Bluegrass Whitewater

Bluegrass Paddlers in Maryland
July 12, 2010, 5:26 pm
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Thanks Dot Edwards for this great trip report!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to post this trip report but hey, life happens.

First off, if you told me a year ago that I’d be running the RFG and Upper Yough within a year, I would have thought that you ate too many special brownies. The Upper Yough was super fun. It wasn’t as threatening as I thought it would be but, it was longer with a lot more rapids and big holes to punch than I expected.

Not Everyone should go on the UY

Not Everyone should go on the UY

Our group had the perfect number of experienced yakkers for us newbies, Elizabeth, JBob, Todd H. and me. I have never seen so many kayaks or shredders packed into one river, not to mention the fact that you had to maneuver around rafts. Due to the amazing traffic, we divided into 3 small groups. I had the fortune to be led by Pete (last name??) who knew every rock & hole in the river. YT, Brent and Gerald would move back & forth between Todd & I to make sure we were okay. It was always comforting to look back & see that someone was always near in case there was trouble.

Brent Austin @ National Falls

Brent Austin @ National Falls

Pete was very conscious in leading me through in not necessarily the easiest lines. He had me practice maneuvers especially in the beginning to give me a good feel of what was to come. He would give me the history of the rapids and 3 options. Unfortunately my slightly wigged out mind could only retain half the info for 1 line. Case in point, Charlie’s Choice: In the end it was decided that we would take the left line & avoid the mushroom rock line. After discussion, I was confused & said I would just follow wherever Pete went. Well… he proceeded around a boulder & by the time I got around it, I couldn’t figure out where he went. By the time I saw him, he was way river left & I decided it would be too hard to get there. I noticed the tops of helmets after a drop to the right and remembered them mentioning a line on the right so I went for it. Since I wasn’t sure what was at the bottom, I threw in a boof stroke for good measure, went down the drop then flew over a mushroom rock. From seeing the rock, I realized this was the place they wanted me to avoid. Luckily the run went smooth, was super fun and YT was right behind me. (Ha! I bet you thought I’d report some carnage)

Brent Leads the way

Brent Leads the way

The most fun thing that happened was that I went down a drop and subbed under the rapid/hole. I couldn’t tell if I was upside down or what, my Stubby and I were just completed submerged then, I rocketed out the other side. So so fun and I’m sure I couldn’t do it again if I tried. Gerald just skipped across the hole.
Tombstone (aka Fu#@ Up Falls) was interesting. Pete was taking a line that seemed a bit too tricky for me so I asked YT to lead me. He was excited to have his first chance to lead me soooo he flipped at the very top and went down the entire thing upside down. Out of the 3 options I was given, the one thing I retained was that I did not want to go where YT was headed. I went hard left & picked my way down. As for YT, I was impressed he didn’t swim, he got a rocky beatdown.

Pete told me there were 2 holes that you absolutely want to avoid on the UY, one of them being at the bottom of FU Falls. I believe Elizabeth dropped into the hole but, she IS the Surfing Queen so she made her way out with style.

National Falls was fun. When I took the drop at the bottom was a kayaker getting worked. Luckily, I just missed him and if anything, he helped to keep me on line.
No real carnage for me. I flipped in the Rockies when too many kayaks pulled out at the same time. I did get surfed in a hole (name?). I knew I was in trouble when I dropped into the hole, since a group of kayakers below immediately began to cheerfully yell and whistle. Due to the fantastic surfing/playboating lessons I had been getting from E the last few weeks, I didn’t freak out and got a couple smooth flat spins. In the end, I flipped & apparently that’s the easiest way to get out of the hole.

The paddle out was great b/c I met a couple women who knew the river very well. They introduced themselves since they were excited to see another female on the river. Hopefully, we’ll meet again soon to have a women’s trip down the UY.

Gerald Delong @ National Falls

Gerald Delong @ National Falls

I loved the run. The sky was blue and sunny and the water cool and plentiful. The group ride home was filled with a huge sense of mass euphoria. We ended the day by having a group dinner on a porch in WV under the black sky with stars.
Take that Wes and Hanley
D*t =)

Thanks so much Dot for the great trip report.

Guest blogger Dorthy "Dot" Edwards

Bluegrass Whitewater World Kayak Events Begin April 29th
April 22, 2010, 5:22 pm
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I am very excited to announce that Bluegrass Whitewater will be hosting five World Kayak events in our region.

What are these events? They are participation based, get togethers on our local waters.


The first of these are planned to be held on the Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort, KY, water levels permitting. Ideally there will be enough flow to allow for a surfing throwdown where points are earned based on how many rotations you can get while in the feature. For instance a complete flat spin would be worth 2 points (one for each of the 180 degrees completed) a cartwheel would be 2 points for each end, a full loop would be worth 6 points, 3 for each 180 degree rotation. Points will be awarded for rolling and even windowshading!


The second portion of the event will be held on one of the rapids. Points will be given for time, of course, but there will also be additional points awarded for catching eddies, rock splats, and other crazy things that you will find out about.

The first event will m be April 29th. We will meet at the Elkhorn Acres take out and proceed to the put in no later than 6:15. The other Elkhorn dates are May 13th and 20th.

There will be two other events in October at the Russel Fork.

Anyone who feels comfortable on the Elkhorn Creek should come, all participants novice through expert is on the same playing field as prizes will be given as door prizes, you only need to participate to win!

Locations are water level dependent. In case of insuffecient or excessive flows, the venue may changed, be cancelled or postponed.

this is a picture from one of my first runs!

All you need to do is go to , scroll down and find “Kentucky” and select the date that you wish to attend! Also, please check this site before the event for updates or changes.

Thanks to Barry Grimes for the photos for this post.

Nolichucky Playboating
March 25, 2010, 4:41 pm
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Nolichucky Gorge
Nolichucky Gorge

I was listening to NPR about choices. Basically people are very ill-equipped to decide when there are more than three or four options to select from. This was one of those boating weekends with so many possibilities (Russell Fork, Cheoah, and West Virginia were all available. The frontal lobes were overloaded so the choice had to come from the heart.

I had recently been on the Noli at 1500 for Chris Wing’s Polar Clinic and was really excited to show Jbob how much great play was on this stretch of water as his only run had been @ 700cfs, and while very fun, not so much play.

David Gorbachev @ Jaws
David Gorbachev @ Jaws

If 1500 was great, 200o was even better as you can tell from this photo.

I would really like to to do more trips like this before the water goes away. This weekend Jbob and a few friends are heading to West Virginia for some big water fun, join us if you are in the area.

The Nolichucky Campground

The Nolichucky Campground

Nolichucky Campground

Nolichucky Campground

Calloway Creek
February 6, 2010, 6:26 pm
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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
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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 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.

JB – Goose Wages War On Pro Kayak Angler
January 30, 2010, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized – Goose Wages War On Pro Kayak Angler.

Pool Time
January 27, 2010, 8:57 am
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Personally, I hate to miss a pool session. I was lucky though and had a great instructor teach me how to roll in about ten minutes. It was the best $25 bucks I have ever spent on boating and highly recommend getting in touch with Nathan at Canoe Kentucky . I can imagine how much more stressful boating would be if I wasn’t 100% confident in my ability to right myself .


The Bluegrass Wildwater Association (BWA) has pool sessions at the North Lexington YMCA Friday’s from 7:45pm to 9:45. The cost is either $5 or $10 depending if you are a BWA member (an individual runs $20, $25 for a family). If you are teaching you can get in for free, although anyone who can spare the $5 for pool rental would be appreciated.


If you already have your roll and are not much of a teacher, the deep end is generally filled with playboaters getting flatwater moves down in 80 degree water.


Please be sure to get the mud off and out of yer boat so the locals don’t run us off. This is a really nice location for our roll sessions!

January 26, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Jbob and I (well mostly me) were sulking around the house because of the recent cold spell and general lack of water  had that kept us out of our boats for nearly a month.  “No more sitting around during our slow time!” I thought and started to look at the weather maps to see if there was anywhere that was warm enough to go boating. There wasn’t, at least not anyplace with any gradient. That is where the ocean kayak surfing idea came from so I began to research.


There is quite a bit of information on the world wide web to be had. After a few posts on,  I was turned to Nigel of Savannah Canoe and Kayak Company.  Emails were sent and an introductory kayak surfing lesson for two at the 17th street peir on Tybee Island, GA.  Jbob and I packed up the van, the dogs and the camper and left early on a Thursday.

Savannah Canoe and Kayak Jeep

We met up with Nigel for out lesson early Friday morning (some surfing spots are better at different tides, am being best at Tybee) where we were shown the basics of catching a wave and outfitted into super edgy surf kayaks.  Unfortunately, the conditions were very flat that day so we had to postpone the actual lesson for the next day.

Nigel used these foamie boats and fake wave to demonstrate.

Nigel used these foamie boats and fake wave to demonstrate.

2′-3′ waves greeted us Saturday morning along with Nigel, the surf-yaks as well as a cold, wet wind. Surf Kayaking is very dependent on ones ability to keep your boat flat and to avoid catching your edges, slowing you down at best! The hull of the vessels are almost completely flat as are the sides forming an extremely hard edge. One sits a bit farther back in the surf boat too, although the stern is very small compared to the bow. The paddles are much shorter even compared to my 194″ Lightning. We had a fun morning of alternating between riding the waves to the shore and paddling aggressively to get back out to sea to ride the waves back to shore.


Tybee Island was great, but if we were to have decent temperatures and a shot at some bigger waves, we were going to have to travel further south down the Atlantic coastline. We rode down to New Smyrna Beach, FL where it was ten degrees warmer and a decent surf forecast.

We ended up having such a fun time at NSB. Although it was extremely windy, the waves were in the 4′-6′ range and a real thrill to speed down if you could get the timing right. Luckily for me, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once and awhile. It was really amazing how much your body’s pitch had to do with the acceleration down the wave and how fast you can get going!


Surfing was fun   and we were very excited to get a lot more time in the water.  But we are boaters and boating keeps you real. There was no more surf to be had for the rest of our trip. And we practiced doing normal people things like hiking and thrift store shopping. We even saw the recent blockbuster and it was great.


Of course when we saw that the Cumberland Plateau was forecast to get heavy rains with 50 degree temps we  packed up and bee lined home!

Savannah Canoe and Kayak
Nigel & Kristin Law
(912) 341-9502

The Inaugural “Not-NPFF” Downriver Race & Club Championship
January 26, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

From the forum of the Bluegrass Wildwater Association (pictures are mine):

The Inaugural “Not-NPFF” Downriver Race & Club Championship on the Elkhorn will take place February 27th at 1:00 pm.
Register at the take-out @ noon. There is no entry fee…yes, that’s right….nil, nada, nothing….read: FREE!! Come one, come all!

The race will be a mass start format beginning below the dam and run to the old take out.

There will be 3 age classes for both individual men and women: 18 – 40 /40 – 60 / 60 & up.

More importantly, there will also be a club championship. BWA vs Vikings vs ?

We would like to get other clubs to join in the club competition. Anyone with personal contacts to the other paddling clubs, please help spread the word!

Club teams need at least 5 members to qualify. Scoring for the Club Championship will be as follows: the fastest FIVE individual paddlers from each club (regardless of age or gender) will have their respective times added together to get a club score. The lowest club score wins the Club Championship, and will be showered in gifts, glory, fame, and fortune. They will also be entitled to bragging rights for one full year….undoubtedly worth it’s weight in gold.

Our goal is to provide an avenue for friendly competition among fellow paddlers. We would like to promote river conservation, celebrate the wild spirit of the rivers we paddle, and maybe make a few new friends along the way.
The weather the last few years has been terrible. Hopefully this year will be better. We’re going to work on providing a shuttle as well as awards for winners.

PS…this is going to be a “fun run”. Paddlers that wouldn’t normally do a kayak race should definitely get out and give it a shot!

PSS…although there is no entry fee, donation of a small item to the winner’s “pot” would be appreciated. Examples could be something such as a set of nose plugs, a single can of PBR, a fifth of Woodford, a slightly used river booty, a box of matches, a new kayak, etc.

PSSS…race what ya brung…no matter what ya brung

SYOTR thumbs down


NPFF coming up
January 26, 2010, 10:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


NPFF 2010 – February 26 & 27 at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort KY!

Tickets are now on sale! $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

For 27 years the National Paddling Film Festival has been hosting a competition to determine the best in paddle sport videos and images. This competition has provided the paddling community with a fun and profitable event to support American Whitewater and river conservation. In that time, the NPFF has also helped to raise the quality of paddle sport entertainment by providing recognition of talent, along with important and useful feedback, for the artists who make the show a possibility.

Entries are being accepted today for the 2010 NPFF, so keep those cameras rolling and enter early for your chance to win. Additional information about the event will be posted at regularly so check back often for all the latest updates.

Special Guest Speaker:

The 27th annual National Paddling Film Festival is proud to present as this year’s guest host, Tyler Bradt!

A Montana native best known for his recent world record descent of 186 foot Palouse Falls in Washington, Tyler has traveled extensively kayaking all over the world.  He and Rush Sturges have collaborated to create the films Dream Result(new) and Africa Revolutions, at the same time bringing attention to global environmental issues with projects such as the Oil+Water Expedition and the Sun Catchers Project. Dream Result will also be premiering at the festival. Check out the article on Kayak Sessions website, or the trailer on youtube!


NPFF Activities Include:

Guest host, hours of the best film of 2010, silent auction, potluck and chili cook off, door prices, and additional entertainment…

Contact for Additional Information:

Brandon Jett
Director, NPFF 2010