I knew it was going to be a good week last Monday when I opened up my bookmark for the National Weather Service infrared satellite image to see three major low pressure systems with solid cyclonic swirling lined up from the Pacific Coast to Arkansas. As the three vortices ripped across the states they drew moisture from the Pacific Ocean, dropping the annual rainfall of many southwestern states in a matter of hours. Tornado warnings in downtown Los Angeles reminded me of that movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and as the atmospheric eddy-line whipped its way east, the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was pulled north in millions of acre-feet and dumped across the gradient rich drainages of The Southeast.
Last Friday I left work a little early and headed to the Tiney Piney with my surf boat. We arrived at the Whites Creek takeout and the gage read 3 feet. JT, Vagina Boobs, The Red Barron, Badams, and Taylord joined me for what is without a doubt one of the best surfing runs on Walden's Ridge. Mankind is at a loss for good descriptors of waves this good, but let me throw a few haphazardly into the cyberspace: "epic", "sick", and "huyage".
Though the surf was good, it left our vertical addictions with somewhat of an itch, and Saturday we woke early and headed to the home of the Scopes Monkey Trials for some marginar on the mighty Morgan Creek, aka "North Pole".
North Pole has some really classic portaging, and this keeps a lot of people away. In fact, after adjusting for the Portage/Paddle ratio, it might be better described as a "sportaging" run. Above is the first falls, or rather, the portage around it. I think Clay gave this one, somewhat unsuccessfully, back in the day. The maps call it "Snow Falls".
After Snow, there are a few booby rapids that terminate into a sieved out log jam. A quick jump around these to the left brings you to this little cave slide shown below.
Immediately following the slide above is a small slot into this slide:
Bankfull. The human, not the run.
Then it gets good... the portaging, I mean. Here is Taft "Vagina Boobs" Sibley having fun on the lesser walked side of this portage, just above a little clapper drop that goes, sans the current wood situation.
Nice form Caleb, I can really read those sponsor logos perfect, but next time let me see a little more "claw".
Then comes the innocuous looking drop (emphasis on "looking") that almost snuffed Crazy Hayes. Merlin of the lowlands made it look quite runnable. Most portaged. Below is the next rapid in the gorge; a sweet and sour little boof to boof. I guess we were really fiending for the portage, because most of the group portaged back up this one to give it a second go 'round. Double, double boof.
Time for a hike with your chosen craft? The hemlocks on the next spectacular portage are quite lovely. This is followed by a couple of photogenic low angle slides. These will make you wonder why we don't come in here with at least twice the flow.
A few booby rapids mixed with a little portaging lead to another big ass portage. You can run a little sneak slide right up to the lip of a mammoth horizon line. Walking on the right will lead you to the lip of Decapitation. The scene of Tim Williams running this one in Vertical Addiction always stuck in my mind. I think it flipped his brim up for him. Below, Merlin considers testing out his full face:
and JT approaches the guillotine:
Decap is followed by this. Its got a kick for sure. You might remember the scene in "Local Hero" where Bryan Prince gets knocked out. It happened here, at "Chili Pepper". It goes better than it looks, just don't try to run it on the right.
A low angle slide flows into one of the highlights of the run: a thirteen footer that doesn't land on rock. Vagina Boobs hates his back, and drops that land in deep pools. He decided to take the ultra-sib rope swing line:
JT raced him to the bottom:
Sib's Splash can be seen in the lower right quadrant. Winner: Team Vagina Boobs!
There is one more big portage after this. The runnout of aforementioned portage can usually be run. Tree branches in the landing prevented us from having this much fun. The are some more low angle slides, a couple booby flops, and an eight footer on to terra firma in the runnout. Richland Creek feels like a back massage when you get there. Hike up and paddle down for a happy ending. The next morning I awoke to the sound of a small stream in my basement. The Captain should be reporting soon with tales of high water first deez, and stairway carnage.