Wilson Creek Gorge
November 05, 2011
Level = -8.5
Video - 90 seconds of Wilson Creek
One of the main reasons that I write these trip reports, especially following ELF runs, is so that I can look back later and remind myself of how much fun I had, even when the conditions were not perfect. With rain falling on Friday and with no plans for Saturday, I started getting excited about the possibility of finally getting back out in the creeker. The rain didn't fall where it needed to however and Wilson Creek peaked at -6 a day before I would be able to go. I REALLY wanted to go paddling though and when I looked back at my last WC trip report, when the level was -9.5, I was reminded of how much fun I had then. Luckily I was able to find two willing participants in Joe F and Vince D. We met at the Shell station on 421 at the Asbury Church Road exit at 10:30, trimmed the vehicles down to two and headed to the gorge. This was Vince's first run, Joe's second and my eighth trip. That meant that for the first time, I was the one with the most knowledge of the lines, so I got to lead the first lap. It was a gorgeous day, the water was super clear and the only other people on the river were two fly-fishermen, two vans full of geology students from UNC-W, a few site seers and the guy that walked down to us at the put-in before our second lap to warn us that there wasn't any water in the creek.
Joe and Vince are excellent paddlers and our run was pretty uneventful with only a minimal amount of banging and rock hugging required to get through a few tight sections. I think we all three were enjoying what was simply a perfect November day. Just cool enough to keep you from getting too hot in the dry-tops and dry-suits, but not too cold. After making the call to run another lap, we started round two, only this time I ran in the back, letting Joe test his memory of the lines. If Joe wasn't leading, then Vince was. And both ran it perfectly. Except for maybe the unhealthy fascination Joe had with the pocket at Maytag. Hopefully he satisfied his curiosity and will not be as tempted to flirt with it when he returns at higher water. Razor-back's personality probably changes the most at that low of a level. It was the most difficult rapid of the day and consequently the most fun. Near the end of the first run I explained how the rail slide is supposed to work, but followed it with my disclaimer that, much to my frustration, I always either over or under shoot it. And on the first run, I did undershoot the slide. BUT, on my second lap, I finally hit it just right and got to ride the grind in the Rocker. A nice end to an awesome day. We stopped back by the gauge on the way out and I snapped a photo. Standing there looking at it, I would have read it as -9 or -10, but after measuring it in Photoshop, it was actually -8.5.
I enjoyed getting to carpool with Joe and was impressed at how well he was able to pick his way through the rock mazes so quickly. I had met Vince before in Kibler, but it was my first chance to paddle with him. He was great company and a very skilled kayaker. I got home at 7, whipped up a quick bite to eat, then lit the fire-pit on the back deck, wrapping up the day with an Anchor Steam, roasted marshmallows and the company of family and friends. I'd take a low flow day like that anytime.