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