Ed Evangelidi testifies:
For those out for a nice scenic trip on relatively tame water (Cl. 1), try the stretch from Rte. 7 to Rte. 193. This is surprisingly pretty for a semi-urban stream. Due to constant construction in the watershed, the stream occasionally gets log-jammed. There is a trail along the whole way (bring ÂriverÂ shoes for stream crossings) & I suggest scouting it days ahead. The creek is usually runnable down to Seneca Creek @ Dawsonville at 2.4 but note that Difficult Run is a south-to-north run and Seneca Creek (to the north) is a north-to-south run. So the rain patterns may differ quite a bit.
There is a long lead in to the first rapid which at normal flows requires a fair amount of manuevering in a boulder garden. The 1st rapid proper can be entered on river left which requires an "S" turn around a large ledge hole, or right down the middle off of a smaller ledge.
This rapid primarily involves two ledges with some technical lead manuvering required. Since this photo was taken a few new rocks have appeared at the bottom of the first ledge so it is now best run on the left catching an eddy there to ferry out and run the second ledge (not pictured) on the right.
This is a fairly long technical rapid requiring a series of moves and containing several ledges. At the end of the rapid is a final ledge (pictured) with most of the water squeezed between two bolders with a significant hole formed inbetween. After this rapid it is generally best to get out on the left in a medium sized eddy there to scout/portage the next two rapids (the second of which being the Canyon rapid).
This is a great drop of about 6'. This is also the entry into the gorge and the class 5 waterfall just downstream. This drop is also complicated by the undercut boulder at the bottom left of the drop where most of the water is pushing. Running this rapid commits one to either running the Canyon rapid or at least taking a more difficult rock scrambling carry around it) generally most get out before it to carry around on the left.
This is a technical and fairly scary looking rapid complicated by the cave on the left at the bottom of the final drop and the significant hydrolic at the bottom of this drop as well. There's something of a sneak available in the approach at higher water on the right. The main line is starting left and working your way right through a series of ledges which are complicated by rocks in their reception and a strong current pushing left.
This drop is considered a mandatory portage by most.
This rapid offers a putin pool just above for this portaging/setting safety for the Canyon rapid. The river left slot has serious pinning potential and the right right slot has a series of shallow rocks that must be avoided. Best run far left of the river right slot.
This is a long shallow boulder garden best run on the left of the island (which gets far more water than the right side).
Another viable option is to boof the pourover among the main "gorge" drop and takeout river right. After some customary jawboning about running the V+, one can carefully seal launch below the drop. By carefully I mean avoid submerged rocks that are hard to see in the murky Virginia runoff that is Difficult Run.
Another viable option is to boof the pourover above the main "gorge" drop and takeout river right. After some customary jawboning about running the V+, one can carefully seal launch below the drop. By carefully I mean avoid submerged rocks that are hard to see in the murky Virginia runoff that is Difficult Run.
The view from the new guy in town. First the good news, there is a nice trail down the whole river left side. Its nicely maintained and goes down to the confluence with the potomac. If it were open you could probably drive a buick down to the confluence on the trail with no problems.
All in all there are about 7 real rapids of varying difficulty, and the nasty looking class 5 drop. The trail on the left makes for easy scouting and relatively easy portaging. The class 5 drop will involve carrying your boat about 100 feet up and around the cliff on the left.
When you see a large rock face/cliff on the left you are right above the big drop. The stream is fairly wide above and split by an island. The last drop is about a 4 foot tall pourover that makes a sticky looking hole, then the class 5 drop. Probably easiest to scout and portage by taking out above the pourover.
I've been paddling Difficult Run for years and it's always been fun, regardless of the level. There's many a good story that took place on this small creek, but I digress. What I recently discovered was how low, in terms of cfs, some of those runs were. These are levels at the gauge with their corresponding cfs:
3.5' 67 cfs
3.8' 104 cfs
4.0' 135 cfs
4.5' 220 cfs
5.0' 340 cfs
5.5' 475 cfs
I once ran DR with Jerry Palushock at 3' on the gauge. It was low, VERY LOW, but it was channelized and still floatable. Enjoy.
For good high flow video check out (also includes neighboring Scotts Run): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V7aQYF93QQ
David Mackintosh (see below):Below the 193 bridge, look for the gage on river right. I've been all the way down from slightly off the bottom of the gage (less than 4'), to about 8.5'. Some of the intermediate levels are uglier than others.
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Difficult Run at high water
Friday Afternoon Paddle Club
Difficult Run, Leap of Faith 1
Difficult Run, Leap of Faith 2
Difficult Run, Leap of Faith 3
Difficult Run, Leap of Faith 4
Perfect line on the gorge
Tiny boofing into the Rat's Nest
Some pictures speak for themselves
Last drop before waterfall
Highwater run of the crux
The undercut, Leap of Faith (DR)
Sliding down 2nd drop, Difficult Run
Maze, Difficult Run
Leap of Faith, Difficult Run
Long boat creekin'
Old school style, Difficult Run
Leap of Faith, Difficult Run
Boofing Difficult Run
Low head dam, Difficult Run
7th rapid of Difficult Run
6th rapid of Difficult Run
5th drop of Difficult Run - Waterfall
4th rapid of Difficult Run
3rd drop of Difficult Run
2nd drop from upstream
First rapid, main drop and run out
Difficult Run, VA
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