Tuesday, May 3, 2011

North Pole: Best Portage-fest in the Southeast?

There is a very fine line in the steep creeking universe between a total portagefest, and a classic creek. While runs like Brush Creek into Roaring and Bridge Creek fall into the former category, Bear Creek on Lookout Mountain epitomizes the latter, with no mandatory portages, yet steep non-stop action for almost 1000 vertical feet. Morgan Creek, flowing into Richland Creek shortly above the takeout, rides the line between these two extremes very delicately, but after much deliberation, it is clear that "The North Pole" is a classic, if not more aptly described as the best portagefest in the southeast.

While if some boaters are on fire enough, and ample flows exist, the run can be whittled down to 3 portages or so, most portage 5-10 times through this monster mile of water falling onto rocks. But amidst all the forays up the side of the gorge to circumvent truly vile displays of power, there are 10-15 of the best rapids on the plateau, with a few stretches where globs of these descents can be linked up with no portages, yielding around 3 chunks of truly worthy paddling. If all the good rapids were back to back with no portaging, with a put in and takeout above and below, Morgan Creek would cede inferiority only to perhaps the Bear, Henderson, and Pocket Creek.

As is, the portaging and rough terrain in the North Pole Gulch really just mix with the stellar drops that do exist to create a wonderful and gruelling journey through one of the more fantastically scenic canyons on Walden Ridge.

Without getting into too many details, here is a collection of some of the better shots from the day. Enjoy!

Running a sieve early in the run

Caleb Paquette sliding down the very next drop

One of a few parasitic portages that dangle beneath the first MEGA-portage.

Taft(V boobs) showing us why we come back

Caleb sliding into the hallway, which culminates in a must run drop, though some managed to scamper out and around.

Jason Rodwell hitting the best double boof on the plateau.

Immediately below the double boof lurks a horrific sight. Someone has flushed through before

Right below the portage, big slide

Our 27th president, heading to the guillotine

Flow Theory master JT smoothing the unsmooth

What I got you gotta get it put it in you.

We ran into these local rednecks at the swimming hole drop.

One of them insisted on jumping in while the Flowmaster dug deep.

Crazy locals!

After reaching Richland Creek, it feels like the ocean. We hiked up for the goods. Caleb on Timber Rattler

Richland Creek is a classic too.

Caleb meets the Weirdo.

So if you ever get to Henderson and its a little too low, just head on over to the other side and put in on Morgan Creek. It's good practice.

Some late evening solo boating on our neighbor's ditch after 3 inches of rain.

What have I created?

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