Monday, February 28, 2005

14 Foot Boat on Section IV of the Chattooga

The rain flow had mellowed out on the creek runs and the Green wasn't running so Saturday Woody, Nate, Yonton and I loaded up the mini van and headed for the Chattooga. Maria Noakes met us from NOC and we ran into all kinds of people taking advantage of one of the most beautiful runs in the Southeast. The Chattooga was running a nice medium level of 1.7 which is really a great level for all the rapids. There is plenty of padding on the rocks, and enough water to make it an enjoyable amount of time to spend on the water.
Here is a video of my day on the Chattooga. Shot by Nate and Yonton. Thanks to them for putting up with my long boat playday.
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The Chattooga is pretty much where I learned to paddle. My brother and I came down here when we were in our early teens with a camp group from Highlands, North Carolina called The Mountain and tackled Section II of the river in our Quests, Mirages, and Grumman and Blue Hole canoes for a few years, and then we started guiding and doing our own trips down the river. I pretty much call the Chattooga my home river because that is where I learned and pushed myself for years. Overflow and the other tributaries of the Chattooga are also places where I did a lot of my first creeking. So whenever I go there it does feel like going home. Its a pretty cool feeling when you know the river that well.

One of the things I like to do when I know a river really well is try to change it up. So this time I loaded up a 14 foot LL touring boat and decided that I would give it a go. There were a couple reasons for it. One I knew I could do it and it would be a fun challenge, and the other reason was that it would make the two mile lake paddle very sweet indeed. So we loaded up some cold beverages and plenty of snacks in my storage hatches and off we went.

Seven Foot is the first main rapid and its one of the hardest lines to nail well in a long boat or a raft because the eddies and current just above the drop really want to mess with your angle and that is what its all about with big boats is angle control.

Ravens Chute was not too bad and we made Yonton go through pothole even though the water was freezing because he hadn't ever done it before. He was a stud and did it anyway.

Then you get to the 5 falls and we also ran into the mobs there were probably 30 paddlers in the 5 falls together. Which is sweet because you get to watch alot of people run the rapids and everyone hangs out at the bottom and chats and shares snacks and all.

Entrance was pretty mellow. Corkscrew can be pretty weird, at 1.7 the hole is a little more pronounced so you have a good chance of getting shoved against the wall or maybe surfing the hole. Its not too bad but still fun to try to nail the line.
Crack has really changed in the last few years. It was really nice at this level. All you had to worry about was keeping the paddle in. Jawbone is probably the hardest rapid to smooth especially in a long boat. The curler coming out of the parking lot eddie really wants to slap you into the rocks on river left. Which is pretty much what happened to me but it came out okay. I just kept her moving along the rocks and slipped into the eddie above Sock'em dog which is perfect at this level. At 1.7 the launching pad at Sock'em dog is as pronounced as it gets and it makes for a great 6 or 7 foot launch over a pretty good hole at the bottom. If you miss it you go deep, or you get trashed but the flight is good enough to go back and do it again and again.

Everyone was hanging out at the Dog watching the lines and having a good time. There were some good lines and some not so good lines but thats kind of how it goes.
Just thought I would share my Chattooga day.
P.S. We had sunny skies and 60 degrees and then 24 hours later we had this:

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Jefe and Gus on the Raven's Fork. What an amazing river.

These two shots are of Nate Elliot in Anaconda.
Photos by Tommy Hileke

Got the call yesterday morning, Tommy Hileke had checked the levels and Ravens was going to be a perfect level. Its 65 degrees outside and the team is coming together,Tommy, John Grace, Nate Elliot, Riley Cathcart, and I finished out the group. We gathered up and headed up to the Smoky's up near Cherokee on the edge of the Indian Reservation and parked at Emanuel's house. He lives right on the edge of the river and lets paddlers take out at his place if you know him. We loaded up the back of Tommy's truck then and started up the road to the river. This is no ordinary shuttle road. We are dealing with a very steep river so therefore you are dealing with a very steep road. It was every bit of class five. In fact it was so fun I made a video of it.
Click Here
After driving to the end of the road its still a good 30-45 minute hike to the put-in. Its was a perfect day. We had bluebird skies and we were way up in the mountains. When you get to the top you definitely feel like you are very close to the top of the mountains.

Thats me in Mike Tysons. Photo Tommy Hileke

The river gets on it right away. We started with a few small 6 footers and then got right into it. This was my first time down so its still a little of a blur for me. The rest of the group had been down a bunch so the trip was really smooth everybody had great lines. There was some wood out there and it definitely felt like the kind of place that I would usually scout everything because there was lots of wood involved in several of the rapids. We portaged a few drops and a few of those looked good to go but had the wood in the wrong places. After the 2 hour drive to the river, gnarly 4 wheel drive to the top of the river, the 40 minute hike in, several semi-tough portages, my body felt like I was doing something. The gem rapids were Anaconda, Mortal Combat, Mike Tyson's, Wet Willie's, and Caveman. I probably have them all mixed up but it was sweet. Anaconda was the first of the major rapids it was two boofs in a tight, tight rapid, the second one putting you right into or next to a rock wall. Its in the video at the beginning. The next drop I remember is Mortal Combat I think. It was a multi-leveled rapid with an awesome slide at the bottom. Things were getting big down here. We walked Big Boy which looked like maybe a 30 footer which had a new log in it right in the landing zone. Mike Tysons was super sweet. It had a nice little 8 foot boof entry then a brief pause to get it together then down a big slide, bounce off a wall pillow, curler thingy, after that you are pretty much blind and boofing at the same time off a 10 footer or so. That was definiteyl a highlight. The rest of them all started to run together in my head and then we were back at Emanuel's having a cold one, it was perfect. I will be psyched to do it again. Here is a video of a few of the rapids.
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This is Riley on Caveman. Photo Tommy Hileke
Couldn't have been a better day. Well, we did get Riley back to work a little late. So we will have to work on that.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Rock Island in the V44 and V56

Whitney and I went to Rock Island Tuesday and Wednesday for a couple reasons. The sun was out and the temperatures were headed for 70 degrees and I hadn't paddled my Vision since Africa because we have had so much good water on the Green until recently. These boats were some of the first production Visions out of the mold and that is always exciting. Its nice to get out in the boat that will be sent to all the paddlers and feel confident and good about the boat that you are putting out there.
Whitney had hurt her shoulder recently so she was a little tentative and nervous about getting in a new boat but she loves surfing waves so much that it overcame any nerves that she had. She wasn't into going in to the hole but she was ready to surf some waves. She hadn't paddled the Vision much in prototype form because she travels alot with the World Class Kayak Academy and wasn't around during much of the prototyping. The first things that I noticed was that the boat looked like it was easy for her to throw around, roll, and just handle. When she got out on the waves she took a couple surfs and then found the edges and all of the sudden she was carving sweet little turns, spinning, and starting to throw some moves, but had to back off a little so she wouldn't hurt her shoulder. Here is some footage from Rock Island. Its some of the first footage that we have had available of the Vision 44.
Visions at Rock Island

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