October 13, 2012
This trip marked the most trips I've made to the valley
in a single calendar year at nine. It was a good Kibler
year for sure.
As if I wouldn't miss paddling Russell Fork anyway, every morning from Breaks Park, Lang posted pictures of giant stacks of pancakes and trays of bacon. So to help me cope with my RF withdrawals, I took advantage of Saturday's 9K release and gorgeous weather. The day started great with Sammy, Joey, Kurt, Duane and George all waiting on me. They were already down to the first bridge when I drove past, but were kind enough to wait for me to drop my boat, park my car, catch a ride with Julia, gear up and hop in. It was the first cold weather paddle of the season for me, so it took a little extra effort to squeeze into the PFD with all those layers on. It had been too long since I had paddled with any in that group, so I really appreciated the opportunity. I also saw my Wilson Creek buddy Vince at the put-in, I'm ready for those WC trips to start back up soon.
It was the usual Kibler run up top, catching lots of those little eddies, hitting a few enders and just enjoying both the day and the company. At the cabin rapid, I handed my video camera to Sammy, then paddled right out and went for a swim, classic. I'm glad Sammy got that little bit of footage though because my camera later froze up and didn't work for the rest of the trip, except for a few still shots. (The video, minus the swim, is at http://youtu.be/oMOfRVwWsvM )
Johnny O, a raft guide at the Ocoee and a fellow paddler from Mt Airy, rolled in while we were still at the cabin. He and I took out at 7 Stitches while the rest paddled further downstream. Johnny and I went back to the top where I switched from the Fun to the Rocker, just to get acclimated a little before creek season starts. I knew that I would enjoy paddling with Johnny when he launched from my spot on the parking lot side of the hydrostation. That was the first time I've ever seen someone else slide in there. At the little side surfing wave below the 2nd bridge, we ran into what I called the Blackfly Option Club, or the Blackflies for short. Surprisingly, considering the time of year, they had a live little snake swimming around between their boats. We scooped it up with our paddles and I threw it to Trent. He seemed surprised that it was alive. I told him that throwing a dead snake at somebody just wouldn't be nice at all. Trent wanted me to take a photo of the three Options together. Zane was sitting in the rapid side surfing. I told Trent that I wasn't taking any eddy pics, so if he wanted a photo of all three boats, then they would all have to surf the rapid together. So that is exactly what they did and the photo was cool. The wave wasn't really built for three canoes though, so they were not all upright when it was over. I denied ever suggesting that they try something like that and told Trent that he really should know better.
Paddling with the Blackflies was fun, they like to splat rocks and flat spin on all those Kibler rocks just like I do. If I wasn't so partial to sitting while paddling, I'd think about joining their club. The Rocker wasn't nearly as fun as the Fun, so at 7 Stitches, I switched boats again. Then somewhere along the way they showed that one paddle blade is faster than two and left the kayaks far behind. We didn't catch back up until we got to the picnic tables where they already had their boats loaded. Zane gave us a ride back to the top. I loaded my two boats on my rack, then sat by the river to enjoy a nice cold IPA at 7 Stitches following my first October paddle in the valley and what will more than likely be my last trip up there till next Spring. I do like those quick escapes up to Kibler, not nearly as much as a long escape to Russell Fork, but nice still the same. And it was great seeing Sammy, Trent, Duane, Zane, Joey and everyone else.