Saturday, September 11, 2004


I got back from the Canada trip late Wednesday night. I had driven through PA on my way home from Niagara, passing right by western MD. I would be returning the very next day. It poured all night. I slept in the next morning, got up around noon and started checking gauges. I knew there was plenty of water out there. . . I had called Mark from Canada and asked him if he wanted to go boating Friday (i had heard of a hurricane coming so even then i knew there would be rain). Of course he wanted to go. I had taken the whole week off of work and couldn’t wait to get back to boating. I emailed Josh to say I was back a day early and to find out what their plans were for the weekend. We had originally planned to go to the Ohiopyle Over the Falls Race but due too high water it had been postponed (the LY peaked around 12 feet). Now it looked like more options would be available.

Josh quickly replied saying Gooney Run in VA was up and that he and Ian planned to run in that afternoon. I hadn’t yet unpacked the car so my T1 and gear were still ready to go. I quickly repacked some clean clothes, threw the creekboat on the car and headed off to meet them in Manassas. I had spent all of two waking hours at home. I’d only been gone a few days but it felt like forever. We headed off to Front Royal and set shuttle for Gooney. I had planned to meet Mark in Winchester that evening so that we could head on to WV.

The level on Gooney wasn’t great but we still had a good time. We hurried so that I could make it to Winchester in time and Ian could make it home for his date. They both had to work the next day so we agreed to meet in WV Friday night to run Lower Big Sandy Creek.

The boys on Gooney

On Friday Mark and I were left with few options. Levels had dropped quickly and the smaller creeks were no longer up. LBS however was rather high, too much for a first time. So we opted to run the Little Sandy and Upper Big Sandy instead, an easy but beautiful run.

Little Sandy Creek

Friday night the boys arrived and we met up with some more people to run the Lower. It was a gorgeous first time run and went off without problems. I got to run my first real waterfall: 18 foot Wonder Falls. We all portaged Class 5.1 Big Splat and did the rock launch below. The scenery was gorgeous with beautifal Briday Veil Falls cascading part way down into the creek.

Maggie - Wonder Falls

Ian at Bridal Veil Falls

This weekend was turning out to be a great ending to an awesome paddling vacation. The LBS run was quick and we still had plenty of daylight left. So Josh decided we should go park and huck Swallow Falls on the Top Yough. So on we went.

We arrived at Swallow Falls State Park and geared up. We carried our boats down to the observation area. Swallow Falls is a popular recreational area so there was definitely going to be a bit of an audience. Mark was tired and decided to skip this run. So we gave him the photo and video cameras. We scouted Swallow from the observation deck. It is a long shallow slide. I had already run the bottom slide of the Fishladder on the Potomac that summer so I felt at least somewhat prepared. I watched Josh and Ian run it with no problems and put on myself.

Ian running Swallow Falls

I followed the tongue at the top and headed down. Unfortunately I was too far right and hit the edge of the large rock midway down on river right. This caused me to spin around, I tucked forward hard, keeping my center of gravity low. I ended up running the rest of the slide backwards but upright. I ended up flipping at the hole at the bottom but at least it was deep. I rejoined Josh and Ian. Mark got a great video of the whole thing.

Next came Swallowtail Falls. A five foot ledge drop with a slightly sticky hole at the bottom. We got out and scouted once again. I was pretty tired and as I went over the drop I penciled in too much and ended up in the hole. After I short time I managed to work my way out of it toward river right where Ian was waiting ready to pull me away from a slight undercut.

Ian about to run Swallowtail

Maggie running Swallowtail

The run wasn’t going well and we all took out below Swallowtail. That was enough for one day. We still had Sunday after all...

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