We ran this creek on 9-18-04. The Bluestone Gauge was between 8 and 9 feet and dropping after Hurricane Ivan brought a significant amount of rain to the area - not nearly as much rain as the Asheville area and northern WV got. Given the class III-IV rating, we put on at the put-in listed above and expected to find something similar to NC's Big Laurel Creek. It was mostly II+ with a little bit of class-IIIish rapids in between. But about a mile above the Rt 3 bridge, there are two class IV's stacked on top of one another.
While we stood at the falls (in the pictures above) trying to decide on the best line, another group of boaters arrived. Shortly after, some locals showed up and told us that some people jump off the right side of the falls at lower water .... and that's where everybody decided to run. There were some flat boofs and a couple of people penciled in. One boater went slightly "over the handlebars". Apparently the right side is deep. However, it is a 20 foot waterfall and the potential for injury is there. On the last run, one boater landed flat and reinjured his back after having strained some muscles within the previous week or so.
Throughout the run, many creek-side tree trunks were under water and I don't think I would run the right side of the waterfall with any less water - the potential to stall at the lip of the drop would be there... We didn’t run the section of the creek between the falls and the confluence with the Bluestone.
To the streamkeeper....after reconsidering what I had previously written, I was a little concerned that I may have downplayed some of the potential trouble that could happen on this creek. But at the same time, I wanted to let intermediate boaters know that they would find miles and miles of class II/II+ on the upper portions of this run. Had I known that, we probably would have just run the lower stretch.
So please disregard the previous post and replace it with what's below. If you any questions/conerns, feel free to email me.....firstname.lastname@example.org
Ive only had 1 chance before to catch this creek running and a shoulder injury ended that. I talked to my friends that did do the run and they said that basically the falls were the easiest part. I beleive the word used to describe the rest of the run (Im assuming the section below the falls) was "explosive." Granted they ran it above the recommended level (by alot I think) their comments still reflect the character of the run. So, if you take out below the falls, you miss the meat of the run.
There is a USGS gage on the Bluestone @ Falls Mills Va not WVA that drains 44 square miles and adjoins the Brush Ck basin. The upper portion of Brush Ck drains about 60 sq. mi. and the the lower drains almost 80 sq. mi.. The Bluestone @ Falls River responds much quicker to rainfall that the Pipestem gage. If one prefers 200 cfs on the lower Brush just look for about 120 cfs on the Fall Mills gage.
Yesterday I took a hike down to the falls from Brush Creek Falls Rd at low water, and witnessed several local college guys jump off the falls on the far river right side. I wasn't dressed to swim and check it out, and the water was too murky to see down into, but they were jumping off the far right, and they told me there were no rocks anywhere near the surface on the far right. Eyeballing it carefully from the bottom, using a guy standing on top as a mental yardstick, I believe that the vertical is 20-22 feet. Significantly taller than Wonder Falls, but not 30' by any stretch, and a relatively easy vertical drop. The approach is a steep 5' high bedrock slide with lots of cracks and fissures in the rock, with definite pitoning possibilities in the last few yards above the falls. Scout carefully; it looked to me like the easiest and safest run would be on the far right, maybe 10' off the right bank.
I caught this 4/18/07. I didn't run the upper section, but I noticed from the gorge rim that it appeared to be constant waves in a very scenic gorge. There is an old railroad trail that runs up it, although the bridge(s?) seem to be gone. It looked like fun, but maybe not for some Class 5 boaters. Also, if you put in at Eads Mill Rd, the shuttle is about 2.8 miles for what is probably a 5+ mile run---great for a bike shuttle. I did the lower section, starting from the Brush Creek Falls Rd bridge. This is, I would say, a 4-star section of creek, although it is short. If it were longer, I'd give it 5 stars. On the first day that I was here, the water was a bit high for me, so I scouted and waited a day to do it. There is an old railroad trail on the right that eventually becomes quite high above the river. It would make a nice shuttle trail, except that it is above cliffs at the takeout. A scouting hike here is a good idea; you want to know where the mandatory portage (or Class 7 at low water, anyway) is. If there are leaves on the trees, you may not be able to see anything. Starting at the bridge, there is a boulder sitting on a rock shelf on river left just upstream of the bridge. I ran this when the water was even with the top of the shelf directly below the boulder. This was an easy and fun level---optimum for a first timer! If the water is touching the boulder (+8 inches or so), that would probably be more Class 4-5. If the water is creeping up the boulder, the creek is probably going to be even more very serious. Below the bridge, there are two easy ledges that you should have scouted when driving down the road. The 35-foot, 2-stage waterfall (Class 5) comes after a long, flat pool. The first ledge drops into a trough that looks like a piton problem, but I found it to be well-padded even at the low level when I did it. Launch the main, 30-ft, straight-vertical drop near the middle; I penciled in just right of center in my short boat, and I had no problems. I've heard that it may be shallow on the right side. The next significant rapid is a pillowed boulder where the creek narrows. Paddle pretty much straight down the middle, slightly left-to-right, boof the boulder onto the pillow---it's maybe Class 4 (at this level). Below here is an island; left is Class 3, right is shallow. Below this island, slabs slope down to the left toward a hole that is unmistakeably dangerous at higher levels. There is a flat-topped rock on the left to mark this drop. I snuck it to the right, over a smooth ledge that slopes down to the left. At low water, this is too low to navigate, and it will push you leftward along the lip, probably backwards, maybe into the hole. Scout! Ironically, after sneaking the hole to the right, I noticed that it didn't look too bad at this level. Still, there was something strange about it, so scout carefully. After a trivial rapid or two, you come to a ledge. The left and center have a hole that may be sticky at higher levels. An easy, fun slide bypasses this to the right. Soon, you come to the approach for the Class 6-7 drop. This starts where the creek turns sharply left. I scouted on the right below a large tree that is growing out from the right shore; this eddy may wash out at higher levels. There is a large eddy downstream on the left, below a right-to-left ledge with a stout hole above a smooth, fast slab. I discovered that catching this eddy at this level is Class 5+, because I got blown right by it! I managed to catch a last-chance eddy above the Class 7 drop, but it was scary. Portaging from above the left turn might be better, or it might be possible to sneak down the left at higher levels. Whatever, be extremely cautious here! There is a large rock that blocks the creek from river left; the right side is overhanging, and a hole flushes into this undercut from about 12-15 feet downstream. At low levels, nothing can escape it, not even light, like black holes in space! It might be runnable at higher water, but definitely scout! Below here is an easy slide with an undercut shelf rock on the left; start far left, and build up left-to-right momentum. Class 3 rapids lead down to the Bluestone. At the Bluestone, exit left because the best takeout is straight across the river; the farther downstream (to the right) that you go, the harder the exiting will be. It's an easy 3/4 mile walk back to Eads Mill along an old railroad grade. Directions: Eads Mill Rd, CR 14 runs alongside, over, and under I-77 in S. WV between Exits 14 and 20. At Exit 14, it's the first left turn from the eastbound road. At Exit 20, it's the first left turn from westbound 19. "Eads Mill" is just a former town. There are no signs or buildings; it is not marked in any way, shape, or form. It's just a forest alongside the river, now. There is a one-lane bridge. Upper Brush Creek crosses this road up higher (farther south). Brush Creek Falls Rd is an unmarked turn to the east across from address #6727, nicknamed "The Green Isle" by its owner. When I did the creek, the level at the dam way upstream (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?cb_00065=on&format=gif_default&period=9&site_no=03178150) was 22.45. At the peak of the massive storm two days earlier, the level was 22.72. I don't know how helpful this will be, but there it is. Have fun, be careful!
11 years ago
by chad lester
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Into the Mist
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
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Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River. Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the Legg field, for overflow parking.
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