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October 30, 2007

By Nick Troutman

Well, on Saturday Emily had to do a school video talk about Nomads in West Virginia. At first I thought it would be a hassle, but afterwards when we found out that the New River Dries were running, it was like a dream come true.

I have never been on the Dries waves, or the section of whitewater before, but after watching many hours of footage from the Dries I knew it would be a blast.

Though our plan was to go paddle at the Rustle-fork on Sunday, so Emily and I had Rockers and Punk Rockers. What do you do when the Dries are running and all you have are creek boats? Well, actually we just went to the local kayak shop, ACE, and demoed a couple Jackson Kayaks. They had already sold most of the 2007 demos, so our choices were, a 2007 4-fun, 2007 All-star, or a 2006 Super-star. I took the Super-star, while Emily used the 2007 All-star. The ACE kayak shop was super helpful, getting us hooked up with some boat, and giving us some good beta about the run.

From there we drove our Westfalia, with our loaded kayaks and gear, to the take-out. We got geared up at the Take-out and hitched a ride, with some friendly folks from Orlando, to the Put-in.

We got on the water as soon as possible. Being that there is no water in Tennessee right now, both Emily and I haven’t paddled in a couple weeks. Actually I haven’t paddled in a week, and Emily in four weeks.

At the Put-in there are three great waves. They are unbelievable at high water, around 16-17 feet. When we put on the river was around 9.5 feet, so the waves were a bit small. Though Emily and I had a blast. With not having paddled in so long, it didn’t matter what we surfing or running we were going to have fun.

After surfing for around an hour, we coincidentally met up with a JK staff John. He worked at the Jackson plant all winter, and paddled with us almost every day. He and his friends had run the river before, and offered to lead us down, showing us all the great play spots.

After the first three waves we went down to the next bend in the river, where there was an amazing wave-hole. You could do any moves possible, all your wave moves like clean blunts, airscrews, back panams, helixes, as well as your hole moves like Split wheels, McNasty’s, phoenix monkeys, and a loop here and there. It was kind of shallow, and sticky, but I loved it! I think between creek-boating lately, and just not paddling, would have made me love what ever I was paddling, but man, I really had a blast at that wave/hole.

After that we went down to the next set of play-spots. These were called the Big Kahunas. They were a set of four waves. Emily and John both caught the wave their first times, and had amazing rides. Emily was throwing air-blunts, and backstabs, and flip-turns in her All-star, while John was also going huge, trying some back panams and big air-blunts. I was filming at the time, and didn’t realize, but the water had been rising a ton. After the first runs, no one could catch the wave again, because with the water rising it started to green out. Though with the water level coming up, the fourth wave came in, and was OFF THE HOOK. Emily switched out with me, letting me use the 2007 All-star. I took one ride before we left, and that was all I needed. The wave was super steep, and would only crash briefly. This combination, made it super easy to launch anything you wanted. I thought I would start the ride off, with a couple airscrews, the knowing I could do pretty much anything, so I did some clean blunts, flash backs, panams, backstabs and a flip-turn. We then decided, with the water rising so quickly, that we should try and run the river as fast as possible, and try and get backup to the put-in waves because they would be bigger.

So we continued down stream, with the next rapid being ‘mile long.’ This was by far my favorite rapid of the day. John and his friends told me that I could surf everything, but to watch out for the big holes. And that is exactly what I did. I think I surfed every big wave, that is possible to surf, whether it was munchy, sticky, or green, I went for it and surfed what I could.

The next rapid was landslide, were there are some huge boulders at the top at the rapid, making different slots. We were told not to go in the left slots, though we couldn’t even see any slots on the left side, so we just stuck with the middle right.

There were a couple more great down-river waves before the take out, which we kick-flipped, macho-moves, and wave-wheeled. I was so fired up, about the run, and the idea of the put-in waves, that I practically ran up to the van. We quickly drove to the put-in, only to realize that the water had dropped again. We figured that they must have been releasing the water in pulses, and we happened to just catch a bubble on the way down.

We then decided to just head to Pies & Pints, to get some pizza for lunch.

It was a great day, and amazing just to be able to get on the water. Though being able to paddle such big water was a real treat.

The 7-hour trip to take Emily to do her school presentation became so worth the drive.

Now we are off to the green narrows for the race this weekend.

(Ben Stookesberry, you better watch out. I’m coming for you, and I’m bringin’ my A game to the race on Saturday)