Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer Surprise

Mike showing off the gradient of Rasler Run

After doing a little light creeking on Monday 8/20 (an unheard of date to do any type of creeking on in this region), we were amazed to check out the radar and see a weather cell 400 miles wide preparing to cross Southern PA. Predictions called for 2-3 inches on top of the 1.5 we already had, and the phone started ringing. I must say it was Christmas in August, and a few of us went to sleep in utter anticipation of what Tuesday could be.

Tuesday morning, the Ohiopyle area received over 3 inches of rain, and it was on. Folks began calling off work, and we decided to take a shot at an obscure steep creek that drops into a pretty regularly run creek near Ohiopyle. The name of the game: Rasler Run, and at a max gradient of 310 fpm, it was good to go.

Zach and Jeff Put In

After setting shuttle on a road that makes Rockville Road (Lower Big Sandy) look like the autobahn, we put into a swollen patch of flat water below a downed tree and off we went into the gorge. Our group included, Matt Pascal, Zach Frederick, Jeff Macklin, Mike Whaley, and myself (Jason Hilton). The first part of the creek involved some high-speed waves, as we made a gradual departure from a few local homes and into the gorge. We knew that this run runs once every few years, and that trees were definitely going to play a big part of our journey, so we followed all of the general creeking safety tips (like not leaving an eddy until you can see the next), and proceeded cautiously.

Mike @ Wife Beater

Matt @ Wife Beater

Then came the gradient… The first rapid which we affectionately labeled Wife Beater was a nice series of low angle s-turning slides that instantly reminded us of Daugherty Creek in WV. The length of the rapids often called for extended scouting sessions, and memorizing lines upwards of ten moves and the negotiation of wood hazards around generally every corner. At Bridge to Nowhere, the line included some boulder hoping, skirt a strainer, a nice S-turn, a drop through a Sluice, and catching an eddy which allowed you to limbo a rather low bridge. Memory for lines was key.

Mike and Matt in it

Zach @ Bridge to Nowhere

Matt @ Bridge to Nowhere

Jeff @ Bridge to Nowhere

Further down the gradient continued to increase, and the gorge switched from dense rhodo cover to a more open rhodo and pine mix, allowing us to see further down and how deep in this gorge we really were. We continued on to Unchained Melody, a nice two-tiered set of waterfalls set tightly between immense undercut boulders. Here we spent about a half hour clearing out a strainer from the line to allow us to fire this bad boy up.

Matt Slot Move

Zach Slot Move

Zach @ Unchained Melody

Further down we came to a stretch of about 300 yards that required portaging around two large, river wide strainers blocking a nice 10-foot sluice drop and some good boulder gardens. One day this might be a good one to clean out. More rapids, more scouting, and more exclamations of amazement brought us to AK47, a nice boulder garden drop ending in a steep boxed in drop into a sticky hole lined on both sides by nefarious looking rocks. Two lines presented themselves, and while neither one made it look clean, I give credit to Jeff and Zach for choosing the smoother line than mine, and was glad I had enough energy left to keep from getting sucked into a bad place.

Jason in some gradient above AK47

Jason @ AK47

Matt @ AK47

Mike @ AK47

The last rapid, Submarine involved a tight sliding move down a sloped rock and into a chamber lined on one side by a 20 foot cliff wall and on the other by two ominous undercuts, and then an exit down a series of quick bedrock slides, and out into Indian Creek at 4000 CFS. We quickly made our way to our shuttle vehicle and remarked on the awesome opportunity we just had. It is creeks like these that remind a number of us of why we boat.

Mike @ Submarine

Jeff @ Submarine

Job Well Done!!!