Two Blackburn Fork Trip Reports, same trip


The Quick Work-Out



date:    Feb 12, 1993 air temp at put-in: approximately 40 degrees F

weather:   An overcast morning broke up and gave way to a sunny afternoon.

boaters:   Charlie Stotts, John Reynolds, Roy Waldrup and Mike Abernathy

geographics:   Southern Sand Mountain 35 miles north of Birmingham

watershed:   Blackbum Fork

class:       class III maybe IV (VI)

level:        6.2 feet at the highway 79/Locust Fork gauge

section:   The short section upstream from the no-access bridge.

river distance: approximately four miles

physical stimuli: One exhilarating mile of nearly flat water paddling ended at a blockage choked with trees.  This point marked the beginning of some real whitewater fun.  The portage was over 100 yards through recently cut over timber, tree tops and a boulder strewn, steep gradient.  After all of our dues were paid, we enjoyed boofing through what might have been some exciting class III/IV drops (if there had been another foot of water).  After 3/4 miles of this rapture, you can imagine our relief when the gradient eased.  We pried our white knuckles off our paddles and set about to savor the remaining 2.5 miles of flat water bliss.  Upon sighting the no-access bridge, giddiness overcame us in anticipation of the trailless, sawbriar guarded, 30 foot climb to the roadway.

objective:   Take in a new creek.

resultant:   Overcome with exhaustion.

rewards:   After all the equipment was loaded, a full bodied cold carbonated beverage was served.  Thanks Mike

diagnosis:            The subjects demonstrate the classic symptoms of ‘whitewater denial'.  What else would explain promising to be back for an important banquet at 5:00 knowing that a new creek would be full of unknown delays?

prognosis:            After a long stay at a good paddling detox center, they should be able to function with limited disability.

prescription: A two week intensive program at the world famous “Institute for the Hydro-logically Imapired”.  This, of course, being the one located at Wesser, North Carolina.

conclusions:            Life is good when you are a paddler with a forgiving wife.

(Charlie Stotts)





DATE: February 12, 1994


With water everywhere, but evening time constraints looming, four paddlers put on Blackburn Fork. The Locust Fork was at 6.2 feet and dropping from a reported high of over 11 feet the day before.  The first mile or so of Blackburn is flat, followed by the Blockage, a mandatory portage.  After the portage is 3/4 mile of Class III creek type water, which then levels off to pastoral Class I gravel bar type water.  Some of the area has been logged recently, and storm-felled trees were in the water in a few places.  The bluffs contained some shale which is rare in the limestone/sandstone we usually paddle.  Every one agreed it was a pretty paddle but the difficulty of the portage and takeout and the extent of the flat water put it on the ‘once every few years' list.  Participants: Mike Abernathy, Roy Waldrup, Charlie Stotts and John Reynolds.  Directions: Read Locust Fork Gauge at Cleveland, Drive south on US79 to Locust Fork.  Turn around and drive back to first right (before bridge).  Turn right.  First bridge is take out.  Drive couple of miles looking for an old low water bridge on side dirt road.  Put in at low water bridge.   (John Reynolds)