A Yankee In King Arthur’s Court? Well is it any stranger to have a sea kayaker at a major white water race?
The race is in North Carolina about half way between Columbus and Hendersonville. (About 30 miles by helicopter from the P&H US headquarters.) Viewers park on both sides of Big Hungry Road taking up both shoulders for over a mile and a half. So, of course you have to walk to the trail head before embarking on the hike into the gorge. Some people, the author included, were already huffing and puffing.
I drew this yellow-orange line on a Google Earth image guessing where the trail was.
Notice the 28773 on photo? Is that the zip code you would use if you lived in a tree there?
Most of the way in was downhill and pretty easy, taking about 40 minutes to get to the “good” part – the mountain goat part. I found it easiest to sit on a rock or root, dangle my feet down until they found something solid to stand on, and proceed rock by rock or root by limb.
Did I say this section was steep?
Then we finally got to the river.
The crowd was spread along The Gorilla rapid.
Some racers rejoiced at their elapsed time for the race.
Some were just glad they made it.
This one may have been saying, “What? Me Worry?”
A new rule for next year may be “No Tailgating”. But that is not what happened here.
As the racers finished the race they parked their kayaks and joined the crowd to cheer on the rest of the racers.
I hope no one that parked that way is a valet when not paddling.
But, the kayaks were not all in just one pile. Some didn’t even make it to the parking lot.
One by one the racers got back to their boats and still had more Class IV and V rapids to traverse to get to their take-out. Except for one chap whose hull had a large rip in the bottom. Their field fix was just not good enough . So he carried it all the way out.
There were still challenges ahead for each including the risk of being pinned. This chap struggled for a while before someone came to help him get unpinned.
Here’s just one fun spot on the way to their take-out. A nice little drop below The Gorilla.
I started the climb back out of the gorge with thoughts, memories, and plans. I plan to go back next spring to smell the flowers along the climb back out. It seemed like my nose was only 9 to 12 inches from the earth for over 100 yards of the steep part of the climb. So in the spring I’d be able to smell the flowers without needing to bend over.
Maybe I’ll bring some Husky sled dogs to pull my fanny up this hill. Some racers are in really good shape.
Remember that fellow that drug his kayak out of the gorge. He passed me while I was on this section.
The hike back out took some nearly 2 hours. Still, I’ll definitely be back for the race next year, when I hope to find . . .
My Favorite View Of The Race.
By the way, this is Suzanne Warren, of Hendersonville, NC, who plays Lisa in the new white water movie, “Raven Fork”.
I can’t wait to see it.