Little River Canyon - Eberhart's Point to the Canyon Mouth
(The "Chairlift" Section)
December 31, 2007
The Last Trip of the Year
Level: about 650 cfs
On the last day of the year we hiked down from Eberhart's Point to run the "Chairlift" section of the Little River Canyon, dragging our creek boats down the broad trail using NRS straps that were meant to secure a boat to the top of a car. When you are dragging your kayak downhill it tends to catch up with you once in a while in the steeper stretches to bash you on the back of the calf. After a while you start to wonder if you'll ever make it down to the river.
There's a really nice pool at the end of the trail and everybody stopped to catch their breath before launching and dropping through the class II rapid just downstream. On both sides of the river the forested slopes rise very steeply up to rocky bluffs crowned by the silhouettes of evergreen and deciduous trees. A few craggy promontories jut out over the forested canyon and as you float through the pools between rapids you look up and watch the scenery slide slowly by with stately grandeur. The feel is more like the mountainous west in places than eastern woodlands. The openness is like that found in the valleys of much larger rivers. It's a unique and beautiful gorge.
The most difficult rapids in the Chairlift section are found within the first mile and a half. Typical features are large rocks and large holes. We ran it a little above 600 cfs and found mostly class 2 and 3 rapids with a few classic boulder gardens, ledges, and wave trains. Blue Hole Memorial was my favorite, a rapid that features a chute behind a big boulder that culminates in a surprisingly large hole that kicks you out into a raging wave train. The front of your boat whips around and then you accelerate downstream into pure whitewater and crashing wave-holes. It combines elements of the whitewater creek and the medium to high volume whitewater river.
Bottleneck is a boulder garden class 4 that can be readily viewed from atop the rocks on river right. It is classic pool-and-drop culminating in a curler that can be ridden to slide around one of the most wicked-looking v-shaped slots in the Southeast. Paddlers should prepare to slam into the hole at the bottom for a slight back-ender ejection into the pool below.
After Bottleneck, the whitewater calms down a bit and you get more time to drink in the magnificent surroundings. The pools are nice and long but there are still a few good boofs and some II+ to keep you awake. Small side creeks and tributaries spill into the river from the canyon walls and you turn your head and your boat to look at the falling water. When you get to your car at the Canyon Mouth site, you'll already be planning a return trip.