Four adventurous canoe and kayak paddlers braved the somewhat high level whitewater of the Broad River on this beautiful, sunny, early March day (5.95 feet on the Carlton Gauge at time of put-in). Paddlers were Dan and Elysse McIntyre in canoes and Jim Berotti and Shirley Tharp in kayaks. The water at the put-in was moving pretty fast so we made it to the first ledge rapid in record time. Since we didn’t stop to scout for strainers on river left, we opted to run river right, where lines open up everywhere at levels above 4 feet. Since the river was well above 4 feet, we all made it through without problems. Rocks usually above water were hard to see below the surface of the coffee with cream colored water though (due to recent rains), so we still scraped a bit but all made it through fine. The wave train at the end of first ledge rapid was fun and reminded me of Quarry rapid on the Nantahala.
Lunch Stop rapid was fairly washed out at this level. The kayaks took the normal left to right S turn route. As long as we kept the paddle in the water, it was a fairly srtaightforward ride. The current was swift and the waves stout, but this rapid seemed easier to run at this level than at lower levels due to not having to maneuver around and between rocks.
All of us took the left side of the island option at the slide/falls. We all stayed far river left, followed the main current and had no problems. It seemed like there were fewer surfing spots than usual on this side of the river. When I looked back at the slide side of the rapid, I could see a large hole at the center line. I’ve heard that at high levels the center line develops a keeper hole. That certainly looked to be the case from my vantage point even though I was downriver. The left usual line of the slide looked to be just a two foot drop or so with plenty of water. The rock at the bottom of the slide was completely submerged and not visible.
Jim paddled his kayak through Hippo Rapid and he said it was washed out. We scouted Roostertail Rapid before running it. All of us opted to run river left instead of running through the approximate four foot tall roostertail. It looked like there were a few lines available on the far left side of the river. We took the left of center line. There were a lot of rocks just under the surface of the water which made this route difficult with a lot of maneuvering needed to get through. Next time, I think I’ll just go ahead and run Roostertail through the usual line but attempt to go slightly left of the roostertail so I can also stay left of the pillowing rock at the bottom of the rapid.
The shoals under the 172 bridge were pretty meaty at this level. Keep a paddle in the water if you’re in a kayak and you should be able to punch through the higher waves of the wave train. The canoes didn’t appear to have any problems.
American Whitewater’s website rates the rapids on the Broad River as Class II and II+ at normal flows. While I am certainly no expert, at 5.95 feet, I would bump up the level ratings and say that today they were II+ and III.