3.31.2009

Got some good Tennessee boating in this weekend. Ran Cain Creek into the North Chick on Friday. It was a full-on run, starting with the micro creek of Cain, and flowing into some bigger water creeking on the North Chick. Walked Vortex on Cain, which looked big and scary, and cracked my boat just below the seat on Big Splat, which necessitated some patch work on the side of the river. We worked our way onto the Chick through some pretty intense boulder gardens, and some blind drops on the bottom of Cain. It turned into a 12 or 13 mile day; we were probably on the river for a little over 6 hours. I swam once after getting my paddle stuck between two rocks on a somewhat manky drop. All of my gear was recovered, save one of my gloves. I was fine too; the swim was pretty easy, though I almost leaked out of an eddy and into a rock.

We had 5 swims throughout the group of 12. Everyone was pretty tired by the end, and my boat was sloshing with water from my somewhat-patched crack. It was a great run overall; the gradient just never really stopped. I don't think we ever had an eddy or slack water larger than an average living room. I've ran harder and longer runs, but never a run near this length with this sort of sustained difficulty.

We grabbed a hotel room that night so we could dry out my boat and slap on a heat-enforced duct tape weld, which held up for the rest of the weekend. The next morning, after calling around for gauge readings and visuals, we headed to the Sinks of the Little, up in the Smoky Mountains. It was a gorgeous run. Unfortunately, the biggest drop of the sinks, an 11' or so falls, had a log in it that prevented us from running it safely. We portaged, and ran the rest of the run. Some good, mellow boulder gardens, and a couple almost-blind drops that we boat scouted. It was a good day, and a nice reprive from the intensity of Friday.

We camped outside of Wartburg, TN, played some dice, and slept through a short thunderstorm. The next morning we got up early, did a quick canvassing of the campground, and headed to the Lower Crooked. We had considered doing the upper, but it was running high and there was a 20' falls that we didn't really want to deal with on the upper. Add that to the upper's short length, and we were in for a high-water run on the lower. We ran into a couple of guys from Knoxville and ran down with them. The run was all right, with some interesting boulder gardens and ledge drops at the beginning and end, though they were separated by a few miles of class II. All of the drops were pretty straight-forward as well; I don't think I'd get back on it unless some of the other runs in the area like the Little Clear or Island were dry.

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:


Rolling back to Indiana in the Saturn.