Archives for August 2013

Linville Gorge…Goliath’s Playground

Roughly a week ago, Sam and I were lucky enough to catch Linville Gorge at a great flow during a beautiful summer day. Here’s the story.   

Sam dropping into Babel Tower.

We were chatting with Dylan McKinney two days earlier and he felt that Linville would be at a runnable level on Tuesday, July 20th.  Even better, since neither Sam nor I had ever run Linville, we had the day off.  And, we were feeling the need for a gradient fix and knew this would satisfy it. So we made plans to catch up and see if a Linville mission could be a go – it was! Sam and I rallied over to Ashville Monday evening and stayed at a friend’s house.

Linville Falls

The plan was to meet up with Dylan, maybe not so bright, but certainly early, at 5:45am to start the drive to Linville. We woke up and were driving over to our rallying point in Asheville when I received a text from Dylan saying that he was going to be 5-10 minutes late. Thus, in usual Smax fashion, we found the closest Waffle House and had ourselves a hardy breakfast! Breakfast over, we met up with Dylan, loaded up our gear in one car and drove to Linville.

Dylan fully Stoked!

Once there we went ahead and ran shuttle with some friends who were doing a quick before-work lap. Putting in below the falls was sick. All you could see was the water gushing out of this crack into the hollowed out pool below. From there we took our time making our way down to the first of many rapids which made Babel Tower a super fun rapid. After Babel Tower I truly do not remember the names of most of the others because there were so many rapids! Being in Linville Gorge was a fantastic feeling; dropping into many of the rapids and seeing the whole gorge displayed before you was amazing.

Dylan coming through the middle of Jail House.

One distinct gorge that still lingers in my mind is Cathedral Gorge; when you drop in, the walls emerge from the water as smooth a baby’s bottom due the force of water that has been pushing though the Gorge for centuries. Inside the Gorge you drop through some funky slots and exit through the last drop called Cathedral Falls. Once we arrived at the base of Cathedral Falls I eddied out and hopped out to stretch my legs.

Then I remembered the snickers I had stashed in my pfd and went ahead and split it into 3rds. We all sat down to an extremely satisfying snack of snickers, especially since it was the first food we had since our Waffle House breakfast. After we finished our meager snicker snack, we loaded back up and finished the few rapids to the takeout of Conley Cove.

Dylan finishing Jail House.

Then began the 1.2 miles hike and roughly 1000ft of elevation gain, what a great way to end the run! Linville Gorge is truly different than any other gorge I have ever experienced.  While most gorges in the Southeast are narrow and tall, Linville is expansive and yet still steep.  This made the run captivating. We went to an overlook after the run to look down into the gorge, and to our amazement we were able to look down and distinctly recognize the rapids we had run just hours before. If you have the chance to ever do Linville and your paddling ability is there, you have to do it. Linville is Sick!