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By Clay Wright. Learn more about Clay.

April 29, 2006

Huge / New River Academy finally gets GREEN… (Trip Report w/ carnage)

We’ve been here in Hendersonville nearly 2 weeks and part-day 60% levels
designed around darkness just don’t
cut it! I was starting to think we were totally skunked, but then the
unthinkable happened: the van blew a head-
gasket and overheated on the way to pick up the staff! Kinda like leaving
your windows down and hoping for rain, I
had a feeling this might be a good thing…

Duke Power somehow heard the frantic 6 AM cell-phone calls and decided to
pop the cork. Luckily we were too fast
for them, limping the van to a service station, tracking down the wayward
(Harjes hijacked em) staff, and assembling
all the boats and gear off said van and onto my truck for the mission.

While Matt Fithian had run the Green several times, it was Chris Miller,
Conner Kelleher, and Jake Greenbaum’s virgin
descent. Luckily, recent rains provided us with ample training – Caney
Fork Gorge, Nolichucky, Big Creek, Nantahala
Cascades and Watauga runs had the kids well prepped. All aces down
Frankenstein is a great way to start, so we
boat-scouted till Boof, then scouted carefully to insure no one dropped
‘Left’ on left under log. All aces again, so we
hopped the gap to scout ‘Go Left’ from midstream. As staff Jason Aytes,
Mark Shibitz (Przysbysz, actually but who
can pronounce that?), and Scott Wooten demonstrated the move so smoothly,
Matt and Chris decided to give er a go.
Matt slicked the gap right through, while Chris’s nose got swung left into
prime surfing territory. Luckily, his
freestyle skills kicked in and he was able to pull, paddle, and claw his
way back into the left channel and out. Whew!
Conner and Jake chose left and cleaned it.

By the time the kids and I got out to scout Zwick, Mark P had dropped in
sideways to demonstrate the bottom hole’s
amazing power. After repeated attempts to claw out upright, a few barrel
rolls, and a couple ‘now I’m sitting on my
backband’ style roll defeats he flushed free just in time to pop the eddy
above Chief. I was expecting some
portages, but they all decided they could do better. And they did – while
3 made it right, Conner Kelleher got spun
up top and wisely chose to turn and burn for the left boof, popping across
the hole to the eddy with authority. A
quick Chief scout, and 4 more aces followed.

Matt Fithian was game for some Gorilla, so we got out for a river right
scout up top for that ‘other view’ so many
people never take. Sure enough, inspiration set in and with ropes a-plenty
in every eddy Matt stepped up to the
plate. While Pencil Sharpener had his number (right line reject, flip
left, bobble a roll – whew) he greased the Notch
so fast he planed his Scud clear to the back of the eddy. A quick spin,
couple strokes, and he dropped out of sight
off the middle of the pad, emerging into view upright and pumped at the
bottom. Our other 3 slid in below – acing
Neices, Scream Machine and the blind Rapid Transit no problem.

While I had planned to portage them down below Sunshine, we moved on
towards Groove Tube with confidence.
Some tubes, some auto-boofers, but all made the eddy above Sunshine easily
and everybody was keen on scouting.
While staff demonstrated the move, how you have to wait longer than you
think on the pillow before heading right,
Matt Fithian decided he was in for the Triple Crown and ferried over to set
up. His line was looking good, but he
didn’t hang quite long enough on the left stroke to shoot through
unscathed. The tiny Scud dissappeared into the
right eddy into the classic backender / spin scenario we’ve all enjoyed
before, popping though the 2nd drop as he
roller up.

Mark Shibitz dropped his virgin Sunshine Run all aces afterwards,
inspiring young Chris Miller to also step up to the
plate. Unfortunately, that ‘wait longer than you think’ message is easier
heard on the bank than when surfing just 2′
from the lip, and Chris charged off the pillow 1/2 second early,
encountering the right side rock 4” above where you
can get over it, and dropping into a deep right melt to piton as a result.
The ensuing, ‘upside down over the 2nd
drop rocks’ scenario left the tale-tale scrape on his helmet and shoulder,
but he rolled er up and then gave the
universal creekers ‘Whoa!’ look of respect and surprise back towards drop
before heading for the eddy and giving the
‘I’m OK’ signal to the nervous staff.

The run finished smoothly, with laps on Hammer Factor and the elated jabber
of endorphin feuled take-out talk at
Fishtop. The van is still broken, the Green is at 60% all day, and it’s
too cold to swim. But we are enjoying the end
of a great Creek Week in the Southeast, and while I’m heading home, these
guys are ready for whatever West Virginia
rains hold for them in the future.

Clay Wright