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THU PAD - Tearcoat Creek - 17+20 May 1,000, 300 c...
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by Barb Brown - The Tearcoat is a tributary of the North River which is a tributary of the Cacapon. Ordinarily it’s a breathtaking class 2plus, up rarely. Steve Ettinger liked it so much, he immediately ran it a second time! We should have been more suspicious when at the putin, the water was well up the trees. The high water created a pounding Savage like thriller. Larry Lampert as probe spilled in a river wide ledge and separated from his boat. Gisela also spilled but rolled and Barb did one of her three minute braces as she bucked and typewritered managing to stay upright and pointed downstream. It still took determined stroking to keep from being sucked back in. We were so close to having three swimmers washing down what now could only be described as a gorge!. Reality was, we only had one loose, misbehaving C-1. There were no breaks; no eddies. Gisela finally corralled the C-1 just upstream of a cliff with a pinning “cave” reminiscent of Mexico. Thank the river gods we had no swimmers heading into that thing. The boat was emptied but the stream was too wide to rope it across so it was set free to dance down the rapids with more finesse than the manned boats. Its freedom came to a sudden halt when it chose a tree guarded braid. Disappearing out of sight under the wood,  it severely pinned against a downstream hemlock. Lesson learned!!!! With great effort, the boat was unpinned and tied, waiting for its owner to find it in the wilderness. Four miles later after continuous pounding rapids and four carries over terminal strainers, we cheered to finally reach the mouth and the junction with the flooded North River. Vaguely we remembered stunning cliffs in a wilderness setting. All agreed we wanted to comeback with at least half the flow.

 Chapter 2 will be forthcoming when Larry and volunteers retrieve his now very lonesome Ocoee.

 Paddlers: Larry Lampert, Barb Brown, Gisela, Gus Anderson, John Snitzer, Mark Brenneman and David Cottingham. Virginia ran the first mile.  

David Cottingham noted:  Jimbo from Flying Buck distillery was our savior.  We chatted with him at the put-in.  He then talked with a friend who is a homeowner who allowed us to park cars in his driveway at the takeout, which is all private property.  We all sampled the moonshine and barbecue sauces at Flying Buck following our paddle.  Many thanks to Jimbo.

John Snitzer observed:
PI & TO were 2:00 and 5:00.  Seemed longer.  I asked around on estimates on flow and the answers I got we're in the 800-1000 cfs range.  Don't think I asked Mark.

This was a powerful creek at that level.  I was dodging holes then hunting eddys for a chance to calm down.  Pushing/pulling Larry's boat out from under the hemlock was tiring. What were discrete rapids Sunday were continuous on Thursday.

If not for the mishap at swimmer's ledge it would have been an exciting but straightforward paddle with the added suspense of the unknown strainers.

Good twofer run since when Tearcoat is up, everything is up.
Ecological notes.  The golden ragwort was in flower along the stream as we're a few pinxterbloom azaleas.  The number of baby hemlock and pine seedlings suggests that local deer hunting keeps the population in check.  Unfortunately, the banks are thick with exotic multiflora rose and Japanese barberry which coordinate with indigenous greenbriar to chew up portaging paddlers.  The gorge has wonderful cliffs that I would like to see sometime when the stream does not require 100% concentration.   Trip was rated 10/10.
Return on Sunday May 20th to pick up the lost canoe:::    J Snitzer:  I checked my watch.  Put in at 2:00, take out at 5:00.

Different creek at 300 +/-.  The geometry of swimmers ledge was pretty interesting.

We had two carries yesterday, the first just below put in and the oaks about 2/3 down that we carried on R left.  The one at the boat-pin hemlock we avoided by running left around the island. We lined boats under rather than carrying around.

But I thought we had four carries Thursday.  Am I mistaken?

Had a nice run starting 11:30.   Waites was in the low hundreds, 130-120 ish and level on Tearflesh, I mean Tearcoat was down 15-20" from Thur when WC was in the 500s.  Back pocket guess, we had 300 cfs.  Beautiful creek.  Saw wild geranium in flower and a nice variety of ferns including a patch of Maidenhair fern which is rare.

The geometry of Swimmers Ledge was obvious yesterday.  I think of ledges as crossing flow, 90 degrees to direction of travel.  So backwash comes directly upstream.  No side to side component.  If you're using the clock face as a reference and paddling to 12:00, ledges run 3 to 9 and the backwash is to 6.  The place where we had problems, the ledge runs 2 to 8 and the backwash coming back upstream was funneled along the face of the drop so there was a powerful push towards 8, an acute angle left turn, which flipped Larry and gave Barb and Gus memorable surfs.

Started as C-2 and K-1, finished as 2 C-1s and a K-1.  Compared to the maelstrom of Thur, the stream had more going on, more ledges, eddys, and required maneuvering, less power, fewer boils, and no suspense about strainers around the next corner.

No idea how robust the correlation with Waites Run is, but if it is strong, I would reset canoe zero above Waites = 50.  Maybe 80 or 100.

I came home after Tearcoat Ck, but Larry and Phil headed down to Passage Ck which was in the 800s at 2:00 in the afternoon.

I've been thinking about the initial swim and walkout and trying to figure out if we took the best option.  I think a post mortem would be of benefit so that we could make better decisions next time this happens.  We came home, eventually, with all our gear and no significant injuries so we get good marks but I wonder how we might overcome the problems of communicating upstream once separated.

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