October 26, 2010 -- Elkhorn City, KY
As already announced, the site of the 2012 Senior Wildwater Team Trials (being held in 2011) is the Russell Fork River on the KY/VA state line just a few hours north of Johnson City, TN. The Russell Fork already has four weekends of recreational releases planned every October and a group of us from the southeast took the opportunity this past weekend to have an impromptu training camp at the venue. The river was running 1300cfs all weekend.
The sprint course is located in KY just inside the state line at Ratliff Hole River Access. This is the take out for the class 4 gorge section that wildwater will not be racing on. The sprint course starts just a 3 minute walk upstream from the access point and finishes below the run out of the last rapid. There's a good warmup area and easy access to the river. The best K1 times were consistently around 90 seconds. From the start you almost immediately paddle into the top of the first rapid with light chop and some rocky route decisions to make. The intensity builds and builds until the rapid briefly pitches into a stepper section and gets compressed against a cliff wall resulting in a length wave train. The wave train flows into a large pool and gets quite a numbers of boils and whirlpools before petering out. It's a short flatwater sprint from there to the last rapid which is a short punchy rapid with a good sized play hole followed by another wave train.
You can watch video of the sprint here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QhPIird54g
The classic starts directly below the John W. Flannagan Dam 13 miles upstream of the sprint course. This is actually the Pound River. The start pool is located about 100 meters below the dam next to the gaging station. Lots of warm-up area too. From the start to the confluence with the Russell Fork, the Pound can best be categorized as a narrow stream bed of entertaining class 2+ whitewater with chop, broken waves and ledge holes. The river takes a few twists and turns. This section of the classic is located in pristine wilderness and one of the prettiest wildwater runs I've done. At the confluence with the Russell Fork, the river dramatically widens and its a 2 minute sprint to a broken weir under the road bridge at Bartlick. The weir and its wave train run-out is comfortably run with no hits providing you are in the right place. The classic takes about 10 minutes in a K1 and is super friendly to wildwater boats.
You can watch a video of the classic here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu7EQifHRPA
Thanks for paddlers Chris Hipgrave, Jack Ditty, Mark Hamilton, JP Bevilaqua, Haley Popp, Tom Popp, Colton Popp and John Pinyerd for participating in a fun weekend.