Monday, May 26, 2008

Old School Huckin'

Recently a local boater sent me this nice piece of Ohiopyle Falls history.

From Ted Proctor:
Billy Z and I were (are) long time river guides at LHRT so we were used to coming up with goofy ways of amusing ourselves.

You might remember (and you can see from the photo) that the Ohiopyle locals used to have "yes" and "no" painted on the rock shelf in between the viewing platform and the falls. This was so that kids knew where to jump off. One day Billy saw a local kid riding his bike around the park and got the idea ride a bike off the falls. He ended up doing this twice. I think Scott Patton may even have it on videotape.

Anyway, it's such a goofy picture that one person who saw it thought we had photoshopped it. I can guarantee it's the real deal.
You gotta love the shorts and Ace helmet - a nice 80s touch (the picture is from the early 80s).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jonathan Run

After a great day of boating yesterday, I (Jason Hilton) had resigned myself to graduate work and tending the potpourri on Sunday, so hadn't even bothered to set the alarm for the day. A few friends called to check on creeks north of Pittsburgh, but nothing was running, gas costs too much, and the bed seemed extra comfortable. However, one of the most low-key paddlers I regularly paddle with, Zach Frederick was continually calling and messaging my phone. Something must be up, right? After finally answering the phone, Zach informed me that his yard, close to Ohiopyle, had turned into a small pond overnight, and that anything we ever wanted to do was ripe for the picking. Quick pack of the gear, boat on car, potpourri left un-tended yet again.

On the way to get Zach, Shawn Yuengling rang in looking for some adventure, bringing the group to three, a perfect squad for some exploratory creek boating. The target for the day was Jonathan Run, an obscure micro-creek in the Yough watershed. Zach had previously scouted the run dry, and all of us spoke to more experienced boaters from our region to get beta on this very-rarely run steep.

Unloading of the boats

Arriving at Jonathan, we were greeted with a perfect low level, the kind that floats you through every rapid with plenty of time to pull over and scout the next blind drop. The first 3/4 mile of the run was the standard class II entry you find on most of the creeks that enter the Yough, complete with wood around each corner to duck, limbo, or carry.

Shawn negotiating a hazard

Once the creek took off down hill, our pace slowed, our eyes opened up wide, and we reaped the kind of rewards only creeking can give. The first major drop, we affectionately named Puke, as the left side of the bottom of the drop bore a striking resemblance to Puke on the Upper Blackwater. The rapid began with a marginal line off of a ten foot waterfall, a quick boat thrust over a log, and then a boof off of the Puke part of the drop, on river right. First rapid down, portage some logs, next drop to run.

Shawn, bottom drop of Puke

Zach, bottom drop of Puke

The next major drop included a slide down a rock to avoid a tree, then riding a narrow current next to a small undercut, duck some trees, then on down a shallow slide for about 100 feet. If it sounds as though there is a lot of wood on this run, there was. It strikes me that this is one of the runs that is run so rarely, people are unlikely to go in and clean out these drops, so you make do with what you have.

More wood

The third major drop was the one we had been on the lookout for. It begins with a shallow boof off a five foot falls, down a slide into an undercut notch in the rocks complete with hole and cross current water maybe three feet wide, and then quickly off of a twenty footer into a shallow pool, with a run to the right appearing catastrophic. The drop appeared to be runnable, but the possibilities in the notch, and the likelihood of a river right descent of the final falls (and the resulting medivac) put us all on the path of portage.

Zach in the Steeps

Just after the falls, we gained a nice series of steep boulder gardens, some more logs to portage, and ultimately a tunnel. The tunnel appeared to just have a wave train going down the center, so I quickly setup to take photos of my partners cruising on through. Shawn was the first to run the tunnel, and I noticed about 3/4 of the way through he took a sudden drop and punched through something of size, alerting me of a hidden hole within the confines of the man-made passage. As Zach went through, I alerted him of the hole to which he responded "awesome" and off he charged. On my run through, I took great care to keep up some forward speed in order to come through the hole clean on the other side.

Shawn @ Tunnel

Zach @ Tunnel

At this point we dropped a small rapid and were thrust into 9000 cfs of Lower Yough fun. A few miles went by very quickly, we spotted our takeout, and congratulated each other on a fantastic run.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cheatfest Weekend

The Rudler Returns

Ahh another great Cheatfest weekend here in our backyard.

Saturday began with a quick run down the Lower Big Sandy, to give the new creekboat a test drive (Bliss Stick Mystic - New Red). Spring is really showing up on the trees and all of us remarked on the beauty of the day's run numerous times. What a nice change of scenery from the winter we have grown accustomed to.

This day saw Bill Powers first run over Big Splat after years of eyeing this one up as others have passed by.

Bill Powers

Additionally our buddy John Douglass decided that if Bill could take a crack at it, so should he.

John "Soc Em Dog" Douglass

Well of course some lines are bound to work out better than others.

Boat Modification

After we all regrouped and talk about our Big Splat adventures, we were off to finish the river in the company of good friends.

Rick @ First Island

Once we made it to the takeout the majority of the group went off to catch a run on the Cheat, however Bill and I ran off to meet up with Math Pascal and Greasefire Rob at the Upper Yough for a 2.4' roller coaster ride down one of our favorite runs. Everybody enjoyed the higher level and took great pleasure in blowing through the run in race worthy times.

After the river running ended, it was time to get down to the festival for some heehaw stomping good times. After stopping in to tell the Stonyboater guys how sweet my new Mystic performed and to thank Kayakhabit for the awesome vintage threads, it was off to see all the people we have missed out on for the last year. Math Pascal demonstrated for all in attendance how to properly get down to some of his favorite bluegrass tunes, which left us partying until the wee hours of the morn'.

Lucky for us some rain moved into the area late at night and Sunday morning brought us a chance to catch a low water run down the Upper Blackwater, the perfect ground to really put the new creekboat through its paces. We dropped in, boofed our way down river and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in this exquisite wilderness.

Bob Gedekoh Showing The Way

After the hike out, Jeremy Weber and I (Jason Hilton) caught a quick run own the Top Yough to finish off a spectacular weekend having hit four of the regions ultra-classic runs.