Some wipeout footage of White Oak is featured in Epic Fail. The very end of the video is Bobby Miller wiping out off Flaming Moe, the last 60 footer on the run.
Zone Doggy Dogg and Joe Stumpfel bagged a first descent on August 12, 2001. Here's the Dogg Report, fresh from ZoneDogg.com: Stay tuned for your Fox Channel 5 Special: WHEN FLASHFLOODS HIT : The first descent of White Oak Canyon By Bobby "ZoneDogg" Miller Nestled down by Skyline Drive in Madison, VA, there is a famous canyon by the name of White Oak. It had sparked my interest for awhile due to its reputation of big waterfalls (6 of 35 feet high or greater) and 1000 feet/mile gradient. I had hiked it in the summer of 2000 and viewed it as unrunable. However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it could be done so I planned to go back for a second look. On Sunday, August 12th of 2001, my friend Joe Stumpfel and I decided to go hike the run and clean out the trees. There was nothing available to run; everything was too low. We had looked long and hard. I stuck to the main roads and the gentleman's clubs while Joe searched the back alleys and the whore houses. In the end, we found nothing to paddle so we reverted to plan B, go hiking. We brought the boats with us because you never know in this day and age what is going to happen. After taking many wrong turns (thanks to the piece of crap DeLorme Gazetteer that I paid $20 of my hard-earned money on), we finally arrived in the parking lot at the bottom of White Oak Canyon. We packed in Bow Hack and his big brother (bow saws) and prepared to do some damage. We hiked the trail up to Flaming Moe (the last major waterfall) and then hiked the creek bed from there. We cut several trees out on our way up and were feeling good about the prospect of making a run. Just as luck would have it, we got stuck in a major downpour once we had reached Two-Headed Wriekazoid (the third major water fall from the top) so we retreated down the trail to the car. As we raced down the trail, water was running off the side gutters in epic proportions. Since we had our boats on the car (being prepared is the name of the game), we suited up in the pouring rain and headed back up the trail at around 5:45. The beginning part of our hike with our boats was scary because the creek was still basically dry. However, the farther up we hiked, the more water we found. By the time we reached Flaming Moe, White Oak Creek was a raging torrent with large trees barreling down it. We hiked all the way up to the bottom of Two-Headed Wriekazoid and prepared to putin. We had battled bad weather, a rickety old bike, and an occassional broken elevator to get here and it was game time. Two-Headed Wriekazoid is the smallest of all the major water falls on White Oak (listed as 35 feet) but is probably the least runnable. It slopes about 15 feet into an undercut wall and then plunges 20 feet onto rocks and into a cliff. The cool looking boulder drop immediately after had a large tree in it so we started in the eddy below this. The first drop was a small boulder garden leading into an 8-foot drop followed by a 3-foot boof. This was great fun but I got the feeling of how steep this creek is with nothing but a small eddy separating this rapid from the next gnarly drop. The next drop was a small ledge into a boil and down an 8-foot slide which needed to be run on the right to avoid a stiff piton. After this, there was a steep slide split in the middle by a sloping rock. The water was going over the rock rather than to the right of it as we had hoped during our hike. The water going over the rock was heading down the left and into a deadly slot littered with large trees. If that slot was an ice cream flavor it would be praline and puke. The right side was a cool slide that dropped about 12 feet. We decided to walk the approach to ensure that we didn't end up in the death slot on the left. We putin and ran the cool slide on the right. The next drop was a blind 8-foot ledge with vertical cliffs surrounding it. We had left a few trees in the top of the drop during our hike and these helped a lot with scouting. We were able to pull our boats up on the trees and look over the edge. I determined that the best move was SIK boof in the middle. It was time for me to deliver an old fashioned, behind-the-woodshed beating to this drop. I peeled out and launched such a SIK one I that flew through the air and bounced off the cliff on the left (Oh Yesh! It was SCHWWWWEEEEEEEEETTT!). Joe followed with a great boof that would have brought a smile to the face of even the strictest boof connoisseur. After a cool 10-foot slide through a slot, we were out of our boats scouting a narrow slide. The slide looked awesome when it was dry but it looked horrendous with water in it. The water went down a 10-foot slide piled up into the left bank and then fell off into the right cliff that was making a boil of epic proportions. We knew that the slot was clean but it still looked like it could slam you. We made a quick portage and ran a cool 4-foot slot drop in the runout. After a good clapper, we were out scouting the 4th major waterfall on White Oak, Minnie Moe. This falls is listed as 41 feet high but it has a long approach slide that drops close to another 20 feet for a grand total of about 60 feet of drop. The 41-foot drop fell at a 75-80 degree angle with an ugly slot on the left that you didn't want to end up in. Unfortunately, the rocks in the approach slide were angled to the left, making it difficult to hit the line. I gave Joe the thumbs-up and he got the camera ready. I peeled out in front of an undercut and dropped a 5-foot clapper onto the approach slide. I was lined up where I wanted to be, cruising at an approximate speed of 223 miles per hour (using actual Aircraft measurements (they use Aircraft in Virginia)). I ended up hitting a rock at the crux part of the drop that shot me left. There was nothing I could do but run the left slot. I flew down into the slot accelerating to incredible speeds. I launched aerial as I dropped in before landing back on the slide. As soon as I landed, I bounced again, this time landing on top of a large piton rock on the left. Had I not bounced, the impact of hitting this rock could have hurt more than a good kick to the scrotum or, as they say in medical terms, the ball sack. Once I had bounced on top of the rock, my boat did a complete rock 360 and I slid down toward the pool. On my way down, I caught a shelf weird that shot me in the air and flipped me as well. I fell about 10 feet in the air before landing head-first in the pool at the bottom. I rolled quickly and beached my boat. I was OK other than a sore elbow from impact at the top of the slot (I forgot my elbow pads). The video footage looks awesome and is up on zonedogg.com, for your viewing pleasure. Joe wisely walked around this monstrosity and met me at the bottom. We decided to go ahead and walk the next drop as well, which is called All American Slam. This rapid goes down a 10-foot slope before going off a 40-foot drop onto rocks. The right side is deep but it would be a sketchy move getting over there. I'm sure it's runnable; maybe next time I'll give it a try. After a cool boof into a neat slide and some small boulder drops, we were at Flaming Moe, the last major waterfall. It derives its name from an old Simpsons song that said, "Happiness is just a Flaming Moe away," Flaming Moe gets right down to business. There is no approach and no runout. It is a straight-up 60-foot falls at an 80-degree slope into a deep pool. The pool is short and the outflow is blocked by strainers. There also are some ugly rock shelves in the falls that jut out to catch you if you are off line. It was almost dark when we arrived at this drop so I decided to make the scout quick and go ahead and run it. Joe tried to video but it was too dark to see through the camera. I lined it up perfectly and came screaming down this drop at a speed that I never thought possible. It was quite a rush flying down this drop but my fun did come at a price. I went straight into the pool at the bottom and the impact knocked me into next Tuesday. You have to be ready for a huge impact when you attempt a drop as large as 60 feet but I was starting to see stars. It made me feel kinda funny, like when I used to climb the rope in gym class. I was knocked out of my boat so I swam to shore. My boat perched itself against the strainers in the runout and I was able to pull it off without any trouble. In a nutshell, that drop was FREAKIN HUGE! I got back into my boat and ferried across to where the trail was. There were still some fun slides and boulder drops left but it was too dark to run them. We had a mile and a half walk feeling our way down the trail in the pitch black to get back to my car. It was definitely a challenging walk and I was known to let out an occassional curse word upon tripping over a rock or slipping over a small dropoff. After what seemed like forever, we finally arrived at my car, tired but proud of what we had accomplished. White Oak Creek is truly a magical run and the canyon is absolutely breathtaking. The stream is one of the toughest ones out there and the big drops have the potential to lay out some serious injuries. Joe and I ran about a half mile of the run or about half of the mile that drops 1000 feet. There are still plenty of big drops above where we putin: Infinity and Beyond (huge cascade dropping 82 feet), Better Left Unrun (a 60 foot falls onto rocks), Gore (a 20 foot cascade into a huge boulder), and Energizer's Big Brothers (some boulder drops that fall on and on). I plan to run White Oak from the top some day soon when I have plenty of daylight. Running this creek was one of the steepest, dangerous, and most challenging runs I have done as well as one of the greatest accomplishments of my paddling career. I can't wait to come back for a second run and another incredible experience.
If anybody is trying to find this run using the map or directions found on top of this page- you will be heading to the wrong creek!
I'm, like, totally going to hand paddle this at night next time it rains hard. Maybe for TVF 07? Do I hear 20 White Oak laps?
From Joe on the MCC board:
We've actually run that three times but for much of the upper section the word "run" should really be replaced with "walked". :) On the first trip down there Bobby and I really lucked out. It was supposed to be just a strainer removal project when heavy afternoon thunderstorms hit and quickly flashed the creek up to runnable levels. With thanks to Joey Beck, who unbeknownst to us had previously cleared out many of the strainers, we rushed to as high up on the run as the dwindling daylight would let us. We put-in and ran down from about the mid-point of the big stuff, taking out at the base of the last sizable drop after a hard landing knocked Bobby out of his boat. For the second attempt we waited for a big overnight rainfall then headed for the trailhead up on skyline drive for a full top to bottom decent. The group included Bobby, Andy Maser, Ian Devine, and myself. It turned out to be less than 50% runnable and had become more log choked since our first run. That particular day I had to drive home a bit earlier than the rest of the group so while the others were still up battling it out with the biggies I completed the first ever run of the lower rapids which is good fun Class 3-4 for a mile or so before it peters out to cobble bars complicated by too many fallen trees to count. :) It's a fun way to really get your exercise but I'm not sure Whiteoak is really worth it these days-- atleast until the strainers are cleaned up a bit.
The video to watch, if you can find it, is Sucker Punch. There is also an entry into the Big Gun Show's "You Gonna Eat That?" from a couple years ago showing Bobby's landing off of Flaiming Moe on the 2nd decent.
Joe at Springriver
White Oak has a very small drainage and is extremely difficult to catch up. The Culpepper gauge on the Rapidan crested at 6.2 when I made the first descent. The run can be done lower than the water level of the first descent (I made the second descent at much lower water). I would say that, if the Culpepper gauge is over 5 feet and rising, then you should have a good shot at White Oak.
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