Sunday, February 15, 2009

Upper Blackwater Put-in Panorama

When you walk down to paddle the Upper Blackwater, near Davis, West Virginia, this is what greets you as you emerge from the trees onto the riverside boulders. ( Click for a bigger view. )

The standard start for the trip is Hundred Yard Dash, starting dead center, but everything upstream to the base of Blackwater Falls has been run at one point or another. For reference, this photo was taken at about 280 cfs. The river has been run down into the 100's, but many prefer 250-300 as a minimum level.
Maximum is user discretion, but I know of at least one recent run by Justin Venable at 750 on the Davis Gauge. Solo, no less.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Elsey Run

The snow and ice have relented and we got warm (for February) temps, and on a weekend no less. Saturday night everything shot up, and Sunday offered lots of options. I enjoyed a lazy morning and caught up with a group who had just finished Daugherty Run, in Albright, WV. Five of us got together and headed up the mountain to paddle Elsey Run

Elsey is the steepest run in the Albright area, starting off with just a few minutes of warmup and then getting right into the goods.
Here is Art Barket getting back in the water after portaging around a log.
Note the heavy glaze of ice; we had difficult conditions for scouting and portaging drops. Slippery and cold.
From the first big scout, (which has a log in the entrance) Elsey falls out of the sky for a good half mile. There are 10 huge boulder drops, right on top of one another, with minimal eddies, logs in play, caves, rhododendron everywhere, and tough scouts and safety. You know, awesome. Sitting in bed last night, I realized I still smelled like Hemlock sap from all the scrambling amongst the trees. (*edit: looking at the map, this section falls at about 800fpm for a 1/4 mile)
JB Seay (me) enjoying the boof at the bottom of Acid Drop the first of the big ones. Photo by Art Barket.

Art in the middle of an easy one in the steeps.

For you guys who have run Elsey, the "room drop" is still diverting through the cave, with an uphill paddle to get to the old line. We skipped that one.

Sam Burk hitting up a nice slab of sandstone.

Ben Ledewitz styling the very next drop. JB Seay, Adam Johnson, and Sam Burk on safety. Art Barket behind the lens.

Me in the middle of my favorite drop on the creek. Photo by Art Barket.
This marks the bottom of the Captain Insano section.

Ben Ledewitz finishing er up. Photo by Art Barket.
Below here the creek transitions to high speed mank (description courtesy Ben Dunham) still short on eddies, and lots of logs and Rhododendron, but less stacked up. After a half mile of that, we reached the bedrock section of the creek, with half a dozen 10-25' slides all in a row.

Adam Johnson on a slide in his borrowed kinda old school creekboat. Whee.

As the canyon opens up, there is one last big one on the run, a 70 degree slide with some unfriendly guardian rocks on its right side. Sam and Ben aced that one, but with light fading we had no photo. In the classic video Fallin Down you can observe BJ Johnson and Colby Mackley running this drop with good result.
Below the Big Falls the creek is read and run all the way to the Cheat. It's a good thing, as at least one of the landowners along this section has threatened several times to shoot kayakers floating by for trespassing on his property. For this reason, we park at the Daugherty run take out just downstream on the Cheat and move fast when checking levels or finishing a run.
For more info you can check out my gallery, Art Barket's awesome set of pics and Sam Burk's post on the Team Riot site.

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