May 17, 2014
Video from Stairstep.
With the French running high and Big Laurel running at a min -4, I opted for Big Laurel, which is a creek I have wanted to get on for some time. Joe and I drove up that morning, car pooling from Statesville. We arrived at Hot Springs around 9:30 and I have no idea what time we got on the river. John K, Joe, Dale, Dan, Lucas, Bill and I made the run with our good friend Will hiking alongside the river. I was super hungry for some paddling after a long hiatus and aimed for every rock I could boof or spin on. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful creek. I love Class III PFDs where you can run out front and hit things blind, because you can only run a drop blind one time. Things were going smooth until we hit the first class III, Stairstep. I had my only roll of the day there. Only when I first attempted the roll, I felt no resistance from the right side paddle blade. I reached out to see how it was oriented and found nothing there. I flipped the paddle around, rolled up and found that the blade had slipped off the shaft. While that was a bit of bad luck, I did get some good luck when my pal Will came hiking by. He was able to carry it out for me while I hand paddled the rest of the run. I am not a fan of hand paddling as I like to take photos and fidget with my seat straps and nose plugs, but it did add a different element to it and I enjoyed all the drops. It was a good day, capped off by a high water run through Kayaker's Ledge and a right side line down Frank Bells with lots of bbq chicken and Dieselpunk IPAs at the campground. Good day with a good crew. (thanks to Lucas for the pics from Suddy Hole)