Saturday, July 12, 2008

No Water, Low Water, Big Water

The adventure started at the Nanthala Cascades. After a big rain we figured they'd be running. Of course they weren't, which didn't stop us from banging our way down them anyways. We did a few laps and bruised and battered we made our way back to NOC around nine o'clock. One of the instructors suggested we drive to West Virginia. Being that we all had two days off it sounded like a great idea. We met at Arby's at 11 pm, loaded the boats, and started the trip north.

We drove through the night and made it to the West Virginia Visitor's Center around 5am the next morning. We slept in the parking lot for two hours until the rangers showed up and started leaf-blowing right by our heads. Barely awake we pressed on to the put-in for Mann's Creek. It was on the low side of doable, but still very fun.

With bruised tail-bones we then headed over to the Gauley put-in for the 26 mile marathon over-nighter. We put-on at three and by four we were standing at Iron Ring. It felt strange paddling a river with water in it but we adjusted nicely. The Meadow was pumping in a significant amount of water and we estimated the flow between 6 and 7 thousand cfs. It took us an hour to get to that rapid, but we then spent an hour working up the courage to run it.It went pretty well, considering we were paddling boats loaded down with camping equipment and hotdogs. Lost Paddle was also exciting, but not as exiting as Sweet's Falls which had a hole as big as train in it. We snuck that one. We continued to paddle down through the Middle Gauley and a few miles into the Lower. We spent a lot of time surfing holes. Sometimes the holes spent a lot of time surfing us. After a tasty meal of s'mores, hotdogs, and vegetable stirfry we fell asleep in the dirt somewhere below Five-Boat Hole. The next morning we finished the paddle out on the Lower and arrived at the takeout at 11am for the long drive back to Bryson City.

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