In my ongoing effort to provide new content while I have some downtime, I have a quick follow-up to the last post about Webster Wildwater Weekend. As I made my way back to the Ohiopyle area, I received a phone call from my friend Don Smith, whom I’d hit up on my way to the Blackwater the previous Friday, with the message on my voicemail being: ”Winter has returned to Tucker County.” No news to me; I figured that much out while I was sliding off of SR219 Friday night. What was news to me was how much snow had fallen (official Canaan Heights weather station total: A CRAPLOAD. Okay, the dude with the weather station didn’t record that day.) Moreover, there was a warm snap coming as part of another front. I had some work to attend to at home, but two of our buddies from Ohio were already on the scene and getting ready for the action. According to the records at Canaan Heights Weather Station we had 14″ of snow melt on us over the next day. That’s more than an album by a wack Canadian rapper, for real. You know I got my ass down there as quick as I could! We had a little cookout on Don’s porch; Kyle ate Don’s last hot dog. Ill move by an raw dude. What’s worse is that he blamed it on me, that jagoff. If I was Don, I woulda kicked his ass out in the rain. Then we screened Close Encounters of the Third Kind, discussed the role of the “French Intellectual” in movie archetypes, and kept watching the radar to see how much more rain was coming. Eventually, it started to snow, but we knew we had enough water, for sure. Something was in. When dawn broke, the decision was made: Red Creek! Red Creek is a hard-to-catch creek that drains Dolly Sods Wilderness Area above West Virginia’s Canaan Valley, approximately 7mi or 12km long and dropping in the heart of the gorge at about 250ft/mi or a 5% grade. We mobilized, using local yokel Curtis Heishman for shuttle and a successful infiltration to our secret winter trailhead. We started grinding out that two miles in booties through the slushy snow…
After an hour’s walk, we arrived at the put-in on the Left Fork of Red Creek
We paddled hard that day- because that’s the only way to stay warm on days like this!
The thing about Red Creek, besides the fact that it drains the absolutely beautiful Dolly Sods Wilderness Area of Monongahela National Forest, is that it boats fast. Not that I ever boated anything slow with Don. But soon we were past the 3 Left Boofs (protip: there are 4 left boofs), past SuperSlide, past Hammerfactor, and below that other rapid I don’t know the name of.
We portaged Mood Ring, and found ourselves on the paddle out.
No more than a few weeks later, I was back at Red Creek with some friends who had never run it before. I told them that it was too low. They refused to listen. I brought up the fact that the North Fork of the Blackwater was running. No, they wanted to do Red Creek. They heard the ZoneDogg had done it that low before. Picture me rolling my eyes. Well, they were my ride. I went along with it. When the guilty parties read this post, they will be indignant. They will shake their fists and defend their decision, but, in their hearts, they will know it was true: Red Creek wasn’t running. It wasn’t so bad while we were in the rapids, but the paddle out was hell. Oh, and there was carnage. Low-water carnage, and two of us walking out. Really, though, it was an adventure and a good time with good friends, and everyone got to see what a magical place Red Creek is. Here’s a pair of videos edited by some guys on that trip- they make good videos:
Fast Tube by Casper
and if you ever show up to the bridge in Laneville, and are looking at the takeout, wondering “Is this enough water to run??”