Powell, Virginia, US
2. Appalachia to Big Stone Gap (Route 23)
||III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Slam DunkedPhoto of Beau Dunnivant @ 2.7
This is the "afternoon adrenaline fix" for local boaters. The run has several good
rapids in its three miles.
The first notable drop is just downstream of the put in, near the town of Appalachia VA. It is
called Railroad Ledge. The drop can usually be ran on the left or right side depending on water
level. The right side line is the way to go down to the low end of the water.
Next up, about 1 mile downstream is Big Ledge. This is a very straightforward drop that is
recognized from the water by the large slab of rock on river right. Locals in the community refer
to this as Washington Rock. (Bearing resemblance to George Washington's bust on the quarter).
Boof the drop slightly right of center and avoid the pile of rocks at the bottom.
Now is where the fun begins. After some fun warmup rapids, you round the bend and notice a small
creek dropping into the river on RR. This signals the beginning of Roaring Branch rapid. This
rapid is split up into two sections, the upper starting with an entry move on RR. Be aware of the
pin rock on RR when running this drop. It doesn't hurt to have a little left angle going
toward the small roostertail in the middle of the ledge. From here you can run the drop in a zig
zag from L to R. OR you can run a small slot in the middle of the river down into the bottom half
of the rapid and finish out on RR.
Be sure to get RR after you pass under the old bridge to make the U-Turn move at the next
immediate rapid downstream. If you are running this drop anywhere other than the u-turn move, be
sure to hit the hole hard with a good stroke before the end.
By now you begin to feel the push of the 130fpm gradient in the small streambed. From here, you
have a few options on where to take your lines. Below the u-turn move is a fairly
sticky ledge hole on the left of the river. You can boof this hole hard or run an
"S" move on the right against the current.
From here you can run middle or make the tight move on RL just upstream of Table Rock. This
can be ran at various levels and is a pretty straight forward slot move. From here you are just
upstream of Table Rock. This is easily recognized by the large slab of rock on RR, if you
can't easily identify this rock chances are the water is over 1200 cfs and you
better hang on for the ride at the end!
The Table can be ran in a fast chute on RL or a tight boof on RR. Be aware of the undercut on the
back side of Table Rock if running the RR boof. From here the river gets tighter and proceeds to
plunge into the last major drop of the run, Slam Dunk. You can run this drop down the throat
through all of the froth and then either go left, right, or over the big pourover rock at the
bottom. From here the river braids around a series of islands into the section known as Three
Forks. The best line is the first fork immediately downstream of Slam Dunk, the middle fork is
the next option and the third fork is not adviseable at this time due to a lot of trashy boulders
and wood in play. Lots of action here and it makes for a good after-work run for those that
live in the area. If you are in the woods and happen across the Powell, take a short trip along
"old" US 23 between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia, make the scout on the way up from the
road, pick your landmarks and get in, hang on, and have a great time!
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Last Updated: 2014-02-16 06:47:21