Monday, May 21, 2007

A Nice Surprise

Last weekend brought us a nice surprise. A rain shower located itself nicely in the Blackwater watershed, and we went from no prospects for the weekend on Thursday to a trip down the North Fork of the Blackwater on Saturday, followed by a Lower Blackwater run on Sunday.

Saturday began with me (Jason Hilton) meeting up with Jay Miller near my house and heading down to Davis to meet up with Sam Mershon, fresh off his graduation from World Class Kayaking. We were debating a drive down to Red Creek but once we saw that the North Fork was running low and dropping, we decided not to risk getting skunked and opted for a lap.

Sam At The PutIn

It was Jay and my second lap and Sam’s first. Both Jay and I had run this at significantly higher flows before so we were interested in seeing it with less water and learning the routes at a slower pace. Sam was, of course, just pumped to be getting on the North Fork. Luckily we also met up with some of Jay’s friends from Ohio (Brent, John, Jon) who had more experience than us and were able to feed us some good lines. We also opted this time to scout a lot more than last time, which gave me a better perspective on a lot of the rapids.

Brent With A Dissappearing Paddle And Alot Of Effort


North Fork (Rainbow Room and Double Indemnity)

The lines through out the day were mostly good, minus my upside down stuffing into the pothole at World’s Ugliest, but thanks to Brent that turned out well as well. On this trip I was able to refine a number of the lines that were sloppier on my previous lap so it felt good to be so much more in control and flying off the big drops that fill this little gorge. I have been working on stomps off of bigger drops as well, and this place was perfect for just such a technique.

Sam Abusing Dad's Creekboat

At the end we met up with some of the Chambersburg crowd who had just run a lap on their own, and we all went out for some dinner to share the stories of the day. The night involved our retirement to a free camping spot on top of a mountain nearby, and some exciting games of Frisbee horse and jai lei/baseball courtesy of Jay Miller and a trip to the dollar store. We were joined just before bedtime by some of the Pittsburgh natives looking for a place to crash.

Jay Playing Frisbee Horse

Jason And Sam Playing Horse

Jai Lei (Or Gay Toss As It Came To Be Known)


The next day, Kurt Knuth joined Sam, Jay and I for a run down the Lower Blackwater. We had hoped to get on the Upper, but only Sam was willing to fire up the 475 CFS level we received in the morning, and he opted to hang with us rather than fire it up with some bigger dogs, which is of course why we paddle with Sam in the first place. Everyone had great lines throughout the lower, and we often found ourselves remarking about why people didn’t do this run more often. By the end we all felt the need to bring our friends back to get them familiar with this run as well, and begin their exposure to some of the best runs in the Canaan Valley.

Jason At Krakatoa

Kurt In The Mix

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cheatfest Weekend

Cheatfest Weekend has come and gone. We usually use this as the marker that symbolizes the beginning of Upper Yough Season, and apparently everyone else does also because that river was PACKED Saturday. I know that our group took a couple of new boaters down, and every other group must have as well, as the day seemed like a carnage fest for all involved, and left me more tired than I have been on this run in a long time.

Upper Yough weight lifting contest

We did however manage to haul Bill Schwab out for his second run down this gem, and he managed to fair a lot better than his first run last season, hitting the majority of his lines and coming off the river with a giant smile. Other members of the group may have been more upset during the day. There was a wild rumor circulating that a certain new Got Boof Crew member (we won’t mention John’s name here to save him any embarrassment) may have taken it upon him or her self (don’t worry Rudland, I made the pronoun ambiguous so no one would guess it was you) was cussing out another member of the crew. It was all-good though; as we all chalked the slip up to nerves on his or her (don’t worry John Rudland, your identity is safe) third or so run down this wonderful river, and the added press of the extra bodies.

On to Cheatfest for the evening, which despite an early rain ended up being an excellent time as usual. The crowd looked to be a few thousand strong, and once the drizzle left, it warmed right up and everyone partied through the night. Unfortunately, one of our other members, Carl Schneider, who is deathly afraid of rats, had a rat poop in his hair while some girl was trying to freak him out. I was right there and saw the little poo fall into his thick locks, but he never saw it. Good luck with that Carl.

Steve and Jason holding down the Cheatfest booth

Sunday included a run down the Cheat Canyon, which of course always involves some sort of adventure. Of course, I (Jason Hilton) only brought my creeking gear, so I looked like an armored newbie taking my creeker down this play run, which elicited many a laugh from my better-prepared counterparts. After trying to catch every eddy I could in order to somewhat assuage my idiot appearance, we ended up at typewriter, only to have one of the members of the group we were paddling with suffer a dislocated shoulder. This river dislocates more shoulders than any other river I know. So up the hill he went, on his way back to the put in and a few months of rehab.

The day also included the addition of a topo duo to the paddling fleet, which everyone and their mother appeared to get a chance to paddle. People were playboating it, flipping, swimming, all sorts of fun. Big ups to Shawn Yingling and partner for rolling this beast in Cueball and continuing an awesome surf. Great weekend!!!

Crew change

Typewriter Topo

Goin for the loop at Cueball