Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Western Mank Obscured by Clouds

When it rains, the easy thing to do is to pick up your crew and head to the places you already know. After all, we are all trying to hedge our bets towards the ultimate goal of getting on some good water. So why not just stick with what we know?

Well, there is only so much adventure in that, so in a continued state of trying to take the road less traveled, we give you Little Hurricane Creek and Bridge Creek.

It all started with ALOT of rain north of I40. These are perfect conditions to hunt obscure and scary creeks around Crossville. Often this area will get rain and nowhere else will, giving you the perfect excuse to branch out and do some portaging and groveling on the uglier side of the Tennessee Plateau.
I had hiked Bridge Creek a few years ago, and deemed it sick and nasty, but too steep to just ignore when the flows were right. Our main mistake was not setting shuttle to the valley. This lack of enforced and resolved commitment led to an early retreat, as the water was ample, and the drops thin and sketchy. There was one standout, that reminded me of a methed out little TN cousin to Captain Crunch falls in West Virginia.
25 footer with a 2 foot wide line
River level inspection, guns holstered
With the mantra of "don't be a hero" percolating through the group, we raised the white flag and hiked back to the car after only 1/2 mile of portaging. After more carefully inspecting the quads later in the week, I reallized that the best gradient lie below where we hiked out, which is why we should have shuttled to the valley. Who knows what we missed. Case not closed.

For some reason, 2 hours of logistics, hiking, and portaging was not ultimately satisfying on a warm Saturday flush with floodwaters. So we headed over to Little Hurricane Creek near Clarkrange, TN.
There were holes at least
Tony Robinson had done the creek 2 times before, and I had been with him on one of those trips many years ago. The level was substantially higher this time. I had hoped that more years of experience and exposure to numbing amounts of class 5 would lower the stout drops of this creek into the realm of "Yes we can!" But apparently I am still a fraidy cat. Out of the all star cast, Jim was the only one to fire up one of the two SICKO drops on the run, and with discouraging results. After some steep stuff on Little Hurricane, you are deposited onto an ill tempered stretch of Hurricane Creek where resides the bigger meaner, more stacked and more bully like cousin to Fire Escape, The Big Baboon.
Bottom Half of The Big Baboon
Tony was the only person to have ever run this rapid, and though we got some good pictures from the bank, Tony is still the only person to run this rapid. I had thought that even if I was too scared to run it, at least one of the card carrying badasses in the group would at least humor the camera for documentation's purpose. Perhaps another day.

Finally, shortly below Big Baboon, there is a 16 foot v-ledge with a nice boof in the run out. As a public service announcement, let me declare that there is a rock at the bottom, deep in the pool. 3/6 hit it, with my ankles swelling huge for the next 2 days. Don't be a hero, right? Right! But at least we got some video. Check back for some video updates.
Nate Helms dropping the v-slot

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