© 2009 Adam Johnson

May 2009: West Virginia Rains & a trek to Colorado…

Adam Johnson runs Pumpkin Seed Spitter, Red Run, WV, May 2009.
May was quite the month of events. Here is the play by play: It rained, I creeked, playboated, drove 40 hours to Colorado, creeked, climbed, visited the hospital, and creeked some more before I flew to Oregon.

May started off well. The local northern WV crew got a good dousing of rain directly after Cheat Fest weekend. Geoff Calhoun & I were able to run the North Fork of the Blackwater at 2+ feet the Sunday after Cheat Fest (paddling off the previous night’s debauchery). We then proceeded directly into the Lower Blackwater, which proved to be at a healthy level of something around 1,500cfs to 2,000cfs = big water with some big, healthy holes.

High water on Quarry Creek. Photo JB Seay.

Over the next few days it rained actually too hard–an event that I had never witnessed. Many people hiked around WV, including JB Seay of Creek WV, complete with kayaks in tow, and boated very little. Apparently everything was just too high. To paint a picture, Bull Run was too high for something like four days, Quarry run (off of Route 68 into Cheat Lake) was stomping high directly after the main rains, and Deckers peaked somewhere in the upper one-thousands.

Geoff Calhoun on some typical Red Run brown.

So, after the epic too-much-rain event, a crew was able to get on Red Run to find that at an excellent water level. Check out JB’s writeup HERE. This was four days before I was going to leave for Colorado when the unthinkable happened…

I ran a class two rapid and horribly broke my one month old creekboat. This was not yo’ mommas six inch long crack, this was a fist-sized hole directly under the seat of the boat–after running a class II one-foot tall pourover. The irony of it was that I sent two other people before me over that very same ledge. Bad luck I suppose. I ended up hiking out and meeting everyone back at the car at the takeout.

So, with my Colorado plans foiled, I had to seek out a new creekboat. What better way to do that then to visit the New River Dries at 55,000cfs?

The Center Wave, New River Dries, 55 Grand, Mid May, 2009.
Without a creekboat, I drove south to arguably the best wave in the United States and found it to be at a stompin’ good level. This, combined with warm weather, made for an epic day on the Dries of the New. Large aerial tricks were had alongside good friends from the New River Academy. Look to those boys for some photos. None here, sorry! A big thanks goes out to those folks for letting me crash at their place for those days that the waves were in.
This kid had some good luck on this day.
So, as I was about to put in for another surf, a video boater who lives in Gauley Bridge (pictured above) was surfing the river right wave. About two other people and I were watching when he flipped and the wave bounced him abruptly, upside-down, on his head. We all cringed and waited for him to roll up…
It ended up that his skirt blew and he started to swim–to river right. As many of you know, river right below the Dries is pretty much a forest of trees with water rushing through it. The general rule is to swim to river left no matter what. That said, this kid ended up swimming through this forest.

Note the forest on river right. It continues around the bend. Photo from lower water, Spring 2008.
When I saw him swimming, I threw on my skirt and started to chase after him. When I got downstream, I didn’t see any sight of him anywhere. This was one of those “Oh $!#^” moments. About thirty seconds later I saw his boat filled with water floating downstream. I chased after it and got it to shore, sans person, about half a mile downstream. I then soloed the run, all the while thinking, “where is this kid”, and got to the takeout only to see cops searching around. I did not have a good feeling about the situation.
I got a ride up from some nice older people who graciously dropped me off at the bridge whereupon I learned that this friendly video boater had survived the swim through the epic forest of doom and some paramedics were checking him out down at river level.
Matteus Nunez runs Double Play (?), Manns Creek, WV.
I ended up catching up with him, told him his kayak was tied to a tree just above Big Kahuna (he was overjoyed), and continued to boat the dries.
Moral of the story: If you paddle the New River Dries at put-in wave levels, please have a good skirt along with a beach ball/overthruster. 55,000cfs can make you feel pretty small.
In a kind gesture, Shane Groves offered to lend me a creek boat to go run Mans Creek which was at a good level, about 3″, that day. So, putting on late, Shane Groves, Matteus Nunez, and I routed Mans and took off just before dark.
After another three days on the Dries, I picked up a creekboat and headed back up to Morgantown, now officially out of water. About a week later, I headed to Colorado with Don Smith for some good ol’ Colorado action.
This sure doesn’t happen on the East coast…
So, after about 40 hours of driving through some very flat states, we arrived in Durango, Colorado ready to do some kayaking.
It had been about five years since I had been to Colorado last, but it sure hadn’t changed much. Still some good drops amidst lots of mankidy-mank. Here are some of the highlights:

Sometimes it was cold. We waited it out in the car.

South Mineral Creek + Scenery. Low Water.
Gnarly pothole rapid + low water = Piton! I found out the hard way. NEXT please!
We ran across this little guy. I told Don to chase after it and he did. It was amusing.
Putting on Vallacito Creek, moments before what I shall herein refer to as “Stout Day #1”.
A moment into Stout Day #1: The extraction. A few different teams of people were able to extract a paddler out of the canyon below, about ~100 vertical feet down.
A cool photo with the rescue teams in the background.
A *huge* thanks goes out to the rescue teams and local boaters for helping with this ordeal. Cheers ‘fellas!
So, after the extraction of a kayaker (who shall remain unnamed) in Vallacito, we visited the hospital, found out about a broken tibia & fibula, got a motel room at a sketchy place in Durango (ie- Paramedics ask if the cops have arrived before getting on the scene after a call), and I paddled Vallacito alongside some other local boaters to get our boats out of the canyon the following day.
Will Lyons finishing up the Flatwater at the beginning of Gore Canyon, Colorado.
After the Durango epic, we headed north to Crested Butte, hooked up with Will Lyons and Will S., then to Gore Canyon, and eventually up to the Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colorado. The weather was colder there. More hail rained down.
Gore Rapid, 2 grand. Good big water brown.
Will Lyons T-ing up to one of the bigger holes of the day. He made it through, then swam. He says he may go back to C-1-ing…
Another stout hole, ran river left.
All in all, a good trip out to Colorado with some epics thrown in for excitement. Another big thanks goes out to Will Lyons and Will S. for letting me tag along on their trip, as well as everyone else that helped us out along the way.
On June 2nd, I flew out to Oregon to hang out with the Madre for a bit and was able to get down to Californ-I-A for some quality granite action. Stay tuned for the Cali update.
Until next time: Be safe and see you on the water,
-Adam Johnson

One Comment

  1. britney
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 2:17 am | #

    I was playing games online however for reading this post more interesting thanks for the share please do keep it going great job….Loving this.


    Increase your brand popularity overnight

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>