June 23, 2018: Day1/7
The day started full of sunshine and strutting. Sitting in the soft green moss at the confluence of Panthertown and Greenland creeks we dangled our feet in the freezing
Standing up on a paddleboard and moving fast down a shallow rocky creek is intoxicating but unforgiving. If the the fin catches on a rock the board stops abruptly and the paddler is launched forward on outstretched hands, much like a snowboarder “catching an edge”. The dark canopy and tea-colored water made avoiding rocks a real challenge but John and I did well and enjoyed the sense of flying downstream. Passing through exotic highland bogs at an elevation of 3,700 feet the rocky banks were softened by lacy Appalachian shoestring ferns, spongy green mosses, white reindeer lichen, pink shell azaleas and mountain doghobble.
All this became a green blur at the first bend
The dense foliage on the riverbank loosened up a bit giving us windows to view the wide escarpment. This “valley” sits high and spreads for miles with huge grey granite domes and walls visible to the north and east and west. It felt like we were paddling on top of the world descending in a broad rift, truly the Yosemite of the East! For several
The boys were exhausted after hours of climbing in and out of kayaks, dragging the
The 6 miles to the Rock Bridge (end of the American Whitewater “East Fork of the Tuckasegee” section) took us 6 hours. It was getting late so we quickly portaged up and down the steep private lands to the left past the unrunnable waterfall. It was 2
We pushed on leaving the relative comfort of Panthertown to uncharted waters with little chance of rescue.
The boys were perched precariously high on a ledge with their boats. It was dark and very slippery. John and I locked eyes and had a silent conversation, “we’re screwed; can’t go upstream, can’t go downstream and it is getting late. No more fun time; let’s solve this”. Austin and Luke stayed with the boats, John climbed up the west bank and I went up the east bank. It was very steep, high
Resting on the sandy beach of Tanasee Creek Lake we gazed up into the dark slot. Luke pulled out his drone and flew it straight up the falls documenting the gnarly drama. Unrunnable, barely hikable and grateful not to be spending a cold and hungry night in the gorge we celebrated with whoops and dancing and paddled the mirror-like reservoir to our camp.
Stay tuned for daily logs of the rest of their trip!