Sunday, December 23, 2007

West Fork of the Pigeon River

I got up early and started checking out the IFLOWS, USGS gages, and various Dopplers. After awhile I decided to wake up Judd and make some plans. We had just discussed the West Fork of the Pigeon yesterday and today it looked like we might get a nice unexpected Christmas present. The USGS gage was still only reading somewhere in the 260 range at 6:30 a.m. but the doppler was showing a big band of rain right over top of that area and the IFLOWS gages had shown some of the heaviest rainfall amounts in the headwaters of the West Fork Pigeon and NF/WF of the French Broad. Our plan, I hit the road and head in that general direction and Judd goes and gets a visual on the West Fork since it is in his backyard. I was ready to take my turn towards North Fork of the French Broad when Judd calls and says "its runnin'", I stayed on I40 and exited on the east side of Canton.It ended up peaking at just a little over 500 c.f.s and I think we got some of it at about that level, for a little while anyway. As you can see from the chart it dropped out fast.
The next picture is what the level looked like at the take out when I was setting shuttle. It had rained the entire way and stopped when I pulled into the takeout. The temperature was incredibly warm for this time of year. I didnt wear pogies or a scull cap the entire trip.Up top at the Garden of the Gods. He's like, "I told you there was water":
And there was water. It spiked out at over 500 c.f.s. and we were there to paddle it when it did but we didnt paddle this:
These next two shots show the water level difference from before our run and after:

The following are two more of the photos taken from the same spot, the first right before our run and the second, after our run:

Once we were on the river: With the juice today, it reminded me of a cross between Big Creek and Upper Creek. This was some stompin' good stuff.
This slot was pretty cool, the first of many.
Jailhouse. Nobody went to jail today:
The West Fork is a long run with alot of horizon lines. The run required alot of "out of the boat" scouting time and some portage time as well. Probably the biggest hazard was wood lodged in the middle of some rapids which created narrow and sketchy passage ways if any passage at all. There was one potentially, very sweet class 4 rapid with a downed tree lodged right in the middle of what would have otherwise been a world class flume/slot drop. I wish we could get a work crew together to hike in there and take care of business.
This was one of so many nice drops:
That is a big log in the water:I'm sorry I didnt get more on the river shots but with all the scouting, portaging, and paddling, there wasnt much time for more photos, it was a big day.
Post run photo of Garden of the Gods:One more from when we first got up top:Amos' Epics