Monday, October 09, 2006


Columbus Day, perfectly timed for both Upper Yough and Gauley releases. Plus I get the day off! Great time to do a long weekend trip and hit two great rivers. Mark and I took Friday off as well and Ryan joined us for the weekend's adventures.

Friday was cool and gloomy with some drizzle mixed in. Not the most uplifting way to start the weekend but the fall foliage on the Yough brightened things some. The fresh air and fall smells were wonderful. After a busy week of work, running the Falls and biking I was feeling fairly worn out though. My strokes were sluggish and the dreary weather wasn't helping.

We got down to the bottom of Charlie's with no problems, ran the slots line and eddied out below. Here the river is broken up by several large boulders, creating some channels to choose from. The usual line I've been used to is to head down the right channel, an easy sloped drop, and head back left. The center line involves boofing off the left edge of one of the rocks over a sticky hole. I'd done this several times before with no real problems. I looked at my choices and thought better of it, my boofs hadn't been well timed all day.

But I thought to myself, what the heck, it's not that hard, no big deal. I paddled hard towards the boof, ready for a nice launch. But my timing was off and I didn't get close enough to the rock. Went over the edge, took the stroke, but to no avail, penciled straight into the hole below. The level was 2.3 making the hole extra sticky. I probably hadn't run that line above 2 feet before. Immediately got flipped, and sucked against the rock. I tried to work my way out, but couldn't even so much as roll up. On each attempt I'd just get slammed back against the rock. As Mark later pointed out, it would have been useful to have tried my off-side. Doh!! I don't know what I was thinking! I felt pretty dang dumb afterwards. I didn't have much air, and getting slammed against that rock was making me rather claustrophobic. I wasn't feeling great and that moment of desperation hit... so I bailed!! Ugh so mortifying. I swear this river has got it in for me! No where else have I gotten so many swims, scrapes and general beatings (now granted I've also been on it more than anywhere else so odds or that would happen).

As soon as I was clear of the hole I swam hard for the shore and quickly climbed up on the rocks. Ryan went after my paddle and Mark got the boat while I scrambled along the rocks, cursing to myself the whole way. Luckily they were able to gather my gear quickly and I was able to get back into my boat and run Triple Drop.

Earlier in the run Ryan had pointed at a pourover that he thought would make a good boof. I had warned him that it was pretty darn sticky and that I had once swam out of it and now stayed for away from it. Ha ha, I may be adding another one to my list!! The rest of the run was uneventful with me running only standard lines (needless to say I did not run the National boof that weekend!).

That evening we headed down to Summersville. Got to bed early in preparation for the Upper G. The next morning Ryan brought some cheer to another gloomy start with great little dance in his fleece boof gear. Hee hee... had to put this picture in:

Mark dropped us off at the put in while he went to set shuttle. It was still rather overcast and cold. We sat there in the parking lot shivering as it started to rain. Eventually we each hung out in the bathrooms using the hand dryers to dry our gear (which btw was pretty effective). We were both getting rather worried, we hadn't even put on yet and we were both already freezing. But once Mark returned and we all put on we were pleasantly surprised to find how nice and warm the water felt. There was a light fog hanging over the water, warming the air on the surface as well. It felt great go get in my boat. Soon after the clouds burned off and we had a great run. The nice sunny weather definitely boosted my energy level.

On our previous Gauley trip this year I had discovered that I was rather uncomfortable paddling my playboat. Prior to that I had only taken it down the Cheat and the LY once each all year. I'd mostly been paddling my creekboat (with the exception of play on the Potomac of course) so I just simply wasn't used to the low volume and edges! That first trip I felt pretty out of control. This time I was doing a lot better though did still feel a little off here and there. I was still flipping a bit but did get clean lines on most of the rapids at least once over the weekend.

We were also pleasantly surprised to find the flow to be higher than we'd run it at before. Instead of the standard 2800 cfs release they were pumping out about 3300 from the dam and another 400 cfs was coming in from the Meadow, bringing the total to about 3700 cfs. I honestly didn't really notice the difference on most of the rapids, though here and there it was clear that the level was definitely a good bit higher. On Sunday the level dropped down to about 3500 cfs.

Ryan continued his quest for things to boof. I was still feeling pretty shy towards anything resembling a pourover. But he had few reservations and worked on hucking himself off of any ledge he could find. Early on in the run on Sunday he found a small but sticky little pourover and spent some time working his way out. Next he went for a couple of underwater loops in the top hole at Insignificant. I think he was just trying to make me feel better about the swim on Friday! :) Thanks buddy!

Overall we had two great runs on the Upper G, I sure do love that run. Not to mention the obligatory stop at Dirty Ernie's in Fayetteville for some excellent BBQ ribs!

Monday we were back on the Upper Yough again. I was pretty well worn at this point and decided I would continue to take it easy. We met up with Scott and some friends and this time had a group of six. This time the weather was gorgeous and the leaves were even more magnificent. I really do love fall at the Yough.

We paddled down leisurely, stopping along the way to take some pictures. I was determined that this would be an uneventful trip. At Triple Drop we all piled into the eddy on the left. I was high up so I waited while most everyone took their turn. I watched as Mark caught the little micro eddy on the right, pealed out and headed down. That is such an awesome move. I'm not quite ready to try it yet though! I watched as another guy headed down. He was angled towards the right but was heading down way to close to the center. I watched him flip at the bottom. I headed down myself and took a deep breath. Never good to watch someone get beat down right before your turn. But I thought to myself, I've never had any problems here.

Well that did it!! I totally jinxed myself!! lol. As I paddled down I was initially online just fine. But about half way down I guess I lost my angle and ended up too far to the left. What I should have done was to just paddle hard and punch the hole. But I thought I had enough time to make it back over right. I turned my boat and before I knew it I dropped into the hole sideways! Doh!!

Man that is an angry little hole!!! I was getting side surfed pretty hard so I started digging around with my paddle and trying to throw my bow around as much as I could. I managed to do a pirouette of sorts but it just resulted in a change of orientation. Still stuck firmly in the hole. I got window shaded a good bit. My paddle got violently ripped out of one hand and i ended up doing an underwater paddle twirl before i was able to grab it again. Eventually I just stayed upside down, trying to reach for some green water. Turns out that the hole is also partially guarded by rocks. At one point i stuck my paddle out and it got caught on a rock and was held firmly in place until i managed to yank it back out. In the process i was quickly loosing air and getting dang tired. I thought i was going to have to swim for sure.

No way!! That's it... i was pissed! No way was i going to let this river get me twice in one weekend!!! I pushed hard with my legs so that i could get my head around the side of the boat to get some air. I was sitting so far out that it looked to everyone like i had swam! But no! I was going to stick this one out. Once i got my gulp of air i tucked in and felt the hole let go! I rolled up and paddled to a river left eddy, opposite from everyone else. I looked up to see the guy who had flipped before me holding his head. Apparently he'd taken a pretty hard hit. A few others had some issues with this rapid that day. Seemed like Triple Drop was handing out a two-for-one special on beatdowns!

The rest of the run was just fine. Ryan once again thought i'd feel better if he sharred in the beatdown fun so he bravely boofed right into the hole at National. A few cartwheels and underwater spins and he was out. Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would have been "Chundered". But it was such a nice weekend overall that i just couldn't do it.

And now for the actual title of this post. At the takeout i got a great little surprise. Mike found a little buckeye nut on the ground. Buckeyes are very similar to horsechestnuts. You'd probably have to be from eastern Europe to understand why this is exciting. As i kid i'd collect the chesnuts and play with them. They were great for sticking together and making little sculptures out of. Mark thinks i'm crazy but really its a great little fall tradition. I searched around and quickly discovered the source of the buckeyes, a tree next to the parking lot by the liquor store. We went over and collected bunch of the pods. Unlike the horsechestnuts i'm used to, the buckeyes grow in smooth pods that you can easily break appart with your fingers (the chestnuts have sharp spikes on their pods). Mike took some of the pods home for his kids to play with and i got a pile as well to use for decoration.

If anyone knows of anywhere that there are buckeye or horsechestnut trees around Rockville or the DC area i'd be really interesed!! :)

Mike identified our buckeyes as Yellow Buckeyes using this cool site that let's you identify trees by the leaves or the fruit: Identify Trees

The images below are from that site:


Yellow Buckeye

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