In march I had been watching the conditions in the Catskills and Delaware Water Gap to try to figure out when would be good to head up to get on some of the creeks. By chance things aligned so the Shohola Race would be on a weekend with good water and a time when my parents had been partially vaccinated. This meant I could both get some boating in and visit my family for the first time in over a year. As the weekend drew close it was looking good for the options other than Shohola.
For a couple years I had been jealously watching people get on the Shohola in late winter / early spring. I felt this year was the time I’d finally get up there. So I got a couple people from down south (MD) to head up and meet me there for the race. My friend Chris would show us the lines. As I drove over Saturday morning I watched the temperature drop as I went further west on I-84. I found a sub freezing parking lot with some boaters when I got there and snow in the woods.
After cooling off in the lot we got ourselves together and headed over for our first lap. I wanted to get a couple laps in, and at least one or two before the race so I could decide if I’d participate. The putin reminded me a little bit of the Raquette, albeit friendlier. You start off in a pool below a dam above the first drop. From all the media I had seen this is clearly the most impressive drop on the run. You hug the right side of a boulder to catch the eddy above a big slide. The entrance isn’t terrible and the slide is more or less point and shoot. Just keep yourself upright and pointed downstream, as long as you enter in the right spot you’re good.
At the end of the slide you are placed into a big eddy that is the start of the gorge, as long as you catch it and don’t get slammed into the wall at the end of you run down. The first rapid in the gorge isn’t too bad but you definitely can feel that its a good class IV boogie run. Just make sure you stay on your game. It caught Andy by surprise and he got to discover how cold the water actually was. The run out of the rapid places you into another pool, introducing you to the general pool drop style of the run.
Things really pick up at the next rapid when you get to the bridge. You enter river left and when you to the second part all the water is pushing towards the river right wall which is undercut. In my attempt to avoid the wall I went so far right I accidentally caught the eddy on the left. Once I slid out of it backwards and negotiated the next drop I was in the pool below, looking up at a beautiful gorge. For the next rapid Chris mentioned that there’s a nice boof on the left, but you really need to commit. I entered this section a little lazily and decided on the boof last minute and got caught by the hole. Luckily I just got surfed to the left and dug myself out.
This brought us to the pool above the final rapid. This one cools down a little but there’s still a flake nestled in the froth that you want to make sure you hit correctly. You finish up in a lake and hike back up to the top on river right. It takes about the same amount of time to hike up as it does to do the paddle down. Chris and I jumped on a quick lap when we got back to the top before the race started. While I didn’t beater too bad on either of my laps, I wasn’t quite feeling racing. Instead I helped set safety and grabbed some photos of the racers.
The following day I met up with Chris and some other boaters in the southern Catskills to get on an epic run, the Beer Kill. This creek has supplanted all others as my new favorite run. The shuttle is short, whitewater is prime, and you feel as if you are off on an adventure in the woods. When I pulled into the takeout I saw a class III creek with some nice flow, and it got better as we went further up stream (the little bit you could see). Up at the put in you find an awesome drop below a bridge and a nice pool to collect.
As we were getting ready to put on, one of the members of our group commented on how nice a day it was. A few minutes later the sky got grey and it started flurrying. A proper way to start a NY spring creeking trip. The drop under the bridge had a nice slide that ended with a great boof. You then had some mank before the pool. After this you had to get out river right to portage around a slot rapid that was badly undercut on both sides. The entrance back in was a nice little seal launch.
Shortly after you come upon Assmaster, a long and shallow slide, that if you don’t get the entrance correct your ass will feel it. The slide makes for an impressive rapid. If you’re feeling ballsy you can catch the small shallow eddy at the bottom left of it before the final drop. Below Assmaster you shortly have to get out to portage around Hanging Rock Falls. From the put to the portage, Beer Kill drops about 400 ft/mi. The entrance is nasty and has an undercut above the lip. The top drop or two looks like it may be runnable with the right level. But you’d quickly have to catch an eddy to avoid running the unrunnable portion of it.
After the portage you’re in a deep canyon with a real remote feel to it. The run has nice boogie in between the bigger drops. If one pays attention you’ll find some good boofs mixed in. You really find the quality class IV in this section. There are some great drops that offer plenty of fun. Eventually you come to a horizon line with some mist coming up that indicates you’re at Ignorance is Bliss. this is a manky 20 footer with an iffy looking landing. You run it on the left with a bit of right angle when you come off the drop. It slopes into the final drop where water from both sides folds together hiding where you’ll land. After Ignorance is a bit more boogie before one final rapid. Then it’s just class III until the takeout.
Things had been looking good to get in some nice kayaking. The drought had finally been broke. A storm or two hadn’t really delivered, but potentially primed some areas. Early in the week I checked the forecast, a good bit of rain was called for on Thursday. So I started on the quest to try to rally people. I threw out some options, spread about and some a bit esoteric. Recently I had been talking about Rock Run with Thomas, and I included it in my watch list as a long shot. There was initial interest in paddling on Saturday, so it looked like a crew would come together.
As the storm hit the rain missed the DC area. However, it was looking good elsewhere. On Friday reports came in that Rock Run was too high. This sounded good for Saturday so I made the call to head there. Unfortunately the distance to the run scared people away and the list of those interested shrunk. Tanya and Ken were in, so I had a minimal group. Eventually Tanya roped in Rhys, rounding out the crew. Since it would take sometime, an early morning meetup time was set.
I ended up getting to the park and ride a bit earlier than expected, but it worked well we got moving a bit quicker. This got us to the takeout a little past 11, giving us a bit of time to explore before Rhys met us. We saw some boaters drive by, and since the run was short and roadside, decided to follow and take a look. Got to the take and chatted with some of the other boaters there. Getting there took up most of half our time so we didn’t stay long. On the way down to get Rhys we saw some boaters taking out lower. They felt it was dropping fast and was getting too low to go down as far as they had. As we pulled into the lot in Ralston, Rhys drove up and we turned right around to go drop his car at the take out.
At the put in there were a couple small groups getting ready to put on. We chatted a bit trying to get some more beta as there is not much info available on the run. In the process we found Tanya to be infamous. Some there knew her from a run she did on the past Week of Rivers.
After a bit we had everything together and an started out on our run. The action kicks off pretty quickly as it’s quite channelized and narrow. There are some good tight creeky drops with flat pools interspersed between. Most are pretty straightforward slides, but have some sort of hole at the bottom of them. The gradient is decent as well. While the road is close by the run has a fairly remote feel. Most of the time you are in a decent gorge that hides any signs of civilization. After a little we came to a double ledge drop where the line was on the left and ended up leading to a boulder. I ran down first and found some mank at the bottom of the second drop by the boulder. Others found the mank as well. I tried getting people to move a bit more towards the center. Unfortunatly this lead Ken astray and he went too far to the center. He ended up getting worked in the top hole. It was very sticky and kept his boat after he bailed. During the recovery, the boaters from the putin past us.
Once we had collected, we moved on. The drops started getting bigger and we soon came to a horizon line with some spray. We had gotten to A-frame. Took out on the gravel beach on river left above it to scout. It was a good sloping 10 or so foot drop into a gorge with some tall walls. The water was mostly on the left with water crashing off the wall. Line was to enter on the tongue at the top and drive a little towards the right. While scouting we found that Tanya had forgotten to zip up her drysuit and had got some water in it as she had rolled earlier in the run. We had got there early enough to catch the group ahead of us portaging. Some of us were on the fence for running it. Rhys decided to. His line looked good, but he flipped at the bottom. When we heard from him that he hit his head, it decided it for the rest of us not to run it.
The portage for A-frame puts you in the pool right below it and drops you immediately into Corkscrew, a very tight twisting water slide. While there is not much water in the creek, it constricts a ton here. I did a seal launch down the sloping rock, but didn’t line it up well. Ended up not making it into the pool and was swept by the flow towards a rock. Had to make some corrective moves before entering the slide. This put me a bit further left at the top of it than I wanted and I dried out sightly. Luckily it didn’t through me off too much and I entered the next stage of the slide as I wanted. There’s an about 20-30 degree pour over, that you launch driving left. You want a to be going with a bit of left momentum as the water flows into an undercut. Made the move, completed the next stage, and joined Rhys in the eddy below. He compared the section with the s-turn rapid on the roadside section of the Alseseca in Mexico. While not as big or bad, it definitely does have a bit of similar feel. I tried to figure out a way to relay that people wanted to get more in the eddy, or miss the rock up top. But I couldn’t come up with any good way. Tanya and Ken each made their way down without issue.
We continued on with a bit of apprehension as we now had to watch out for Flook’s Nook, the next big thing on the table. From everything I could tell, it’s nasty and incredibly few have run it. The things I had read people at the takeout seemed to imply that it was pretty hard to miss. But I had found no photos or videos of the drop. Every youtube video I could find that had some part of it just showed people seal launching below it. Throughout the couple nice drops after A-frame I was on edge waiting for the next one to come. Eventually, we came upon it and it was as obvious as all had described. There was a nice pool above Flook’s Nook, a big rock shelf on the right, and a tiny notch to the left with mist coming up from it. As we slowly inched up to it, our suspicions were confirmed. Nicely at the level we were there, the eddy on the right at the foot of the rock shelf was friendly, shortening our portage. All of the flow entered a three foot wide channel on the far left, slamming into a nasty undercut. The choice to walk here was easy. Tanya and I sent the seal launch, which turned out to be pretty fun. This puts you in a pool before running a nice slide drop.
A few more nice drops and
some more pools got us to the takeout. There was a nice surf wave at
the end of the drop that places you in the takeout pool. The plan
initially was to take out here and try to get in two laps. Tanya was
feeling cold and was out, and Rhys was looking to get home at a
reasonable hour. They decided to take out here and I passed on the
keys so that they could run shuttle. While Ken and I felt like more
boating, neither of us felt like doing a second lap with just two of
us. From the drive up, and talking to people we knew there was a good
drop just a little below this takeout. A recommendation was to just
run this and walk back up. We decided that since the group was
finishing up we would also continue on down to the town. The beta I
had indicated that below that drop was mostly class 2-3ish.
We left our other half and
the rapids quickly picked up. There was a nice slide or two with a
bit of boulder garden action and we were placed in a smallish river
right eddy. Gorge walls were on the right, but an acceptable shelf to
get out and scout. We found a drop similarly stout as A-frame. While
it didn’t look quite as bad, there was definitly the potential for
some quality time in the hole at the bottom. It was another sloping
drop and this time it had a horizontal hole forming as the shelf met
the pool. Ken didn’t feel like running it he made is way to river
left to make the portage and set safety. I took another look and
decided that conservatism was better with a small group and made my
way river left to Ken to portage as well.
Below this we found the creek slowing down. The gradient decreased and class 3 gave way to class 2. At the bottom of a nice class 3 drop we passed a small group of fishermen that had a fire made. It was nice to see others had come out to enjoy the good day. Though I’m not sure how good the fishing there was. This part of the run definitely needed a bit more water as the group earlier in the day had reported. As we got closer to town the pools would widen out and there was some scraping involved. The scenery though was top notch. While the quality of the rapids had dropped a bit, it was definitely still worth being on the water. We eventually came to an ok class 3 drop, but it ended in a strainer. Some closer inspection proved that portage was necessary. Shortly below this we came upon the cemetery that indicated we were upon the town. The creek widened out and and a sand bar or two with a big strainer in it. A quick look to the right showed a beach, and my car was at the end of the small road leading away from it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another year, another great Week of Rivers with the Carolina Canoe Club. Got in a few new runs, not as many as I had hoped but really happy to have gotten on the Little in the Smokies. Always is good to get to see old friends and make new ones. I was happy the initial big rain that flooded out Smokey Mountain Meadows didn’t prevent WOR from happening, though am disappointed it wasn’t a bit wetter.
1600cfs release, stick gauge at beginning of middle said 3ft, a guide estimated 3000cfs
Most of the highlights of my week were the new runs. In addition to those, I did manage a couple really nice runs on rivers I had already seen. Managed to get both the Tellico and Ocoee in the same day. Just barely made it to the Ocoee with enough time, but the late start worked out good. Got to see it above normal release levels and it felt to have a bit more of a Gauley feel to it.
Little: Sinks to Elbow
It was truly a treat to get on this run, which was one that has been on my list for a few years. On a previous Week of Rivers I attempted to organize a trip out to it, but ended up spending an hour in the morning trying to contact the Park Service only to determine the road was closed. This year everything lined up and a trip was launched and it was well worth it. The area is very scenic and worth the trip just to check it out. The rapids are arranged such that the difficult ones are at the beginning and end, and it calms down in the middle.
You start off at Sinks, which ends up being one of the most difficult rapids on the run. When we got there I had decided to walk up to run the lead in rapids, which are decently stout on their own. They add some good obstacles to mess you up before you even get to the main event. We wandered around scouting out everything. The whole time I was on the fence as to if I’d run it. While preparing, another boater from our area, Tim, showed up and he had just finished up his run. He told us that the move here was to throw a delayed boof and not to pencil in. To which my thought was, “my boat has one move, and this is pencil in.”
After some deliberation I decided I’d run it and a couple others were going to join me. As the instigator, I had the honor of running it first. Lined everything up, went down the chute, waited for my time, and pulled. Ended up getting down without any problems, and somehow managed to have the best line of our crew.
The pace keeps up for a little bit after sinks and the overall feel of the river is decently tight class IV creek for a little. There’s some nice gradient and some good boogie. Eventually you get to a spot where you come close to the road and then as the river veers away the intensity increases again. You work your way through a boulder garden of nice difficulty that will keep you on your toes. After this things calm down for a little, moving more towards the class 3ish realm. They start to pick up again, with a really nice smear boof. Then when you get to the end you come to the Elbow
When you get to the Elbow, you cannot quite see into the crux of the rapid from the water. We had met a local at the put in and he had lead us down. Our group was a little large and had split in two. We caught up to everyone at the Elbow. He told us a line and David and I decided to run with only that info and what we could see. While we ran it successfully, neither of us had a clean line as we did not get far enough to the left. I was flipped by the reactionary coming off the wall and washed past the undercut.
Big Laurel Creek
The rain that almost flooded out Smokey Mountain Meadows provided a little bit of a treat in the remaining flows that we found. I had the chance to get on Big Laurel, a nice class 3 intro to creeking kind of run that dumps you into the French Broad a little above the two good rapids. Other’s had run this on Saturday when I was driving down and I had heard good things from them. During the morning meeting I stepped up and announced a trip. There was overwhelming response and our group had to split up. Big Laurel has a number of good fun drops that can provide challenge to those stepping it up or new and fun for everyone else. Until you get to the French Broad it’s in a nice little canyon through the woods. We had an excellent crew, all of which had no issues with the run, though there was one gear malfunction. We even managed to pick up a swimmer from another group and get them down the rest of the run without any swims.
Chattooga, Section 4
While Section 4 is one I’ve run many times before, the quality of the run and scenery is so high, I cannot resist. Though the lake paddle out always makes me have second thoughts. Most times I have paddled it, the level has been around 1.6ft. Last year I had the opportunity to run it around 2ft and the level was great. This year the Chattooga watershed got a bunch of rain while we were there and I was able to run it at 2.15ft, the highest I’ve seen it at.
I have to say that somewhere in the 2ish range is the sweet spot. Both that time and this were great. Everything was padded nicely, especially Corkscrew. At this level the line is very nice and you just float over everything. A nice sneak opens up far right at Crack in the Rock. I have much thanks to the photographer I was talking to at Corkscrew for telling me about it. I decided to run Sock em Dog, and unfortunately didn’t have a great line. At this level the boof starts disappearing, and places you in a big hole. I botched things a little and went down a little notch, landing right in the hole. Got a good working and swam out of it.
In an earlier Week of Rivers, some had gone to the Noli at lower water and reported it to be lame. Due to this and it’s distance, I had not prioritized going to it. A few years passed and they went back at better levels and discovered it to be good. This year it presented me with the chance to see it for myself. I found it to be a wonderful run and definitely worth the current campaign to get it designated Wild and Scenic. It’s a spectacular part of the country.