Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter Water

This week we have had a great turn in the weather. Early in the week we managed to catch about 5 inches of snow, and then just for the weekend, it warmed up and began to rain pushing water into all of the wintertime class IV runs that surround our region. The fun for me (Jason Hilton) began on Saturday with a trip to the Top Yough with Mike Whaley and Joshua Bernstein. We were expecting to be in the 300's, a lower but fun level, which would allow us to take in the beautiful snow covered surroundings, as we picked our way on down through the namesake river of the time period we have affectionately dubbed, Top Yough Season (Officially, after Gauley Season and before Creek Season).

Quiz: What Is Mike Missing?

Hard To Squeeze In With All The Gear On

What we received was a river spiking up towards 800 CFS and a nice pushy rush through the run. We spent the majority of the time guessing what the level could be, and none of us guessed as high as it was. I wonder if it would have made any difference in our lines.

Mike @ Swallow Falls

Josh And Mike Below Swallow

Josh Below A High Suckhole

Either way the day was great. We were on a time crunch, so we set out to run two laps both at good speeds. The first one was a nice sharp reintroduction to winter paddling, with a few missed lines and some cold water on the face, but overall the lines were good. The second lap saw the addition of two more paddlers, (Cody and John) and we all quickly buzzed down through the run. For the most part, our lines improved and we enjoyed the higher water rush through this regional classic. Sticking with our agenda, we made it back to Pittsburgh by 4:00 pm for dinner with the folks.

John and Cody's Shuttle Vehicle

Sunday brought a host of choices as the rain and melt continued. Matt Pascal, Carl Schneider and I decided to go down to the Tygart watershed, so that they could bag some new creeks, and we could meet up with the Baltimore crew. Our group began as ten as we put on to Laurel Creek for a run down this bedrock gem. Only myself and another paddler had been here before so smiles were apparent the entire way down the river, as people took in the great rapids of this awesome creek.

Healthy Baltimore Carnage

I was surprised to see so many members of our group run floating boulder, as this is generally snuck, but it was a nice rush that 5 or 6 of us had to partake in. Along the way one or two boaters walked out as they realized they may be in over their heads, and we had a prolonged recirc and swim within 10 foot falls, but none of these instances got in the way of an awesome day and congratulatory commentary at the end of the run.

Art Taking The Meat Head On @ Floating Boulder

Kevin And Sam Below Floating Boulder

Topher In It

Matt And Sam

We then slowly made our way over to Teter Creek, because that is what you should do when you have just run Laurel, as it is only two miles away. Teter was at a perfect med to high level that made for a wide variety of lines possible, and while we did have some carnage as individuals decided to experiment, we also had a great time taking in the small gorge this creek runs through. As Carl put it, in a moment of elation, "This is one of the best days of paddling ever."

Teter Scenery

Matt's Happy Face

Carl Loves It

On our way to check out a third creek we ran into a couple of roadside waterfalls. Kevin and Sam from Baltimore took off like children at recess to get some video of some big drops. After watching them huck two falls, it was time to head home and wish we didn't have to go to work tomorrow.

Kevin And Sam Roadside