Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Personal First Descent of Anything

When you have a child, You always have a hope that they will get interested in the things that you yourself value and find most important. But there are alot of forces in the world that affect the direction we all take, so at first glance, it seems quite unlikely that your children will follow a similar path as yours. But apparently, if you put them within earshot of, within sight of, and in direct contact with the stuff you dig, they are probably going to like it. Thus is the case with my son Alexander and the outdoors. What a relief! He loves it just as much as I do.

A few weeks back, Alexander had his personal first descent of ANYTHING! Ever! We canoed the Little River through Tuckaleechee Cove for a length of around four miles. His verdict of the run was that though there were some waterfalls, he would like to do a run with more. Can we reverse this?


Hanging out at Lilly Bluff

He loves hiking too. In fact, I don't know where he got this, but he told Laura one day that you aren't hiking if you're not off-trail. I've created a monster. Here are some off-trail shots walking the faint climbing trails at the base of Lilly Bluff towards the point trail.

Speaking of personal first descents, I finally got around to running the Cumberland River in Kentucky. I have always been steered away from it from first hand reports of epic flatwater and little in the way of excitement. But I always have to find out for myself, so since I was going to be driving right by with optimum flow, I met up with Dwayne Cottle, a local Cumberland paddler.

Right below the falls are some great cliff bands,
along with an epic ampitheater campsite.

Midway down the run is a superb playspot known as "surfers" that is just perfect for learning flatspins and low angle cartwheels, or just plain ole soul surfing. I could stay here all day.

Dwayne riding the glass between the clouds

At the confluence with Dog Slaughter Creek we took a scary trip through a waterfall into a giant dark room. If you have ever paddled into the sieve room at Hammer Factor on the Green, this is the frightening plateau version. It might not be a big deal, but the first time you force yourself through a waterfall that almost pops your skirt, and then pop out into a pitch black room, a little bit of claustrophobia sets in. Already after only a few miles, the Cumberland had me mildly traumatized. Who would've thought?

Dwayne leaving the black hole at Dog Slaughter Creek

In all seriousness, this is a great beginner intermediate run, and I'm surprised it doesn't get done more. It has great class 2 and a few class 3 rapids, and while it has a huge flatwater paddle out, shouldn't we all be working on their forward stroke anyway?

I also finally got to run down through the narrows of White Oak Creek, near Rugby, TN. This run has the prettiest and most sustained microcanyon scenery of any easier run in the area, and I can't wait to get the canoe in there for an overnighter.

Brandon Hughett marinating in the scene on White Oak

A nice bedrock slide a ways in

There are tons of rockhouses and stuff just like this all along the run

One night when we got home from dinner, we found this rare specimen hanging from our tree:

tonyus robinsonattus busy in his habitat

We have THE best rope swing in the neighborhood now. Thanks Tony.

Finally, here are some shots from an early morning jaunt down the classic class 4 fix on Little Clear Creek. This is such a great run to bomb down, with a quick trail right back to the top again for those who need more. Fine stretch of whitewater for sure.

Hiking back up for seconds

Jim Janney, Triple Drop

Caleb Paquette on Triple

Cool Ledge

Jim applying boof

Winding up...

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