Sunday, June 13, 2010

From Beau: Pringle Run and “the dog”

This Sunday (6/6/10) began uneventfully when I woke up expecting to drive down and paddle the Upper Blackwater. A check of the gauges revealed that the Blackwater was low, but rising slowly. I began driving down to meet Jeff Blood, Dave Carey, and Dave Haines down in Friendsville.

And then it started raining…

I met Jeff in Washington, PA and we began driving down to meet the other guys. It continued to rain steadily. It looked like the rain was headed to the canaan valley. By the time we reached the Bruceton Mills exit on I-68, we could barely see 100 feet ahead of us because of the rain. We stopped by the Little Sandy to see if the Little Sandy was coming up, but it still looked too low to boat. When we arrived in Friendsville, the water at the takeout of the upper yough was already up to the stairs. We met Dave and Dave and tried to decide what to do next. We were about to continue to the Blackwater, and then Jeff checked the rain gauges again.

Preston County, West Virginia had received an inch of rain in one hour.

So we decided to stay in the area, and see if we could find something to scrape down.

Our first stop was the take out of Roaring Run. When we arrived, the water was high and rising fast with water the color and consistency of chocolate milk. None of us had ever ran Roaring run, but we had all heard reports that Roaring run was full of wood. We decided Daughtery Run might be a safer choice, so we went and looked at that instead. When we arrived at Daugherty, it was already high. As we were suiting up, we watched the creek rise another 6 inches or so in about 15 minutes.

If you haven’t been on Daugherty when it’s high, I highly recommend it. We cruised through the boogie water and smaller rapids, and rocketed down several long slides that Daugherty is so well known for. There was some wood, but it wasn’t bad (most of the time). The one rapid I remembered from the last time I ran Daugherty is known as the “cave rapid.” As we passed under an old bridge, we knew we were getting close. Suddenly, we heard a voice from the left. There was a guy on shore that called us over and told us that the right-hand channel that we were about to take had wood in it. The group ahead of us had run it blind. Two other guys were able to boof over it on the far left, but the guy on shore had gotten caught up in it. He told us he had almost drowned, and had also broken his paddle in the process. We walked around and continued warily. After several more fun slides we reached the take out.

We tried to decide what to do next. It was almost six o’clock, but there was still plenty of water in the creeks. Elsey Run was right down the road, but due to the lack of beta and daylight beta about one of the steepest runs around, we decided to play it safe and head to Pringle Run instead (only 500 feet per mile). You know it’s a good day of boating when Pringle Run is your backup plan.

It was my first time on Pringle Run, but Jeff Blood and Dave Carey had been on it a few times before. We scouted some of the drops on the way up the road, and then we put on above the Pringle Falls. Everyone had good lines off of probably the coolest waterfall I have ever run. It was a really bony slide into a small pool, and then right off the falls into a deep pool. I found out later that most people portage the slide above the falls. There was a sweet slide after the falls followed immediately by some fun steep boulder drops all the way down to the Cheat.