Nathan Galbreath - Ran Gragg Prong ran yesterday (12/1/2010). It is an elusive run, but oh so worth it. It rained pretty hard from 7 AM until midnight the day before. GP level would have been perfect around 7 AM. I was not able to get to the putin until about 10:30 AM. By then, the boofing had dropped from primo to lower runnable. However, the water quality had gone from brown/flood stage to crystal clear! Wilsons Creek was at exactly 1 foot on the bridge gauge when I passed it at 10 AM. Gragg Prong was about 2 inches above the long flat concrete shelf bridge support on the river right side of the put in bridge. Leland's books says that if you can scrape down at the top, you are good to go. In my opinion, that characterization is a little too generous. Based on my experience yesterday, I think the water level needs to be at least 2 inches above the long flat concrete shelf--otherwise the run is so scrapey that it detracts from the fun. We rode the last good bubble down. There were more groups arriving when we took off around 12:30, but they were skunked. The water had already dropped below the concrete shelf at the put in.
Our whole group ran drag strip on the left and everyone had good lines. No close calls or mishaps, just a good clean run. Keep your eyes peeled for wood. There were at least 4 mandatory portgages formed by riverwide logs. Nothing sketchy. The portages were all in relatively flat sections and easily visible from upstream (2 of them were in the run out at the bottom). There were also several spots where you could just barely sneak under or around fallen wood. Stay alert.
Because this run is so far from everywhere, you have to hustle to catch it. If you feel comfortable on the north fork french broad, you will have no problem on this run at lower to medium flows. It is mostly solid class IV.
Got a lap on the GP yesterday. Wilson vis was at 1 foot. It ws a low level but everything was runnable and fun. If your willing to take a low water run it runs a lot more often then you think.
We look for at least 1 inch of rain within the last 12 hours @ AFWS-Edgemont, & Grandfather Meadows and then MAYBE GP will be running! Preferably 2 inches or more in the last 12 to 24 hours. The hurricane rule applies here - in case of hurricane approach the WC tribs from above (north in this case) and forget about running WC gorge. GP is a tiny watershed - get there fast!
Most people find the Wilson Creek tribs in order to avoid the high water Class V Wilson creek hydraulics (over 6" @ Adako or the WC Gorge put-in). As a result, there are not many WC trib visuals and runs. Not many are willing to bypass WC
for the tribs if WC is runnable.
People & guidebooks will tell you to look for the Adako bridge visual (also known as a Wilson Visual) to be 2 feet...but don't put your entire boat in that eddy, the Wilson Creek tribs run a lot more than people think.
Adako at 2 feet guarantees water, but if you are ready, willing & able you can hit these pristine creeks when the Adako visual is quickly on the rise or not even rising yet. Depending upon rainfall patterns and timing, water in the Wilson tribs can drop out before Adako rises. Bottom line is that if you are at Adako bridge during or soon after a >1" rain and Adako is still low or rising --- dash for the tribs and you may catch Gragg Prong, Harper, North Harper, Rockhouse, Lost Cove, Little Wilson, and maybe even Slick Rock - well probably not Slick Rock. If the sandbars and waterlines tell you that Adako has peaked out below 6" and the rain is over, then don't bother with the WC tribs. From Adako bridge, you can get to most of the WC tribs in 30 to 60 minutes.
It is rare, but we have seen Little Wilson running strong over 24 hours after a 1" rain - this is because the rain gauges can fool you. More than 1" of rain fell during that rain event - for sure. Rain gauges and their solar panels can become obstructed by trees which is the often the case with the Edgemont gauge. If you see dashes on the AFWS page then there is usually a communication issue with the rain gauge - frequently a blocked, missing, or broken solar panel. If a rain gauge is reading 0" or really low and all of the nearby gauges are gathering rain, then there could be something physically wrong the gauge (broken, obstructed...). Also, the rain can fall heaviest where there are no rain gauges to measure it.
On 2.18.08, GP was just above the minimum level in the ealry AM after a 1" rain.
When we got there at 10AM it was at the minimum with respect to the bridge footing. It was runnable but we decided that it would drop too quickly for us to get it in so we opted to hike & huck Lost Cove Creek instead.
Just was curious how you got the names for
the rapids? Back in the late 90's, we had no
names for these.
11 years ago
Visual. Basically, if it looks like enough water to paddle at the put-in, then it is good to go. If it looks low, it will be low. The slides are OK when the bouldery stuff at the beginning and end are no fun. In January of 2007, the water came to exactly to the bottom of the river right bridge footing at the put-in, and this was a slightly higher than minimum level.
The two rain gauges that are most directly relevant are the Grandfather Meadows and Edgemont gauges. I have seen it run with two inches in twelve hours, but I would consider that a minimum. At the takeout, you are looking at Lost Cove Creek, which can have a much different water level. I have seen the Gragg Prong really low when Lost Cove was high and vice versa.
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Dragstrip from the top
Reid at top hole on Ping Pong
Bottom Drop of Ping Pong
DN Blasting out of the bottom of Drag Strip
Middle of Drag Strip
Brandon Hughett finishing up The Dragstrip on Gragg Prong, NC
Jerry on Gragg
JFF at Dragstrip
Crankee at the Strip
Bo at 1st slide
Mack at Dragstrip sep 04
Amos at (your name here)
Mack at Dragstrip
Dale at Dragstrip
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The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)
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