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We are renowned for bringing the rain everywhere. We could cure droughts in the driest of places. And sure enough last week we brought the storms to Alabama. When we arrived, the rivers were too low and then the next day they were gushing. And you know what that means…we hit the water. We ran one of our favorite rivers in Alabama, Short Creek. And my 10 year old brother Cardy ran it with us for the first time.
We put in and everything seemed cool. Great conditions for Cardy’s first descent. The sun was shining and the air felt warm. But once we got to the falls we realized the water was higher than we expected, this was not ideal for Cardy. He was really excited to run his first waterfall, but was shocked when he saw it. After a little encouragement, he was ready. He followed my dad and fellow Jackson Team member Jeremy Adkins. We were all cheering for Cardy as he dropped off Short Creek Falls. He flipped at the bottom, rolled up, and paddled to the eddy. He was so happy, and couldn’t believe he just ran an 18 foot waterfall! The rest of the run didn’t go as well.

Right above Grotto Falls Cardy flipped over. He tried a couple rolls before I got to him. I rolled him up but he had lost his paddle. He was just about to pull, while right-side-up, but then he realized he was up. While trying to get his paddle he ended up swimming on the next little rapid. My Dad flipped also but rolled up just fine.

The next rapid was tricky also. Tornado Sluice, at these flows, had a very strong seam on the right side. Most all of us got stuck in it one by one. We all managed to get out except Cardy. He came down after my dad and fell right into the swirling seam. He tried many rolls before he gave up. Brody again was the one to get him to shore. By this time Cardy was cold, so Jeremy Adkins got out to help him warm up while my dad drained Cardy’s boat. He got Cardy doing jumping jacks and was rubbing Cardy’s arms. Once Cardy was ready we moved on downstream.

On down we came across another big rapid. It looked pretty tough for Cardy so we decided he should walk it. After I ran the rapid Jeremy yelled to look behind me. When I turned around I saw a rabbit swimming down the rapid! Thankfully, my sister Kady helped it to the side. The rest of the river was great for Cardy. He only flipped one other time, but was able to roll up. He was a little freaked when he saw the “low head dam” hole aka. Confluence Rapid. But we explained that at the level the river was at it was really easy to avoid. All you had to do was eddy out, then paddle over a rock and you were free. He was game and ran it perfectly. After that it was just some boogey water till the lake.
During the lake paddle I talked with Cardy and he said although he swam twice and was super cold, he was very happy he went on the trip. “My favorite part was the waterfall” Cardy said with a smile. We are all very proud of him for styling his first waterfall and managing his way down a class IV creek! All of us, including Cardy, can’t wait for the Alabama Mountain Games to run Short Creek again! He already has plans to try to run a bigger waterfall this year – maybe the Spout in Rock Island this March?

-Grady Kellogg