2010 Spring Break

12 04 2010

April Spring Break 2010

(The Squaw loaded down)

April Spring Break 2010
Spring break started on Friday the 2nd of April for me but not until the 4th did Karen get to relish the fact that work was now more than 7days away. We left on Monday and headed to Morgantown WV, where we would meet up with the ever ready Ken Rice a.k.a. The Mad Beaver, for a paddle session on the Cheat Narrows. Karen’s busy work schedule does not leave a lot of time to kayak or do anything other than sleep so with only 1 trip down Slippery Rock Creek this spring, the Narrows became a good place to work the kinks out and shake off the rust. All went well on the river and before long we were all smiles and taking pictures of calamity rock from above the main obstacle on the Narrows.

(Calamity Rock, Cheat River Narrows)
With the shuttle vehicles loaded up and wet gear stowed we shoved off to continue the journey towards Asheville, N.C.
Making a late arrival in Ashville we found respite at a pre arranged hotel for our next day’s adventure, the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore is the largest private home in the United States with 175,000 square feet of living space.

(Biltmore Estate)
While touring the estate we visited the winery, home, and formal gardens. The entire estate reminded me of the movie clue. Several of the highlights in the home included the 78,000 gallon swimming pool in the basement, gun room, and top notch fitness equipment (from 1900), which included parallel bars and rowing machine.
After touring the Biltmore Estate we left Asheville and headed to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (N.O.C.) where we met up with Mike and found our camping spot at the Lost Mine Camp Ground where we set up Base Camp for the week.

(Base Camp Fun…AARRGGHHH!)
Wednesday was spent on the Nantahala River, a southern classic and must run for anyone in the area. The Nantahala is dam controlled so at or near 10am the water rises, and the rafters and other whitewater enthusiast head to the river put in 8 miles upstream of NOC. The run is a splashy cold time with the water temperature at or around 45 degrees.

(Karen and I on the Nantahala River)
Thursday morning started out much cooler than the last few days and the rain began to fall. A lazy morning breakfast ensued and then turned to poaching internet at NOC to find where we should shift our focus for the days paddle. After speaking to a local paddler the night before we decided to bet on the rain and drive north into Tennessee, for a trip down the Tellico. It was starting to look promising as it rained the whole way to the river put in. Once at the put in it was obvious that the day was going to be wet both on and off the water, with a heavy down pour the boats and gear was unloaded. The section we choose to run was the lower Tellico, as no one seemed to be too ambitious for the upper, section. After the take out vehicle was set we drove back to the put in just below Jarrod’s knee rapid, while observing all of the smaller feeder creeks pumping water into the creek we knew it was going to be a great ride. As it turned out we got on the creek at the best time, with water on the rise.

(Grab a rock and the camera it stopped raining!)

(Lower Tellico Fun)

The Tellico was a very challenging river for us all, good drops and hard lines were available throughout the entire run. By the time we finished Karen had accomplished 4 combat rolls! WOW! What a trooper!
Afterwards we headed back over the mountain and back to Base Camp. What’s next to run? After having such a good challenging run, why not try the Little River? So over breakfast Karen began to make crib notes of the days challenge and soon we set off back to Tennessee.

(Crib notes for the Little River in the making)
Some would argue this is where we became a little over zealous, and others would say it’s just another rung in the ladder of paddler progression. If you asked Karen she might say road side scouting leads to complacency. But that’s another story for another time.
The Little River is inside of the Great Smokies National Park and is paralleled by a scenic roadway to scout the rapids on. With or without the road this is a challenging creek to scout the rapids from the boat on. The run started off quite tight with in a boulder garden for the first little bit. Then on to some smaller drops and tight chutes which is where all the excitement began. Karen flipped trying to make a tight turn via a small chute. This was not an ideal area to be upside down and she quickly decided it was time to exit the kayak. Once safely on shore it was time to retrieve “paul” the kayak. But alas before we were able to do so he was pinned on a rock and full of water. I attached a small cord to my rescue vest via the quick release, and began what I thought was going to be an easy ferry to the edge where she waited. The current proved too strong and “paul” was quickly exiting the right side of a large boulder while I paddled on the other side of the boulder. Seeing the serious potential for disaster I pulled the quick release cord and “paul” left for a destination some place further downstream.

Without a boat Karen was forced to do some roadside hiking, while Mike and I continued on our journey down looking for “paul”. After a short time Mike and I came to a tight line that required a combat roll upon exiting. It was during this time..that is to say while up side down we came face to face with “paul”. It seems the cord I attached to the kayak had got hung up some place in the drop. While we scouted the situtation the kayak bobing in the current webbing sawing aginst the rocks…”paul” freed himself, and continued down stream. Still walking Karen continued her journey and mike and I continued to read and run.
It was in a longer rock filled section “paul” found his resting place right next to the rocks pinned again, but this time the rescue was swift and “paul” was reunited with Karen. Now with all that roadside scouting Karen decided it might be best to keep on truckin so ad hok photographer became her calling for the rest of the journey.

(There is something about leading the sheep to slaughter…Corey boat scouting and looking for a good eddy)
The finial rapid for the day was probably the most enjoyable, not only were we feet from the car but it was a 14’ slide into a punchy hole and nice paddle to shore. It was as we scouted this last drop a group of local came through to show the outa towners hows it done.

(Mike lines up the last line of the day on the Little River)
Friday we left from the river and headed back to West Virginia for the night. The plan was to attend and maybe paddle in the Webster Wildwater Down River Race, but after the challenging day we just had we decided to take it easy and sight see.
The New River Gorge National Recreation Area is like a national park but a little different, its sole existence is to allow several different recreation activities as well as preserve and maintain the wild and scenic. We toured the visitor center and the longest arch bridge in all of the United States. Hiked through several climbing areas and toured several shops in Fayetteville.

(The New River Bridge)

(Karen eyeing the kayak lines on the New River)

(This is sooooo much better than work!)

The End

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