Saturday, July 28, 2007

North Fork


This weekend Alden and I headed to the Upper Yough on Friday afternoon and met up with Scott M, Mark L and Bobby for a nice run. With some rain forecast for the evening we were hopeful of catching the Upper Blackwater before the UY Race on Saturday. After spending a fun night at Scott’s sister’s awesome Deep Creek house (err... mini-mansion), we got up early and called around for gauge readings. Sure enough the Upper B was running at a decent level so Alden and I went off toward Thomas to meet up with Don.

The plan was to meet up at the North Fork and set shuttle. But to our amazement we arrived to find the North Fork running! A nice surprise considering the Upper B was just at below 300 cfs and dropping. Only 1.5 feet but that was fine with me for a first run. I’d been wanting this for months!! Certainly did not take much convincing. Plus it seemed like a better choice seeing as we all needed to get back to Friendsville so that the guys would be ready for the UY race and I could meet up with Kathleen to lead her down. The North Fork did not require setting shuttle so would certainly save us time. With some hope that Gluteal would be runnable we put on quickly (about 9am), leaving a note for Geoff who was a bit behind.

Looking up from the put in: Junkyard and Douglas Falls

The North Fork starts off fast, dropping off the face of the earth at 400 feet per mile as soon as you leave the parking area. It felt great to hike down below Douglas Falls for the first time with my boat. I’d been waiting to get on the NF since New Year’s (had a slight feeling of déjà vu spending the night at Scott’s sister’s place just as I'd had done 7 months ago). This time though we were met with a pleasant surprise. We put in just below the first rapid, Junkyard, a manky looking boulder garden. Don did a great job of leading me through the first set of fun ledges and slides and any tension I'd had quickly wore off. I was already having a blast and we hadn’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.

Gluteal

Arriving at Gluteal we found it to be rather low so opted to go ahead and portage. Don showed us how to drop our boats off the right side of the drop to avoid having to carry them down. Alden hiked down while I launched our boats into the eddy below. We’d told Geoff that we’d wait for him there so Alden and I took the opportunity to walk down to scout the next few drops while Don ran back up a ways to check on Geoff. We stopped and spent some time looking at World’s Ugliest, a double boof with some really nasty undercuts lining the entire right bank. The low flow was actually making it look like it would be a more difficult line since there was very little water going over the second drop on the left and most of the flow was actually feeding into the undercut right. Looked manageable though. We hiked back up to Gluteal and were rejoined by Don and Geoff.

Alden Scouting World's Ugliest

World's Ugliest Rapid

Geoff's boat launching off Gluteal

We continued on through a fun series of ledges and on to the meat of the run. I had a good line coming off the first boof at World’s Ugliest with good angle and easily avoiding the hazard. Definitely a very scary but fun rapid. A few of the drops, especially some of the slides were rather scrapey at this level, making things a bit manky, but very manageable. I had pretty clean lines on most everything and loved every minute of the run.

Geoff running Double Indemnity

The North Fork has some of the best rapid names: World's Ugliest, Eye of the Needle, Double Indemnity, Cow Pissing on a Flat Rock, Gluteal Mash, Rainbow Room, and many more. Rainbow Room is one of the most unique rapids I’ve seen in some time. The bright orange stained rocks give it great character. I got out once again and watched as the guys ran it. The move starts off driving from left to right leading into a boof that lands in a corner room. Then the river makes a sharp left turn followed by a quick right, passing by a nasty sieve (which at this level wasn’t really in play but Don got out and set safety for me just the same). I put on made it through with no problems. Way fun.

Don running Rainbow Room

After all the big drops were over I fully enjoyed the last section of boogie water, lots of fun, easy slides that we bombed down quickly. It was exhilarating coming down to the takeout having just finished such a fantastic run.

It was wonderful being on this gorgeous creek, with good friends, and amazing weather. We really lucked out with not only having decent water but low humidity and sunny skies. For the first time I got to see the area lush with foliage (I’d only been here in the winter / early spring before this weekend). It really brought out the beauty of Canaan. Hiking back out also proved to be more pleasant this time around. Admittedly the North Fork was a lot less strenuous than running the Upper B, being a mostly gravity driven run. Nonetheless I felt like the hike was a fair bit easier and even though I once again let the guys all go in front of me, I was right behind Alden the whole way up. I guess hiking up the Flake all summer has done something for me! Having all the leaves on the trees also helped with some depth perception (i.e. the void was lessened so my fear of heights wasn’t as overwhelming! lol). Though the stinging nettles along the trail definitely added a slight challenge!

We made good time up the trail and back to the cars. It was barely after noon and we'd gotten in a fantastic run and still had more great boating to come. It had been a long time since I'd actually put on anything that early! We made it back to Friendsville with pleanty of time to spare before the race. Kathleen and I had a great run on the Upper Yough (Sean caught up with us at Lost and Found after having shuttled Bobby up to the Top Yough put in). Congrats to Geoff for winning the race, Don, Alden, Bobby and everyone else for great results!

Summer foliage on the North Fork

I have to say that the North Fork may very well have earned its place at the top of my list for favorite runs. Much more pool drop in nature than the Upper B with bigger drops, but still very much continuous, it was a nice contrast to finally see. Thanks so much to Don and Alden for showing me down! I can’t wait to get out there again, hopefully with a little more water.


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1 Comments:

Anonymous Nathan Sass said...

Great Stuff I can't wait to get on that run.

10:59 AM  

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