With all the Richter-high levels last week, I was lucky enough to get on two and a half new runs.
The first was the Upper West Fork of the Pigeon, which we got on at a good low flow. This run is a good candidate when you are driving around and getting skunked by blown out levels on stuff like the West Fork of the Pigeon and the Big East Fork. I enjoyed this run, although I would have enjoyed it a lot more we didn't have to portage the biggest rapid on the run due to a piece of wood in the bottom drop.
The one I'll call "half" a run was the sweet park and huck Silver Run Falls just upstream of the Whitewater River. The 30' drop is far from straightforward. The entrance is a shallow, bumpy slide that twists through rhododendron and falls off the lip of the drop. Making it even more interesting is the fact that the right side of the falls lands on rocks and the rest of it lands in green water.
We arrived there a little after 9am to find low water, but it definitely looked worth running so Chan Jones and I decided to give 'er. I watched from the top as Chan seal launched on to the shallow slide and stick his line off the lip. Ten minutes later I followed suit, went a little further left than I had wanted, and landed a little over vertical.
Thanks to Jonathon Absher for snapping this sweet pic. By 10:30 I had already run a sweet 30 footer. But I would say that if I were to run it again, I'd want a little more water to make the entrance slide less scrapey.
Well, what's next we asked? We decided to head 15 minutes away to the Toxaway to run the put-in slide at Richter high water.
This is what the Toxaway looks like when the gauge reads +9 inches (normal runnable levels range from -4 inches to 2 inches). The amount of water in the put-in slide transformed it into a full-on hold onto your pants ride. The current was so strong at the normal seal launch spot at the top of the slide that there was no way to get far enough left to avoid the shelf and the hole on river right that you normally go around, so we put in just below the shelf.
At this point in the slide I was probably going the fastest I've ever gone in kayak. It was a wild ride, a lot like energizer but wider and without the concern of crushing an elbow on a wall. Just don't flip over here.
Photo: Chan Jones
At this level, a formidable hydraulic forms at the bottom of the slide so you definitely want to make sure you keep 'er straight and skip well past the recirculation, which is a good 15' in some spots.
The day before the above park and huck missions I was able to squeeze in an Upper and Lower Rocky Broad run in between classes (perfect example of why I love going to school here so much!). It was my first time running the Upper, although I have gone at low water several times to swim around and sunbath with friends. It seemed to be a great level for the Upper section, although it could have used a little more water. The Upper was a nice warm-up stretch for the Lower, even though the two sections are completely different character.
When we paddled past the gauge at the put-in of the Lower, it read 4.6, so I would guess it was a little higher than that while we were on the Upper. This seemed to be a sweet level for the Lower as everything gets more padded out.
Here's Bixby boofing A-frame.
Bixby buttering it up through "The Nipple."
I think this was the point when I realized I needed new paddling shoes. But damn these Keens lasted almost three years of heavy use, including two long trips out west with long hikes into California overnighters! I heard the 5.10 savants are pretty sweet so we'll see how they compare...
Here we have Bixby doing a little submarine resurfacing trick in a nasty hole on the Lower.
And working it out just fine.
Wilensky and I take a drier line.
And here's a photo of Drew Duval boofing Walker Falls from the last time I was on it at lower water a few months back.
And a little high water Green action is always some quality fun when your schedule and water levels don't permit a longer trip on natural flow.
Here's Crankee spankin' the monkey at a healthy 12".
Adriene is barely visible here in the trough, getting ready to go through "speed wave" rather than "speed trap."
Overall it was a quality four days of whitewater and I feel fortunate that I was able to paddle so much good whitewater. The southeast is a fun place to live when it rains. Last week was definitely a reminder of that fact!