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By Clay Wright

I’ve been looking at ‘Worser Wesser’ Falls just downstream of the NOC on the Nantahala since I was about 14 yrs old, and always heard tales of how jagged and dynamited the rocks beneath it are. Head injuries, rafts ripping, broken boats . . . you’ve probably heard them. Those tales made a big impact on me, and I often used Wesser Falls as an example of a rapid where the risk far out weight the rewards.

Till this Thanksgiving. I was fortunate enough to spend Turkey Day with the Etters in ‘Tom’s Cabin’ just uphill from the NOC, and got the chance to check out Wesser Falls with the water off. Big Surprise! The rocks almost all angle downstream and there are only a couple sharp edges to worry about? After an ultra low-water run of the Cascades, and some serious scouting of White Oak Falls, this rapid looked smooth, fun, and like the best paddling available. So I made a quick drive-by when I saw the water running on our way to go Mt. Bike riding, threw a drydeck over my clothes, and knocked off both the lines I had picked out back when I was a kid.

The Rapid:

Class 6, it’s not. Perhaps it’s wicked reputation is deserved considering all the beginners just upstream, but for class 4+ boaters with modern headgear you might want to stroll on over before breakfast one morning to check out the ‘jagged rocks’ for yourself. It was really fun dropping down from the slalom gates towards that big horizon line. It was even more fun discovering the lines I piked out years ago were the ones that still looked like the most fun.

The right side starts with a nice boof which I followed far right through a series of chutes culminating in a fluffy hole. My stern touched as melted into the hole but that was the only rock I felt.

The left side comes at you fast, and it’s hard to find your line as you roll into it. A big right draw was in order to keep me from careening into the shallows far left to early, and you need a bit of right-to-left momentum as you go through the narrow ‘slot’ to avoid a sharp-edged flake just under the surface. I bounced a rock up top, then melted into the slot more than expected but came through fast and smooth – happy to have found an unexpected PersonalFirstD to knock of in such an unexpected, frequently visited locale (without even getting my jeans wet 🙂 .

Enjoy the shots – and hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Clay Wright


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