Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tis the Season

Creeking season has arrived in the Southeast. Many years, there's a lull between the warm predictability of damn release season and the frenetic variety of creeking season. Fortunately this year they overlapped with the first good fall rain arriving before the final Tallulah release weekend. And, while the damn releases are great runs, the repetition just makes one yurn even that much more for some honest adventure.

It's the gorge that makes Tallulah Special (Photo: JJ)

The Amphitheater from Above (Photo: JJ)

And with short days and no shortage of water, the cup of adventure is easily filled and often overflows. The past few weeks have featured great quick runs of Hike Up Elkmont and Island Creek with darkness looming as well as a failed attempt at Sam's Creek (I never thought I'd see it too high, but it was a fun hike burdened by carrying a 40 lb piece of Tupperware) and a near epic on Wildcat Creek (We finished but it was too high, too full of wood, and too dark and a smarter man would and did hike back out).

Which brings us to this morning. Tight work schedules forced a quick mission and with extremely high water from a few days of rain we decided to give Bruce Creek a quick look at dawn. Even with all the rain, I fully expected Bruce to be too low. How does a creek with a 1.5 sq. mi. drainage hold when it hasn't rained a drop in the previous 12 hours. Still, it's less than 40 minutes from the house, so it was worth a look.

I arrived late, as usual, and ran up the flooded trail to have a look at the main event, a clean but stacked set of waterfalls going about 12', 16', 22', and 8'. Note that these waterfalls are not a geological wonder, but rather a gift from TDOT, who decided to blast clean lips and nice pools when rerouting Bruce Creek to make room for I-75's climb up Cumberland Mountain. Before I even got a good look I knew we were on from Ohman's excited whooping (folks don't whoop for nothing before sunrise). The level looked good. Maybe a little low but the lips were clean and pools aerated. After all, how much water do clean waterfalls require?

So back down the trail we go, quickly gearing up and returning. After a little discussion of the small tree we'd be boofing through on the biggest drop, we decide holding a right stroke should block the tree away from face contact, so I head up to drop in. A quick warm up and 4 boof strokes later and I'm at the bottom, having avoided potential tree to face contact and loving life. Now Ohman heads up and is quickly loving life too with 4 boofs and no tree action. The rest of the creek back to the car was a little scrapey except for the 12fter above the culvert (we didn't have time to mess with the culvert, but it looked good). After a quick departure, I rally to work on time with one hell of a way to wake up behind me.

A Boof I've been Thinking of for Years (Photo: Ohman)

Ohman had never heard of Bruce 12 hours earlier (Photo: JJ)

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