Monday, October 23, 2006

It Rained! One New One, and the Raven's Fork.

Earning Our Turns on the Raven's Fork

All the photos are from the Raven's Fork by Raphael Thiebaut.

After the Moose Fest we didn't have a solid plan. We were thinking of going to the coast and doing some ocean surfing only problem was that there were no waves. None of the other rivers in New York or the surrounding area were running so that wasn't gonna work. We were thinking the New river in West Virginia but it was at an uninspiring level. The Gauley wasn't running so the options were getting thin. We finally decided to head down to Washington D.C. and mess around on the Potomac maybe run some new lines on Great Falls but as we were pulling into D.C. we got the news that North Carolina might have some rain on the way so the loose plan that we had started to change yet again. We stopped off at the Potomac to paddle a little bit, grab some dinner, and wait for rush hour traffic to die down then we started driving south.

First Drops

We woke up in the morning somewhere in N.C. within a few hours of Asheville. I started making phone calls as soon as I thought people would be up. The Asheville paddling hotlines were burning up. Everyone was calling around trying to figure out if anything was going to run because according to the rain gauges the western end of N.C. got anywhere from 1/10 to 3 inches of rain the night before but it was still coming down.

Toby in The Headless Horseman

The phone conversations that I had that morning were hilarious. It started out with people saying, "I don't know if anything is going to run it didn't rain much". I talked to several people all thinking that nothing was going to happen. An hour later the tune changed to, "well it looks like this might run and that might run we will just have to see". About a half hour after that it was," wow looks like we can run whatever we want". At this point I was getting really excited it looked like Raph and I had made a good choice to come all the way back south, but then the next call was, "Uh, oh it looks like everything might be too high". We rolled into to town and stopped off at Andrew Holcombes house to get a group together to go paddling and all the phone lines were hopping with activity. Who is going where, what is the level, what do you think the level is, is it good to go at that level. I heard so and so is going to run this with them and this group is going to do that.

Toby in Mortal Combat

Jeb called in and knew the thing to do. The Big East Fork of the Pigeon was probably running, he thought. You basically have to be there while its raining to get it, it takes a ton of water. We loaded up and went for it. When we rolled up to the take out to meet Jeb 3 other cars rolled in as well. In the end the group was 12 people. None of which had done the run before, except Jeb. The water was high. The group was nervous, but we decided to put on. It was the right decision. The river was, "On the high side of good" and it was amazing. At the put-in we ran into a guy named Garret who had been scoping the river out and gave us some great beta for the run. He has been mapping the river for a while but hadn't been able to get on it yet. Unfortunately he was working and couldn't jump on with us. We split our gang up into 3 groups and started working our way downstream. It was super continuous class 4 with some scouts thrown in to begin with. The eddies were small but manageable and the group did a great job of keeping spread apart enough. The first little bit of the run was sort of chunky, but maybe a half mile into it things became more structured and more bedrock like. I would guess that we scouted maybe 10 times total. There were probably 5 solid class 5 drops and no portages. It was a shitty rainy day but none of us cared at all. The run was fantastic. There is a very brief write up about it on the American Whitewater page. Its well worth it if you have a chance. For the most part it was super continuous class 3-4 with some good class 5 thrown in. The highlights of the day were, high water excitement, Philly Williams 21st birthday, The Three Tier Drop about half way down, A new run in the smokies, and not getting shut out on a big rain day. The only downside was that because it was raining all day we couldn't get any shots or footage. Which seems to be the case on this river. The only shots I have seen are shots of the river without any water in it.

Thats me in Mike Tyson's

When we got to the take out we paddled under the bridge just to check it out and found a gage on the bridge upstream, river right side. When we took out it said 1.8ish. I would guess that when we were at the take out at the beginning it was 2.5 but we didn't know the gage was there. At the put in it looked pushy but manageable.
Basically an awesome day.

What a day on the river!

The next day was a little more predictable. Most flows had dropped but there was one that was pretty much a sure thing. We got our little group together and headed up to the Raven's Fork. The water was a fair bit lower than I had seen but Toby and Andrew H. had both done it at this level so it was a go. The weather was unbelievable and the colors were starting to go off so it made for one of those perfect fall paddling days. Luckily Raphael was able to take photos on Raven's and I was able to get some great footage. The river was quite a bit different at 8 inches than it was at 12 that I had done before but it was still fantastic. The Raven's Fork is so much bang for the buck. Andrew ran Big Boy and super styled it. I wanted it bad but decided on the hike instead. Still not completely confident in the ribs I injured during the summer. Can't say enough about this run. At 8 inches it was super manageable, and much slower between drops. So if you haven't done it before I think this was an ideal level for your first time. A little higher might be better for Mike Tysons but everything was good to go at this level.

Enjoy the photos and video. Shane

"Later Emanuel"

Raven's Part 1 Video, Click This!
Raven's Part 2 Video, Click This!

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