Sunday, April 30, 2006

Top Yough

Well finally, after much anticipation we managed to get on the Top Yough. It was running low, but so was everything else and it seemed to be the best option. I had gotten confilicting reports about the quality of the run. Some people said it was great fun even low. Others warned that we'd be disappointed. We decided to see for ourselves. The level on Saturday was only a bit lower than i had run Swallow Falls before so i figured it couldn't be bad. We got a good group together (me, Mark, Ben, Justin, Rick T, and Tim B) and the weather was perfect. The level was around 210 cfs.

Maggie at Swallow Falls

Mark at Swallow Falls

Mark at Swallow Falls

Justin at Swallow Falls

Rick at Swallow Falls

Mark at Swallow Falls

Tim at Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls from top

Maggie at Swallow Falls

On our first run Rick and Tim, who had both run it before, did most of the leading. We got out and scouted Swallow Falls and Suck Hole. The sieve at Suck Hole had filled with wood and at this low level posed very little threat. Though i could totally see how at higher water it would be a challege to stay away from it. On the following runs we got out to take pictures at Swallow but didn't need to scout any more.

Scouting Suck Hole - Sieve filled with wood on right

Near the end of the run we reached a fairly narrow/shallow rapid that Rick warned had a sticky hole at the bottom. The eddies were small and we all got a bit bunched together. Rick and I got a little too close as we approached the drop above the hole. The close proximity wasn't comfortable and i certainly wasn't about to have us both go over the drop at the same time so i powered forward to get in front of him. I got a good angle and bounced over the hole cleanly. Rick unfortuantley was way too far left and wasn't able to get enough speed or adjust his angle well and got flipped in the hole. It pushed him to the slightly undercut left wall. It wasn't particularly dangerous but was making it hard for him to roll. He flushed off the wall but was getting tired, missed a few rolls and swam (he said he didn't mind me posting about this btw). Luckily there was a nice pool below so the swim was short and relatively safe. Justin and i were right there to help out too.

Justin went after Rick while i went for his boat. But as i tried to push the boat to shore i watched as Justin flipped in the process of trying to help him. Seemed like he had some trouble rolling with Rick holding on to his boat but he managed to get up. For a second there i thought we'd have two swimmers! lol. In any case we got Rick and his boat to shore and after a short rest he was back in his boat. Ben and I later started reffering to this drop as "Rick's Rapid".

Ben at Rick's Rapid

After that run Rick, Tim, and Justin decided to head home. Justin dropped Mark, Ben and i off at the put in for a second run. We'd debated going to the Upper Yough instead but decided we wanted to learn this run better. Our second run was great as well. We ran into one other group who were scouting their way down but otherwise saw very few people all day.

That night we camped at Piney Mountain. In the morning we checked the Sang Run gauge and decided that since it hadn't changed too much that the Top Yough would probably still be good. We drove to the put in and walked down to Swallow Falls for a visual. It didn't look much different so we decided it was good to go (~180 cfs, AW min).

Since at this point we only had one car we needed to find other people. We'd gotten up pretty early though so we didn't expect to see anyone. We chained the boats to a tree at the put in and drove to the takeout, prepared for the long hike. We were content with just doing one run and heading home. As we gearing up two boaters came off the river. One of them, Shawn, was interested in doing another run. So we lucked out and didn't have to hike afterall. Shawn ended up joining us for 2 runs.

Despite the low levels the Top Yough was fantastic. We all had an absolute blast. We did a total of four runs. Mark and i hiked back up and ran Swallow Falls twice on our last run for a total of 5. On his first run Mark got too far right, kinda like i had when i ran it back in '04). He did not hit the rock though got spun around on the pillow. Justin opted to run the left side. This seemed like an odd choice to us as there was very little water going over it, but he was pretty determined. It looked like it could be fun with more water but at this level there wasn't really much to push you away from the drop. He pulled it off fine but it didn't look like much fun to me.

On my first run i ran the line just to the left of the right shore, neatly missing the pillow (as Tim and Rick had done). On my second run i got surfed to the left by the curler at the top and ended up running the middle line in between the piton rocks at the bottom. It was a little scarry because i didn't know what to expect. I saw myself heading right by the big pothole and for a moment was afraid of getting stuck in it but i zoomed right by and bounced nicely down to the bottom. I think that was probably the scarriest but most fun line. On the one of Sunday's runs i ran the far right line, bracing on the pillow. It was very clean though and i felt totally in control. Great lines overall.

Ben had scouted the rapid each time but for the first three runs chose to walk. It's a pretty visually impressive / intimidating drop and i totally don't blame him. On our final run, after much contemplation, he decided he was ready and followed Mark down (see video). Everyone had great lines. Mark ran the middle as i had before while Ben and Shawn went farther right. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Video 1 of Maggie running Swallow Falls

Video 2 of Maggie running Swallow Falls

Video of Mark, Ben and Shawn running Swallow Falls

Ben scouting Swallow Falls

The rest of the run was great as well. Ben, Mark and I all agreed it was super fun despite the low level. Each rapid had something fun to do. Either a cool boof or a nice clean slot (great practice for me as i'm not very good at slots) or some great eddy hoping. Some of the boofs were a little shallow in places. I actually managed to hit the driest part of one of them and came to a dead stop at the lip of the drop. It was fairly amusing sitting there looking down at everyone. I then pushed myself off and ran the boof farther right on the next runs.

Maggie at finding the shallow boof

On the second day Shawn showed us some new lines we hadn't seen the day before, more fun and easy slots and cool moves. He and Mark did the room move at Suck Hole which required ferrying across the the top hole into an enclosed eddy and then ferrying back out. Pretty neat. There was also a small drop with a hole that was backed up by a big rock. The hole was small and Shawn could surf back and forth across it, in front of the rock. Mark managed to do it as well though it was more difficult due to the length of his creek boat vs. Shawn's playboat.

Mark exiting the room

After our final run we hiked up to Muddy Creek and scouted it down from the falls. We decided it looked like it could be fun with some water on it but only if you could get in on the left to avoid the big slide the went directly into a big undercut rock.

Muddy Creek Falls

Muddy Creek Slide

I am adding the Top Yough to my list of favorites for sure (as is Mark). Even at low level it was super fun and definltey incredibly beautiful. I look forward to getting to see it when there are leaves on the trees.

Maggie running the less dry side of the boof



Maggie running Suck Hole


Ben running Swallowtail

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