Friday, April 14, 2006

New Featured video by Nathan Fant!

(photo by Samantha B.)
by Nathan Fant at
This is SWEET so check it out!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Photo of the Week by Samantha Brunner

This shot is from Island Creek, TN. It is definitely "The Jewl of the Cumberland.

Be sure to check out Fortress Watches!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Island Creek - the Jewl of the Cumberland Plateau

Photo by: Samantha B.

After Cheoah Fest Saturday, we were all wonderin' where to go - "where did the water hold?" Me and Sam Left Tapoco Lodge early in the morning to meet up with the rest of the Memphis crew in Knoxville. We don't get to paddle with these guys much and they're our good local friends. How could we turn down a trip on the plateau with them? There was one particular creek we all had in mind that had been on my hit list for a long long time - Island Creek (III-IV+) It's not that tough, but it is super continuous and incredibly HIGH quality. The only catch this day was that the park was closed to all traffic and people, except turkey & pig hunters. A $140+ citation awaited each of us if we got caught on that land. So we geared up and loaded all the boats onto one car, planning in the car who would get what strap and who would unload where, etc. We got our move all dialed in so we could be super fast and super stealth. Dr. Sonny pulled up at the bridge and we flew out of the car unloading and hopping in the water! I'm not sure how necessary it all was, but we definitely weren't supposed to be there. There's something about illegal access on a beautiful day that just makes it all seem extra special. The put-in was just as epic as the run, and just the start to an AWESOME run down!

Photo of Samantha B. by: me

Photo of me by: Samantha B.

Our crew consisted of me, Samantha Brunner, Drew Armstrong, Jason Salomon, and Mike Womack.... Sonny S. ran our shuttle and risked the ticket himself to get us into this beautiful place! Island starts off in a beautiful micro-stream bed with a bit of light brush in the river. Gradually, it picks up speed with slide after slide after slide... just perfect slides and small boulder rapids drops with some of the most beautiful water I've ever paddled on. This creek really reminded me of Colorado Creeking with less gradient and easier drops.... I can't describe how pristine and high quality it is - definitely a new favorite! Check out the pics! :-)

Photo of Chris Lyon on "Compound Fracture" by: me

Photo of Drew Armstrong by: Samantha B.

Photo of Mike Womack on in "Compound Fracture" by: Samantha B.

Photos of Jason Salomon in "Compound Fracture" by: Samantha B.

Photo of Mike Womack green grindin' by: Samantha B.

Photo of me on Island Creek by: Samantha B.

Photo of Samantha B. by: yours truly ;-)

Photo of me by: Samantha B.

Hope you enjoyed the pics! This trip was AWESOME. Island Creek will definitely continue to be one of my favorite runs in TN. It is truly "The Jewl of the Cumberland Plateau"!!!

- Boyd :-)

Waterfalls, Tornados, and Rain... Oh My!!

Photo by: Samantha Brunner

With the news of strong storms on there way, me and Samantha took off for NC Thursday night to catch what rain we could, before heading over to the Cheoah Festival on Saturday. On our way to NC, Clay Wright called with a rain update and offered a place to stay in his house at Rock Island, TN. It sounded like the rain would be delayed and that Rock Island would be our best option. With "The Spout" in mind (one of the waterfalls over there), we changed our course to Rock Island, TN for big fun on the Caney Fork River! We crashed at Clay's house that night after arriving at about 1:00 AM and were up the next morning looking for options. The rain hadn't hit yet so it looked like the Rock Island Waterfalls would be our best op! SWEET! The Caney fork was running a bit over 6000 cfs, making multiple lines on the Rock Island waterfalls go. I was really itchin' to get my new Rocker in the water so me, Samantha, and our factory friend, Jase Bouldin, took off for an early morning run of the waterfalls!

The first up was the Mill-side Falls (I think that's what it's called). The line is on the far left side of the river, next to the old cotton mill. It's pretty simple: just boof over the first ledge onto the shallow shelf of fast moving water and run off the middle (at high water only) or right sides with a nice boof landing in the pool below. Always easier said than done. I ran first with a little boat/rock impact off the first ledge and pealed into a small eddy on the right. I signaled Jase to run a bit more to the left and he ran fine. Next up was Sam. She went even farther left than Jase and somehow boofed off and twisted upside down off the rocks, landing completely flat and upside down! She took a hit!

photo: Samantha takin by: me :-)

Luckily she was ok, except for some big scrapes and bruises, and she rolled up fast and pealed into the eddy. She kept her cool while we explained the next line in a bit more detail, and she prepared to run the main falls. I peeled out first and ran off the right side with a HUGE boof into the pool below thinking, "this is one of my new favorite waterfalls." It was GREAT. Jase was next, showing Sam the left line off a point. He had a nice line down and joined me in the pool while we both set up to provide backup, if needed, from below. Sam rolled off the lip beautifully with a really pretty boof into the pool below with a big grin on her face. I think it was WAY bigger than she expected!

After that, we climbed up the rocks and set up a roped to pull the boats up for "The Spout" falls. This drop is SWEET! It's got a beautiful enterance rapid right up to the lip of the falls making it just that much better. The water channels off into deep falls off the lip into a BIG boiling hole (at levels over 6000 cfs like this day). Jase ran first with a really nice freewheel off the lip!

Jase freewheeling off "The Spout" photo by: Samantha B.

I ran next, deciding to 35* it just for fun. It was an extremely smooth and soft take-off and landing! Absolute Zen... We climbed up again and decided to check out a spot on the other side of the river called Blue Hole. Blue Hole is another falls over there, similar to Short Creek Falls in AL, but taller. This drop is really fun. It is definitely the easiest line on the Rock Island Falls, with vertually no enterance rapid of significance. You just drop in, climb up, and run it again!

Photo of me by: Samantha B. - the Rocker boofs so easy!

Photo of Samantha by: me

Photo of Jase Bouldin by: Samantha B.

After running Blue Hole for a while, Jase had to get goin'. So we went back over to The Spout for one last run down it.

Photo of Jase by: Samantha B.

Photo of me by: Samantha B.

Photo of me and Jase by Samantha B.

After our quick goodbyes and a few last waves, Me and Sam were off again to Blue Hole for one last run down and a few more pictures of this awesome place!

photo of me admiring the falls we ran all day by: Samantha B.

Photo of Sam looking into the spray by: me

After our last run down Blue Hole, me and Sam paddled on down to the river right trail that goes down to the Rock Island parking lot. On our hike around the "Sieve City" rapid, Clay Wright caught up with us and asked if we'd like another run down. I couldn't turn down another trip down the falls so I was instantly in! Samantha, a bit sore from the Mill-Side Falls on far river left, opted out and decided to hang out with Flowdog and wait for me and Clay to come down again. We ran down the Mill-side Falls and paddled over to check out Sieve City. We both really thought about running it as it was totally runnable but neither of us had a rope and there were some sticky looking holes so we decided to do the responsible thing and portage. We seal-launched in just downstream of it and ran down to Brave Wave, which was absolutely STOMPING that day!

Photo of Clay Wavewheeling below Sieve City by: Samantha B.

Photo of me throwin' a wavewheel below Sieve City by: Samantha B.

On our way down to Brave Wave, we both stopped at "Loop Hole" for a while. It looks like it would be a sticky ledge hole, but is WAY friendlier than I first thought. It is sweet indeed. From there, we both decided to turn upstream and surf the "Rock Island Hole" at 6000+ cfs. I thought the hole was big at 4000, but at 6000 cfs it is massive. The middle looked incredibly muchy (and is from what Clay told me), so we stuck with the corner surf which was still huge. After that, it was off to Brave Wave! The river was high enough that it wasn't pushing into the undercut wall, so the undercut was not in play. The made the eddy way safer to catch and just that much easier. Brave Wave is sweet beyond words at 6000 cfs! You can really do anything there with the skills. Clay's rides were AWESOME to watch. Mine were ok at first, but at this point I was exhausted, so was my wrist (previously injured). So I was taking it easy. It was REALLY fun though!

Photo of Clay blunting Brave Wave by: Samantha B.

Photo of your truly going for the Mystery Flip by: Samantha B.

After washing off and miss the eddy, I decided I was done. I was exhausted from the day and it felt GREAT, like a good stopping point. So me, Clay, and Sam hung out for a bit and went back to clays house to get ready for Cheoah Fest. When we got back to his house we were informed the power was out and of approaching storms and tornados. We were under a Tornado Warning and in the direct path of the storm. We hung out for a while waiting to see what it would do. Luckily it missed us, but several tornados hit real close to where we were. Me and Sam decided to take off inbetween storms towards I-40 so head over into the mountains in NC. We drove through extremely heavy rain, massive lightning, loud thunder, hail, and heavy winds (up to 70 mph) toward knoxville, TN. It seemed like everyone was under a tornado warning at the same time, all around us, so we just kept goin' hoping to get ahead of the storm and into the mountains where it would most likely just be rain and hail. We made it to NOC, finally safe in the Nantahala Gorge, ready for some stormy sleep and Cheoah Fest in the morning!

The next morning we got up and found the creek next to us muddy from the night cold rain and hail. We met up with Nate Fant from GA and took off for the Cheoah. We found 360 cfs of natural flow in the Cheoah Gorge so we went straight to the Yellow Creek confluence and hiked up to check the level. Yellow creek was at a great, but lowish, level. While on the trail up Yellow Creek, Elmore Holmes caught up with us just in time to scout the falls area of the run. We all wanted to run it, but thinking it would hold through the day, we decided to put it off for a run down with Clay Wright, Eric, Dane, and Emily Jackson. So we went up to the put-in at "the store." We got ready, geared up and ready to run down the cheoah and Seth Warren caught up to me to say hi. I haven't seen seth since the OR Show in Salt Lake City so it was cool to run into him over there! Me, Emily Jackson, Samantha, Elmore, and Nate put in onto the Cheoah and for a really REALLY fun run down! The extra natural flow brought Cheoah up to a thumpin' 1360 cfs!!! I loved this level for Cheoah because everything is well padded out, bigger, pushier, and friendlier. It's not as good as 1600, but it's fun! We caught up with the rest of the Jackson Kayaks crew at Bear Creek Falls. Samantha, Elmore, and Nate were all first timers here and had GREAT lines down the falls. This rapid is way trickier than it looks and they handled it really well. After a super playful, fun run down the rest of the Cheoah, we took out at the bridge and went over to Topico lodge to plan our next move. At that point, Yellow Creek had dropped more than we hoped and wasn't really worth the hike. We were also exhausted. After Mexican in Andrews, NC, me and Sam went back over to the Cheoah for the Festival Party and had a great time hanging out and planning our move for the Sunday.

Fun times!

Boyd Ruppelt :-)

Photo of me on Blue Hole Falls by: Samantha Brunner

Monday, April 03, 2006

Photo of the Week

Shot by Samantha Brunner, that's your's truly on Whiteoak Creek, NC.

Wrist Update...

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I injured my wrist snowboarding over a month ago. I went up for a jump, pull a great move, and crashed.... O well. Fun times. Unfortunately, I did a slight bit of damage to my wrist but like normal, I decided to try and ignore it for a couple weeks to see if it would go away. It didn't. After going to Memphis Whitewater's Creek Week and then competing at the North Alabama Whitewater Festival the very next weekend, there was a continuous downward spiral in my wrist. By the time I got back from the North Alabama Whitewater Fest, I couldn't even hold my paddle well. It even hurt to hold up a pen and don't even get me started on how it felt to try and write notes in class!

I finally decided to go to the doctor where they did X-rays, really convinced I had fractured it, and found no evidence of a fracture. I had to schedule an MRI and I was put in a brace over the next several weeks. By the time I had my MRI results read, my wrist was getting better and the doctors found no tearing significant enough in my muscle and ligament tissue for surgery.
They did however find that my wrist was definitely sprained and probably as a result, I had a ganglion cyst that had formed in my wrist (1 cm x 1 cm x 0.5 cm). Luckily, it's a small one that probably formed as a result of the sprain. My wrist may have been broken, but I really waited to long to reall be able to tell for sure. I gave it time to heal before I went in.

Long story short, I'm now allowed to paddle as long as I keep my wrist braced or taped (or both) and I stick with my physical therapy. I'll have 1 month of physical therapy and the one more appointment and I should be cleared. The cyst may go away on its own; but if it doesn't, it might require surgery to be removed, or simply poped. I'm pretty sure it'll just go away on it's own! :-)