Monday, December 31, 2007

A Great End to 2007. a trip report

A good slow rain fell on the Southeast late Thursday night and all day Friday, Dec. 28th.
I was able to get out of work early enough to catch one run on Suck Creek. Suck started running around 2:00 Friday afternoon so most folks were able to get several runs in.

With most of the rain hitting the Smokies and NC, as usual, we made plans to travel for the weekend.

I headed towards Knoxville on a solo mission to meet up with Andy Dodson to paddle the West Prong. The place was packed with boaters and tourons. The weather was a beautiful sunny day but I didn't take the camera since photos don't seem to do this run justice. We met up with Blake Turner and Nick U. for a run down the upper section. Eichhorn and Bryce, who had decided earlier in the day that they weren't going to go kayaking realized their foolishness and headed up to the mountains to meet us for a second run.
This was my first run on the West Prong and I thought it was everything it is made out to be. I think its best described as an amped up Foss or Money Creek or a really tamed "bottom 9"
The scenery is spectacular there are lots and lots of tourists. We saw some big old ravens at the takeout which Blake Turner proceeded to tell me were only black birds... how did that run on the other side of the mountain get its name? That must have been Blake talking, not Mr. Turner.

The next day, Dec. 30th, we headed through the clouds to the other side of the mountain to run Raven Fork. Raven Fork always seems to run around New Years. We found a good level to take a couple of first timers down. The gauge at the bridge was 9" brushing up to the 10" mark. It had rained a little that morning and the night before and although we didn't check the gauge on the way home it felt like the river came up a little bit, maybe to 10", 11" or more, evidenced by the Oconaluftee USGS gauge

Things Fall Apart

Taking first timers into the Raven Fork is always fun. Sunday was no different. The amount of fog in the gorge only added to their anticipation as it was difficult to see the rapids from the trail on the way in. A slight misty drizzle kept the gorge dark.
There is new wood in the small slide below Headless Horseman, stuck right against the wood that was there previously. Wood also warranted a portage of Mortal Combat.


We made our way around Big Boy and showed Taylor and Eichhorn how not to run Mike Tyson's Punchout. I came down the last part backwards, flipping upon the landing, I tried to brace back up right, at the point that I was about halfway back up I saw myself heading for a pocket in the right wall. I got stuffed in the pocket and went under the wall. I'll spare the reader all the should've, would've, could've that goes through someone's head after they decide to pull their skirt. The end result was that I grabbed my, paddle, camera, boat and the tree trunk coming down off the river right wall. The boat proved too heavy to hold onto and still be able to hold onto the tree trunk so I let that go. I wonder if my Perception airbags that crapped out about 8 years ago had been replaced if I would have been able to hold onto the boat? It washed into the eddy on the bottom right of the ledge below. So it was just me, my gear and the tree. Andy was in the eddy and I looked over at him and wondered why he was watching me still in his boat. Andy had landed at a strange angle and pulled his ribs. After some kind words from me Andy struggled out of his boat and up onto the rocks on the river left where he made a weak toss of the throw rope which landed like a Oregon State field goal kicker's kick, too short. A situation like this is why its best to have more than two people in your group. Bryce was able to get a rope to me and I swung over to shore above the ledge that was just downstream. I got my boat drained, and Andy got ready to hike out with injured ribs.

Eichhorn sliding right

We continued on downstream living up to the motto that started off as a joke, "Always Leave a Man Behind" The remaining rapids went well and everyone met up again at Mr Watty's house.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Middle Creek

After a late wake up and having my coffee I got a call half expecting it to be about going biking in the afternoon after the trails dried out a bit. The boys had done some preliminary research and found what was thought to be a runnable creek.

A quick shuttle was set, the covert put-in was as successful as one could expect when walking around with brightly colored 80 gallon tubs and we were on the river. We worked our way downstream, finding the level low and dropping, wood and debris from the fire over the summer slowed our progress both in the water and on land.
"Shoot Me In the Face with a 9"- Middle Creek 3rd time run from the top down. Everyone else put in inside the cave.
One scary ass pin: involving wood underwater, not visible, everyone else boofed it, one man went deep and caught it in the lap, on top of the sprayskirt, any kayaker's worst nightmare, but alls well that ends well.

Hand-paddling Underground

Look here if you want a description:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Notes From the Underground

Incoming Wire...

while many suffer here in the drought stricken south, one man rejects this and takes it upon himself to rise above this condition of boredom. Here is his story:

Successful expedition to the Himilayas.
I left the states in early Oct. and headed to India. The US team got together in Dheli where we hired an opium addicted alcoholic driver to pilot our van. The teams main mission was to paddle the 5 sacred tributaries that make the Ganga or Ganges River. After a 2 week session on the Tons, Supin and Yamuna, as well as a couple of broken boats, class V first descents, no white people, no beer, very little English, and the first westerners to enter a village or two. We decided it was time to head to Rishikesh for a new driver, a couple rest days, and a replacement for the broken boats.
Then it was off up the Alakananda and the Mandanakini for a couple more weeks of paddling, seeking out the goods, visiting some sacred places, and living large T.J. style in the Himilayas. The last two drainages turned out to be the highlight of the trip. Easy access, tons of different runs, one or two possible first d's and lots of action both on the river and off. We also grabbed a couple days trekking in the Himilayas surrounded by 6000m peaks and working the legs a little. Than it was back to the rivers. On our last drainage of the trip, we ran into North Carolina's own JJ Sheapherd and his team of international boys. We hit it up together for a couple days before going on our own respective paths. We finished our planned expedition in 5 weeks, and decided it was time to wrap it up in India and make our way to Nepal.
Nepal is the shit. We left India took our 1st of many sketchy bus rides and crossed the boarder into Nepal early in the morning, only to find ourselves caught in the middle of a Maoist caused student protest due to a bombing that killed 25 people and stopped all east west travel. After 5 days isolated on the boarder the political groups reached an aggrement and travel was on. We made our way to Pokhara and the Annapurna Drainages. We linked up with some Scottish boys and lost a couple of our own, as we fired up 2 sweet runs out of Annapurna Sanctuary. Then it was off to Eastern Nepal, Kathmandu and a couple runs off of Everest. I'll do another update with pictures and some river descriptions later in the month. Now its off to the rocky mtns for powder season and a bit of work.Cheers, Stan #43 On Tue, 4 Dec 2007 08:14:25 -0500