Cain Creek, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|NORTH CHICKAMAUGA CREEK NEAR MONTLAKE, TN|
|usgs-03566525||600 - 1200 cfs||IV-V||6y38d08h37m||5.2 cfs (too low)|
If it is running no doubt someone will be there. A new gauge is located just upstream of the bottom parking lot brought to you by the master T. Robinson. I forgot the suggested levels, but I think 2 ft+ is good.
The put in is a trail on the right off of Barker Camp Road. You will hike this trial for about a half mile before reaching the small stream below. When you get on the creek, remember to look at the gauge at the first bend to the right. There you will see it nailed to a hemlock. Six inches is about the minimum.
The rapids start with several class III ledges and slides. 'Mandatory Portage' is the first significant rapid on the creek. Yet, despite its name, it is run quite frequently. The drop is a boulder choke about five feet tall and on river right. Scout atop of boulder on river left. Take note of the undercut immediately following to drop on river right.
A fun s-turn slide follows this rapid to the confluence with Mossy Creek. Mossy Creek doubles the flow. When the creek takes a large turn to the right be prepared to make some tight moves at the next rapid left of the island (scout it) or a portage (on river right).
After following a few drops on river left, one has to catch the right eddy before going into the sieve. From this pool, you can scrape your way on down to 'Big Splat'. 'Big Splat' is a ten-foot river-wide drop. The best line is just left of the rooster tail with a slight right hand angle. The landing is extremely shallow, but whatever you do, try not to pencil in with no momentum. It will hurt.
Next is the mighty class V 'Vortex'. Run left and slide down the sandstone "finger" with a hard right angle. Punch a few holes and you have done it! Portage with help on river right. Vertical lines open up on river right with high water, but are not suggested for the slabs of sandstone that tend to grab boats.
Continue through the mini-gorge that ends with a four foot creek-wide ledge which can become sticky at high levels. The next turn holds an excellent series of rapids called 'drainpipe.' Eddy hop your way down several s-turns following the main flow of water. Make sure to note the large eddy on river left that you will need to catch before the last drop, which is around eight feet. Boof hard with a slight right angle.
Check out the huge cliff you are now under...watch out for falling ice! The rapids from here to the confluence with the North Chickamauga are mostly class III+ with several class IV to run as well. North Chick is probably the largest watershed on Walden's Ridge, hence the longer runable window and its large river-like characteristics found in its last miles. Excellent class III-V drops, depending on water levels, will be encountered below the Cain confluence, the most memorable of which is North Chick falls--portage left, run it, or run right side of the island. Some great holes will be found downstream and downright excellent class IV's.
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