A Season for Wilson Creek Gorge – March to June 2009

14416It been a wet late winter and spring after to many years of drought, and brought consistent flow back to Wilson Creek Gorge we have not seen for quite a while.  I’ve gotten on this pristine gem of a class 4+ to 5 run numerous times this year and had some great paddles with old and new friends.

If you go back a bit in my blog post I’ve already noted runs for Sunday 3/29/09 at +12 inches – highest level I’ve done this on at with a group from CCC and also post for Sat. April 18th at -5 1/2″.  Since then its been running most days and we have taken advantage of this local run big time this year.

May 23rd-Saturday,  had a great time doing 3 runs.   First run was with 2 acquaintances from CCC and then I hooked up with a group of guys all from the Asheville area who where excellent paddlers –  Patrick, Rett, and Mark all in K-1,  plus myself in K-1 creek boats for two more runs.  The gorge was holding steady at a nice moderate -4″ level on the Akado bridge gauge.   This was really excellent group of paddlers and we had a great time.

Saturday May 30th – Met up with Darron P. to do a run and we where joined by several 14344friends from CCC – Johnson R., Matt, Brian, Fran,  with all of us in K-1 creek boats.  Nice sunny warm day with levels of  +4 1/2″ on our first run and +4″ on the 2nd run.   Overall good runs with only a few altercations.    I discovered on my second run that the hole at the bottom of 10′ fall had developed a nasty disposition when run center (just left of the rock at the lip – right of center) at higher levels and did a serious session of throwing ends as did at least one other member of our group.  Since then when its several inches over “0”  I have shifted back to going off  left,  it seems the hole has shifted back like it was some years ago and this shoots you through at higher levels.

Sunday May 31st – I came back for more as the creek was holding nicely.  A beautiful warm sunny day,  I hooked up with a Eric and Trevin who where there just coming off their first run, and an old friend Jeff R. joined us at the top for the 1st run at +3″,  all of us in K-1 creekboats.   Jeff hadn’t been on Wilson’s in 2 or 3 years thought he is an expert paddler and had run it many time before,  so some of the changes since the flood a couple of years ago where new to him.  Most notably Jeff did a little hole dance in the ledge down below the remnants of Hunleys Retreat.   After our first run,  Jeff R. and I went back up, did a 2nd run at +2″, and had a great time.  I got a cocked at bit right going into the right boof a boat buster coming steep off the slide to the right,  which I discovered pretty much buries your bow and enders you over,  otherwise a good run.   Jeff and I did the goal post run at the remnants of Hunley’s on our 2nd run,  Jeff had a excellent line.

Wilson was running -1/2″ when I arrived on Sunday June 7th.  It was a nice sunny day 14335and after a waiting a bit at the take out I hooked up with Jesse H., Chad H., and Lee H. all of whom where excellent paddlers and a lot of fun to run with.  This was good group and all of us new the creek well and followed good creeking  protocol.  Jesse, Chad, and Lee had just come off of a first run when we hooked up and I got in 2 runs with them.    I believe it was Lee on our 2nd run who did get into the 2nd hole on triple drop and was doing some serious side surfing,  when I dropped over the top and spotted him mid-hole,  so I hammered left to miss him just as his stern pushed left,  knocking him out of the hole and me in,  well needless to say I did the dance and flushed for our excitement for the day, otherwise clean runs had by all.  Gauge at the end of the day was at -1 1/2″.

June 27th,  brought the first Saturday in the July 4th week and most folks where either gone to week of rivers or off doing other things, but after a bit of calling I hooked up with Mike H. to do a run on Wilson.  While the creek had finally dropped some after a long spring and early summer run,  it was still up and quite doable at -6″.  Mike and I had a good time,  though Mike had a bit of an altercation coming out of boat buster into thunderhole but was able to recover himself just below.   After getting back together Mike did the left of center boof at Dental work and I went for the right line headed tight up against the ledge going left,  and was doing well till I got about halfway across and hit a pocket that took me for a roll in the hydraulic.  Going out of dental work Mike lead off and dropped into the slot on the far left from the left eddy and disappeared.  I dropped into the slot and rounded the boulder on line and found a hard current at this level suddenly slamming me right toward where I discovered Mike was laid up in the rocks.  I pulled back left and out, then worked back up to see if Mike need help.  Mike finally worked off,  but was visibly hurting in the pool below and needed to get out.  Seems the same current I had encounter, had pushed him too and he had pulled something bracing hard.  Well Mike took a break up on the warm rocks below in the sun for a few minutes, stretched a bit.  Popping in his rib area on his right side taking his breath away at times.  After a bit14379 Mike felt a little better and decided to see if we could at least get a bit further (climbing out here would probably have been worse than paddling).   Being careful to to overextend and watching his braces we worked down the river.  With some twinges here and there but we made it to the take out.   We had a good time,  but for Mike it was time to call it a day.  Seems Mike’s on no paddling for 6 weeks – cartilage tear – hope it heal up quick Mike!!!

Well,  that’s the kind of great season its been at Wilson Creek Gorge this year.  With steady flows we have not seen for years.  Good times had by all and lots of paddling.  Hope we get more rains soon.

SYOTR – Paddlin-ed

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