I almost chickened out. TS Cindy flooded most of the Southeast on Thursday. The Tuck was running at 5.8 feet above normal, Hurricane Dennis was scheduled for landfall today, and it was cloudy in Greenville – all ingrediants for disaster. Despite certain doom, I loaded up the kayak and headed toward Dillsboro to meet Bob and Roxanne.
After a slight memory slip as to the location of the put-in, I found Bob and Roxanne and unloaded the boats. The river didn’t look too rough, and a local raft company was getting ready to launch with children on board. We figured if kids could take it, we could handle what the Tuck might throw at us.
The river was indeed much higher and faster than when we had run it in October. With a sprinkling of rain and cloudy skies, it was also only slightly less cool. I was glad to have a wetsuit. The first part of the river started out with a constant chop and numerous small standing waves. Even in between rapids, there was almost no place to float and rest. We needed to be on constant alert. The rapids themselves were the most turbulent whitewater we’ve taken on in these kayaks to date. The standing waves and holes were enormous.
On the Green, it’s fun to just plow right through the waves. This time, the large waves were hitting us at angles, almost forcing us over numerous times. When I did manage to plow straight through a hole and into the next wave, it almost submerged the boat. Good thing I wasn’t in the canoe, or I would have lost the boat.
With the increased current, we were at the takeout after only an hour and a half on the water. We felt lucky to be alive, so, naturally, we decided to run the river again. We called Roxanne, who had been visiting the shops in Dillsboro, and arranged another shuttle. The second time around things started OK, but it was obvious I was getting tired.
At a particularly large rapid, one family without a guide got their raft pinned on a rock. They were rescued by some other kayakers and we retrieved their paddle. We hovered fairly close to them the rest of the way down the river just in case they ran into more trouble. At one point I decided I didn’t want to hit another standing wave. After plowing through a particularly large one, we looked up to see the take out. This trip had taken even less time.
When we pulled the boats out, we found that a photographer had set up at the last large rapid and was selling photos of the river runners’ attempts. The shots were actually quite good, so I bought a cd of the photos. This guy also has the pictures posted at Paddleshots.net. For more pictures from this trip, click here.