Sparse. That is how it has been around here for a good while. Even storm chasing little isolated events has been starting to get risky. But finally, a good triple rain event came through in early December. Almost everything on the southeastern menu has gone in the past two weeks. Wishlists were no doubt taken out and prioritized. A number of first descents were knocked off in NC, TN, and KY. It all started on a Wednesday when Waldens Ridge and Lookout Mountain blew up big time.
We headed down to Chattanooga that morning to try and catch as much water as possible. Not wanting the Bear at 36 inches, we diverted to Little Possum Creek, which has been on my radar for a long time. It is a small, hard to catch, fun little creek. We met up with Ted from Chattanooga and hit the takeout, finding ideal flows. When we got to the put in, the flow had dropped quick to a "we're already here" kind of flow. Possum was fun, but I must agree with the locals that more water is better than less.
Then, off to the Hair of the Bear, to get some slip sliding away. The Bear was NOT low. It was an ideal flow of 20 inches, and one of the better creeking trips I have had in the SE. We paddled the last of the boulder gardens in twilight, and ended the last bit of light with paddle strokes. Check the video for some footage from this day.
Over the next 2 weeks, I got on more runs than I can remember, but there were a few standouts. I took some friends down Wildcat Creek into the Tellico for their first time, which is always a special place to boat through. I also got on most of the good runs in the park excepting the Raven Fork. Maybe next week. Finally, I ended up doing a first complete descent of a section of creek in KY that I consider to be the best and hardest whitewater in the state. My camera died at the put in, so other than memories, that is all I've got. All I can say is I can't wait to go back in there with a crew and dial everything in. There were some big quality drops amidst a myriad of continuous and delightful class 5 water in there, and some of the more pristine wilderness outside of some sections of the Smokies.
New ideas are sprouting. Hopefully more rain will give them life.
Chattanooga Creeking - December '08 from Kirk Eddlemon on Vimeo.