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Difficulty IV-V+
Length 2 Miles
Gauge Youghiogheny River below Confluence, PA
Flow Range 7.50 - 12.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 5.21 [FT]
Reach Info Last Updated 11/15/2001 7:31 pm

River Description


From the desk of Dave Woten, as posted to rec.boats.paddle (3/5/2000):

And then there was 1: the tale of 7 paddlers.
(Creekin' Drake Run style)

After a year of drought and limited releases, low water was not a concern the weekend of February 19. With high hopes of paddling the North Fork of the Blackwater, Otter, or a similar creek, I searched the gauges only to find Davis over 4000 cfs, and Parsons at 48,000+. That much water even ruled out most of the West Virginia micro-creeks such as Red Creek and Red Run. Standing at Ohiopyle Falls, watching entire trees disappear into the hole, one thought came to mind. Drakes!!! Off we went to pet those animals Bobby "the Mann" Miller wrote about.

Parked, unloaded, dressed, and off to shuttle they went as I sat in my Chevy Crapalier. They returned from the 15 minute shuttle over an hour later. On the way to Riversport, Frank's Jeep become thirsty. He obliged with a nice drink from the Yough, easy to do, since the water was over 3 feet high on the road. Let's just say, water doesn't compress well in a cylinder. However, I was impressed because even that couldn't keep Frank off of Drakes. With our late start, Bic couldn't make it home in time for work if he paddled so he packed up and left.

7-1 = 6 paddlers putting on Drake Run (which already cost about $2000). Chuck Morris, an awesome boater, floated past at the put-in. We weren't sure if this was a good sign or not. After paddling some fast moving flat-water, we rounded a bend only to find a low foot-bridge crossing the creek 15 yards in front of us. Frank and I fought our way under while the others carried around. It was at this time that Kevin Whitaker and Dave Gregory opted for the ¼ mile hike out rather than the 2 miles of class V and zoo full of animals waiting downstream. 7-3 = 4 paddlers continuing the run. After a couple small ledges, we approached the first real rapid, a wicked slide called "Ignorant" by the Riversport Boys. Not only is it steeper and longer than Swallow Falls but it also includes an S-turn and pinning rock at the bottom. Scary! Joe ran the entrance perfect in his answer to the creekin' world, a Sleek. Following a perfect entrance, he ran the bottom drop a little too far left. He got turned sideways and due to the high flow and was launched 4' vertically off the pinning rock. Joe later verified that hitting a rock sideways at 30 mph does hurt. His facial expression left no doubt. We weren't sure if Frank yelling "go left, go left" had any effect on Joe's line. Frank, myself, and Craig followed in that order with clean lines down the right side of Ignorant.

Our next problem occurred in the sliding ledges following Ignorant. Craig turned to look upstream. Where the head leads, the body does follow. Now going over the ledge sideways, he flipped and swam. Now that wouldn't have been a problem except his skirt became hooked on a log and his boat was going solo over a class-V drop which required scouting. We abandoned the gear and attended to Craig. He freed himself and made it to the shore. A happy ending except that his boat ($800) continued running the 200+ fpm creek without him. It appeared to have some nice lines. Oh, did I mention that he had his video camera ($700) unfastened in the boat? Craig began his hike downstream hoping his boat would stop before reaching the Yough.

7-4 = 3 paddlers. Frank, Joe, and I continued to make our way down the creek. The rapids were an awesome mix of boulder piles and ledges. Many required a series of technical moves followed by a 5-10' ledge drop. One rapid required a 90-degree left hand turn off of a pillow (similar to Heinzerling) dropping 5 feet and immediately turning right to avoid the undercut in front of you. Though we could boat-scout some, we were required to get out to scout at least 5 times. Strainers were a concern following such a big storm. We did have to carry one rapid because of an unavoidable log across the landing of a 10' waterfall.

¾ of a mile downstream of Craig's swim, I spotted him on river right reunited with his boat. Still shaken and not wanting to face the next couple of technical rapids, he carried downstream and ran a 10' waterfall. After a great line through the falls he decided not to continue. Craig asked me "how am I going to get my boat out of the gorge?". I replied, "I think that's obvious". In early fall, we had hiked the creek without water and knew that it was not an easy carry. On the way out, he stumbled upon his camera case only to find that it had not been closed properly causing it to leak. That's okay, his new digital camera will take much nicer video anyway. And besides, he was the only one on the video of this run.

About 200 yards from the takeout, while scouting, Joe decided to carry off because his back was hurting from his "Ignorant" encounter. 7-5 = just Frank and I on the creek. He disappeared out of sight over the final 3 drops. When he came back into my sight, he was no longer in his boat. 7-6 = And then there was one! I boofed the final 8' ledge chasing his boat. He waited on an island while Craig provided boat retrieval assistance from the shore. The throw rope pendulum technique got Frank safely to the river left takeout.

Drakes is awesome creekin' with beautiful, unspoiled scenery. I found it to be far less abusive than the North Fork of the Blackwater and Sovern Run, but more technical than both. Be prepared for the almost 2 mile carry down the train tracks back to your car. If you are not consistently running all the technical moves on the Upper Yough, you probably want to stay off Drakes. While hiking we did spot caves, sieves, and other hazards that elevate the danger of this technical creek. Frank and Joe did a nice job of leading me down my first decent of Drakes. Special thanks goes to Joe for his willingness to pet the lion first and once again living up to his nickname, "The Probe."

As usual I have compiled a list of tips in case you choose to face Drake Run:
1. that tiny creek at the put-in becomes viscous in a hurry
2. don't lend Frank your vehicle for the shuttle
3. water doesn't compress well
4. watch for bridges in the middle of nowhere
5. enjoy it because Drakes doesn't run often
6. Sister's restaurant in Confluence provides good food and friendly
tow-truck advice

Please don't swim in the creek!
Dave Woten

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Martin Wick
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13 years ago

The river right, downstream of the put-in bridge,land owner is the nice one that Sam described(He's the one with the barbed wire across the creek). He has put a lot of fence up and doesn't have much parking anymore. He wasn't home last time I was there.

There are a couple landowners that you may happen into that are unfriendly when setting your shuttle for Drakes. The fellow that owns the land upstream of the bridge at the normal put-in will have your car towed if you leave it on his property. There are't any "no tresspassing" or "no parking" signs to give away his dislike for people parking there. Andy at Riversport reports that there is an alternate put-in one quarter of a mile upstream of the regular put-in. Use that or have someone drop you off.

Keep your eyes open when you get to the second put-in bridge. The landowner on the right has barbed-wire stretched across the creek just below bridge. Pull over, jump out, jump the fence and jump back in. Please leave the guy's barbed wire alone, it keeps in his horses.

When walking out, you can either walk the dirt road or the rail road tracks. If you walk the tracks, watch out for trains. I prefer the dirt road above the tracks. But the catch is that you can't take it all of the way. You will come to a gate with a few "No Tresspassing" signs. This landowner is very mean(read insane, armed and dangerous) Do not tresspass or attempt to approach these people. Cut down to the railroad tracks BEFORE this gate. There is a trail a couple hundred feet before this gate. Walk the tracks for a short while and then cross them and walk out on the Riversport/Paddler's Lane Bed & Breakfast driveway. 5-2-06

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Sam Baudoux
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15 years ago

Though the house is for sale, the neighbor at the put-in on the left just passed the bridge (coming up from Confluence) advised that boaters can park in his yard. Stop in and see him and I'm sure he'll let you park.
It's the neighbors on the right after the bridge (coming up from Confluence)that will give you a hard time.

Gage Descriptions

This gage is a very rough guide; if the Yough's really high and/or rising, there's a decent chance that Drake's will be running. Also check out the local rain gage (New Lexington, #2627) for an indication of what's been happening.

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports

Alerts

News

article main photo

Pennsylvania Dam Removal Conference to be Held January 31st.

1/9/2004
Kevin Colburn

There will be a one day conference on January 31st in eastern Pennsylvania that will address dam removal and rehabilitation in the state and region. It is likely that this very affordable conference would be helpful to paddlers interested in working on dam removal projects in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Registration for the conference is due by January 23rd.
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Robert Miller

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193173 11/15/01 Robert Miller n/a