Thursday, December 13, 2007


We got a LOT of rain in Morgantown, and things were quite pumped in the area.

After some phone tag, Ben and I met up to look at some little no-name creek (really, it doesn't have a name.) Our good friend Mike had hiked and worked on this creek over the years, but it never had enough rain to try out.
This creek was at least 600fpm, enough that only one person would be able to boat at a time, so we used a hybrid aproach to the creek: 1 kayak between us, and no shuttle; hike in, boat, hike out.
This was a very pretty path between two boulders. I went around so I wouldn't scratch up the carpet of moss.
It ended up being a 3.5 mile round trip hike with about 600 feet of loss and climb back up. Not much Rhododendron, but the soil was so wet that we had to traverse or use trees and such to climb; going straight up unaided was not possible. Great scenery, good workout, but no kayaking due to wood and VERY continuous large rapids. A volleyball net to stretch across the creek would've come in handy as a backstop.

First major drop. I would have run this but for the trees. Its about 20 feet tall.

Same drop from above. Woody. Start center, then drive right to finish.
Downstream, things really picked up;
and it quickly became obvious we wouldn't be kayaking. We got too far away for any sort of photographic evidence, as we worked our way back up the mountainside. These pics are worth clicking on to zoom in. Awesome sandstone boulder piles.

Ben, happy to be back on top of the ridge as light failed, with just an easy mile of gravel in the dark and mist back to the car.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cheat River Narrows

What do you do when it’s hot and humid with no creeking in sight?
I took my 8month pregnant wife and 2 year old son on a duckie trip to the Cheat Narrows .
This section of the Cheat features pleasant pool drop rapids, roadside access, pretty scenery, and less environmental damage than the Canyon downstream; the Narrows sustains fish and other aquatic life, and has normal colored rocks. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have threats; several AMD laden creeks run into the Narrows, and agricultural runoff and other problems always lurk. BUT, I saw a fisherman land a pretty little trout on our run, and that’s not something you see a few miles downstream.
We met up with Janet and Kristina Szilagyi in Kingwood, and headed down over the hill to the river. We dropped and inflated gear, then set shuttle to take out where Pringle Run flows into the Cheat.
Patrick was stoked.

Rebecca sat up front, I sat in back and Patrick sat between my feet. He giggled and yelled “FUN!” when we went through rapids, and even stole Rebecca’s paddle so he could help Daddy. He’s awesome.

Janet and Kristina in a calm spot.

I asked Kristina to take our picture in Calamity Rock Rapids, and while I waited for her and Janet to get downstream and set up, I bank scouted the rapid, to be extra double super sure of where I would pilot the boat. Kristina took a fun shot of us.

At the Mystery spot below Calamity, I plopped out the back of the boat and caught some nice downtime. Patrick was pretty surprised, and yelled "Daddy... get back in boat right...NOW!" in his best scolding voice. We finished up the trip in a pleasant hour and a half, Kristina rescued a runaway pool-croc at the take out, and a good time was had by all.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Deckers Creek

With a demanding job schedule, a 2 year old and a fixer upper kind of house, my boating availability is sometimes limited. I've chosen quality over quantity, so when I get out its generally on something good. Fortunately for me, Deckers Creek is 10 minutes from my house, and runs pretty frequently.
When I was a undergrad student at WVU, there was a serious crowd of boaters who would be out on Deckers pretty much everytime it ran. That group has moved on, landed full-time jobs, wives, babies, etc.. Its a lot harder to find people out there anymore. Part of that may be bacause even though Deckers creek is a roadside run, it carries a lot of dangers. It is a sandstone boulder pile, with a just a bit of bedrock at the bottom. It is similiar in nature to Manns creek for its hazards. Gaping sieves and undercuts line the run, with many rapids requiring very precise or unusual lines. Two major pourovers have 10' deep caves behind/under the curtain.
Here is an example of your typical stretch of the creek.This is towards the top of the run. Deduction is the largest rapid partially visible behind the hemlock at the top of shot. Carcass is at the very bottom.

A few weeks ago my good friend Stewart Caldwell snuck into town and we hit up Deckers on a cold (in the 20's) day. Stewart is one of my favorite paddling partners. He has run just about everything you can boat in WV, including 1st descents, and is as reliable as they come when the water pours downhill. The water level was pretty much perfect: 300cfs, on the USGS Gage. We put in at a roadside pullout, being careful not to step on this guy:I don't think I've ever run Deckers without seeing a dead deer. Its kind of like good luck!
This is Stewart running Carcass, the start to a great boogie water section in the middle of the run.
Notice the icicles. Several limbo logs on the run had big fat ones hanging down from them, requiring the lead boater to play icebreaker.

Not long after this run, we had a big freeze here in WV, and boating was limited for several weeks. This past weekend, the Ice broke up, and the"Kayaker piggy bank" started to melt.

Tuesday I met Joe Hatcher after work for a quick run. Joe is one of those guys who got a real job after his masters degree, and now quietly and consistently paddles WV's finest runs around work and family. We'd waited since Sunday for the creek to come down to a friendly level- I think it was around 425 CFS. No photos from that day; it was a quick run before dark. 1.5 hours round trip from my house, sweet! Highlights included watching Joe's right side line at Hercules, my first run of Deduction since the seive opened back up, and a fun surf at the bottom of the last slide. Then it was back home to clean up and get ready for the roll session I sponsor at my job.

Unfortunately for me, I found out that evening I may not have that job much longer, due to some, ah, financial constraints on the city. Fortunately for me, Deckers was still running on Wednesday, and I was able to get out and paddle again. I really needed to paddle to clear my head; I love how everything but the task at hand fades away when running serious whitewater.

Stewart drove over from Parkersburg again, and we ran into Jared Seiler and his good buddy Max at the creek. They were just finishing up a second run, and Jared agreed to go back up with us for his triple dip. We all explored Joe's right side line at Hercules, and ran the rest of the creek in pretty tight formation, getting down in an easy 25 minutes, with about 250cfs in the run. Since we still had daylight, I suggested we go to the "Lions Club" section of Deckers, which is a park and huck series of waterfalls a few miles upstream of the usual run.
Kayaking access was probably not in the Lions Club's intentions when they took over this park, but... Thanks Guys!

This run consists of a flume drop, an automatic-stern-first-big-air-boof waterfall, a clunkier falls, and then the final waterfall pictured below. Total drop is around 100 feet in just a short section. It is geologically similiar to the NF Blackwater, and has a larger window of boatable flows than the lower section; the upper limit really depends solely on your tolerance for large holes.

Max was kind enough to take this photo of me on the final falls.

The LZ of this drop has undercut shelves under the water on river right and river left, with a small deep pocket in the center. The hole at the base of the falls is also big enough to recirculate a boat and or swimmer at high water, which makes for a (not) fun time. Plugging not recomended.

You can see Jared's take of the afternoon, with additional photos, on the Team Pyranha website.

Jared will also be appearing at the WVU roll session on Thursday, March 1, with a handful of Pyranha kayaks to sample.