Beaver River Rendezvous 2019

As some know, New York is one of my favorite places. Over the past few years I have discovered how good the whitewater is and have been making trips. It took a little, but after talking it up I finally convinced people to join me for Beaver River Rendezvous. Thomas had been convinced earlier, but due to uncontrollable circumstances couldn’t come last year. Peter also chimed in with interest. So I had managed to rally a crew. I was more surprised as I got closer, it grew. Ended up with Todd, David, Tanya, and Andy joining up. With some planning out of the way we then arranged to paddle the Bottom Moose on our way up on Friday. Tanya and Andy decided to get some playboating in and went up ahead of time to the Ottawa.

Bottom Moose

When Friday finally rolled around we all started our migration North. Peter and Thomas carpooled with me, so the trip was not as lonely as in previous years. We ended up being little behind Todd and David, and when we rolled into the put in they had made a friend who’d be joining us. There was a little apprehension with how much daylight we had left, but I felt confident we could get done with some light. Once shuttle was set we headed down to the water. Peter noticed the ramp and decided to run it. He gathered up some good speed, flew into the air, and landed flat. No one else was going to run it, but now they definitely wouldn’t.

Todd on Fowlersville Falls

We ran the standard line at Fowlersville and it well for most. Thomas managed to get hit in the nose with his paddle. Even though he has a full face it got right in the opening. I’d seen this happen to others there, you build up some speed and need to mind where you keep the paddle. At Funnel the lines were mixed. While we hopped down in a controlled manner, there were still some jitters left. We paddled on and got out to scout when we came to Knife’s Edge. While we had gotten a nice unexpected bump and the river was around 3.1ft, I was still not sure the boof line was in. After describing the standard line to everyone, we looked over the boof. Both our new friend and I agreed it looked a bit low to be running it. Ran up and demonstrated the standard S-turn line and waited below. The rapid was run without major issue, but we spent a bit longer than I’d have liked there.

At double drop, we just ran the left hand line to speed things up a little. This brought us the the portage and Agers. More time was lost while portaging, and light was starting to look a little scarce. The lead in to Agers seems intimidating, but it’s nice and clean. The drop definitely added to the stoke for the crew and we continued to boogie down. As light was getting limited, I made the decision not to scout Shurform. Told everyone the line, punch the guard wave, stay to the left, then headed down myself. Got a nice clean line and was followed closely by Thomas and Peter. Then both Todd and David got kicked into the center by the guard wave. Luckily all went well, but they had a mankier ride than needed. Powerline provided some fun, but it was darker still. As we got out to scout Crystal things got really dark. I pointed out the line, but did not have confidence I was able to convey where you should be. Thus we went and did the far right sneak all the way down and put in in the pool below. Admittedly it was disappointing to have missed the rapid. Just means everyone will have to come back for Moose Fest.

Raquette

On Saturday, we had breakfast then boogied over to Colton for the Raquette release. I wanted a bit of rest so decided we would all meet up at the put in at 11. This would be the main event for the weekend. The big run to start everything off, and I was leading six newbies down. Somehow while getting ready in the parking lot we acquired another, with a less than inspiring run. He was also new, had started a run, swam out of Colton Falls, and walked back up. We chatted with Alex and Graham, ran shuttle, then made our way down to the put in. The lead in rapid definitely intimated the group, but all ran it without problem.

This brought us the Colton Falls. I explained things, but it didn’t make sense to some, luckily some boaters came down. All had good lines and things started to click for the group. Then came some racers and there was confusion. Why wasn’t I taking us over there, it looks nicer. I explained everything, and headed up for my run. This would be my redemption for last year when I swam out of Colton Falls. Thomas and Peter decided to join. This made me feel better as there’d be someone to pick up the pieces. We all got to the mid point eddy without problem, then it was time for the slide. Cleared it and looked back up to catch Peter rolling up. Thomas came down and we collected. I got up on the rocks to grab photos of the rest of the group. It took them some time to start their run. Once they did, things started to go sideways up top. There were people drying out, and some less than stellar lines. I started questioning my decision to lead such a large group of first timers myself. However, they all got to the eddy and had good clean lines down the slide past the hole.

Tanya dropping into the bottom of Colton Falls

With everyone successfully down the hardest rapid of the run things should be easier from here. I forgot the name of the next two rapids, but they were of less consequence. Unfortunately, I also forgot the second was a nice big ledge with a sticky hole. It didn’t cause much trouble, but could have gone better. This brought us to the Narrows. With the river divided and a horizon line, I announced to the group that we were at a drop, and we would not be scouting it. I made sure everyone knew the line, down the right side of the left channel. Ride the shelf as long as you can and boof back in. The lack of scouting gave some a few nerves. I peeled out and started my run, nailed the line. Looked back to see Thomas nailing it.

Now we were coming upon Tubs, I announced it and the scouting location to the group. Some dropped down, and eddied out prematurely. I collected them and jumped out to scout. With everyone on the rock next to Tubs, I started explaining the line. The view from the main part of the rock isn’t great, so I went out onto the further extension of it and showed some the auto-boof flake that you are aiming for. We watched a few go down so people had an idea what a good line looks like. Then I headed up for my run so I could setup to get photos. As I finished getting in my boat I saw Stevie come down in a long boat for his race lap. I watched as he dropped in and saw Juan and Jon scurry off the scouting rock. As I was the only other person in a boat I hurried off, got a bit of a stern squirt on one of the lead in holes, then executed my line through Tubs without issue.

Upon arriving at bottom of the drop I caught Stevie carping his last roll and bailing. I hurried over to offer my tail to help him to shore, but he was still a bit winded. A rope came from shore, and I paddled back up to the spot I’d setup for photos. On Thomas’ run he messed up the first half of the drop and started getting worked in the tub. After a little working he flushed over the lip and down to the retentive pour over. Here he got lucky and landed in a decent spot, drifted away and rolled up. Tanya came down, made the first drop, but got too far left and hung up on the rock that divides the drop in two. She couldn’t make it into the eddy or down. Andy dropped down and Tanya got pushed down backwards into the pour over. Unfortunately, she didn’t have Thomas’ luck and ended up swimming out of it. Both were left a little shaken.

This brought us to the last big rapid, Particle Accelerator. I led everyone out onto the island to scout. As we watched people run it, Thomas needed some convincing. Andy did not make this easy. While we were discussing the rapid, he went up for his run. Somehow he managed to crash into the right hand wall, get deflected most of the way left, and flipped. I had been insisting that whatever you did, you didn’t want to end up left of the exploding rooster tail. Of course this is where Andy ended up, upside down. Luckily he washed through, but it did not help convince Thomas he should run it. After a bit more discussion, both Thomas and Tanya decided to run it. Thomas wanted to follow me down, so we both went to the top of the island and started our run. The entrance went fine, but as I got to the slide a wave got me and I started to go over. Threw in a quick corrective stroke to keep me upright, but the damage had been done. Landed at the bottom lined up with the sticky part of the hole and stopped. I didn’t have much time and as I was trying to work my way out, Thomas landed right on top of me. Luckily my PFD helped protect from the blow, as I took all of it to my good shoulder.

Chatted at the bottom of the drop a little with Graham about the race and waited for the rest to make their way down. Andy had hiked up for a redemption run and had no issues this time. As we got ready to move on I let the group know we were done and there was only boogie water left. This wasn’t great as I had forgotten entirely about 200 Proof. While not as difficult as the stuff that proceeds it, it’s still Class IV (though you might say that’s boogie water compared to everything before). People had let their guard down and Tanya got momentarily pinned at the top before flipping over. She rolled up at the bottom, but then went for a ride in an innocuous looking hole below it. She held on for a while, but after a good thrashing swam. After collecting her we came to the realization that there wouldn’t be a second lap, nor would I get in my race lap.

Beaver: Moshier

We started off our second day a little early, though not as much as when heading to the Raquette. As I wanted to be able to get in two laps on the Moshier section, I suggested we grab breakfast somewhere. Took everyone into Croghan to Josh’s Riverside. It’s a great little restaurant with good food, and if you’re there later in the day, ice cream. Once everyone was no longer hungry we headed up to the put in for the Moshier section. We ran a little later than I hoped, and missed a few minutes of water.

Once on the water, those who hadn’t been here before were impressed with the spillway. We started down the flatwater and made our way to the first falls. As I had a few who had run it before with me, I was able to quickly go down the right side and grab some photos. I’m sure there was a little nervousness in some, as I hadn’t given much info on a line. Just to follow everyone else, and it’s cleaner than Wonder Falls. With everyone down I took us to the second drop. I gave a brief explanation of the line and pointed out the scouting location in case anyone was interested. Then moved on, as I wanted two Moshier laps. As I got to the lip of the drop I realized I was too far right. Nothing bad, but not where I wanted. Thomas followed and went even further right. As more came down a trend was starting. It took a little to get the message relayed up that people needed to be more center/left. The lead out of this drop also has some kick to it. I’ve seen it provide some good carnage. This time round, it was providing some spice to Todd. He went for a ride, and was rolling up as dropping into the last stage of it sideways. It provided for a good show, but eventually we discovered it had cracked his boat.

After this there were some flat water and nice class III’ish rapids, I always forget how many. During this David discovered that he had also cracked his boat. A nice little interlude before we got to the main event, Moshier Falls. We started our dissection of the rapid, breaking it up into sections and working downstream. The first drop is relatively straightforward, so not much time was spend there. The second is where the fun really begins. We made sure everyone had an idea what the line was and watched a couple boaters before going to the main drop. The third drop of Moshier is the most impressive, and provides good entertainment. Once the line had been explained and a couple had watched, Thomas, Peter, and I went to run it. The run went well and we all got into the pool below the third drop with minimal issue and nice boofs. Once Tanya and Andy came down we moved on. I always forget about the last drop. Checked where people were running it, and headed down the right side to plug the big hole.

We finished up with enough time to do a second lap before heading over to the Eagle section. Some dropped and it would just be Peter, David, Andy, and I. Since his boat was cracked, I lent David my creek boat. Somehow he ended up also cracking that on his run down. Three boats cracked on one run in one day seems almost like a record. Andy and Tanya left us to make an early trip home and we were off to the Eagle.

Beaver: Eagle

This is one of the most visually impressive pieces of whitewater I have ever seen. You can walk to the bottom and basically just stare up some massive gradient and watch the water flow. It’s amazing what 200cfs and some rocks will do. Took Thomas and Peter down and scouted the drops. If you make it to the slides right side up and going straight, you’ll be fine. Once lines were thoroughly discussed we headed up to the spillway to start our first lap. We meandered our way down and things were going well until I got to the lead in for the big slide. I botched the entrance and got pushed further left by the hole above it. Ended up banging into the wall on the left and spinning around. This was not at all what I wanted. I was very surprised that I wasn’t instantly swept down. There was a bit of an eddy there and I was able to paddle up, surf out, and turn around to make a successful run of the slide.

We now regrouped in the big pool and got ready to run the crux move. I lined it up and though things were going ok. But once again I ended up getting washed into the rock jumble. Rolled up and pulled myself out in time to catch Thomas bouncing off the jumble guard rock. Once Peter came down we continued to the final drop, a nice 5-6ft boof drop. Now that everyone had been shown down, I was off to do my race lap. Since I chose to guide the crew down I got to wait in the race line. Sitting around always helps with the nerves and anticipation.

Eventually my turn came and Alex counted me down. I was happy with how I cut through the top section above the big drop. Getting in a practice lap was nice, it helped me dial in the lead for the big slide and I sailed into it cleanly. But this is where the good lines ended. I didn’t get my entrance to the hole at the bottom quite right and got flipped loosing some time. This brought me to the crux and I once again ended up in the mank upside down. This time I banged around more. This definitely cost me a good 20-30 seconds. The past couple years I had been messing up the entrance to the bottom drop, but cleaned it up for these runs. Still that wouldn’t make up the time I needed. Once down at the finish I was spent. Even though I could do a second race lap I didn’t feel it. The two laps I had done so far were some of the worst I had done.

Beaver: Taylorville

We woke Monday to rain. Checking the gauges, I saw not much had come in. But it looked like Fish Creek would be running at least if we wanted the option. Couldn’t convince people during breakfast. The allure of a quick run less that five minutes away was hard to beat. Plus it was something no one else had done. While hanging out after eating, Alex came by and chatted. He gave some good info on Fish Creek and it helped add to the case to try getting it on the way back after Taylorville. Eventually the time came to tear down camp, we packed up all the wet gear, and headed over to the put in.

The seal launch at the put in for the Taylorville is one of my favorite. An awesome way to add some low consequence excitement to a fun run. I was unable to convince anyone else to join me. Then it was off to Beaverator. What a great name for a rapid. As we finished up running it, a guy came running up looking for a phone, there was an injury. No one had one, and I offered up my sat device if needed. We got to the Great White Slide to see someone being stabilized. While everyone was ok in the end, it put a damper on the day. I had decided to run the hero line and catch the beer eddy, but botched it. As I could tell I wouldn’t make it, I decided to bail before slamming into the rock that makes the eddy. David took a similar line but didn’t bail and became friends with the rock. Showed everyone the lines at the next couple rapids, but generally moved fast as we were trying to get home. Got in a couple good boofs on the lower half, and spent some time at the play spot at the takeout. With that, another great Beaver River Rendezvous had come to an end and we were headed home.

Last Minute Mission to NY

4.26.19 – 4.28.19

This past weekend Thomas, Peter, and I got in a quick trip up to the superb whitewater up in northern New York in the Tug Hill plateau and Adirondacks. Originally the plan was to head out to Ohio for the Cuyahoga Falls race. I had been interested in the Sheraton Section and Tinker’s Creek for some time and the race seemed like a good excuse to go on a mission I’d otherwise not take. Thus I sent out feelers and started to rally a crew for the trip. As the date drew closer the forecast stared looking like rain might bump things too high. So I started working on a backup and checked what the conditions up north would be. I had been watching Alex’s videos of the spring runs they were getting and was itching to get up for some of the fun. The ground was primed from a storm a week ago and things were looking good for the incoming one. So I checked to see if people were interested in a New York trip if I drove. A core crew was, thus a backup born.

On Thursday evening conditions were looking very up in the air. The rain had started but gauges had yet to rise. I reached out to Alex to see how he thought the weekend in New York would be. He had a good feeling for the prospects of the weekend’s paddling. Thus the dithering began. By Friday morning the rain in both locations was in full swing. The gauge for Cuyahoga had started to rise. I wasn’t quite feeling the six hour drive out there to get skunked. Being Ohio, there’s no other whitewater. If it was a no go, it would be a no boating weekend. But I still wasn’t quite ready to make the call. The yes/no margin had narrowed and there wasn’t as much rain as initially predicted. Thomas reached out to the organizers and they were still optimistic as the gauge was downstream of a big tributary.

Afternoon came and levels had gone above running and Tinker’s was starting its spike. I decided New York was the better choice, with the infinitely larger run selection, and started the attempt to redirect. We decided to discuss things when we met up to carpool. Then around the time Thomas should be leaving to meet us, I get a hurried call. He was having trouble getting his car started. While it wouldn’t endanger the trip, I did want Thomas along. After a little, a text came through. He was running late, but on his way. In the parking lot the real dithering began. Loading up provided some time, but not enough. We started our drive up I-270 with about 20-30 minutes to Frederic, where we had to have a decision made as the routes diverged. The discussion went on and no real choices were being made. The race organizer had put up a video about the levels. It was looking beefy, but the race was still on. Squirreling continued up to the fork in the road at Frederic. I made an executive decision and took the road north, starting our seven hour drive to Old Forge. Eventually I choose that I’d power through and make it all the way and a hotel room was acquired.

The wake up call

Woke up to snow flurries and a message from Alex that there might be a rowdy first D to be had. We drove down the road to grab some breakfast and discuss. Unfortunately my usual stop, Keyes’ Pancake House, was closed. We ended up eating at Walt’s Diner. The food was good and the pancakes were huge. There was still some remorse for Cuyahoga and a little nervousness for the day’s runs. Once satisfied we headed off to meet up with Alex and see what he had in mind. We were greeted with a stout waterfall coming off the side of a hill as we drove in. Found Alex, made introductions, and hiked in to scout things while waiting for others to get there. The location we saw was a tight committed gorge with a series of complex drops, ending with a ~15ft waterfall. The main event was a drop with a shelf and wall 45 degrees to the flow. You had to ride the down the shelf as far as you could and do a sideways boof to place yourself in the flow without hitting into the impending wall. Some nervousness was brewing in my crew, and people weren’t sure they were interested in that particular section.

With that scouting out of the way it was downstream to say hello to the landowners of the downstream section and get permission to run it. Permission granted, we walked over to look at the next section. It was also a tight gorge, mostly committed, with a series of 5 drops. Starting off you had a slot leading to a small spoutish drop that looked a little retentive. Next up was another slot with a zig-zag move in it. Under some trees and you were at the first of the big drops, a 8-10 foot sideways spout that lands in a cauldron at the bottom of a gorge. After this was a slide that ended in another 10 footer followed shortly by the final 5 foot flake drop.

We suited up carried our boats in for the run. Some nervousness was present. Alex took the first run and showed us what the first drop would look like. The line was clean and we started getting ready for our runs. Thomas decided to go first and I headed down to the cauldron to grab photos.

When he got to the cauldron, it looked like he had made it, but went over quickly after landing in the eddy. Two roll attempts and he was sucked into the curtain for a beating. After a couple more, Thomas pulled and collected himself in the eddy. Unfortunately, his paddle washed downstream. I ran down to grab another paddle for Thomas, and when I got to the bridge where the creek went under the road I saw it floating into the distance. When I got up I found I had missed Peter’s run. Got the paddle down to Thomas, and after some looking around at the canyon walls, he started down. Thomas finished up with some nice lines on the lower drops and it was now my turn.

I walked up and got ready, a bit nervous about the cauldron. Paddled down to the first drop, entered the notch, and got through clean. I paused for a second here before continuing down to the zig-zag move in the next part of the canyon. I entered, taking my time and lined up for the rock that made the move. The pillow pushed started pushing me left and I got a nice sliding boof off the rock placing me right where I wanted to be to exit the squeeze. Caught the eddy after it and took a breather before starting on the cauldron. I peeled out and lined up for the drop, cut through the hole at the top of the drop and put in a lefty right as I was going off the lip. Landed clean in the eddy lined up perfectly to go under the trees. Kept up my momentum and headed to the slide that leads into the next drop. I liked the center/left line Thomas had taken, so I dodged some holes and worked in that direction. Took a boof at the drop and landed clean. All that was left was the final shelf and it went off without a problem.

Mill Creek

We collected ourselves and headed for the town drop on Mill Creek. In town we stopped at a parking lot on river right that looked down on the last part of the drop to scout. It was running but levels were towards the lower side. A friendly local came and chatted with us while we stood in the flurries staring down the drop. Finally people bowed to the cold, and it was off to run the drop. We put in on a small tributary by Stewart’s, paddled down a tunnel under town, and set up for the bridge drop. Looking downstream to set up for it was really cool having a gorge lined with buildings, then a horizon line. Took the river right line off the flake and then regrouped before the main event. You set up to punch a curler in the center, and try to keep to the center the whole way down. There’s a ramp to a nice auto boof. Afterwards, there’s some lead out with some sieved out rocks to keep you on your toes.

Independence

Having finished up in town it was off to the final run for the day. We headed over to the take out for the Independence. It was apparently too cold and too low, so we were just going to run the last couple drops at the end. The final set are Fat Lady, Bridge Boof, and The Wall, an impressive stretch of class IV-V rapids. This run is an area classic, and many run it for these drops. We walked up to the top and scouted all the drops on our way up. Thomas wasn’t feeling it so he was going to take photos and set safety. Alex ran it first so we could see the line. He hit the hole river left when dropping in and got spun around before the divider. He made it to the left and continued down without issue. Now it was my turn to run the drop, so I got in my boat and started towards the entrance.

When I got to the hole that spun Alex, I got flipped and very quickly was getting beat. I knew I had flushed to the right by the multitude of rocks I was banging against. I tried a roll and got nothing but a second hit to the head. At this point I decided it was best to bail as I was taking the brunt of the abuse. I came up as I was entering the second slide and it took a bit for me to get spun around. Thomas threw a rope and had a spot on throw, but as I got it, it started going near my head and I abandoned it. Finally I came to a stop at the drop above the Bridge Boof eddy. I watched my boat flush downstream and slowly made my way to shore. When I got there I found one of my dry suit’s legs full of water. I made my way downstream and saw Alex with my boat at the take out bridge so I walked over to the bridge. My boat had got a beating too, just not as much as myself.

After that I was done for the day and proceeded to change. I discovered that I had torn a hole in the knee of my dry suit. This explained all the water I had inside it. We then made our way back to Old Forge to clean up and get dinner. Along the way we stopped off at the different rapids of the Bottom Moose to check them out. While American Whitewater may say it’s running at 6ft, it isn’t for most mortal paddlers. Note that according to NY Exposed and LiquidLore the max is 6ft and the Inland Surfing Association places it at 5ft. There were numerous huge holes and places one just never would want to go. Along the way to take a look at Fowlerville Falls, we came across a porcupine. Not interested in making the day worse, we gave it space and tentatively made our way down.

Dinner ended up being at Tony Harpers. Overall the mood was good and jovial. My head wasn’t feeling great from the beat down and I was hoping some food would help. I tried some pizza but that just made me feel worse. There was pain radiating down my jaw from my ear and now the food made me feel a little nauseous. I switched to just water, but was definitely wearing my discomfort on my face. After some time we came up with the meeting time for tomorrow and parted ways. Back at the hotel room I took some Advil, and after a short time started feeling much better.

Woodhull Creek

The putin for the Woodhull

When I woke up I felt much better than the night before, though still sore. We packed everything up and headed to Walt’s again for some breakfast, then afterwards to Mountain Man for some quick browsing. Then it was off to Woodhull Creek to meet the Local Boater crew for the days run. The night before Pat had described the run as a “kayaker skate park”. This description had gone over well and the crew was looking forward to the run, with significantly less nervousness. When we got to the putin, it was a good deal higher than I had done it in the past. The whole run divides around islands in multiple places, giving you options. I wasn’t feeling the left line at the putin because it looked stout. I quickly went down the right to try to get photos. Unfortunately, my camera died just as I got set up. Alex made it look awesome and Peter sealed the deal. I had to go back up and do the left line. The curlers ended up being much easier to punch and the line went well.

We moved on to the next drop and Alex went down the center left and worked left. Some got out to scout. I was still feeling a little off from the previous day and bounced between both sides trying to boat scout. Eventually I went down without issue, followed by Peter. When Thomas came down I took both of them to the next rapid to scout it. The river left gorge had plenty of water, though it did look like one hole may be retentive. We watched a few people run it then when up and ran it ourselves. Peter caught the eddy and got held up. I bumped into him leaving when I got there. Thomas also got spun around in the eddy. While more came down I again took Thomas and Peter to scout Brick in the Wall, the center channel rapid. This is an impressive slide with a couple river right rock bumps that form holes or waves. It ends in a beefy hole that can easily work a boater (or swimmer).

A few went and ran it while we watched. I had grabbed my rope in case someone needed a hand, and Thomas went up for his run. He got far left, much further than you’d want and skittered down the rock to the hole. He managed to skip out without any issue. Peter went up and ran it, also punching through without problem. This meant it was my turn, I was feeling a bit iffy about how it would treat the RPM. I entered and had no problem up top, but when I got to the diagonal I did not punch it high enough. Thus I was pushed left and ended up with exactly the line I didn’t want, sliding down the rock into the hole. As soon as I hit, I stopped and got eaten by the hole. I setup and waited, but the expected chundering didn’t come. Feeling the calm, I pulled my roll and came up already flushed past the hole.

Peter and I then went up to do the river right channel. I had never even seen the run with enough water for this to be an option. I was still a bit nervous about it, but ended up taking the lead. The drops ended up being cleaner than I expected and provided some good fun. We waited a bit and them a few of us moved on the the final drop. This one is a nasty river wide hole that is more or less inescapable without a rope. The line is to boof into an eddy on far river left. The group of us ran it and were hanging out when we saw a boat drifting to the river left lip upside down. Luckily it flushed through and we saw it was empty. No swimmer followed which was good. Gear and people were collected and we made our way to the takeout. After chatting for a while, we determined that it was best that we head back to the DC area. We said our goodbyes and started on our long drive home. I made sure to stop at a Stewarts before we left New York so Peter and Thomas could have the full Northeast experience. The seed for more trips to the quality New York whitewater had been planted.

Trip Videos


Over the Mountain and Through the Woods to a Drainage Ditch

RunPiney (The Big Piney)
Date12.15.19
Level8in on bridge, ~850cfs on USGS 02027500

Due to some significantly better thought and planning on Todd’s part a trip down south into Virginia was organized. With my car in the shop for a leaking roof, I wasn’t paying much attention to the weather. But he was watching the key storm that was brewing, with lots of rain planned. The trip started of being me leading the group down Johns. Rain started on Friday and by the time we were driving down the gauge for Johns was heading up quickly. I started working on the alternate plan, and getting everyone on the same page. The primary option would be the Maury,  but there were also other creeks in the area that would definitely be running. While looking I stumbled upon the Piney River, one basin down from the Tye. After some dithering in a rest stop parking lot I had the group convinced to do a lap on the Maury and head to Piney to check it out.

When we arrived at the Maury things were big, looking potentially the highest I have run it. Todd estimated it being at around 3000cfs, later to be proven correct. From my previous high level experience there I knew things would be big and any rock gardens would be no more. Took my new preferred line, that I learned from some locals that previous run, through Devil’s Kitchen. The diagonal  across the rapid starting at the top left eddy was nice and smooth and I had one of my best lines through. Overall everyone had good runs, albeit with some minor carnage. A new personal highest level for everyone, and we thoroughly enjoyed the run.

My kind of drainage ditch

With a good first run for the day we started off to check out the Piney. As we made our way over the mountain the snow on the ground increased and it got foggy. We crossed the ridge that the Blue Ridge Parkway runs on, started down, and turned onto a slightly snowy dirt road. A drainage ditch soon appeared along side the road. It quickly picked up gradient and wood, lots of wood. Almost every other rapid had a log in the crux move about at chest or face height. While the water seemed low, almost everything would have been passable if not for the wood. All of a sudden there was some banging, and I saw Ken’s boat in the window. It apparently was very much in a hurry to get to the river. Luckily it skidded down into an eddy and I was able to quickly grab it before it got away. Talking to everyone while Ken reattached his boat, it was determined that people didn’t share his boats enthusiasm for the section. It seems I was the outlier with my reaction, “this is my kind of drainage ditch.” The gradient and wood continued, but eventually it let up and we started seeing a couple small houses and plenty of Posted signs.  As we continued down we passed some other boaters, confirming that this was the place to be today.

We put on at the standard spot at the national forest boundary and turn around. The fun started quickly and the rapids continued to build. Near the start were a couple low head type features that were a bit sketchy, and definitely would be dangerous at higher levels. They had hazards on both sides. Front causing siphons/strainers, the back being inescapable holes. The rapids throughout the run are boulder gardens all in the class 3 – 4 range. They were all decently complex, and lengthy. Toward the end of one a rock ended up calling to Noah. For some reason he could not break free of its spell and drifted into a nice pin. He was stuck good, but eventually Todd got him free.

About a third of the way down we came to one of the bigger drops that was visible from the road. While it looked nasty from the road this was more due to distance. It had a nice staging eddy river left set you up well to run it down the tongue that formed. The rapid ended up being much more friendly than it looked form the road. While the run is mostly road scoutable, this was one area it strayed away from the road. Below was a nice pool.

Things picked up as the run moved back towards the road. In a couple places it splits and is worth paying attention during to shuttle to see which side has more water or is tree free. The boulder gardens build and it gets to a nice class IV level with a swift pace. I’d describe it as a similar style to the Savage but a class up in difficulty. One of the more complicated drops had some trees piled up in them. The proper move was to boof off the entrance with left hand angle. That would set you up to continue down with the main flow. Unfortunately most of the group didn’t follow and went straight and caught the eddy that went to the right. They had to then scrape down some mank to get back to the main flow. The run comes to an end at a bridge with take out on the left.

Solo Boating

Over the past year or so I’ve heard a lot of talk about solo boating. Some have referred to it as their guilty pleasure. I will admit to going out truly alone a couple times myself, though I can count that number on one hand. When you get to the nitty gritty of things, I keep coming back to a saying one of my friends has, I might be paraphrasing a bit.

One person is a missing persons report

Two people is a reported drowning

Three people is a successful rescue

This gets me to what has bothered me most about all the talk about solo boating. “Three people is a successful rescue.” That day we had more than three people. Everyone acted to the best of their ability and did the best they could, yet we still lost someone. I have been at near misses, again when there were more than three people.

Just think about that and let it sink in. A group of experienced paddlers had the worst possible outcome when things went sideways. Contemplate the risk of the unknown unknown the next time you decide to go out by yourself. I love kayaking and the outdoors, but is the risk when alone truly worth it?

Teter and Laurel Creek, Tygart Arden

As the weekend neared, it looked like there was a chance for some good boating. I had missed all the fun the previous weekend when there was some good rain, but it left the area primed. Watching the snow that came on Thursday, I more and more felt like it would be good for a mission. There was a decent amount of precipitation, all frozen, and it would be warming up. I had a decent amount of interest as well. As Friday progressed I started focusing in on the Tygart and Buckhannon basin. Both were high, at the very top of the runable level. Closer runs were still trending downward and didn’t look like this would change by Saturday morning. Eventually I focused in on Teter Creek and announced the call. With a decision made people started dropping out, due to the distance. A number decided to head to the Top Yough. The evening rolled around and it looked like it would just be Bob, Ken, and myself. After some calls around I determined that everyone was ok with the small group size and the mission was on.

Teter Creek

The chosen run was Teter Creek. From what I could tell, this was the one that would fall out first. We met up at the Gaithersburg park and  ride to start the journey and I volunteered to be the driver of the alone car. When we got to the river, the water looked low but enough to scrape down. We decided it was a go. The shuttle down through Moatsville to the Tygart was short, maybe 10 minutes to run the whole thing and gave a decent overview of the run. Where we put in the gradient was low and the dogs many. About 10 dogs followed us for a short distance, barking all the way. The first few miles were twisting and mostly flat. It made its way through some farms and the quality of the scenery was not great. There was lots trash in the trees.

There were a couple smaller rapids, class 1-2ish stuff and things didn’t pick up until we came to Moatsville. The water was low thus there was only one route through the rapid there. As we got towards the edge of the village the rapids picked up. It constricted a bit, and in places there was only a boat width between the rocks. In one place there was a log in the main flow that may have been more problematic if the water was moving a bit faster. Eventually we got to the main event of the run, Suck Pop. This was a cool little rapid that ended with boof opportunity. Unfortunately I missed it, got flipped, and did a little underwater surveying. Next up was a slide. After a little we came to the Tygart.

Laurel Creek

We finished up relatively early and had to choose what to do next. There was plenty of time for a second lap and we decided to head over to Laurel Creek and leave the car at the bottom of Teter and get in some high level Tygart in as well. The drive up to put in Laurel was pretty short, maybe 15 minutes. Laurel starts off similar to Teter, relatively flat for a while and then drops off once it gets to the Tygart Valley. The scenery was however much better and was more remote. When we got to the rapids we found them to be more difficult than Teter. There was plenty of gradient and the closer to the Tygart we got to the tygart the more difficult things became.

In the meat of the descent is one of the nastiest undercuts I have seen. A big boulder is just hanging out in the middle of the flow and you can see water flowing out the other side. We ended up walking this one as not everyone wanted to run it and it did not seem prudent with such a small group. There was plenty of stout rapid below so this was not an issue. At the bottom of one drop there were a couple of nice flat holes that would make for good spins. Bob ended up in one of them for a bit before spinning his way out. Up next was a decent slide with some maneuvering to be done on the way down. We then came to a horizon line, not remembering any beta for it, I decided to follow the flow. Unfortunately this was not a good line and as soon as I got to the lip I saw some shallow boulders extending towards the landing zone. I tried to signal to Bob and Ken to go further right, but I was too far below the horizon for them to see. I now remembered the name, Ten Foot Falls, and the line. You’re supposed to try to aim for the right hand side and go off by the peak of the horizon. The left/center was not a great place at higher water either, but the rocks were not in play. Bob added a second dent to his bow here. All that was left was the last rapid down to the river. The steepness kept up and it was still decently complex. Unfortunately, Ken swam here and hurt himself.

Tygart, Arden section

The Tygart was booming and Bob and I had to paddle down to retrieve the car. The road ran along the Tygart and we were going to bring it up to Ken. The waves were huge as were the rapids. Neither of us had paddled the section and the only info we had was that at Moats Falls you want to be on the right, but far right was manky. When we got there I pulled the side to take a look, but Bob was just going. So I followed him down the far right side. It was definitely not manky, not a rock could be seen. There’s a chute you go down to the eddy on the right. Then you have to surf a wave back to the center to avoid going into a hole. Unfortunately I did not go far enough and got caught by the hole. According to Bob I was doing cartwheels in it before I pulled my freedom cord. Luckily the cleanup was quick and I was deposited in an eddy. While collecting, Ken came down to us. He had found a ride downriver. I handed over the key to him since it seems he would get to his car first. There was another big rapid after this, I couldn’t see down it and quickly walked around it. Bob ran down the center on a huge wave train. Saw Ken driving up to get his boat and we soon came to the takeout.

The Big Shoe Halloween at Keegan Ales

Made one of my pilgrimages back up to New York for one of the rare Big Shoe shows. As usual they did not disappoint and put on a great show and the venue is excellent as usual. Keegan Ales opens up the brewery floor for this event and its a pretty cool experience. After a bit of just enjoying the music I finally gave in. The lighting was really good and I could not sit by and not take photos. I had left my camera home, but my backup was in the car. Had a bit of trouble with the 50mm on an APC sensor. It was a bit more cropped than I would have liked, but it’s the best for the low light. I took advantage of my camera to sneak to the front and access areas the general crowd couldn’t.

The choice of song is always good and conducive to dancing. There good crowd on hand, but it was not as packed as other times. A little out of form The Shoe was not in their superhero regalia, much to Rich’s chagrin. At one point in the night the keg of Joe Mama’s Milk was kicked, luckily the side bar still had some. After finishing up the first set, Lara Hope and the Ark-tones took to the stage. Great local rockabilly group that I’m very happy to see playing with The Shoe again. First came across them when they opened for Tri-State Conspiracy at a car show in Wappingers Falls. They looked awesome dressed as the cast of Family Guy. Once done Santa came out to announce the winner of the costume contest. Then back into the brewery for The Big Shoe’s second set.

Fall Moosefest 2018

The weekend after Columbus day is host one of the best kayaking gatherings out there, Moosefest. A week or two before I was watching the levels and it looked like it would be a nice and mellow level, similar to what I had run it before. However, about Wednesday they got a bunch of rain, and by Friday the Moose was at beefy levels. I sat at work, watching level, looking forward to being in New York, but not the drive there. All the time I was wishing I had realized this was happening on Thursday. Had I, I would have called in sick so I could go paddle some of the runs that were in. The end of work rolled around and when I went to unload the cans of soup I had bought for lunch. Much to my dismay I discovered I had forgot my GoPro and would have to drive home to get it. With the added delay I arrived up at Fowlerville around 1am.

With less sleep than I would have liked I headed into Old Forge to grab some breakfast. I’m a fan of Keyes’ Pancake House, so that was the stop. The food is good and service quick. Then it was off to Mountain Man to chat with everyone I have yet to see, which was basically everyone since I arrived so late. The other goal was to grab some beta on the Independence. It was one of the things I had been watching, and there was still water. After a little I determined there were probably some people there. Managed to get Graham to lead me as he was looking for some redemption and knew some people headed there. So it was off to the Indy.

Independence River

The Indy has been on my watch list since I made my first trip to the Adirondacks for whitewater kayaking last year with Kevin. I was excited to catch it and it definitely delivered. When we put on it was about 485cfs, which ended up being slightly scrapey in some places. The run starts of with a nice stretch of class 3 boogie water. In a couple places a bit more padding would have been desirable. As you continue the rapids slowly build and become more complex. The first bigger one you come to is powerline, a ledge with an about five foot drop. It has an undercut on the left. Next is one where the river divides around some boulders. There’s a nice eddy in the middle where you can boat scout. Eventually you start getting towards the end and come to Fat Lady, a series of slides. Graham and I decided we were running it after taking a quick look. I messed up the entrance drop, but just managed to brace through it and make the line upright. I had decided to run the middle line and entered a bit off. At the bottom the hole grabbed me and I had to work a little to get out. We regrouped at the bottom and headed down to the bridge boof and The Wall.

The first bigger one you come to is powerline, a ledge with an about five foot drop. It has an undercut on the left. Next is one where the river divides around some boulders. There’s a nice eddy in the middle where you can boat scout. Eventually you start getting towards the end and come to Fat Lady, a series of slides. Graham and I decided we were running it after taking a quick look. I messed up the entrance drop, but just managed to brace through it and make the line upright. I had decided to run the middle line and entered a bit off. At the bottom the hole grabbed me and I had to work a little to get out. We regrouped at the bottom and headed down to the bridge boof and The Wall.

Left with one rapid before the takeout we got out to take a look. Stared it down and watched a couple other run it. Lines were not always clean, but all came out unscathed and we decided on our line. I started my run, and dropped in, staying to the left at the top. Once down to the half way point, just above the last drop I started to drive to the right. Unfortunately, I came in too hot and dried out. Got spun around, tried to drive across the flow and turn to punch the hole. Just managed to get all the way across, but didn’t get the boat straightened out. Landed in the pocket hole on the far left and started to get a working. Rode it for a little while and eventually managed to get my boat turned and worked my way out. Now that it was clear, Graham was up. As he entered the final drop, he was too far to the center. He hit a rock hard and got thrown to the right. It didn’t look like a painless ride, but he came through quick.

We finished up with enough time to get back to the Moose to see the race. Went to Crystal to spectate and help out with the finish line. This year’s race had a small turn out, probably due to the higher water. I was now feeling cold and decided to call it a day and changed into drys. Then it was off to Mountain Man for the festivities and to find out who won the Emperor’s Cup.

Lower Moose

Hung out for a little in the morning at Mountain Man, people were moving slowly. Jumped in with Alex on his run down the Lower Moose. I was advised to bring the long boat, and it was definitely the correct move. There’s a lot of pool in between the drops. The scenery is nice, with some color still on the trees. Most of the drops were not too complicated, but they were all good class 3 at least. At Mixmaster I blew my line, slammed into the rock shelf,  and ended up getting sucked back in. I rolled up and got windowshaded hard. But it was enough for me to determine that the boat wasn’t coming out easily. Pulled the freedom cord and got some good downtime. I then had a nice bit of exercise after to warm me back up. Greenboats hold a good deal of water. The theme of the weekend seemed to be not to get too much speed.

PNW day 5: McKenzie

We woke up nice and early at Baker Bay and discovered it was a very nice campground. It has good potential for a base camp of another trip. We only rose early because I set an alarm, but it was good I did. Todd had to get to the airport this day as his flight was in the evening. We quickly broke down camp and got on the road, probably before anyone in the campground had even noticed that we were there. We continued north on I-5 and searched for food. David selected Joe’s Diner in Creswell. Everything was tasty and it was a great place to start our day. After much deliberation (this had been going on since yesterday) we decided to paddle the McKenzie. Our original plan had been to be in White Salmon already and paddle the White Salmon again.

The McKenzie offered us a trip that could get Todd to the airport as well as be something new for all of us. Once we got to Eugene we got off the highway and started following the McKenzie upstream. This is another river like the North Umpqua that has many sections for a paddler to choose from. Its a class II-III run, which is what caused some of the reservation for paddling it. While looking at the run we found it would pass another hot spring. However, we weren’t going to have the time to stop and enjoy it. Also it was a commercial hot spring, so there would be some cost associated with it. As we headed to the take out I lost service, which increased my nervousness, since I had to check into my flight on Southwest.

We ended up splitting the run into two about 4 mile sections. For the first, Todd would be with us, then Matt would take him back to his car at the put in so he could go to the airport. David and I would continue downstream. The run ended up being more relaxed than the others and definitely was one you do for the scenery. There was not much flat and there were continuous riffles with some rapids mixed in. We came saw some people from the government out there with special boats counting the different fish.

Once we had finished the run we headed back to White Salmon to collect the rest of our gear and get ready for our flights home the next day. On our way home we went via Government Camp (yes, really creative name) so we would pass by Mount Hood. Unfortunately it was cloudy for us and we were not afforded a good view. It was still interesting to see the base of it and the mostly dry riverbed that came off it.


PNW day 4: North Umpqua

On our forth day after breaking down camp and grabbing breakfast at Black Bear again, we headed north via a different route. Our first stop along the way was at Crater Lake, which worked well as it was on the way to our paddling destination for the day. Since our plans had changed we had not had a chance to see it. The climb up to it was nice and was thoroughly wood with conifers. Once in the park we were shortly greeted with a very impressive view as we joined the rim section of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. It is a beautiful sight to behold and definitely worth the trip if you are in the area.

Crater Lake

After taking our time and grabbing some photos we continued on into the Umpqua National Forest. Eventually our road came to the North Umpqua and continued alongside until we got to the takeout. The entire run is semi roadside and there are many access points. You can easily choose how much of the river you’d like to do and AW lists it as 25 miles. We ended up doing a little above Horseshoe Bend to Gravel Bin. The run is a good class III section through a pretty canyon. The rapids are nice and the flats between them are moving. This run was definitely a little more relaxed than what we had been paddling up until now. Even though it might not be the most difficult, it makes up for it in beauty. It easily could be something that you paddle just for the view.

There were a couple interesting rapids that definitely would have been more fun with some extra water. We had 833cfs, which seemed to be standard for this time of year. Though all the signage at the takeout talked of flows of 1500-2000 cfs. The real draw of the run is the hot springs afterwards. When we got there we discovered it was very popular even thought it was a weekday evening. The pot we started out in was just luke warm and we had to wait a bit to go to a warmer one. The next to free up was the very top one. The was the hottest and where the water first entered into the system. It was difficult to stay in this one for long. Eventually we were able to sit in the covered pool which was the perfect temperature.

Umpqua Hot Springs

We ended up spending a good amount of time at the hot springs. Because of this we left significantly later than we had wanted to. Our plan had been to drive the 3-4 hours back to White Salmon that evening. However, as time moved on we realized this probably was not realistic. As we left too late to really find food many places, we diverted to Roseburg to find some dinner. Ended up stopping at Elmers Restaurant. Chose it mostly because it would still be open. They stayed open til 10, most closed at 9, and we were getting into Roseburg at about 8:40. The food was good, so things worked out well. We then headed north on I-5 towards Eugene in search of a place to stay the night. Baker Bay Campground and Marina ended up being the location. We set up in the dark and hoped we didn’t make too much noise for the other people there

PNW day 3: Klamath [Hell’s Corner]

On our third day we started out with breakfast at the Black Bear diner in Klamath Falls. Didn’t know it was a chain when choosing it, but the food was good and a decent price. Afterwards we started our driver down to the boarder of Oregon and California to paddle the Klamath. The trip down to the access points was definitely an adventure. As you get closer the road gets progressively more difficult and eventually you’re slowly making the descent from the canyon rim down to the river. Anyone who thinks the road to the Cheat is bad needs to reconsider. The trek is truly to the next level. I would not want to try to drive down this road during the muddy season.

We put in at Frain Ranch to cut off the first 5 miles, and about two hours of total shuttle time. This also puts you in immediately above the first rapid, Caldera. It’s an impressive rapid, quite long, and busy the whole way down. There was a stoppage up top to scout and I decided to bounce down and find a good spot to take photos from. Even though I went a decent length, it was still only half way down the rapid. There were two nice big rocks that made pour overs for you to thread through and big holes to dodge. Thus we were right into the meat of the run, with plenty of excitement to be had. All of us decided to dodge the rocks except Matt, who thought boofing the top one was a good idea. I wish I had, but I was still off put by the sharp rocks on this coast.

As we headed down, the beautiful canyon and difficult rapids continued. All were fun and the excitement kept up. We eventually got to Hells Corner, a nice large multi-stage class IV rapid. From the top where it drops off you are unable to see down the rapid as it’s blocked by a large boulder/pourover on the left and a smaller one to the right. I eddy hopped down as far as I could without entering to see if I could see a line from my boat. The lower position allowed me to see a between the boulders from right to left, that I could chain with what I saw slightly higher. I dropped in and threaded through the boulders to see a nice line to an eddy river right. Made my way over to it and jumped out to grab some photos.

Upon getting out of my boat I found that the rapid continued for quite some time, and I was probably only about a third of the way down at most. The river turned to the left at the bottom of this segment, with the busy water continuing until it turned back to the right and out of sight. No where in this did it seem like the rapid was beginning to let up. Matt came down after I had set up to grab photos and joined me on the shore to set safety. Once David had finished scouting, Todd came down to join us. Then David ran the rapid and blew right past us. We had no idea what the rest of the rapid looked like, and Todd continued on with David as Matt and I jumped into our boats.

Around the next corner was some nice 3/4ish run out and a nice eddy or two before the next rapid. The good class 3+ rapids continued as we went further down the river. In one of the rapids I ended up finding the FU rock. The river gave me the finger. I hit a nice pointy rock why rocketing down a rapid, giving my boat a little extra rocker. Eventually we came to the end of a very awesome run, thoroughly enjoying it. Before fetching the car from the put in we went further downstream to hunt for a hot spring we saw on the map. We eventually found it, but all that was there was a bunch of tall grass, and a concrete cap.

While the hot spring was a bust, there were plenty of blackberry bushes in the area. We also learned that taking out at access point 5 or 6 would probably be better. You get to paddle a couple more good rapids and there is no drive off the “road” to the river. We then made the trek back up out of the canyon and to Klamath Falls. On the way back we did some searching and discovered that the falls the town got its namesake from had been flooded under a dam. When back in town we stopped at Klamath Basin Brewing Company, which had a nice selection of beers on tap.