Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

The last week in April we finally had some time to take off and spend a week boating. We had planned to spend the whole time out in WV but we ended up leaving a few days late because that first weekend was just too cold. So we hung out around DC. We paddled and hiked some on the Potomac.

On our hike down the Billy Goat Trail we discovered something unexpected. As we were walking I could hear raging whitewater. As we approached we found that it was the small creek that comes out of the canal and enters the
Potomac just above the chutes. This was rather surprising as I'd never seen that much water on this creek (I don't even know if it has a name). The rapids start just below the trail. It only runs when they are draining the canal (which they did that week for the construction on the towpath). Apparently people do run it when the opportunity arises. I also later heard stories about people poaching a run by pulling the plug in the canal to let it drain! To see more pictures from this day look here.

Mather Gorge, Potomac

Canal Creek

Canal Creek

We headed out Tuesday morn and paddled the Little Sandy, Upper and then Lower Big Sandy on Tuesday (nice long run) and then just the LBS on Wednesday. We caught it at good levels (6.3 and 5.9 respectively). We took some time to stop and take pictures and video. Got some video of us running Wonder Falls and First Island (I think that is one of my favorite rapids now). At some point I’ll find a way to post them on here.

Mark at Upper Big Sandy

Wonder Falls

Wonder Falls

First Island, Lower Big Sandy

Big Splat, LBS

Mark at Big Splat, LBS

Mark at Wonder Falls


Mark at First Island


First Island

Mark running rapid below Big Splat

Mark at Big Splat

Zume Flume

Mark at Wonder Falls

Me at Wonder Falls

Mark rock launching at Big Splat

Mark running First Island

Bridal Veil Falls

Me running First Island

Mark running slot on LBS


We had planned on camping during the week but hadn’t really made any decisions as to specific place. That was going to depend on what we were running anyway… or so I thought. Since we were at the Sandy I assumed we’d camp at Teeter’s. It was close by and a pretty nice place to stay. I asked Mark about it but he said he wanted to try out a “new place”, I asked him about it but he didn’t seem to want to answer too many questions. I said I didn’t want to have to drive too far and he assured me it was close. I wasn’t too worried so I let it go. When we got off the river I asked again where we were going and he said he’d have to look at the map but that I could just follow him (we had taken two cars so we wouldn’t have to worry about finding people to shuttle with).

So on we went. He drove back out to the interstate and got off an exit down. As we drove on I started to really wonder what he was up to. But then I saw signs for a campground and assumed that that was it. But soon after we passed by the turn off for the campground and kept going…and then I finally saw it, the sign for where we were actually going: Mountain Creek Cabins. A few minutes later Mark pulled up in front of our very own: Black Bear Cabin. It was all ready, unlocked with the keys inside. It was awesome: full kitchen, fireplace, a deck with grill, and best of all a hot tub! It was wonderful coming back after a day on the river, grilling up some steaks, and soaking in the hot tub. He had reserved the place for the rest of the week. It was such a wonderful surprise and sooooo sweet!!

Black Bear Cabin

Cabin View

Black Bear Cabin

Another added bonus was a surprise to Mark as well. After meeting the owners we found that they also ran a Mountain Lion Sanctuary (right next to the cabins) for lions that couldn’t survive in the wild. There where large cages in the woods with several mountain lions (with an outside perimeter as well!) . The owners told us all about the lions (one had been orphaned, one had been kept as a pet, etc). We were even able to pet one of the friendly ones. He was very sweet (and declawed!).

Mtn. Lion Sanctuary

Here kitty kitty kitty...

Ankle biter


Nice kitty...

Ian and Mark checking out kitty... kitty checking out ...dinner

Cat play

It also turned out that the small creek behind our cabin was the very same one that flows into the Lower Big Sandy creating Bridal Veil Falls. We where able to walk through the woods and follow the creek all the way to the LBS. There were other waterfalls along the way as well.Very cool.


Me at Bridal Veil Falls

Waterfall on the creek

Thursday we took a break from boating and played around at Coopers Rock State Park
(which was 5 minutes from the cabin). Mark got to do some bouldering and we both had fun exploring caves. The place was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful rock formations and great views (the park overlooks the Cheat River).

Cooper's Rock, SP

A little caving

Me at Haystack rock, Cheat River in background

A little more caving

Cool rocks

Check out more pictures from our day at Cooper's Rock.

Friday Ian joined us and we ran the Cheat. It was once again at a pretty good level and Mark had a great time playing on some of the huge waves. We had both picked up some demos from Springriver. Mark liked the LL Vision well enough but I absolutely hated the EZG. I will definitely not be paddling that boat again. It kinda made the run a bit miserable at times but the scenery made up for it. It was early spring in WV and the trees were just barely starting to get a little green. There was also an abundance of flowering pink trees. Even though it was overcast and a bit foggy it was absolutely beautiful!

Spring on the Cheat


After the long day on the Cheat I was starting to get pretty worn out. The guys wanted to go to the Tygart and as much as it broke my heart to say it I just really wasn’t ready to try a new run. Simply didn’t have the energy for it…so once again, no Tygart for me. Instead we opted for an easy trip on the Lower Yough. Ian had a good time surfing at Swimmer’s. Unfortunately we had all forgotten how freaking cold the LY is. The water was frigid and it was still overcast and rainy. The fog was so thick at times that you could barely see a few feet ahead, it was actually pretty cool. After a while I got tired of waiting for the boys who were stopping along the way to play here and there. I was getting cold and wanted to keep warm so I paddled hard towards the takeout. I was probably a half mile ahead of them the whole second half of the run. There was no one else around. It was pretty eerie paddling through the fog alone like that.

Ian at Swimmer's

Fog on the LY

On our last day we were well worn out. We slept in late and relaxed at the cabin, and then spent a little more time at Coopers Rock before heading home. Overall we had a great trip and lots of fond memories. We’ll definitely be going back to Mountain Creek Cabins someday and recommend it highly. The owner’s are very nice and also boater friendly:

Boater friendly place

So just lions and bears really, no tigers ….or Tygarts!

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