Monday, September 25, 2006

Upper Santeetlah, Joyce Kilmer

As tornadoes were ripping thru the midwest we wondered if any of that action would actually make it over to the mountains of the east. The weathermen didn't seem to think so...and thank god once again they were wrong. After a night of continual rain and thunder we awoke to our typical routine of a turbo espresso infested fog-socked morning. Then the consulting of the Advanced Flood Warning System rain gauges in the vicinity ...over 2 inches of rain reported.

In Graham county NC there exists huge tracts of public lands that are way out in the middle of nowhere that seldom get visited. We decided to try and get on the Upper Santeetlah. The watershed is undeveloped and protected in its entirty minus a few forest service roads. Old growth pockets ly within the gorge as well. I had been to the put-in twice before after rains only to find the level too low. So once the caffine buzz was at the desired level we started calling the regular Swain County boys who normally are ready to go in a seconds notice, only to find they were all at the Gauley Festival in West Virgina. Some vulgar messages followed later in the day as they were not happy at the news of the local shit going off. So it was Jay Gifford and I. No shuttle team so we brought the running shoes, something we like to call the man challenge.

The next photo in the sequence is called the hallway. Rumored to be a 100 foot slide. I had some pre site visit nervousness over this one. Upon scouting it I decided to walk, unless Jay was going to get in it and make it look easy. About half way down he threw the fist pump and hollered.

I was blinded by the positive energy and like a reflex walked to my boat eddied out and ran it.

The next drop we looked at a good bit. I was puzzled by the fact that all my fear and anxiety was nowhere to be found. I asked Jay if he read it like I was, he concurred, so off I went. It was my turn to repay the enery boost.

The rest of the run never really let up. The continued gradient was very surprising. It was a perfect day in Joyce Kilmer, she finally decided to throw a bone to the Swain kids.

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