Bluegrass Whitewater


Not so “Polar” Clinic with Chris Wing
February 24, 2010, 4:31 pm
Filed under: clinic,playboating

I headed out Friday evening for Erwin, TN to participate in the H20 Dreams Polar Playboating Clinic the following morning. My destination for the night was Uncle Johnny’s Campground and Hostel as it promised a bed, all the wood I cared to burn (to keep the bunkhouse warm) and showers. It all that and more! There were some very nice people staying there already and in the morning the resident helped me make coffee and get my truck loaded as I was to meet Chris Wing and the other clinic goers   at the Nolichucky Gorge put-in.

Chris Wing is the owner of h2o dreams

Chris Wing is the owner of h2o dreams

Kentucky had an overwhelming presence at this Polar Clinic. I think out of the nine participants, all but two were from the Bluegrass.  We gathered at the Nolichucky Gorge put in near Poplar, NC where we geared up and put on the river.

Polar Clinic warm-up

Polar Clinic warm-up

The clinic began with us warming up in the flatwater near the parking lot. Chris showed us several warm up drills designed to teach concepts like torso rotation and engagement, spinning a playboat, edge control and the importance of good posture. He helped us adjust our kayaks so that we were sitting in the center as well as tons of good advice for outfitting playboats.

Bernie Engleman, clinic rockstar

Bernie "handroll" Engleman, clinic rockstar, in his boat after adjusting the seat position.

Once we were all warmed up it was time for a little downriver action on our way to “Jaws”, the actual clinic location. Everyone styled the Class 3-4 rapid “On the Rocks” upstream of the playspot.

me at "on the rocks" rapid. Nolichucky Gorge, NC. Photo- B. Jett

me at "on the rocks" rapid. Nolichucky Gorge, NC. Photo- B. Jett

Jaws was at an excellent level for the day (~1400cfs), the air temperature was far from polar– nearly sixty degrees that day. I later learned that the water was a not so balmy 34 degrees,  but  we were dressed for it and we all had a solid combat roll. Any swims were contained to the two basketball court sized eddies just downstream of the hole and assisted by the three safety boaters.

“As a new boater, I went into this clinic not knowing what to expect.”  said bluegrass paddler, Jimi Smith. “I’m about as beginner playboater as possible. Chris Wing made me understand the basic ways to setup for moves and how to position my self.”

Although Jimi had been boating for less than a year, he was surfing and rolling in the hole like a seasoned paddler.”

Jimi Smith above on the rocks

Jimi Smith above on the rocks

This was a beginning playboating clinic, but everyone was able to enjoy this feature. Chris focused on getting the participants comfortable with moving around in the fluffly white pile of water.

Not into the playboating scene? Chris has a great arguement for all boaters trying their hand at it especially in the winter.

Jaws ~ 1400 cfs

Jaws ~ 1400 cfs

“What’s great about this time of the year is that many of these freestyle spots are actually running and it is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter outdoors and knock off many of the cob webs of sitting sedentary this time of year.  Freestyle in general is a great method to learn boat control and overall orientation in a very disorienting environment (waves and holes) which can directly translate to river running combat skills, not to mention it’s fun.  I have never regretted a day of playboating no matter how chilly it sounds.”

Owen County High School Student Bernie Engleman was among those tearing it up in Jaws spinning and even accidentally hand rolling in the hole after losing his paddle. “I had a great time down there. The weather and the whitewater were perfect and the instructor was awesome. I learned so much to, I definitely had a awesome time and I can’t wait to do it again.”

Looks like he won’t have to wait too long. Chris has openings for his next Polar Clinic March 13th @ Eternity Hole.

Here is a small amount of video I shot and Jbob edited.

Jaws Video

Jaws Video



Ocoee Update–Still looking good for April
February 12, 2010, 7:25 am
Filed under: Ocoee
me in Hellhole, Ocoee River. Photo Drake Collins

Here is an update on the US 64 rockslide that happened last November. For those of you that have been figuratively under those rocks and hadn’trd.

From the TDOT website:

Cing operews continued cleanup Wednesday, February 10 along the roadbed to remove material from yesterday’s blast and began the reconstruction of the 275 ton crane pad further to the east in preparation for drilling and blasting the eastern shelf on February 12-13. The contractor also continued scaling operations on the western side of the slope using the mini ram-hoe to prep for rock bolting operations. The contractor plans to continue scaling, drilling & blasting operations on the eastern side until the slope is determined to be stable enough to install the 40′ deep rock bolts. This drilling, blasting and scaling schedule will be done in unison with the rock boltrations that will be occurring on the western side of the slope.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

e



Big Creek and Middle Prong
February 10, 2010, 10:27 am
Filed under: Big Creek,Middle Prong,Smokies,Winter Boating

“7:30am at the Jamison Inn” Brandon reminded me. He was kinda mad at me for not waiting for him to go creeking the day before, so I made sure I would be on time for the carpool down to the Smokies.

the water is that blue!

the water is that blue!

This was my second trip down these creeks so I could relax a little. I heart second descents much more than first runs, I fear the unknown. On this occasion I knew that Brandon, Todd, and I would be following Brent , YT , and Chief–all solid boaters that frequently run these creeks. This was going to be fun.

Big Creek from bridge

Big Creek from bridge

Big Creek was running at 2.7′, and was fun, continuous class 3-4 boogie water with a couple bulkier drops.

Bigger drop on Big Creek

Bigger drop on Big Creek

We had time for another run, so we decided to make the short drive over to the Middle Prong and put on below the Cascade section.

This was very similar to the previous run, with roadside access and impeccable water quality. It was not as pushy nor as continuous as Big Creek, but still very fun. It seems to have a few more prominent drops to make up for it.

Todd and YT @ Middle Prong

Todd and YT @ Middle Prong

Brandon @ Middle Prong take out

Brandon @ Middle Prong take out

Brandon @ drop on Middle Prong

Brandon @ drop on Middle Prong

Todd @ drop on Middle Prong

Todd @ drop on Middle Prong



Calloway Creek
February 6, 2010, 6:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It has been a winter of constant cold with snow instead of rain in Kentucky. So when YT called this morning with an invite to show me and a couple of my favorite people down this well known Bluegrass Steep, the below freezing temperatures at 8am were not enough to keep me out of my boat.

calloway ice

calloway ice

This run is special too, the takeout is  a five minute downhill walk from my front door. Finally, I stand a chance of being on time! The shuttle is a pigeonesque, no-gazetteer-needed hop one exit down the freeway.

calloway creek and boone creek takeout

calloway creek and boone creek takeout

Zach, Will and I  followed YT and Mello.  Thanks for the great lines! There is a lot of wood in this creek. There were no mandatory portages, though there was class 4 branch weaving around at least two riverwide strainers that may have been in play at higher water.

calloway wood

calloway wood

This creek was similar to Juett Creek.  It starts out very innocent looking. There is a good warm-up section before the stream enters a high walled gorge where the action starts proper. Calloway scallops between steep, narrow, fast slides like this:

calloway slide

calloway slide

and widens into chunky drops like this:

Zach May @ Calloway Drop

Zach May @ Calloway Drop

Calloway runs after heavy rains. I hope to start visiting my home creek regularly.

don't be skert, Duck Star!

don't be skert, Duck Star!



NPFF Needs Your Help!!!
February 6, 2010, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

npffblackandwhite

This post is from the Bluegrass Wildwater Association’s Forum. Make sure that you visit the site just to check out the quality of all of the entries!

“This years Still Image Competition has drawn talent and boating locales from all across the world.
There are 31 entries and we need to narrow it down to the top ten for final voting at the festival.

Please visit this link and choose your favorite THREE (3) images.
Email me at npff.image@gmail.com with the numbers of your favorite three images.
The top ten vote getters will be displayed at this years festival for final voting.”

Voting will end on February 21st at midnight.

Thanks,
JB