After having a great beginning to the winter season, things really slowed down here in the southeast. February was not exactly stellar in terms of rainfall, which made life easy on me, as I was nursing a dislocated rib suffered off the river in the end of January. Fortunately, once March hit, the rain came gushing back and we were once again chasing water all over. After some local midweek boating, we managed a full weekend of the super convenient Horsepasture Big Creek double followed up by a day on the not-so-classic Guest River. The Guest was fun as we had good water (lil' over 2'), but that is one of the most jumbled river beds I've ever seen.
Joe Keck firing into Vortex on Cain Creek in late January. Paddling with a Dislocated Rib was Painful.
Chas Lemley cleaning up on Corner Pocket.
The Carnival that caught up to our small group on the Horsepasture.
Now to the true point of this, paddling all the classic Knoxville class IV in a weekend. I cleaned up at work early on Friday and headed for the park for Tremont, the class IV version of the West Prong. As it was warm and we had plenty of time, I decided to hike up Lynn Camp and give Kick Yer Dog Falls a go (KYD is not class IV, but is a great way to start a low water Tremont run). It was good to be up there with the right amount of water (Tremont around 1m is about perfect) and some witnesses, and it went smooth as butter. After banging back down to the Tremont put in, we bombed down some steep Smokies class IV. As always, despite it's diminutive size, stop sign delivered one of the best boofs around. Despite serious rain rolling in and a lack of motivation from the crew, I headed over to the headwaters of the Little and hike up Elkmont section for a solo session. Despite getting hung up in traffic heading back from Cades Cove, I was able to knock out a run in just under an hour including the hike. It was sweet hiking up in the heavy mist while watching the river rise from the recent squall. This run is just pure class IV bliss. Not super hard, but just incredibly clean and aesthetic.
The main event of KYD on Lynn Camp (Photo: Mark Newton).
The next day, local Knoxville runs were the only things going, so we decided on a relatively obscure one: Abrams Creek out of Cades Cove. The shuttle on this thing is a beast, and we clusterfucked it at every opportunity. We were supposed to meet at the takeout at 9:30 and didn't put on until 12:45. Fortunately, Brandon's wife Carrie was awesome and drove shuttle for us so we didn't have to retrieve a vehicle from the zoo that is Cades Cove. While Abrams may not be a total classic, it has great scenery, a good class IV section, and the best waterfall close to Knoxville. And, despite the recent Tornado damage, there was only 1 wood portage in the whole 10 miles.
The Ultra Classic Abrams Falls (Photo: Jeff Moore).
It's super soft so boofs like this are just fine (Photo: JM).
After finishing Abrams, I talked Caleb into some Kick Yer Dog and we were headed back up to Tremont. After coercing a shuttle, we geared up and were joined by Kentucky's own Clay Warren. Again, we all had great lines at KYD before heading downstream for an aerobic workout on the way back to the institute. Tremont just goes so much better once you get that non-stop rhythm going.
Caleb finishing off the KYD lead in, which starts above where you can see in this photo.
The sluicy main event. Shortly after this moment the white out sets in.
JJ launching the touchy part of the lead in (Photo: Clay Warren).
This hole is terrible if this thing is high, but not too bad on this day.
Clay finishing his first KYD run.
The next day, the other side of Knoxville got the rain and we were off to the plateau. Most of the usual suspects were out on the Obed overnighter, so while there was discussion of Little Hurricane, we stuck with the Obed standard fare. It didn't look like Island got any rain, so we dropped a truck at Nemo and headed up for the classic Little Clear to Clear to Obed run. LCC was running a solid 2.75 (some might call this more than solid) and we were able to make it through with only a little action at triple drop. After finishing the sweet boof at Oh Yeah, it was on to Clear Creek canyon at 4000, which is great class IV big water, followed by the Obed. I was in my Molan and there was definitely some great surf to be had. When we got to Nemo, Kemper informed us that Island was still 1 ft (we didn't even check in the morning cause I was convinced it wasn't going), so we hit up 2 laps on this sliding classic. It's hard to beat bare backing Island with good water, watching the bedrock through the pristine water as you slide away the miles. Finally since we had to run back to LCC to get a truck, Casey and I put on at a more pedestrian 2.1 so he could get his redemption at triple drop. Note, Novacaine has gotten significantly nastier now that the wood pile blocking the undercut/tree combo is gone. All in all a great day running around to all the Obed classics, to round out a weekend of great class IV. There you have it, the best class IV runs within an hour of the house (minus Crooked Fork, which we got on Monday) jammed into 1 weekend.
Compound Fracture on Island Creek. Out of character for Island and one of very few photos from a day that was too good to stop (Photo: Kemper Begley).