Sunday, October 03, 2010

Notes from the Upper Blackwater

I love the Blackwater River, and enjoy the opportunity to paddle it. I also have a great deal of respect for it, bordering on fear at times. I've donated lots of skin, a paddle, bad lines, a few beatdowns, and way too much adrenaline to the King of the Canaan area runs. Its an unforgiving streambed, raw from repeated high water scouring and jumbled with sieves and ill-placed rocks.

Here are some notes and river updates from a weekend trip. I took several photos of the site of a fatal accident, at Flatliner Falls, to try and further understanding of where/what happened.
High water this spring has also moved a few things around and put wood in unfriendly places, so I tried to note that as well. Clicking on any photo should open a larger version.
I think paddlers familiar with the Upper Blackwater will notice other subtle changes in rock positions and some scouring effects in various parts of the river. If you have noticed any other changes you think people should watch out for, please feel free to comment on them below

Great view from Backbone Mountain on the way over to the river.

Beautiful Blackwater Falls, from the overlook at the put-in parking lot. 220cfs or so. The usgs Gauge at Davis may be reading 20 or so cfs low, maybe more at higher flows. Time and more runs should develop a consensus on any changes.

Adam Johnson finishing up Tomko. The standard left line ( a 6 or 8' boof, driving right) on the bottom falls has a log in it. It is covered at higher flows, but in the low 200cfs range we had, it sticks out into the line. We ran center.

Wide view of Flatliner Falls, the site of a fatal accident on October 1. The line is to boof straight, off the furthest protrusion of the ledge. You are fighting the flow and gravity as you come around the corner and drive to the point. At the time of the accident, there was aproximately 400cfs in the river, almost double the flow pictured here.

From above, showing the tilt of the ledge to the left.

The pin spot/pocket is in the center of the photo. There have been several non-fatal pins here prior to Friday's drowning.

Log in the Turncoat boof crack, on the far right entrance to "My Nerves are shot, I can't take it anymore" Its good the crack is filled, but the log could definitely spoil a line if you are unaware of it.