another weekend of paddling this past weekend. Kev picked me up at O'Hare, we fetched Zach in South Bend, and then rolled all the way down to the Russel Fork, pulling in around 3am. We woke up and grabbed breakfast, and the Russel Fork was on the rise, quickly heading to the bad in-between levels that looked a little scary for us. We headed to the Guest River Gorge in Virginia, which was at minimum flows. We put on around noon, figuring we would hitch hike back up when we got to the bottom.

The run was a lot of fun; plenty of gradient that just wouldn't quit. It was a little low, but still boatable (though bumpy). We walked a couple of drops that needed a little more water to run safely, and a number of times one of us would hop out to scout a horizon line, then give verbal directions to the other two. Other times, we just boat-scouted.

No real carnage to speak of; the river was a lot of fun, with a lot of rapids and a lot of moves that flowed smoothly into each other. We were all pretty tired when we got to the confluence of the Clinch; the take-out was supposed to be nearby. We apparently missed it; floating down miles of the Clinch until it started to get dark. We eventually took out in somebody's back yard and asked for directions, and a very nice coal mine inspector gave us a lift back to the car.

The Tennessee Plateau was getting hammered with rain, so we started driving again. It was a tough drive; we were all exhausted from the little bit of sleep the night before and the long day on the river. We had to stop and nap for a while, but eventually rolled into Wartburg around 2am.

The next morning we tied in with a group of Nashville boaters and headed to Island Creek. Island was packed with people; I counted at least 30 boats on this tiny creek that day. It's a gem that rarely runs, and when it goes a lot of people try and catch it. Our local guides were fantastic, and we were treated with a gorgeous micro-canyon, with lots of little slides, one complicated, manky drop, and another surf wave that was in a cave. It was a great run, and over too soon. While the locals headed to Little Clear Creek, we were forced to head for home, since it was already 2:30 and we had a long drive to get back home. All in all, it was a great trip, with a lot of really fun, class IV boating that was exciting but non life-threatening.

A shot from Island Creek:

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