Haw River Paddle

Tropical storm Hanna went through here Friday night – Saturday a.m.  We lost power Saturday morning for a few hours, and got about 5 inches of rain, but that was it.  Not much wind and no damage/down trees.

I drove by the 64 put-in on the Haw Saturday to see how the water looked, and it was crazy high.  The chart below shows flood level at 11 feet at the Bynum Gage.  I saw the water when it was around 13′.  No way would I paddle that!  But again, I have very little white water experience — I’ve been on a few guided whiter water rafting trips with class 3 rapids, and some class 2 in a canoe during an adventure race.   While we picked up a used white water boat a couple years ago, we just haven’t had the time (and child care!) to go out.

But Sunday, the water was coming down, and Mark from church showed some interest… We ended up putting in at 15/501 in Bynum when the level was about 7.5 feet.   That was higher than Mark’s ever paddled, so we figured it could get interesting.  We ended up making it all the way to Robeson Creek in 50 minutes — about 20 minutes faster than Mark has ever made it before.  We opted to skip much of the class 3 on the lower Haw, including Gabriel’s bend.   However, the lowest picture in the link below shows class 2/3 for “The Ledge” which we did go through, and I would say that was mostly class 3 yesterday with the water as high as it was.  Here are some definitions from wikipedia:

Class 1: Very small rough areas, requires no maneuvering. (Skill Level: None)
Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require maneuvering.(Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)
Class 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.(Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)

Here is a good link with all the routes and classes on this run:


I was pretty happy with my paddling, considering this was my first true run in a white water kayak.  On the middle Haw there was one point where my hand slipped off my paddle, and I lost balance for a second.  By the time I recovered I could not avoid a pretty good drop rapid, so I just went straight into it.  The water hit me square in the face — that’s how much I dropped — but I made it through.  In the lower section, it took some strong paddling to maneuver away from Gabriel’s Bend and all the class 3 rapids.  There was one point where Mark pinned a bit and had to get out, and I struggled to avoid him and my boat turned sideways.  I almost lost my paddle under the boat, but eventually was able to recover it.

All in all a fantastic run.  I don’t think I’d go out with the water much higher than 8 on the gauge without a lot more practice — and maybe a class or two!

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