Clay Wright wrote:
Lower Mill Creek, which flows into the New River Gorge below Anstead, West Virginia is one of the most dangerous runs in the state. Hmm - I dunno about that. Cool creek, very popular, a couple nasty places. This one in particular. Not harder than Russel Fork, just junky. Manns, Real Manns, Keeneys, Laurel - all steeper . Near the end of the run there is a sharp vertical drop followed by a fast turn to avoid a rock sieve. Actually, it is the runout of another rapid (Mill?). Small drop, but sharp "S Turn " (thats what we call it) with the water slamming into an overhanging piece of left bank at the bottom. The trick is to enter left, then drive right and boof into the eddy before the current goes under the bank. Many people get pushed under the overhang, but it flushes you on downstream.
But there is a vertical crack in the rock where a buddy once stuck the nose of his Crossfire - the boat buckled inder the bluff with the bow still wedged on the upstream side. BJ Johnson and Wes swam the drop repeatedly before finding him, pulled his head up in a gap beneath the rock, and finally freed him about 5-10 minutes later. The boat was folded in half and twisted 180 degrees. I have heard this boat wedged in the same crack, but at a much higher water level there was no air pocket and near impossible to reach him. It isn't a seive, just an undercut outcrop with a vertical crack. The bow pins in the crack, the current folds the boat downstream and under the outcrop, and you've got major problems despite the minor 2' vertical drop.
The next three accidents show what the results of small losses in boat control on Class V whitewater. Lower Mill Creek, which flows into the New River Gorge below Anstead, West Virginia is one of the most dangerous runs in the state. It has many Class V+ rapids complicated by undercuts and boulder sieves. Jon Nickolas, 31, a strong kayaker who worked for the National Park Service, encountered trouble here on February 17th. Near the end of the run there is a sharp vertical drop followed by a fast turn to avoid a rock sieve. Nickolas flipped, his bow became stuck in the sieve, and the water pushed his stern over to create a pinch pin. His front wall folded over and his deck collapsed, making escape impossible.
His two paddling partners, assisted by a three-boat party just upstream, set up a Z-drag and released the boat in just 8 minutes! They began CPR and sent for help. Nickolas was quickly transported to a hospital in Charleston, and friends were hopeful that the fast rescue and very cold water would be enough to save him. This was not to be. After clinging to life for three days, he died in intensive care on February 20th.