Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Horsepasture

We will not discuss the first section that we ran or how we ran it, but here are a few photos:

Just point straight and brace for impact... A Large Oceana with no "Thing", but nothing to slow you down.

Boof it...

                                                       ...or fly it.

Below this rapid you enter Gorges State Park and you have no worries about scouting or taking your time. The first rapid that is typically run is called Turtle Back. people typically hike into Rainbow falls and walk about 250 yards up stream to run this slide into a ledge. It is a no worries fun-type of rapid. 

Take out right below this rapid, and don't even think about eddy hopping to make the walk shorter. Its just not worth it. From what I understand Rainbow falls has seen several deaths in the past. I'm not certain if any were involve in whitewater sports. Take the relatively easy walk down to Rainbow falls and enjoy the vista. People come from all around the SE to view this single waterfall. You are about to get a VIP pass into the gorge.

 The "Ugly Stuff" rapid below the falls was... well ugly at the level it was at (.1-.12). So we continued our walk down to the pool below Ugly Stuff and ran Slab Falls. Slab falls is basically an 8-10 foot clapper that hits harder and harder the further right you go, however going too far left will result in playing with a sieve on the river left wall. So take the hit about 15 feet off the left wall.

Below this you run into a rather tight and complex boulder drop section.

The pace was going kind of slow, so two people from our group decided to hike out below this section, as this is the last place you can hike out until you're right above Windy Falls unless you have some climbing gear.
The river abruptly changed character as we entered the steepest part of the run.

                                                        Welcome to NC Creeking Bliss

Stairstep is the first of the big rapids and the least consequential. it drops about 80 feet over 5 drops. Talk about a horizon line! My second favorite on this run, and probably my second favorite all time.

After this there is some boulder boogey that was less junky than the section above, but faster. Before you know it you are at Corner Pocket it is the first scary looking rapid. There was a tree in the bottom drop that would not allow anybody to run it. Oh and the portage requires moderate bouldering skills and putting in in a crack that is rather deep. Portage on the right and use teamwork. There is wood in the small ledge drop below as well, so paddle across the pool and walk again.

Almost immediately after you put back in you are at Side Pocket falls (Exit A and Exit B). Exit A is a clapper into a sluice into a 12-15 foot boof or melt... dependent on how cold the water is the day you're out there. I choose boof because it was about 25 degrees.

Exit B did not go at the level it was at. Its about an 18 foot clapper into a slide into a big hole. I'd equate it as running Gorilla at 3-4". We walked it on the left and its a rather sketchy walk on exposed granite.

At the bottom we dropped our boats and went down to scout Highway to Heaven. This one is a personal favorite. The walk to scout it is physically demanding without a boat. The rhodo is thick to say the least.

Highway to Heaven is a two-staged, large and long drop. The first drop is a long, steep slide that cuts hard to the left before entering a feature very similar to Hammer Factor at a high flow. Then there is one more hole to punch  and then a micro pool between the drops. At .1-.12 we were able to eddy out.

The second drop on Highway to heaven looks like something miniature off of Toxaway. The crux move is to enter right and head hard left to avoid a decap rock half way down and head back straight to punch the hole. The hole is ugly and curling against the right wall and the right wall is undercut and has another dacap rock about a boats length from the hole. So punch the hole with the slightest left angle.

Below this rapid you are done with the main drops if you don't run Sieve rapid. There are still large and manky drops left. One of these sections (a boulder section) resulted in a swim in our group. Know where you are at above Windy Falls. Windy Falls is marked by a large cliff on the left side. The drop right above the Takeout is Sieve Rapid... its teeth were showing that day. We seal launched on the right.

The hike out was not as bad as I had expected. It got spookey as the clouds rolled in on the hike out. At the parking lot, fun was had at the swimmers' expense.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Overflow/ NFFB

Being a student, I can make my schedule rather flexible when I need it to be. When I saw that there was a major rain event coming to the SE I promptly retrieved my boat from my parents house. When I was finally in possession of my boat I found myself in a predicament that I am often not familiar with: where to go? Chattanooga got slammed and was too high and Chattooga/ Highlands area was only on the fringes of the storm system. After deciding I'd have to miss out on my last class on Wednesday, I opted to go to Overflow and catch the Chattanooga area on its way down during the weekend.

I got to the Overflow Takeout at 1pm and saw that Burton, Chan, and Pat were ready to go and waiting for the group we were supposed to meet for at the takeout for their second lap. We checked the gauge and it was somewhere around 1.4. And we continued our wait knowing that we needed to get on the river soon. The group that we were supposed to meet at 1pm had a 6 hour lap on the river. By the time they showed up at 2:30-ish we were informed by Tim and Logan that there was new wood. After having an epic first lap, swims and all, they decided to forgo a second lap. So it was down to Burton(first D), Pat(first D), Me(Second), and Chan(only a handful of laps) and we were looking at a put in time somewhere around 3pm. After considering a High flow Section 4 run we decided to stick with are guns and run what we had come up there for.

Tim dropped us off at the putin and we scurried down to the river knowing that we were potentially pushing daylight limits. After the first rapid, the pace wasn't looking great... Pat broke his blade somewhere in Hemlock Falls which required Chan to resort to handpaddles and fork his paddle over to Pat. After this episode, things began to turn around. We only had to portage one log in the hemlock section. The pace picked up and before you knew it we were bombing off the big drops and boat scouting everything. (We had good beta from the group before on wood). We had one mishap at a slide that goes vert, but the peices were picked up quickly. At this point it was getting darker and we were on a mission to get below pinball. We Blue Angeled pinball and everyone seemed to have less than optimum lines. I ended up running the bottom looking back up at the group behind me. We had one mishap there against the bottom right wall. After picking up the pieces it was getting cold and dark. By the time we reached Fat Lady it was dark. We pulled off at the bridge and the gauge read 1.2.

All in all we had completed the run in one piece. We had originally thought that any mishap would result in hiking out, but after having both of the first timers swim we found our trip to be at a fun and comfortable boogie pace.

Burton and I went into town to grab a bite to eat and talk about what we were going to run the next day. We decided on the West Fork of the French Broad because we both had to be back in ATL by 3pm. We set a time to meet at the outfitter at 7:30am. I went to Tims Cabin and he went to Franklin to visit some friends.

The next morning we met at the outfitter slightly late and it was truly cold (low20s). We went to search for the putin and takeout for the West Fork. After driving up and down the road, we found some fellow boaters suiting up and were informed that we were actually on the North Fork. We decided to run the NF due to our time restraints and hike out after Submarine(the last sig rapid).

Burton and I boogied on down to the takeout below Submarine and only stopped to take some pictures at Boxcar. We hiked the steep trail out to the car and made it out on time to get back to ATL.

As I was driving back to Atlanta I passed over the Horsepasture and Whitewater rivers, and I saw the many beautiful vistas at the many overlooks. I even stopped to take a few photos of a very juiced up Whitewater Falls. Then it was quickly back to the road to get back to class at 4:30. As I was driving over the last crest on Highway 11 that you can see the rugged mountains, I looked back in my rear-view mirror and I made my decision to return that weekend to run the Horsepasture. Little did I know that I had only scratched the surface of the breathtaking beauty that the Jocassee area beholds.

Summer Green Narrows '10

Warm temperatures and 24 hour releases resulted in multiple laps every weekend. Two videos in links: Green 1 and Green 2. Enjoy and reminisce about those warm days.