Sunday, October 28, 2007

Red and Black

After months of drought and weeks without any precipitation whatsoever, everyone welcomed a change. Finally we were getting some good rain and as I walked to my office in a downpour on Thursday morning I had a big smile on my face. I didn’t even mind the horrendous traffic jam it caused on the Beltway Friday afternoon too much. It was like Christmas had come two months early. Jason and I exchanged a myriad of text messages and numerous excited phone calls. Surely something would be running this weekend. At the very least we had the Blackwater to look forward to. Finally we were getting a chance for another joint Think Rain / Got-Boof adventure. Scott needed no convincing to join in and after a three week hiatus due to an injury sustained at the Falls, was itching to get back out.

The rain had even brought out such animals as Bobby “the Dogg” Miller out of his “winter” hibernation. He wanted to know if we were interested in Red Creek… boy were we!!! Scott was more than ready to return to this jewel of the Dolly Sods Wilderness while Jason and I looked forward to checking it off its long lived spot on our hit lists. We couldn’t have been more excited.

Scott and I left my house at 6:30 am on this rainy Saturday morning and an hour later met up with Bobby, Jeff, Seth and Sean C and we made our way to Davis where we met up with Jason H and Jason M.

Located on the south side of Canaan Valley the drive to Red Creek takes you through gorgeous winding roads and amazing scenery. The adventure starts off with an easy two mile hike through a beautiful forest. The morning’s clouds were beginning to lift and we even got a fair bit of sun throughout the day. Dolly Sods has got to be some of the most pristine wilderness that northern West Virginia has to offer.

The creek was running a bit on the low side but the scenery more than made up for it. We made our way down through numerous drops and slides, scouting along the way and following Bobby’s guidance. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

Jason did a good job of describing the run. Check out his blog for his impressions.

Unfortunately such luck comes at a price. This time Seth was our sacrificial lamb to the river gods. The shallow run had taken a toll on his Solo and a large crack had developed on the bottom of the hull. A makeshift patch job proved unsuccessful and he was forced to hike out barely two miles into the run (which combined with the 2 mile hike it to begin with proved to be quite the haul). The rest of us continued on down and much enjoyed a fantastic experience. We took off as the sun was setting. Ahhh… a Dogg trip ending in daylight, thanks so much Bobby!!!

That evening we all enjoyed a great meal at Sirianni’s in Davis, flipping through the photos taken that day. Bobby, Sean and Seth headed home while the rest of us split a hotel room at the Alpine Lodge (it would be in the 30’s overnight and we weren’t interested in cold, wet camping). After enjoying some Norwegian paddle porn and death metal we got to sleep, looking forward to a day on the Blackwater. After spiking up high it had gradually dropped to a perfect 330 cfs. Things could not have turned out better. To get on Red Creek AND the Upper B at a good level after such a long break from any natural flow. To add to what was already turning out to be a perfect day the skies cleared leaving only beautiful, sunny weather.

J & J did a great job leading Scott and I down the Upper while Jeff chose to meet us at the North Fork for a run on the Lower. Thanks guys! The Upper went great and I was more than happy to get in a redemption run on Pinball. After now five runs on the river I was starting to get more comfortable with the lines. Hopefully a few more and I’ll know my way down much better. It was nice not to have to hike out at the NF and paddling down the Lower proved to be very relaxing. A fantastic way to end a great weekend!

More Red Creek and Blackwater photos (taken by Jeff, Bobby and Maggie)

Maggie running Double Clapper

Jeff running the Clapper

Jeff, Jason and Jason on Red Creek slide

Maggie running the Clapper

Jeff, J & J, and Scott at Improvement #2

Bobby running Double Clapper

Sean and Seth at Double Clapper

Scott at Improvement #2

Seth running Double Clapper

Jason H on approach to Devil's Cauldron

Jason M running Devil's Cauldron



Jason H heading down slide of Improvement #1

Sean running the Cascades

Hiking in

Jeff on "Z-Falls"

Jason H heading down first drop of 100 Yard Dash, Upper B

Maggie heading down 100 Yard Dash

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Russell Fork

With continued drought conditions all along the east coast we’ve had no other choice but to hit as many dam releases as possible. Although the long drives (6 hrs each way to the Gauley, 9 to the Raquette, 9 to the Moose) had started to wear on me, I was still exited to get in as much good boating as possible. With Gauley Season winding down, this weekend the best choice appeared to be the Russell Fork. I hadn’t been out there since January and was curious to see how the run would feel with 300 more cfs.

It proved to be considerably challenging to find anyone crazy enough to do yet another 8 hour drive but I was lucky to be able to convince Jeff to join me. We headed out early Friday afternoon and arrived at the Breaks to meet up with Margaret. You can always count on Margaret to be well prepared for any run so of course she had a great crew assembled. We paddled with local Gerald and his son Matt amongst others. Thanks so much guys for a great weekend!

I found that I remembered a fair bit of the run as we headed down and didn’t really find the higher flow to be significantly different. Although I was pretty nervous about it I fired up the main line at Towers (something that has always scarred me a bit). I had great lines and thoroughly enjoyed the rapid. Still did the hairy ferry at Fist, don’t want anything to do with that cave! I ran a few laps on El Horendo each day, that is definitely a lot of fun. Overall it was a blast and I look forward to getting out there again.

The Russell Fork Gorge is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to recently. We spent some time hiking around all the overlooks and just enjoying the scenery. Camping at the takeout was also great. I love how relaxed the RF scene is. Everyone just sitting around a big campfire, chatting quietly, listening to people sing and play the guitar.

Good times.... sweet memories, past and present.

Maggie running bottom of El Horendo

Maggie running main line at Towers


Camping at the takeout

Gorge walls

Walking the plank at El Horendo

Jeff, Margaret, Gerald, and Maggie checking out El Horendo
Photo: Steve Ruth

Jeff at El Horendo

Maggie running Second Drop

Fall colors on the gorge

Russell Fork Gorge

Sunset on the gorge

The best photo of the weekend, taken by Steve Ruth

Check out more photos here: Russell Fork Gallery

Also check out the Steve's Russell Fork website and the Lord of the Fork Race blog:

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


This weekend Sean, Geoff, Jeff and I piled into my car and once again made the long trek north. We met up with Bobby, Ian and Jeff (no that's not a typo) in Old Forge, NY to run the Bottom Moose. As I have been told is typical of Moose Fest weekend, temps were low, dropping to the high 30's at night. Quite the contrast from the 90 degree heat we've had in the DC area the week before. It was a good bit of a shock going from paddling in a tank top and shorts to a full drysuit and fleece, gloves and all. We were all quite happy to be staying at the Best Western rather than camping. We had great runs both days. I ran Crystal but opted to save Magilla for next year. I'll let the photos tell the story:

Maggie, last drop of Crystal

Bobby and Jeff S., Ager's Falls

Sean, Fowlersville Falls

Maggie, Ager's Falls

Jeff S., last drop of Crystal

Ian, Alpine line, Crystal

Bobby, Magilla

Jeff K, Shurform

Sean, Alpine line, Crystal

Sean, Middle Line, Magilla

Jeff S., Ager's Falls

Maggie, Second drop, Crystal

Geoff, Alpine line, Crystal

And the rest of the Photos

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