Today I attended my first kayak rodeo in years. For years now long lines and growing egos have turned me off from kids who can loop but not be able to roll on their offside. However today I attended the Tri Cities Hometown Throwdown rodeo at Jaws on the Nolichucky.
After two days of some serious class V+ I was looking for an easier day of paddling. When my friend told me he could pick me up on his way I was glad to take him up on the offer.
Although I have never really spent much time surfing Jaws I have run the Nolichucky more then a few times now. It has found a special place in my river heart.
To run the full gorge is an eight-mile paddle through one of the prettiest gorges in the SE with consistent class II-IV rapids. It very much reminds me off the Bulls Bridge section of the Housatonic River in CT., just longer.
The weather was sunny and warm today and with the rain that we had throughout the week we had a good level for Jaws just under 2,200 cfs.
Well I really didn’t know what to expect with the event. We showed up to the river around 1:00 geared up and played our way down to Jaws hitting up a few different waves and holes along the way. When we got down to hole there was a small crowd of about two dozen people on the right bank by the hole. Paddlers hanging out and relaxing shredders, canoers, rafters, kayakers, and even a few boogie boarders. There were a few people in the eddie waiting there turn to throwdown or get throwndown. On the left bank there was another two to three dozen boaters. This were most of the competitors had already gathered.
Wesley Bradley was the event organizer and just asked us to go over and have one of the volunteers add our names to the list. There were two classes K1a and K1b. Despite the fact that I hardly playboat now, I could do a cartwheel which put me in the K1a class. There were two or three K1b heats that went before the two small K1a heats. Each competitor got three one-minute rides that started when you entered the hole. We were also given a ten second warning when our time was almost up. The scoring went every 180-degree spin was a point if it was semi vertical I think you got two points and if it was vertical you got four. But then there were the style points. I was hoping they would count big.
I was having a blast and I got the impression that everyone else was too. Most of the K1b were spinning and getting some vertical ends with some good window shades, survival surfs, and one swim. With the top K1a guys throwing ends, loops, are screws, and a slew of other tricks that are still new to me, I was having a blast cart wheeling and twirling my paddle. Leland and I ended up tied for fourth. I felt old school and decided to take out the DR Pintail today for my boat of choice. As the event ended some headed downstream and a few of us stuck around for some more of a surf session. I had so much fun just hanging on the bank with some like-minded folks occasionally throwing down in a great feature.
As Jaws slowly slipped out of the sun and we started to flail in the backwash, we decided it was time to start hiking out. Just a simple mile hike up the railroad tracks, as long as the train doesn’t come. Once we dried off and were able to grab a bite to eat we all gathered downstream at the Riverpark Campground for the awards ceremony.
For three dollars Riverpark Campground offers you bathrooms/changing rooms and a safe place to park and relax by the river at the Big Rock playhole. The awards ceremony consisted of a raffle in which everyone received a prize ranging from a new Shred Ready helmet, Gift certificates, paddling videos, tee shirts, and a few other options.
I had so much fun at this simple event. Everyone was there to enjoy the day, the water, and their fellow boaters company. It was a great atmosphere were everything ran smoothly due to the simplicity of it. I can’t wait until the next event that will be held at Big Rock.
Thanks to everyone that volunteered and helped make this event possible as well as a lot of fun.