Tellico
June 23, 2012
1.1 feet

For the second year in a row, we snuck in an ELF run on the Tellico.  Along for this years trip were Lang, Cindy, Tommy, Randy, Jacob, Joanne, Christy, Bev, Kit, Mike, Sarah, Ann, Bob and myself.  We left Deep Creek Campground at 9AM and arrived back at camp at 7PM.  The weather was great, the water felt perfect, everyone paddled well, it was a good day on the river.  I had my Jackson Fun so I got to get in lots of surfing and worked on enders every where I could. I especially had fun below Bounce Off Boulder.  We stopped for lunch and cooled off in the river, then went to Baby Falls when we were done, where I ended up jumping off the falls to chase my boat, which is something I had previously sworn I would never do.  I followed that up with another, much better run.   It  was another good day on the river with friends.  Among the things I enjoyed watching that day was Lang's guidance of Jacob through the rapids.  I don't know how many times I saw him looking back, mid-rapid, to check on Jacob's entry.  I also was impressed with Ann hanging in there with her roll and with the entire group as a whole as they made their way down the river.  I watched the whole group navigate one particularly tricky rapid and said to Lang "we've got a heck of a lot of good paddlers in this group."  The other thing of note was the metal box wedged in the Go Right rapid, which we all portaged at this level.  Be careful there, it looks seriously nasty.

After my adventure at Baby, I started thinking about how Baby Falls is probably my new favorite rapid, passing Frank Bells.  I was always fond of Franks because it was my 1st class IV, the site of my 1st true under duress combat roll and because I might get the better of him one day, only to have him slap my rear end the very next time around.  Franks is a good old rapid.  But now Baby is my fav because it still is a little bit scary, is always a ton of fun, was on the top of my to-do list for so long and has already generated a bunch of my fondest paddling memories.  I find it interesting that it isn't the rapids that we run clean every time that we connect with, it is the ones that challenge us or occasionally get the upper hand.  When I look back at the 8 times I've ran Baby and pick my favorite runs, I find that it isn't my best runs or the cleanest that are at the top of the list, in fact, 3 of my top 5 were just terrible runs.  It is the friends that were there, the challenges that were overcome and the stories that were made that make certain runs more memorable, at least for me.   Here is how I rank my Baby runs.
1.  My 1st run, scary as hell, went over the right side, line was terrible, pitched past vertical, but it was a big, big day that I had waited a long time for and I ran it with two of my favorite paddling friends Joe and Kevin.  It also ranks at the top because we hit it as part of a full run from the top.   
2.  My 3rd run, clean on the left side, ran with my buddy Lang, it was his 1st trip over, we had tons of friends cheering from the bank and the excitement of watching Lang's run still makes me smile.
3.  My 4th run, ranks 3rd because I had to get the nerve up to try the right side again.  It technically was only slightly better than my first attempt at that side, but the challenge of it makes it a fond memory.  
4.  My 6th run, ranks high because I was with a great group of paddlers and we were using Baby as the start for a full run on down through Diaper Wiper and into Jared's Knee. 
5.  My 7th attempt.  I was paddling far to complacently, flipped my playboat, I didn't have my backband secure and it broke loose, chickened out of running the drop upside down, climbed out just in time for my boat to run the drop solo, then jumped off the falls to chase it down.  As ridiculously bad as that was from a technical standpoint, it was absolutely fun as hell.  Just pure stupid fun.  I mean, how many times do you have to jump off a waterfall to catch your boat?
6. My 8th run, I hopped right in after my failed 7th attempt, paddled harder, was more focused and had what might have been my best drop.  Lots of fun.
7 and 8 were perfectly clean uneventful drops over the left.  Lots of fun, but not nearly as memorable as some of the less than perfect trips over the falls.  Actually, now that I think about it, I would probably bump the jump off the falls up to #4..

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