Middle Creek, Tennessee, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||560 fpm|
|Max Gradient||670 fpm|
Ben Hayes/Friberg Comments:
Middle Creek (Near Chattanooga) was first attempted by Mark L and some Sunbrust guides. Might have also been an early run done by Tom Toehill and Dan Gray. The earlier runs were generally huge portage fests. Chattanooga creekers since then have studied rock/bed formations thoroughly and have run nearly every vertical foot contained in the gorge!
Run infrequently due to extreme gradient and difficulty in accessing the put-in. The paddle to portage ratio can make the creek not worth your while. If you like tight lines then you may find this to be one of your favorites in Chattanooga. The run has similar characteristics to North Pole(Morgan Creek). If you like Morgan you'll love Middle. The drops between the big ones are all more open and maybe a little more forgiving. Some of the drops seem very tempting but pack catastrophic consequences if run poorly. The large waterfall at the top has never been run. If one is thinking of doing it they should spend some time studying it with now water. The landing is shallow with lethally placed rocks.
The rapid directly below the big waterfall needs good flow to be navigated. There are definately some caves in there. If you go at low water, you'll see water spilling over the large waterfall but not through this rapid. It's obviously underneath everything. There seems to be two potential slots though if there's good water. If you run this one be prepared for some action on the rest of the run since you may be on the med/high side. The first couple rapids you'll reach may look dirty. As of Feb 14th 2005 they were a "go" but you'll definately want to scout everything. Eventually you'll reach a point where the creeks splits, half going right, the other half going left towards the canyon wall. Scout here, you'll see you have an entrance rapid followed by a slot against the wall, followed by sharp "S" turns in the currents before going over the final drop which has a nice dome rock in the landing. Go left or right of it(left is definately preferrable), just get over it since one could easily get pinned on the up stream side of it. After this I believe are some nice drops, we ran them all, still scout, keep the bow close to the surface for sure, not many places to pencil safely.
The first noticably big drop. Water will travel to an undercut on the right(some going under, some banking back left over the falls) and some water will pour left after the entrance through a slot that will take you to the edge of the drop. There is a rock in the landing but you should have enough speed while running this one to clear it.
After Sierra you'll come "Dirty Willy". The main channel will actually run through some sharp "S" turns that would slam a boater around pretty hard. If they wanted a first D they could have this one. Without water the channel looks clear but is a little overwhelming looking with water. You can run a slot on the far right where you'll boof off a flake angled right, slide down a steep angled rock approx 15 feet into a small pocket. Probably want to lean towards the right before landing since there's another big wall on your left. You can also cheat both drops by running a middle line where you'll slide down some shallow bedrock to the pool at the bottom.
There is one mandatory portage not far from here. Little gradient is lost in the rapid so be on the lookout. Portage right.
While portaging you'll see the entrance to "Superman Slide" The entrance will look a little sketchy with a Pinnaclesque type rock in the middle. This drop has only been attempted twice(same day) by Lane Rankin and Ben Hayes/Friberg. They put in at the top of the drop(small micro eddy on river right lip) This drop packs major consequences. The slide drops at a steep angle with a perfect pie wedge undercut coming into major play on the left. If you go here there will be little chance for a rescue and you'll have water piling above you wanting to push you in tighter. Below "Superman Slide" is a nice S turn rapid, go through the entrance and then head right to avoid small hole on the left.
From here the creek will let up for 200 yards, you'll notice an obvious change in gradient. Don't be fooled though, you're about to enter the scariest stretch of drops ever navigated in the Chattanooga vicinity.
Once you see gradient picking up again you're on your way into the entrance of "Shoot Me In the Face With A 0.09" Small ledges lead into a 5 foot pourover, followed by another 7/8 foot pourover that points straight towards a rock wall. Boof hard left to get set up for the meat of "Shoot Me In The Face With A 0.09".
Hard to miss this one, it's the spout that pours directly into the hole in the earth. This drop has been attempted only two times (Ben Hayes/Friberg and Lane Rankin Feb 14th 2005) Both attempts turned into epic rides. When landing you'll be in probably one of the scariest rooms of your life. There is no chance of being rescued on this drop if things go wrong. Actually no one can really even see the paddler while in the room. To exit the cave safely navigate the surrounding undercuts and boils. While exiting be careful of the spout pouring in from the river right. It has plenty of power to implode a skirt. The Vision Quest you asked for will continue after exiting the cave. Another 10 footer follows immediately afterward, boof hard right, land, turn hard left to avoid large rock wall facing you, travel through the passage way, follow the channel as it snakes back to the right through a slot, after this you're done with "Shoot Me In the Face With A 0.09". Congrats, you're among few to have taken the challenge. Hike out and celebrate life or continue on!
Next is "Craze Maze" - the entrance goes down a slide heading left, then back to the right, then the maze begins and things get a little stupid. If you go right at any time from here on you've given yourself a death sentence. A spout pours left that lands in an intersection of hallways splitting left and right. Go Right, as mentioned before, Game Over, Do Not Play Again, so Go Left which really equates to going straight with the flow. The landing of the spout does have some rocks which may be dangerous. Consider having a safety stanging near the slot going right to avoid a potential catastrophy.
Once you've traveled all the way to the left side of the streambed the channel turns back to the right, it's very tight in here, with nasty rocks in the slots. Upon clearing the entrance to the last significant horizon line go right. Stay with the flow and enjoy the last 13/15 foot drop.
Next is "Lord of the Rings Part II" .. Somewhat similar to the section on the upper Raven's Fork known as "Lord of the Rings" Boof the first drop right, boof the second drop hard right(there is a rock in this landing so check it out for certain), the third drop can be paddled through the right slot boofing right.
Next is "Take the Hit" named the day Casey Mitchell and Ben Hayes/Friberg ran the right side of the drop. 8/10 foot slide dropping on rock. Portage right if you don't want unnecessary pain.
From here, the river splits around an island, go left and run a couple small ledges but know where you are since the creek soon goes off drops that are currently unrunnable due to logs and wood. If there is no wood here be very careful of sieves and undercuts, they're abundant.
There are several more high quality rapids during the paddle out. Watch for a trail on the left left side. You'll be able to see the bridge from the trailhead. If you paddle all the way to the bridge, prepare to bushwack up a muddy bank and deal with briars. Lastly call your loved ones and tell them you're okay.
Middle is probably the most difficult and demanding run in the Chattanooga area if all the rapids are attempted. Maybe second to Brush but I doubt it, especially if you run everything in there. Scout everything, wood moves a lot here, I realize now I've forgotten to give some rapid descriptions too so please do not use this as a guide to the river. There's plenty more. Just a brief description of what you can maybe exptect
If you want to run this thing feel free to contact me and I can tell you the best way to run shuttle. You definately need to know where to put in on this one. Even if you park at the correct put-in you'll need to know how to access the gorge unless you plan on repelling in or hiking 2.5 miles from Signal Point. my contact is: email@example.com
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|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|