Pigeon River (Gorge)
|Stretch:||Big Creek to Hartford Rd|
|Difficulty:||Class II+ to III-|
|Flows:||~800 cfs to 5,000 + cfs . Check out American Whitewater's current flows and Boating Beta's dam release schedule (which isn't updated often, but shows you the trends)|
|Gradient:||35 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Powerhouse at the Pigeon and Big Creek confluence|
|Take-out:||Hartford Rd Bridge|
|Shuttle:||4.9 miles (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Dam release (May through August)|
It has taken me a little while to get around to writing this write-up. Perhaps it is because I just finished the Austria 2016 write-ups. More likely, it is because I haven’t wanted to think about the events of the day.
Several weeks back I broke some ribs during a bad line on Gorilla. I have been resting for the past 6 weeks, and getting antsy. Because of that, as this weekend came around, I decided I felt good enough to test my ribs on some class II. BBQing with the Knoxville crew on Friday, the group size grew. Instead of it just being Diane and I (I was struggling to find anyone) it turned into a group of 10 of us, some bringing their significant others. Putting on, we enjoyed the first mile, stopping at a few places to play. It was here, just above the Waterville Rd Bridge that the day took a turn. I don’t want to rehash it here, but if you want to see the report you can find it on the AW accident report.
After an hour or so of decompressing after the events half of our group took off at the access. The rest of us continued on, in a solemn mood, but trying to focus on why we love the sport and love our group of friends. It was surreal to boat past people horse playing and rafting, not know of the life ending and life altering events that occurred upstream. Running into acquaintances at take-out, I avoided eye contact to avoid having to talk to them. Instead, we met up with the half of our group who took off to share a drink for a few and distract ourselves for a while longer.
The run actually is quite fun. And even after the events of that day, I wouldn’t have hesitated taking a loved one on the river the next day. There were many good class II+ rapids. Most of the scenery is quite nice, with the road tucked behind thick vegetation. Only at one time does the cement line the river, reminding you of where you are. So yea, with all of that… I am sure I will find myself back there. It is close, had descent play, and was fun. Can’t complain!
- Powerhouse (II+ to III-). Powerhouse has some holes to mess you up if you venture too far to the left. I would just go right of center and it is clear sailing. I did see multiple people swimming due to holes on the left at the top and bottom.
- Waterville Rd Bridge. Overhead is an access point if you think you may be in over your head. Easy access just under the bridge on river left.
Vegomatic (II+). Just downstream of the bridge was a fun splashy rapid. We just ran down the middle.
- Big Bend (II+ to III-). As the river bends right, you enter a long section of rapids. None of it is hard, but it is quite long and unrelenting.
- Lost Guide (II+ to III-). This one is one of “the hard ones” on the run. But honestly I cannot give it a class III rating. Maybe it is harder at different flows. As it was, it was a shallow lead in that then led to a ramp into a wave hole that was small. It may flip you… but downriver there was plenty of recovery room.
- Double Reactionary (III). This is the only one I can give a straight III to. The entry had a small hole on the right that you want to swim left of. We then ran down the center which had a nice curler to boof over. The hole was not horrible, but the rapid was certainly enough to flip you and could swim you if you get into the hole sideways. Downstream was a nice playspot on river right.
Accelerator (III-). Just downstream was a blind rapid. We ran down right of center moving back center. There were some rocks if you were too far right as I recall. Apparently there is another line on the far left.
- NOC Playwave (II+). If you are off peak usage months or hours, you can float down to NOC. At the second island, take the right smaller channel. The playspot is quite nice. Diane through 5 loops in a row in it!
Take-out: Take Highway 40 east towards Asheville from Knoxville. Just before you enter the gorge exit Highway 40 in Hartford, using exit 447 for Hartford Rd. Exit and take a left to go upriver. On the far side of town, just before the bridge, turn left into the open grassy lot. This is the public access.
Put-in: Head back out to Highway 40 and head East towards Asheville. Continue for 3.4 miles to exit 451 toward Waterville Rd. Exit the freeway, take a right and cross the river. This road loops around to the left and goes up the river. Continue for a mile to the parking at the powerhouse. Note, that the parking at the powerhouse is commercial only. So park in the downriver section of the lot or upriver at the Big Creek access.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...