Yakdaddy’s River Ramblings

My journal of river runs and repository for the various water related thoughts of my oft distracted mind…whitewater from my perspective.

Archive for February, 2008

Wind Surfing the Nolichucky – Feb 2008

Posted by yakdaddy on 17th February 2008

Feb. 10, 2008 -
Nolichucky Wind Surfing

Met up with Dan, Hugh, and Lou at Rushing Waters Outfitters to get in a Sunday afternoon Noli Gorge run.  With the river running about 900 cfs and the sun playing hide and seek on the overcast low 40′s day, we threw the boats in/on Hugh’s truck and headed up to Poplar with Hannah along to shuttle the truck back down.  We unloaded Lou’s IK (Lynx), Dan and Hugh’s Rockers, and my 4Fun and headed down to the riverbank. 

The time was 1:40 pm as we slid into the water and worked our way down to Entrance/Last Chance.  About halfway down the rapid (right where things start to get exciting) we get our first taste of the crazy wind that was to become our semi-constant companion throughout the afternoon.  As I crested the wave to cut left toward the bottom of the rapid, the wind blew more than a mouthful of water right into my face.  Everyone was paddling great and good lines or rolls were had by all at On the Rocks.  I caught about 5 seconds worth of surfing at Jaws and was just happy to flush off right side up. 

Things got interesting at Quarter Mile when Lou swam at second drop.  He made a good effort, but missed the RL eddy and ended up flushing/swimming right into Hungry Jack rock.  It looked really painful but he insisted it wasn’t too bad.  I was right behind him trying to make sure he was OK and ended up nearly dropping in on him.  He climbed up onto a midstream rock.  Dan roped him into the next RL eddy and I wrangled his IK into the next eddy, but his paddle was nowhere to be seen.  We probably spent about 30 minutes looking up and down that huge rapid trying to find Lou’s paddle with zero luck.  Eventually Dan broke out his breakdown while I headed downstream to see if the missing paddle was floating off toward Erwin without us.  This was my first experience finishing out a class III/IV rapid solo.  Once I got past Murphy’s ledge even the flatwater seemed different without any paddling partners along – I don’t know if I’d want to try that style of boating anytime soon.  Then again, it was incredibly serene.  I stopped upstream of Rooster Tail to wait for the guys and then we dropped in to the last wind-free rapid of the day. 

From there on out we experienced roughly 20+ mph headwinds intermittently all the way down to just before Lost Cove / Railroad Wall.  As we came into the last bend before Lost Cove, the wind easily doubled – to the point that it felt like it might blow us back under the ledge if we got a good boof.  Ridiculous.  In the pool between Lost Cove and Sousehole, Dan mentioned something about how hardcore our bunch was to head to the river with the wind advisories in effect as they were.  (I made a mental note to always check for wind advisories before heading to the
Nolichucky again.)

After a great little creek line to the right of Maggie’s rock we began fighting a newly revitalized air opponent.  It was a bit of a struggle down to Twin Eddies but dropping into the crease at the bottom and getting flipped in the hole made it all worth while – good times! 

The crazy wind continued to push us to the river right bank and/or upstream all the way down to the Chestoa takeout.  Finally, as we came around the final bend and laid eyes on the Rushing Waters takeout.  I found myself chuckling because the wind had finally stopped and the sun had come out.  We were looking at a beautiful last ¼ mile to finish out a tiring afternoon.  As I prepared to voice my thoughts, our group was buffeted by what must have been a near-60 mph gust blasting across the river from right to left!  The wind was so strong that Hugh was completely blown over and had to roll up.  I heard this second hand because I was busy bracing off the river bottom and trying to hip snap my planing hull down out of the wind and back onto the water. 

We all hurriedly paddled down to the take out and loaded up our boats to head for home.  I cranked up my pickup so that it would be warm as I started for home.  As I looked for my dry clothes, I realized I’d left them in the garage when I was loading everything up – bummer.  Fortunately, I’d stayed dry and didn’t mind heading home in my boating layers.  As I hopped out of the truck to shake hands with the guys before taking off, another gust of wind blew my truck door closed.  My spirits sank as I looked at the locked and running truck but I put on a happy face and confessed my dilemma to the guys.  I borrowed Dan’s cellphone to call Tonya and have her o call AAA for me (my card was locked in the truck with my keys and everything else). 

The guys made sure I had help on the way and then headed out to the various states they called home.  I made my way over to Uncle Johnny’s AT hostel to ask if would be alright to wait for the locksmith there (in a heated space).  The young lady who invited me in to watch the hockey game with her and CB was named
Elizabeth and, as it turned out, was a bit of an expert on the topic of Lost Cove, NC.  They politely asked how the river trip was and as I recounted how hard the wind was blowing at Lost Cove, I paused and asked them if they’d ever been there.  Turns out, they’d not only been there, but
Elizabeth had put up a website recounting their trip there.  Check it out at: http://www.freewebs.com/lostcove/

After a nice discussion of the Lost Cove settlement/community, the locksmith arrived and opened up my little blue paid-for
Toyota pickup.  After a very sincere ”Thank You”, I hopped in a nice warm truck which had been warming up for about 45 minutes at that point.  All in all – a great and really unique day on the good ole Noli.


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