Last week the southeast was graced with the most monumental event in the last two years, the end of the drought. Well, for a while at least we experienced relentless precipitation resulting in some much needed natural flow. I decided to take the opportunity to take my long time sidekick Mark Miller and Brevard College’s own Jon “Square Head” Shannon to a fork of the Oconaluftee River over the hills in Swain County. We got a late start due to a long lived birthday celebration the night before, and arrived to find a perfect water level.
The first rapid of this super secret run, let’s call it “Python”, sets the tone for the rest of the day.
At low water, it’s a tight, undercut experience. This fateful day we found the undercuts full of soft cushy water, which Jon was grateful for.
Everyone had stylish lines that would have made their mama’s proud. We continued our way down the river stopping to scout, catch our breath, and calm our nerves. After portaging a very significant waterfall, we came to the place known as the most out of control I’ve ever been in a river going vessel. The plan was for me to run it first, but I told Mark and Jon not to watch, just to give me 30 seconds and come on. Knowing that the chances of me having a less than aesthetic line were at least 50% I figured it would be better for them to operate on blind faith.
So this particular rapid is called Mike Tyson’s Punchout. Having survived this rapid in my C1 on numerous occasions I should have no problem in a K1, right? I mean, you aren’t supposed to flip on slides when you don’t have an offside. Well, this Green Race Champ didn’t stand a chance against undisputed heavyweight champ Mr. Tyson. I ran the entrance, got pushed a little right as expected, and never recovered. I proceeded to run the slide on the far right careening at high speed while in the back seat into a wicked curler. Bam, I flipped, making firm chin-rock contact followed by a solid helmet-eyebrow blow. The classic uppercut left hook combo. I rolled quickly and ran the bottom 10′ upright. Shit, I hope Jon and Mark make it. Fortunately, Jon had a bumpy run but managed to block the punches and Mark styled that shit.
Upon arriving in the eddy below the drop I noticed a healthy stream of blood coming from my chin. I was just happy to have all my teeth, a tongue, and a one piece lower jaw. Since Jon is blind and Mark wouldn’t look at it, I had to snap this pic to do a little self diagnosis. What I saw looked like a new mouth.
We ran the rest of the rapids, firing off one of the most picture perfect boofs of all time. The runout was nice and full of water and we were thankful for the rain we had gotten. Here’s Mark opting out of the cave:
On our way back to Asheville, I called up a dear friend of mine who just so happens to be a doctor. I told her there was a possibility I might need a stitch or two, so she told us to stop by. Much to Mark and Jon’s excitement, she said it was a definite stitcher. She offered to grab a needle and thread so I obliged. I wound up with 6 stitches in my chin and a badass black eye. Sometimes, no matter how much you train, even a Green Race Champion gets taken down. Perhaps I should have watched this video a little closer.