Sunday, July 15, 2007

07 Summer Trip

Video: 07 Summer Trip
(This is a long one so don't think your computer is broken if it takes a while to download)

The Carpetbaggers (Yankees who go South)

On July 5th, a group of us set out for a journey South to escape the drought here, knowing we could catch the Cheoah on dam release through the weekend, and hoping to catch a run on the class V classic Green Narrows. Leaving on Thursday, we decided to stop part of the way down for a low water hike along the Lower Meadow. Here we were able to see just how dangerous a river this can be, and were able to do a little spelunking inside the cave at “Coming Home Sweet Jesus.” One look at this beast and it is clear why this rapid could be so deadly and why it remains a walk for even the most hardened creekboaters in the area. From Pittsburgh, the group included Jason Hilton, Jeff Macklin, John Rudland, Carl Schneider and Dave Haines. In Erwin, Tennessee, we met up with the some friends from D.C., Maggie Snowel and Scott Anderson, who would be joining us for our paddling adventures.

Coming Home Sweet Jesus


July 6th was going to be a day of park and huck action with the lack of natural flowing water down there to grab runs on, so our day began at Triple Falls in Dupont State Park. Here the Little River of NC drops over some rather large bedrock shelves, making at least the middle one “runnable” at any level. Each of the drops is around 40 feet high and quite intimidating to look at, but once we had the line for the middle one, it was just a matter of pushing off and holding on. A huge crowd came out to cheer us on as we took turns hucking off this drop and splashing around for the crowd.

Triple Falls

Dave Haines Airborne at Triple Falls

John Rudland Firing It Up

Scott at Triple Falls

We continued the day by traveling to a lesser known park and huck called Lower Whitewater in the Jocassee drainage in South Carolina. We were told never to go there if there is any rain as it can never be too low, but can easily be too high. Well it also makes the rocks incredibly slick. As we got to the drops, which were amazing for sure, the rain cut loose, and everything went crazy. Ropes came out and just moving around on the rocks became a real challenge. Even though this was one of the most amazing places we have ever seen, and the drops looked reasonably good to go, the added danger of the slick rocks and 320 foot tall waterfall only 100 feet away, sent us walking out without any boating.

Lower Whitewater

Roping in

On July 7th, with the Green still not running we departed for the Cheoah @ 1000 cfs. The last time we were at this run it was in the 1300-1400 range which made it quite exciting, and while still exciting at 1000, the fun level definitely lessens a bit. Unfortunately, early in our run we lost John Rudland to a shoulder dislocation and Dave Haines to drive him to the hospital, but those that remained finished out the run in good spirits for our missing comrades.

Jason at Big Bear Falls

Later we met with John and Dave for dinner and while driving to a campsite, noticed that a small creek was running next to the road and decided on a dusk patrol mission down it beginning around 7:30 pm. The creek turned out to be the Lower Santeetlah, a nice little class III stroll through the woods that must have been running due to some isolated thunderstorm upstream. It wasn’t the type of run we were necessarily targeting, but was neat to grab while we were there.

Jeff boofing in Lower Santeetlah

On July 8th, with the Green STILL not releasing we went for another lap on Cheoah, this time at the lower 850 cfs level. At this level, it really is only good from Big Bear rapids down and the day was spent battling the heat and be-bopping along waiting for something to pick up. After the run, we decided to get a head start on the drive to Pittsburgh and try to catch the Upper Yough the next day.

Carl at Big Bear Falls

Maggie at Big Bear Falls

July 9th on our way to the Upper Yough, we made the mistake of calling the Green Line only to find out that they had decided to change their release schedule and let out some boatable water, and we were now 6 hours away and unable to get there. I guess that is how it goes. Carl, Jeff and I (Jason Hilton) still had a great time on the Upper Yough, our summer time stomping grounds.

Fortunately, the trip reminded me of just how good we have it here in the mid-Atlantic region. The south definitely has some quality runs, but they lack the consistency we have here, both in quantity and quality. I know I for one will never be leaving this great region to paddle again without some guarantees of great whitewater, and I will cherish my three runs a week on the Upper Yough.