Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Magic Month - April!

Here in good ol' West by God our kayak season never sleeps. Some of the best runs in the area don't start flowing until winter. However, April is what I like to refer to as the magic month. All the ideal conditions for great kayaking seem to come together in April. The trees are still leafless and therefore don't suck up all the water. Rainfall is regular and heavy. Daylight lasts until 7:30 or so. Watersheds are primed and saturated. April is my favorite month of the year!

Dan Reiter, Will Parham and Brian "B-real" Ward kickin' it at the NR Dries

Plenty of surf to go around at the Dries put-in.

This April is no exception. The month kicked off with arguably one of the best whitewater festivals in West Virginia, the Webster Wildwater Weekend! The festival is held the first weekend of April in the little town of Webster Springs (Addison), WV. Festivities usually include a downriver race on the Elk River, a slalom course, and THE best paddling festival party in existence. That's right, I said it. Better than CheatFest. Way better than GauleyFest. That's all I'm saying about the party, you'll just have to come experience it for yourself. Due to low water on the Elk River this year, the slalom course wasn't happening but the downriver race was still a blast. Everyone had a really great time bumpin' and grindin' down the Elk River with a few gentlemen's bets and six pack challenges taking place along the way.

Dan Reiter plays a sweet hole on the NRG

Shane Groves clean blunts on the NR Dries

Bryan Kirk showing off the big wave capabilities of the PX56.

After returning home from Webster Weekend, we had plenty of water in Fayette county. The following week saw multiple runs down the New River Dries at varying levels, a few runs down the Meadow River, some high water playboating on the New River Gorge, a beautiful day on the Cranberry River, and some killer boofs on Mill Creek.

AJ Snyder boofing his way down Mill Creek

The next week, southern Dub-V got a real good soak from some especially heavy thunderstorms. When I heard that Mill creek was RAGING, we knew just where to go... Pinch Creek! Only 15 minutes from my house, Pinch Creek is a tight, fast, slide-filled masterpiece that typically has a small, hard to catch window of opportunity. That day, we found it flowing at a nice medium-low level. Compared to the 1+ hr. hike in, the creek goes by in a flash. We had a solid crew with clean lines all around.

John Quigley log dodging at the Put-in falls of Pinch Creek.
The log just to his left is in the normal line.

With lots of daylight leftover, we decided to celebrate Pinch by driving 30 minutes or so to Paint Creek. Paint Creek is generally a nice class III run ideal for introducing new paddlers to creeking, but that day it was especially juicy! Paint Creek at high water is a REALLY cool run. At normal levels, Paint Creek has some slides that are always pretty scrape-tastic, but everything was very padded out and I don't think I ever touch a rock once. We blazed down the creek blue angel style and arrived at the take out satisfied and spent.

The rest of my spring will include lots of kayaking and many afternoons spent throwing plastic in the woods.


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