Since
1980 the GCA has run trips in the Cherokee Indian reservation in the
Smokies near the end of March so as to enjoy the Oconaluftee, Raven
Fork and Soco Creek before they are closed at the beginning of trout
season, which presently runs within the reservation from the last
weekend of March through the end of January.

This
year John and Tee Brower led the trip on Saturday on the Oconaluftee.
Ben Fouts paddled with John and Tee and told us that they had a good
trip, but one paddler swam at the washed out dam near the Cherokee
Information Office and needed several stitches in the foot from an
encounter with the iron rods protruding from the rocks there.

We
had good water levels, cloudless, balmy weather, and safe, delightful
trips both days. On Saturday we ran Cataloochee Creek in the
southeast corner of the Smoky Mountain National Park from its
beginning at the confluence of Palmer Creek and Caldwell Fork to the
Waterville Lake dam on the Pigeon River. See an edition of Carolina
White Water since 1993 or my article in the January 1997 Eddy Line
for a detailed description of this run. Sunday’s trip on Raven Fork
ran from the Straight Fork confluence to the Job Corps Center Bridge
and was without incident or wet exit, as far as I saw.

Paddling
both days were Sid & Brian Cathcart, Leon Couey, Barclay Fouts,
Marty Gibbs, Scot Hodges, Jeff Lankford, Phil & Sandra Serrano,
and Victor Leanza in kayaks and Charles Clark, Kevin McInturff and I
in solo open canoes. Priscilla Dixey, Ed Green and Beth Thompson
paddled kayaks and Morgan Dicus a solo open canoe on Cataloochee
only. Jennifer Bruce kayaked and her father Charles Bruce and
Barclay’s father Ben Fouts adeptly paddled solo open canoes with us
on Sunday only. On both days we split into three groups and did a
great deal of playing, particularly on Sunday, when the river trips
and shuttle were not so lengthy.

The
Cataloochee Creek gauge read 3.30, a half foot higher than last year
and a level which made the big left-to-right class IV rapid near the
end very challenging. The hole at the bottom was strong and hard to
avoid. It had no surface washout, and we had to extract three
kayakers with ropes.

We
learned an important lesson the hard way: have at least two ropes
ready at such turbulent keeper holes. One of our swimmers was so
disoriented in this hole that he did not hear my shouts of “rope”
or feel the bag which I finally decided to throw to him and landed
over his head. We both were very glad when another boater
successfully hit him with a second rope, as I was frantically trying
to recoil the first.

The
open canoes had a little easier time maintaining their speed and
bridging this hole. However, Kevin hit it a little angled and was
sucked back and flipped upstream. He got my vote for the move of the
day, however. He stayed in his boat sideways in the turbulence on a
very low brace and at the same time slowly drew his XL-12 out, then
rolled back up!

The
huge, dangerous drop near the head of the lake prudently had no
takers. Our portage here and scouting of the class IV, as well as
the long shuttle, took a long time, so that it was after dark when we
finally headed back to Cherokee. Nevertheless, these were great
trips on two truly magnificent streams with great, fun-loving but
safety-minded crews.

by
Roger Nott
March 22 & 23, 1997.