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Big Branch - chasing the sun out of the gorge.

Friday Apr 17, 2009
Kayak: Jason, Dan, TJ, Brenton, Russ, Ryan
Organizer: Ryan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Author: Ryan

To start with....starting late for a first time down the Big Branch is not recommended. When we put on it was at 0 and when we took off it was at 1 on the painted gauge.

That being said if you do have a late start make sure you are paddling this with Russ. Russ had 60 days last year on the Big Branch and some of those days included multiple runs. When I say he is intimate with the run...this may be the understatement of the year!

So to the put-in parking lot and then down the 700 vert feet into the gorge to the river we went. Russ did some maintenance on a few branches blocking the beginning sequence and we were off down the river.

I really can't do this run justice in a trip report so I'll try to describe what was experienced. This run is a boulder filled stream - there really aren't any bedrock ledges so it is mostly slots and pools that you boof from one to the next. The creek drops an average of 250 f/mi so you should get the idea of its steepness from that. We all walked the big three, Cave Drop, Mushroom - 50/50 and BLT. Mostly from already hauling boats around them but the level was pretty lowish too (When we put on it was at 0 and when we took off it was at 1 on the painted gauge).

Russ ran lead and I ran sweep for most of the run so I was seeing everyone from above all of these slot drops and they would always be smiling, but a later conversation from folks that were in the eddys, said that as people approached the slots you could see looks of concentration. Concentration is something that you can't let up on in this creek because it just keeps coming at you.

So we made it to the last rapid and it had gotten dark really fast. Everyone was pretty frazzled at this point and was ready to get off the river. So Russ gave out a quick set of instructions and sent the ducks on their way, myself included (ducks because we basicly paddled the river in a line like a bunch of ducklings following every move Russ made). This last rapid more or less decimated the group. The vast majority of the group was flipped at some point in this rapid (all hit their roll) and were happy to be in an eddy (eddy is an exaggeration) at the bottom.

Upon exiting the creek we pulled our nicely chilled recreational beverages from the creek that we stased prior to the run (snow melt water does wonders) and I proceded to prop my boat on the guard rail - bad move....A stiff wind blew it over and it landed squarely on the sharp end of an I-beam putting a wicked puncture in it. Needless to say - was up late on a weld-job to ge the boat ready for the next day of Creeking in VT. Note to self....drain water out of boat like everyone else instead of trying to be slick and leaning it up.

If you haven't at least looked at Big Branch....go do so!

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