Wilson Creek Gorge at 12″ – 3/29/09

Well,  Sunday 3/29 came and as I had missed due to other obligations paddling the day before on Saturday and missing good opportunities from rain at the end of the week,  I tookoff to Wilson Creek Gorge by myself thinking it was going to be zero or at most plus an inch or two.  When I arrived I ran into friends from CCC who where at the gauge.   Well all I can say is “Gulp, is that +12″ – Wow er’a Whoah”.   Well I had only a few weeks before done my highest run at around 8 to 9 inches.   Well the group decided to go for it.

Right off it was a different beast even compared to 8-9 inches.  Some of the early ledges it was very pushy to eddy out between without being blow down into to the next ledge,  12619 pushy was the word here.  However a couple of places were definitely easier.  At little Woodall everyone made sure to push hard right and hammer down and out the tongue,  this was not a hydraulic you wanted to end up in this day.

Down at the “Mank” boulder choke entrance to 10′ fall,  I elected to run the conventional line around the pointed rock along with the rest of the group,  several had some altercations in here, including myself.  I rounded the rock and my bow dropped into a hole I had never seen before, catapulting me over,  which started my epic run through 10′.  Down below catching up with my boat along the steep rock face on river left,  I heard Milt behind me holler, reporting that he to had found the hole and done the same, where upon I turned and thanked him for making me feel better about being OBE along with a paddler of  his caliber.  Several others experienced various rolls and OBE’s at various points.  Seem watching from below the average was about 50-50 being in or out of boat through 10′ falls.  Definitely let you know it was there.

After everyone including myself gathered up,  we where off down through the ledges to “No-Name” ledge and its sister just below.  At no name most everyone did the creeky sneak around the right of the hydraulic ledge.  This rather tame looking ledge is not tame and has dangerous hydraulic at high levels.  I ran left of the rock on the left side of the hydralic ledge and down the rock shelf up against the ledge on that end which lands you in a nice boily place at high levels, then shoot you out down the left.   Running the sister ledge below pretty much everyone went for the line running from left to right above, cutting behind a small hydraulic/eddy on the far right and down a chute that forms on the the far right of this 2nd hydraulic ledge at higher levels.

12419On down to boatbuster,  where most entered left of center and worked right.  The boof on far right was out at such a high level and probably a keeper hole below.  I ran down left of center  entering the top of the drop angled back right and then started moving back left to try to hit the eddy below left above Thunderhole.  My line was good until I start working back left to catch the eddy, got whipped over and experianced the run through thunderhole inverted.  Most of the group got through ok but a few  got hammered in Thunderhole with one spending quality time doing rodeo moves after having dropped in off the right lip into the diagonal and nasty hole down the right side.

After Dental work ledges below Thunderhole, we dropped the next ledge far left,  where it was a slide,  just right of this point and over to far river right it was on massive hydraulic line hole with serious boil and keeper attitude.  From here we worked down to above triple drop and everyone got out for a look down from the pool above.  After a look see and watching one of two of the group lead off and run we took our turns coming out of the pool and down the run.   Pushy would definitely be the word, though most of it was just keep hammering and paddling,  other than that it basically had some much flow it pushed you down and over what ever was in front of you.  Several had rolls or obe’d at the very bottom,  it required hammering all the way through.

Down below at Fat Mom’s squeeze there where several clean lines into the top with this much water.  Once staged in the entrance it was hammer down and across the S-turn at the top on the right, then turn, paddle, and brace like crazy.  Enough push that you had to be hammering well in advance of any obstacle still out of the water to avoid it.  Hitting the bottom hydraulic hammering through was a must.  From there we ran the ledge at Maytag rock and hole.  Maytag had a definite attitude at this level.  I dropped over well right and found myself fighting the hydraulic along the ledge bottom to keep from getting pulled back left into what was a truely nasty version of Maytag hole/undercut.  To clear I had to hangout and extended underwater upstream and catch the bottom flow-out.  Several others had varying versions of my experience and we signalled the group to move even further right coming down.

At corner rapid the right boof line looked to have a nasty hydraulic hole between it and the rock wall below,  we all did the alternate high water line river left down the chute to 354center.  From here we worked the drops and chutes to just above Razorback.  At Razorback the eddy was more like a large whirlpool,  you had to get in just the right place and even then work a circle.  About half the group dropped the high water line toward center down the rock face and the other half of us ran the conventional right line and dog-leg.  The dog-leg was  a rush,  pushing you off the boof high and fast,  I extended a brace left and back up stream and rotated the boat under me, and “whoosh” pillowed down and was squirted out over two large boils exiting out the dog-leg.

Down at the new rapid formed a couple of years ago from the remains of Hunley’s Retreat,  all of us did the boof off the ledge to the right and worked the ledges below which had some big sticky holes at this level.  Down below at Railslide,  I went for the hop and slide over the rail as the bottom of the slide looked pretty nasty.  One or two slid off to the bottom and got whipped over in the hole but flushed and rolled.  From here we played down to the take-out.

Several went for a second round, myself I said my goodbye’s,  after having plenty for the day with a run at 12″, it was quite an experience, wore me out the 1st time.

SYOTR- Paddlin-ed

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