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North Carolina Knockout

Fall in the southeast has been predictably awesome once again. Starting in September the rain clouds gathered and brought our parched rivers to life. This storm was the ‘big one’ we seem to get once or twice a year. By the time the rain stopped, most creeks were too high to paddle…but instead of sitting on our hands and waiting for the water to go down…my friends and I searched for places to paddle that either required more water or handled the increased amounts of rainfall better than other places.

At the top of my hit list was Silver Run Falls. This drop is just shy of 40 feet and has a tricky entrance. A crew of four of us headed up to check out the drop but in the end, only Clayton Gaar and I stepped up to the plate.

Me rolling by Jonathan Absher

Clayton had a love tap on the bottom of the river.

The lip was shallower and the landing was greener than we would have liked to have seen, so Clayton and I chose not to stomp the landing. Good thing, because hitting the pool was like getting a smack in the face.
Next we headed over to the Horsepasture River to check the level. It ended up being about a foot higher than any of us wanted to mess with, so since we were only ten minutes away, we headed over to the Toxaway to check out the put-in slide. Well, the level on the Toxaway was about 8 inches at the bridge. A normal level is between around -4 inches to 2 inches, with 2 inches and above being pretty big and scary downstream in the gorge. Normally the put-in slide is a long, fast, and scrapy deal. Not so today! We put in and ran the drop in pairs, with two in the water and two on safety at the huge hole at the bottom of the rapid. It was decided that the four of us had never been as fast in a kayak as we had just ridden the two-foot-deep current screaming down the bedrock of the Toxaway gorge. Days later after the water dropped, gorge travelers spread the word of massive rockslides in the gorge that have forever altered the Toxaway as we have known it.

Myself running the put-in slide back in the summer at more normal level…photo by Clayton Gaar

And at maching high water! Photo by Clayton Gaar

Rick Beverlin slip-sliding away on the ‘magic carpet’

As the water dropped over the next few days, but sadly, I was without a camera. It wasn’t long before another storm allowed us to get some more class V action – this time on my home river, the Cullasaja. This river doesn’t see many paddlers, and for good reason. It’s a manky gnarfest chocked full of enough wood, undercuts, and sieves to give even the most jaded creeker the opportunity to get scared. Even after all that, I still love paddling this river and frequently find myself putting in there when it rains.

Lower Cullasaja put-in

Jerry Jascomb on the Cullasaja

After the Cullasaja trip, we had a short period where the weather was dry. I continued to get after Green Race training with lots of flatwater and whitewater attainment loops, as well as time running and lifting weights at the gym. I even made it all the way over to the Green for a couple of laps. Some bad luck in Speed Trap broke my paddle and led to me being ejected out of my boat in Scream Machine with my first out-of-boat experience in nearly 8 years! Thanks to Danny Mongo, I have a Werner Shogun waiting on me at the Pyranha warehouse to race with. You da man!

Then this week it rained again. New Pyranha Team paddler, Mac McGee called me up and said he was planning a trip into the Raven Fork the next day with a small crew. I borrowed a paddle from a buddy and headed to the river with Mac. What better place for him to get the feel of a new boat? I sure enjoyed the fall colors in the gorge and bumping into four black bears on our hike in! Mac sure seems to have enjoyed his new boat out there. Here are some words from him about our trip. “I woke up about 6 friday morning to my phone ringing, it was scott calling to say Raven Fork was running. Very anxious to try my new Karnali I got loaded up rolled out for Franklin to meet Chan. We arrived in Cherokee to one of the most beautiful sunny days I had ever seen in the reservation, and as we bounced up the put-in trail the leaves fell like rain off the trees in the wind. To add to this perfect day the Karnali performed amazingly on the river. It took hardly any effort to make any of the moves on the river it held a line incredibly well, the boat is super fast and it boofed with ease despite its length. The Karnali was also super stable and forgiving. The karnali is an awesome boat and a I look forward to paddling it more.”

I’ll leave you with some photos from Mac’s camera of the Raven Fork. Heads up to folks heading into the Raven Fork soon – some things in there have changed. Most notably, there are some horrible logs in Harjes’ Rapid. Keep your eyes open.
Back to prepping for the Green Race. It’s only 2 ½ weeks away! See you at the Gorilla!

Myself at Anaconda – photo by Mac McGee

The spectacular fall scenery on the Raven Fork – photo by Mac McGee

Zach and I chilling above Mike Tyson’s – photo by Mac McGee

Zach and I dropping into the ring at Tyson’s – photo by Mac McGee

Caveman – photo by Mac McGee

Mac at Caveman – photo by Scott Magley