Sunday, March 04, 2007


After our trip on Drake Run, Scott and Bobby decided they did not want to deal with the cold on Sunday and opted to go skiing instead. It did not seem like anyone was all that interested in boating. I was conently curled up on the couch enjoying the warmth of the fire. Though I wanted to paddle it was damn cold outside (the thermometer was showing 22 degrees). I was thinking I'd be perfectly happy just staying in. But just as I am getting nice and cozy Jay calls. He'd been planning on running the Lower Big Sandy. I could still go if I wanted.

But the plan had changed a bit. Concerned about the conidtion of the takeout road, he had decided to skip the normal shuttle altogether. The plan was to put on on Laurel Run (an easy class I-II stream), paddle it into the Upper Big Sandy and then down through the LBS, continuing onto the Cheat and paddling 3 miles of Cheat Lake.... hmmm... So... stay nice and warm and comfy... or go paddle 16 miles in 20+ degree weather.....

The smart choice was pretty clear... but I decided to go paddle anyway!!

I met Jay, Brad, and Sam at the Laurel Run put in (up the road from Cooper's Rock). We put on and paddled a few miles of easy class I-II as it started to snow. It was a pretty stream with nice scenery. At the confluence with the Sandy there was one decent class III drop (see photo above). From here we continued on through and paddled the last mile or two of the Upper Big Sandy and reached the normal LBS put in. The gauge read 6.8. Higher than I'd ever run it before.

Jay at last drop of Laurel Run

The bigger water feel of the Sandy was quite the contrast from the previous day. The higher volume of cold water hitting you constantly was fairly shocking at first. But we kept up a fast pace and I was plenty warm. It was nice to see the river at higher flow, definitely a lot more fun this way. We ran most of the standard lines with a few exceptions. At Wonder Falls Jay showed me the right line. A straight forward boof off a narrow launch pad. But the line put you landing right between a big hole and a rock. I could easily have run the main line (which at this level definitely required a boof to clear the hole) but it was cool to do something new. The left side of second island proved to be a lot less manky with more water as well.

Jay at Wonder Falls

Overall I definitely liked the LBS at higher flow and look forward to running it with more water.

Sam at the Horseshoe

Jay and Sam at Big Splat

Sam running Big Splat

We continued on down past Jenkinsuburg onto the Cheat. It was running at around 5 feet but there really aren't many rapids below the normal takeout. A few big wave trains but mostly a lot of flatwater. The canyon opens up here some and is not very protected from wind. So on top of the 25 degree weather we also had a good wind going. This chilled me pretty quick and I began to dread the 6 miles we had to paddle to the takeout.

Along the way the guys found a boat someone had lost on the Sandy. It's bow was pretty well mangled but otherwise it was in okay shape. So they took some time to haul it up on the river left shore near the trail. After this we paddled on down into the lake and completed the three mile flatwater paddle. At least paddling hard warmed me up to where I could feel my fingers again!

By the time we got to the takeout my pfd was frozen solid, there was a layer of ice on my helmet and 2 inch long icicles hanging from the brim. Even my drysuit was frozen. I could hear it creeking with each stroke. Ice was forming on my paddle shaft between where my hands were. It took a few minutes of standign indoors before i could thaw everything out enough to undo the zippers. I wanted to get another photo but my camera was inside the frozen shut pocket of me pfd!! lol.

Here are the rest of the photos from this trip.

Me frozen

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