May 22, 2009
Yesterday around noon Will and I loaded up the boats and headed for the Watauga River to do some paddling. Neither of us are by any means expert kayakers but we enjoy heading down some fun class II or maybe even class III- rapids. We put the boats in at the Watauga River Rd bridge just past downtown Valle Crucis, near the Dutch Creek Trails horse farm. We rode for nearly 4 hours with no complications, enjoying the amazing mountain scenery and the perfect weather, such as the photo with Will and the cows.
Then we went under the 321 bridge and neared the Snake Pit swimming hole. We could see some rapids ahead but they didn't look all that big...until we got really close. I tried to stop myself against a small rock long enough to zip my life vest all the way up and put on my helmet. While I wrestled with the life vest zipper before I knew it I was heading into the rapid, backwards. Awesome. I got myself turned around pretty quickly after the first small drop and then SPLASh! I got tossed over a bigger drop, flipping my boat over and forcing me to bail out. Then I proceeded to be thrown around by the violent water, around boulders and logs until I finally popped up at the bottom. Whew!!! I looked upstream to see my boat wedged between two rocks being pounded by water. Some other students who were out enjoying the sun on the rocks unwedged it and sent it downstream for me to catch.
When I got back in my boat after a little while to finish the run of river we passed a guy fishing, who soon explained that we I had gone down a class IV rapid known as "The Clog" Read the description in the link. Great. He told me that he has run the gorge section of the Watauga River as well as the Green Gorge, and he doesn't like to run that rapid. Well glad to say I survived unharmed and will be out to do some kayaking again soon, just this time smaller rapids, with my helmet on and hopefully facing downstream.