Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ida's Remnants Fill Dewatered Nantahala Along with Rest of WNC's Whitewater Runs

The Nantahala River (picture above), typically flowing at scenic but scanty levels this fall due to Duke Energy's Nantahala Plant maintance, is at robust high water levels this morning, along with every other runnable stratch of river in WNC after the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over the region yesterday. Though we predicted last week would be the year's best whitewater week, thanks to the abundant rain, the Green River Narrows Race and the releases on the Tallulah and the Cheoah, it's hard to imagine a more ideal rain scenario. The rains came down evenly and steadily, slowly saturating the already wet watersheds, so we expect many of these flows to hold for the weekend, though the micro creeks will flush out sooner.

Micro creeks really are the story here. Below is a photo of Wesser Creek, a small roadside creek in the Nantahala Gorge that usually has about six inches of water in it. Today it looks really fun! Check out the waterfall dumping into the Nantahala below Worser Wesser. (Be careful on these micro creeks. You can see trees in the middle of the waterfall; running these creeks presents numerous unusual and dangerous challenges and hazards.)
I won't try to enumerate all the rivers that are going off today since American Whitewater already has that info here. Some highlights? Big Laurel, near Hot Springs looks awesome right now, and you'll get to finish the run on the swollen French Broad. I'm a big fan of the creek to river transition on this run. The easier sections of the Watauga look good right now as well as the typical Nantahala run, though it's at a high 2380 cfs . Many of the big runs, like Big Creek need to come back down, so if you can't make it today, that's cool. The Nolichucky at 5900 cfs would be a good way to spend the day waiting.

Check out some of the runs our Nantahala staff like when it's wet: Snowbird Creek, Santeetlah Creek and Slickrock Creek up near Joyce Kilmer if you're looking for something new. (These are way "out there" and there's not much info available. You'll need to be excellent to do the harder sections of these runs and very aware of your capeabilities to do the easier sections. AW and Boatertalk are the best places to get the skinny on these runs.)

Running flooded rivers and newly energized micro creeks not your thing? The other good news is the abundance of waterfalls that appear (sometimes out of nowhere) in WNC after a good rain. For instance, below is the waterfall across the street from NOC's Outfitter's Store that you really can't see on a normal day. So, if your significant other would rather not tangle with high water, s/he will have some nice views to check out while running shuttle for you.

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