Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Piney...a Whitewater Gem hiding out in West Virginia!

Started out the 2009 year with a sweet 12 mile section of fun class III/IV creekin on the Piney in West Virginia. There is no single drop or series of rapids too spectacular on this creek. Rather it's just a long, continous section of whitewater. Just what the four of us needed as Edgar, Trevyn, Eric & myself set off from the put-in right in the middle of Beckley, WV.

Pulling on the Skirt

Cold weather at the Piney

One of my favorite drops on the run, this eight foot waterfall has a nice class III boulder garden to get you revved up or psyched out before you roll up to it. Edgar had to 'hand of god' Eric in the middle of the intro rapid and Trevyn threw out the life line. I had the fun job of retrieving the gear. Close call but, after it was all said & done, we checked out the fall & got ready to fire it up.

Checking out the local's line

Pulling through the drop

Classic Winter Run

Edgar...giddy w/excitement

Kevin cruisin' over the drop

Edgar picking the meaty line

After making it three quarters of the way down, we decided to take a break. It was nice to get out of the boat for a while; however, we quickly discovered it was much colder out of the water than paddling through it. With only a few more miles to go, we finished out the run and headed home. I have to say, I look forward to getting back to this one in the future.

Eric taking a rest

The crew on the banks of the Piney

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Watauga in December...Hand paddling with no gloves!!!

Finished out the year 2008 by getting on Watauga for my first time. It was mid-December and rather cold. Having broken my paddle earlier that winter, I decided to hand-paddle for a while. The only problem that day on the Watauga was I had forgotten to bring any gloves, though I quickly remembered their abscence when I first put my hands in the water. Eric, Justin & myself met up with a large crew from MRP to paddle this superb class IV creek.

Part of the crew below Hydro

Will & Andy from MRP acted as our guides and did an excellent job, as having twelve boaters in our group, we had a fairly smooth run down the creek. When reaching Hydro, we all got out to scout and our trip leaders did some excellent work on safety. Most all made it through without a hitch but help was there when needed.

Justin hitting a boof at Hydro

Andy throwing a line in the midst of Hydro

We soon made it to the prize on this classic creek....Stateline Falls. All got out to scout, a few decided to walk and the rest fired it up with varying results. After scouting the rapid & watching another group run it, I was ready to get back in my boat and head to the eddy at the lip of the drop.

Justin scouting the Big One

Group of boaters firing up Stateline

The falls on the Watauga is certainly a formidable rapid & deserves respect. That being said, it is definetely an awesome feeling being in the eddy above knowing you have to hit this one in just the right spot and with just the right angle to not crash into the rocks below. Though my line wasn't perfect, it sure felt good plunging through the landing & surfacing in the runout below. The perfect ending to an amazing year of boating.

A Virginia Classic

Once again, with October rolling around, I found myself back at the Russell Fork in 2008. This is truly a remarkable area in its beautiful & remote nature. Started out the weekend boating the Upper Russell Fork & camping at Breaks Interstate Park with my good friends from SRVCC.

John cruisin' through Twenty Stitches

Bev catching air in Twenty Stitches

The club taking over Breaks Interstate Park

That night, the crew rolled into camp & caught some shut-eye before undertaking the gorge the next day. All together, it was Edgar, Trevyn, Eric, Justin & myself heading into the RFG that morning. I remembered vividly looking into the gorge one year ago when getting out at garden hole & planning to run it one day. Little did I realize I'd come back to run the gorge at low water six months afterwards and at release a year to the date after that first trip to the Russell Fork. It was a nervous anticipation, but I was ready to go.

Unknown boater flyin off the left of Towers

My unconventional line at Towers

We took a good bit of time scouting at Towers. After watching multiple boaters run various lines, I decided to go for the far left line of this rapid. Obviously, I did not clean it as the unknown boater above. Rather, I nearly got flipped by a submerged rock, hit a hard right brace and had to power through Tower's juicy hole running left to right. Continuing down river all but Edgar & Trevyn in our group portaged Fist. This was the first of many rapids I've been glad to set down my ego, pick up my boat & walk. We finished out the river enjoying the classic drops of the RFG....Triple Drop, Climax & El Horrendo.

Edgar punching through at Triple Drop

Trevyn walking back for more @ El Horrendo

Trevyn running the left line

Justin firing up El Horrendo

Overall, I had fairly good lines the rest of the day and the exhilarating feeling of nailing my boof at Climax. Truly enjoyed this gem of a river and amazed at how far I had come in one year's time. It was also a turning point in my paddling. While I continue to challenge myself, I am no more heedlessly firing up any big drop I find. As they say, there are old boaters & there are bold boaters; however, there are no old bold boaters. It's o.k. to walk now & then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

End of Summer Runs

As the summer was winding down, I decided to head out and catch some of the last dam releases for the season. At some unholy hour in the morning, Russ drove up to my place. We packed all my gear into his trailer, strapped the 12'6" longboat I would be paddling to his roof racks, and hit the road. Luckily, we made good enough time to met up with Edgar and the other ten people he had with him to put on to the Upper Ocoee. Had a great time with the Taifun on this stretch. Plowed through every hole I could find at Mikey's Ledge, Blue Hole, Godzilla & Humungous, and the Roach Motel.

Breaking between the Upper & Middle Ocoee

The group took a lunch break at the put-in for the Middle was much deserved and needed. Since Russ had gone to retrieve his vehicle and made it back before we put on for the middle run, I decided to switch out boats and play the rest of the river with my EZG. Could definetely feel the difference once I peeled out into the meat of Grumpy's. Everyone seemed to have a good time on the Ocoee and was fired up for the Cheoah the next day. Some went back to the campsite to cook dinner and others struck out to find some Mexican. Eventually, we all made it back to Turkey Creek to sit around the campfire and get a few hours of shut-eye.

Shuttle vehicles @ Turkey Creek Campground

The following day we broke camp, ate a hearty breakfast, and headed out to the Cheoah. The group had dwindled down to about eight fairly solid paddlers.....a good thing, as the Cheoah is not the place to be chasing down boats all day. All seemed to be doing well as we made our way down to the river with only one swimmer before the Big 'Un. I was rather impressed with Edgar's ability to handle himself in the canoe having only paddled an OC-1 less than a year. Also, I tend to paddle with a lot of open boaters and the whole "out of boat experience" can be quite common. I bombed on down once we got to Bear Creek as the eddy space was limited and I wanted to get some photos anyway.

Unknown Boater firing up the Creek Line

Trevyn breaking into the eddy @ Bear Creek

Hanging out in Big 'Un

Edgar checking things out above the Falls

Boofing the OC-1 @ Bear Creek Falls

The Scene at Bear Creek Falls

After everyone got through the big one, we all headed downstream. At Tapoco, I decided to take the fun, tight, technical, and underwater line past the lodge as may often happen when paddling a 12'6" longboat on the left side of this rapid. My neck and shoulders were still sore two weeks after I took that beating, but I made it up at the end. Still, I don't think that beating compared to the horrendous haul uphill at the bridge with the Taifun. Though I enjoyed the longboat paddling, I think I'm ready to put it up for a while. However, that slender & sleek yellow boat did look rather sexy on top of the all jet black Nissan X-terra.

Heading Home

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back to the Broad

As some of my friends know, I have a fondness for the French ladies and, when I heard the SRVCC was planning a trip back to the French Broad, I had to mark it down on my calender. Grant and I drove down on Friday night to meet up with the club at the Hot Springs Campground. Following a night hanging out by the campfire and getting some sleep in my car, I was up and ready for some boatin' the next day.

The SRVCC at the Barnard Put-in

Grant throwing some ends

Two experienced canoeists stylin' the Broad

Joe exiting Pillow Rock

After running some of the bigger rapids and playing some of the smaller features along the way, we came to one of the best waves on the French Broad.....the Sandy Bottoms Wave. Many from the group spent quite a bit of time getting in some big wave surfing.

Delane shredding it up @ Sandy Bottoms

Grant bouncing down the Sandy Bottoms Wave

We stopped a couple of times during the first half of the run down to Stackhouse. During one break on the riverside, a total of 39 boaters were counted in our group. This was quite a gathering and shows the camaraderie of the SRVCC....truly a friendly and welcoming group with which to paddle. Eventually, after the grueling paddle through Windy Flats, we made it down to Kayaker's Ledge and Frank Bells. I had a lot of fun running and playing in the two big ones.

SRVCC taking a break on the French Broad

Trying to Freewheel on Kayaker's Ledge

Grant exiting Frank Bells

Glutton for Punishment.....surfing Frank Bells!!!

The next day there were a few less on the river. However, we still had a wonderful time and, this time, Grant & I knew where the best playspots were to be had. One of my favorite playspots on the French Broad is now the wave and hole in the top of Pillow rapid. It takes some effort and determination to climb the eddies to get in these features but is well worth it.

Second Day at the Put-in

James leading the group

Grant catching air @ Pillow

Grant shredding it up

Kevin carving onto the wave @ Pillow

Surfing on the French Broad

On the second day, the group just ran down to Stackhouse. It was a shorter period on the water but was packed full of fun. A few were able to join us on Sunday that were not on the river with us the day before. Mercer was able to get in a little more practice swimming before the drive home, but so did I the day before at good ol' Frankie. All in all, it was a great weekend on and off the water with the SRVCC.

Mike Mabe running the bottom of Pillow

The group heading downriver