Saturday, April 08, 2006


After hearing so much about the Cheoah since the releases began last fall I was somewhat eager to find out what the hype was all about. I was surprised to see just how many trees there were growing in the riverbed (that’s what happens when its been dewatered for 80 years!). The run was indeed pretty fast and continuous. That day the release and natural flow from the previous nights storms brought the level to about 1300 cfs. I was pretty sketched about all the trees but didn’t have any problems at the beginning of the run.

I started off following behind Jim but our group was large and I got a bit behind during a calm section. I realized I didn’t much like this since I had no idea what was coming up. After a fairly beefy rapid everyone scattered and eddied out in different places. Jim was on the opposite side of the river and a few of us were crammed into a small eddy.

Hanging out in the eddy above the Big One

I realized that we were right above the Big One (Bear Creek Falls). I few people ran the right line but it was impossible to see much of it. We waited a while but no one was going anywhere and a few people were blocking the eddy by the shore and not getting out. This really pissed me off as I had no idea what the line was (and neither did anyone else around) and I couldn’t even get out to look at it. I started to try to attain up to a higher eddy when Jim came over and told me to follow him down the right. I was thankful to not have to fight to stay in the eddy so I followed him down.



From the pictures I’d seen of the right line it seemed pretty straight forward. I had no idea that there was a fair sized hole at the bottom of the drop and as I came around the corner I was too far right and smacked right into it. The correct line (as I later found out) was to aim left around the corner and punch a tongue on the left side of the hole. Would have been nice to know, but oh well. I ended up in a side surf with my bow of course pointing to the right. So I ended up doing something of s stern squirt to try to turn myself around and eventually dug down into the water with my paddle to get out. It wasn’t too hard but still would have been nice knowing the correct line in the first place.


I have to admit though that getting out there would have been a pain in the ass and I was willing to risk running it somewhat blind. At the eddy below the drop I turned around and was surprised to see just how but it was. I guess I had expected a smaller drop. The rest of the run was fairly uneventful, lots of big waves and holes. The paddle out on the lake (yes I do believe that all southeast rivers really do end in lakes!) was short and painless. We paddled past the dam from which Harrison Ford’s character jumped in the movie The Fugitive:

On the way back to the put in we stopped at the Big One to get another look and take some pictures. When we got there we saw a guy sitting in the middle of the river on a rock at the top of the drop. At first I thought he had jumped there somehow from sore but then I realized that that was impossible as the jump would be very long. He had swam at the rapid above and had miraculously managed to swim to the rock before going over the drop which most certainly would have ended in serious injury. We hung out and watched more carnage. An open boater swam above (luckily he managed to get himself to shore). His boat headed over the falls on its own and would have had a good line but as it couldn’t boof it got pretty well hammered at the bottom of the drop. It was eventually freed an proceeded to float down a good ways before pining on a rock a ways downstream. Overall it was a pretty great show. Soon after a rescue was put together to get the guy off the rock in the middle. Some rafters from the NOC lowered a raft down to him using ropes.

Rescue Video 1
Rescue Video 2

Stranded swimmer at Bear Creek Falls

Nice run on the Falls

Canoe solo run on the Falls

Cheoah scene

Below is a series of pictures of Mark and I:



Hanging out near the end

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