The epic winter season in Western NC continues and so do the adventures! My most recent one involves Upper Creek which is outside of Morgantown, NC near the Linville Gorge. As far as I know this was a possible first descent and what I do know is that I had some serious lessons about winter padding reiterated. Read below to find out what I relearned the painful way:
1. Always put on early when you don't know the run. Even if its in your own back yard
2. Maybe take a closer look at the topo map of the whole run.
3. Don't assume that just because its flat for a bit that you're in the runout.
4. Put your freakin headlamp in your drybag.
4b. Put some dry fleece in there too while you're at it.
5. Going fast and taking chances is exactly what it sounds like. Its all good until it isn't and then it can get bad in a hurry.
5b. As its getting dark is not a good time to start going fast and taking chances.
To make a long story a little shorter. Pat Keller, John Grace, Nate Elliot, Will Lyons, Dustin Marquart, and myself ended up leaving our boats in the middle of a very steep and walled out section of the run. From there we had to hike out about 3 hours (in the snow for real) back to the road. Toby MacDermott ran a very large rapid after a bit of miscommunication (the going fast and taking chance part, especially at dusk) and finished the run by himself. We all managed to reconvene at about 10:30pm. While it makes for a good story now, it was really scary a couple of times and the above mentioned lessons are for real. I will go back to Upper Creek because it was good but I'll be sure to remember the past. In the meantime stay safe out there, do your best to make good decisions and learn from the bad ones. You can check out the pod cast and some video here