Sampson's Southeastern Update

Carolina Sunset, photo: Bryan Owen

It’s been super cool to be back home in the Southeast and to be spending some time on the river as the winter months approach. Although the Green hasn’t been running too much this month because of generator work, we’ve been taking advantage of some local rain. After arriving in Asheville, it was great to be on the Watauga Gorge with good friends Paul Bartholic and Ryan Bednar. The Watauga is classic and a staple for Western NC kayakers.

Watauga Lunch; photo: Bryan Owen

The Watauga drainage holds water incredibly well and sufficient flows the following day made it an easy decision to go back for another run. This time Paul and I were joined by John Pilson and Todd Johnson, also from Asheville. It was a great group because Paul and Todd are hand paddlers while John and I both use a stick. I like to see the differences and syles that evolve from both disciplines and I'm always very impressed by some of the lines that these guys take. I'd like to try hand paddling some more as well.

Redneck Sampson; photo: Mitch Batemen

Sampson has also been getting down and dirty in the Southeast. We went on a hike/scout mission of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon with the Bartholic dogs: Stella and Cogan. According to local beta, this creek has a hard window to catch and runs off the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is often closed in the winter because of ice. This one is definately on the list for the next big rain. Sampson likes to seek out new Personal First D's for his crew. Check out all his web videos at Sampsonspot

Todd Johnson at Sateline Falls (Watauga) photo: Bryan Owen

Here's our put-in for the Upper East Fork of the Tuckaseegee (below). This 20 footer lands on a shelf so think about it! We had a big crew of 8 people that day and ran some super fun slides and boulder gardens. This is a fun class IV-V- run with one nasty sieve that is a must portage.

Upper E Fork Tuck, Put-In Drop (piton) photo: Bryan Owen

There are about 3 or 4 significant slides on this creek. One of them was a steep 50 foot slide to an abruptly shallow transition at the bottom (not pictured) with a bumpy ride dodging big rooster tails the whole way down. We portaged this one because it looked like a back buster. The rest of the slides were a lot of fun and one in paticular (below) had a nice auto boof at the end.

John Pilson on bottom of Big Slide #2; photo: Ryan Bednar

Its fun to paddle with all of the Asheville crew and Ryan likes to take lots of photos when he's checking out a new run. He is a talented multimedia designer from Asheville and has an online photo gallery of his boating pics. Check it out to see some more of Ryan's photos from the Upper East Fork of the Tuckaseegee

Blue Angels on slide #3; photo: Ryan Bednar

So here we are on Thursday afternoon with a light rain and 100% chance of showers this evening. With an already saturated ground we are going to get a shot to run something tomorrow. Just depends on where the rain lands tonight. Stay on those bicycles boys and girls!

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