This is the Big Creek in Stokes County, NC that feeds into the Dan River where Highway 89 and Lynchburg Road meet. It takes a lot of rain to get the creek up to a workable level, but it has a nice gorge section with two fun rapids, Mill Rapid and Loop de Loop. A problem however is that there isn't a place to enter the river. The land owner at the only place the river nears Forrest Road does not permit you to cross his property.
April 4, 2008
I don't know if the Mill Rapid was Class IV today or not, but I do know that 7 of our 9 paddlers chose to portage it. And I know that it felt more difficult to me than the six class IVs I've ran to date. I ran two trips through the rapid. The first one was accidental. I thought I would be cute and drop over the top ledge backwards, then slip into an eddy to get out to scout. Everyone else had taken out above the rapid and were checking it out. I flipped before I made it to the eddy and rode the first half of the rapid upside down and backwards, taking a few hits along the way. When I got the chance, I rolled up, just in time to see that I was going left at the big rock splitting the exits. The last time I was there, a tree blocked that line. I looked up and saw Cat. I yelled "Is it clear?" Cat yells back "NOOOO" I yell "$^Y&!!" and drop down toward the tree. I got lucky and the front of the fun rode up on it in a big wheelie instead of nosing down under it. I took out and climbed back up to do what everyone else was doing, which was pointing at the river and trying to find the best lines. I thought a line all the way down the right side looked okay. So I pass my boat up the rocks and help pass boats down the rocks. Only Teresa and I opted to make the run. I had the advantage of having ran it at lower water before. Things went great. I had to brace at the top, but the line worked the way I had hoped and was a ton of fun. Teresa, in an open boat, was able to make the right-to-left line.
Loop De Loop was another highlight. It's always a great photo op and a blast to run. I went first and ran the right side. From what everyone said, I pulled a disappearing act, then popped straight up like a cork before flipping and rolling up in the river-right eddy. All I heard was "bubble, bubble, bubble.". Teresa went next and chose the right side as well, but found the rocks hidden in the hole at the bottom. At that point, everyone else decided that Teresa and I weren't the best at picking lines, so they all went left and faired much better. I know Sammy and Joe enjoyed Loop De Loop, they were both grinning from ear to ear at the bottom of it. I was with a great group of paddlers on Big Creek and was the only kayaker spending any time upside down in the chocolate water. Everyone paddled great on a creek that most hadn't seen before. Personally I was stoked to have pushed things a little bit in the Fun, but to have finished with no swims. It was another fun SRVCC trip and the paddlers were Joe, Goodman, Sammy, Joanne, Bob, Cat, Bev, Teresa and myself.
We worked hard to be respectful of the landowner's wishes at the put-in, but now know for sure that it cannot be used, at all, in any circumstances. It's not about the parking, he doesn't want you to step foot on his land to get to the creek. That's his right, so the only put-in near road access is out. Hopefully something can be worked out somewhere else, because it's a really fun creek that's close to home.
October 27, 2007
Big Creek Video (39MB)
Dale, Susie, Justin, Mike, Brad, Josh and I ran Big Creek at 2 ft on the Dan's Francisco Gauge.
The day started early with seal launches off a boulder at the put-in (which isn't really a put-in according to the notes left on our vehicles.) A couple of miles of scenic class I-II paddling under a blue October sky and falling leaves followed. When Mill Rapid seemed to pop up out of no where, everyone got out of their boats to scout it. As the only person to have paddled Big Creek before, Dale pointed out all the lines and hazards. He also ran it first, stopping in the middle to check out the river left line for wood. A log still blocks that side, so everyone ran it on the right. The rapid starts with a choice of either going right or left around a rock in the center of the river. Running it right allows for a sneak by the first ledge. A log on the left doesn't totally block that line, but it does mean that if you go to the left of the center rock, you have to paddle left to right, then hook back and down the ledge. Justin ran it twice and picked the left line on his second drop. I followed that same line when I came through last. Everyone ran both sections of Mill Rapid problem-free, but the small drop between it and Loop De Loop brought out four braces and one roll. We got out again at Loop De Loop, which is just around the corner from Mill Rapid, scouted it, then ran it one at a time, taking lots of photos. Justin ran it on both sides. Suzie and I ran it twice on the right. Suzie showed that it was nothing to be worried about by hamming for the camera on her second run. Dale ran it on the left. Mike and Josh ran it on the right. Brad's first run found him upside down under the pour over where his boat circulated against the rock, not allowing him to roll-up. But when he finally made it to the surface he was all smiles and quickly hucked back to the top for a second run. This was the first local run for Josh and Brad. I hope the weather and water didn't spoil them, because days like that are far and few between. I had been waiting for a chance to run Big Creek for over two years. I hope another two years don't go by before I get to run it again. It's a beautiful, secluded run with two really exciting rapids on it. At the take-out it was time to eat lunch, pick up the shuttle vehicles and decide where to go next. Susie and Mike had to call it a day, but everyone else decided to head to the Boiling Hole on the Mayo.
The take-out for this run is at the 268 (Linchburg Road) and Route 8 bridge, right where Big Creek enters the Dan River. I currently don't have a solution to how to get onto Big Creek. The access will be off Forrest Road, but you cannot cross the property at the only place the creek nears the road. We ran it with the Dan River's Francisco Gauge at 2 feet. I'd put that at my minimum for running Big Creek.