Wesley Bradley 06/06/2017 | Posted in 2013 Karma, 2015 Zen, Media, rivers, Video, Whitewater
This past winter and early spring was starting to look like we were not going to have much of a creek season in the southeast. Warmer and dryer temperatures was the theme of the winter months in our region. Then spring sprung and we had a few showers here in there in late March into early April that started getting an occasional run up to a runnable level for a day or so if you could catch it.
At the end of April the weather changed and a more consistent heavy rain pattern started in the highlands region of northwest North Carolina and northeast Tennessee. The highland area is centered in between Roan Mountain, Beech Mountain and Grandfather Mountain. Out of this region flows some of the best rivers & creeks any Class IV-V boater would be thrilled to fire up such as: Watauga Gorge, Elk River Gorge, Doe River Gorge, Wilson Creek, Laurel Fork of the Doe, and the mighty Linville River Gorge.
Running the bottom drop of Darwin’s Revenge on the Laurel Fork of the Doe. Photo by Matt Dalton.
I live only about 45 minutes to the center of this mecca of whitewater and we have truly been blessed with multiple option in the highlands region in late April and May. I have been fortunate to catch many of these runs multiple times here lately and guide several first timers.
Running Stateline Falls on the Watauga Gorge. Photo by Amos Ivey.
With all these local creeking options it has given me a chance to use both my trusty JK Karma Large and JK Zen Large on these runs back to back. I still prefer my Karma for the harder steeper whitewater, but I love the sportiness of the Zen. The extra buoyancy and boof ability of the Karma gets the job done well for me when I feel I need that extra safety net like on the Laurel Fork or the Elk. However the Zen excels with speed and nimbleness in handling runs such as the Watauga and the Doe with the plethora of different moves and lines you can take on these runs. The Zen also still amazes me at how well it stays on top of the whitewater despite my larger size.
Running the bottom drop of Groove Tube on the Laurel Fork of the Doe. Photo by Matt Dalton.
One of the highlights from this highland creek season was getting show down one of my best friends, Brain Vermillion, down the Elk Gorge as a birthday present with another best friend, Ryan Horn. Check out Brian’s great video edit from the run: