Archives for October 2012

Old vs. New

Screen Capture. Sam Ovett Coming through Big Kahuna

Friday morning started at 7:30am in the Nantahala Gorge. I had the unique opportunity to work on the flow study taking place on the Nantahala Bypass. Officially, the Nantahala bypass is described as the section between the dam at Lake Nantahala and the start of the class 2-3 commercially rafted section of the Nantahala River. This section, known as the Cascades (class 4-5) and the Upper Nantahala (class 3-4), normally lie in wait for heavy rains to bring the rapids up to a runnable level. To the delight of the local community and many of the kayakers in the Southeast, a release was scheduled for the last weekend of September 2012. This conveniently fell on the weekend of the well-attended Guest Appreciation Festival (commonly referred to as GAF by those in the outdoor community) held every year in the Nantahala Gorge.


We spent Friday finding out the natural flow already occurring in the river bed, known as the base flow. Going off of the numbers we had acquired on Friday, Duke Energy was able to release enough water from the dam to reach the desired level of 300 CFS. Then at 6:00 am on Saturday Morning, with the rain coming down in droves, we drove up to just below the dam in order to calculate how close Duke had gotten to the desired 300 CFS. With the instruments in hand we stepped into a wide section of river bed and began measurements. Once we had finished we had a final reading of 235 CFS coming from the dam. This measurement was quickly relayed to the men operating the dam, and they made sure to release more water until it was within the desired range of 300 CFS.

The same process took place Sunday morning to achieve the desired flow schedule of 425 CFS from 10am to 3pm and 250 CFS from 3pm to 5pm.

Having had the opportunity to play a small role in a successful recreational release of the Cascades and Upper Nantahala, as well as paddling them on Sunday afternoon, I now have a much greater appreciation for the work done by Duke Energy and a greater understanding of how our rivers are managed.

Some Tools for the Job:

Driving along the Nantahala Bypass:


I managed to round up some old yet very stylish gear and Wavesport Diesel 80 to take down the Cascades. Thank you to Endless River Adventures and NOC for running shuttles so everyone could do laps on the creek

Old Meets New on the Cascades (a.K.a The Scades BRO!) from SMAXBros on Vimeo.

Side Note: With classes back in session for the week I was able to break away after classes and run Mossy Creek with some good buddies Nate Pulliam, Rick Watkins, and Matt Heath. Mossy Creek is a fun Class 4 creek (maybe class 5 with more water) with some visual impressive horizon lines, that yielded to fun slides. No pictures of Mossy Creek since we put on very close to dark and were hustling to finish the run, but we had some great Mexican food afterwards!