Hubbard Creek – June 3, 2001, Mark D’Agostino
(C-1), Dave Curry (OC-1)
It was Thursday. The Bankhead
was being hammered with rain. Mark and I both had weaselly excuses
for not being able to paddle when the water was optimum: like work, or
picnics, or other insignificant (compared to paddling) reasons. By
Sunday, when we were able to make it, a lot of the water had already run
out. Fortunately, Hubbard Creek still had enough water (by Mark’s
prognostications) for a reasonable paddle. We headed for the headwaters
of the Sipsey.
The water at the put-in was pretty
low, not much more than a trickle, but we figured it was enough for adequate
lubrication on the big slide just a few hundred yards downstream and to
scrape the rest of the way to the Sipsey. We tossed the boats onto
We did a careful bank scout of the
25-foot high slide, which is called Kinlock Falls. Mark’s most important
goal was the placement of my camera for a good picture of him. Mark
had a smooth, straight down the gut run which produced a good picture.
For my run, I sideslipped a bit toward my on side, giving at least the
impression in the picture that I was side surfing my way down. In
this case, the picture was far more important than running the slide.
From that point on, it was a 9-½
mile race to the takeout: a real cardio vascular workout. The Bankhead
scenery was spectacular and incredible: beautiful waterfalls on the side
creeks, clear water, rock overhangs, and fern covered cliffs. The
scent of magnolia blossoms filled the air. Even at the speed we were
traveling, we were able to take in a good bit of it. The only problems
we had between the put-in and the confluence with Thompson creek were several
massive logjams that had to be portaged.
Between Kinlock Falls and the takeout,
there is only one rapid of significance, Ship Rock Rapid, a pretty good
Class II/III chute between large boulders with a big rock at the bottom.
I caught the eddy on the left at the top and Mark grabbed the one on the
right. I went first, figuring I could run it straight down the left
and use what appeared to be a nice pillow of water to bounce off the rock
at the bottom. I got as far as the pillow; the rock grabbed me and
held me there while the creek proceeded to fill my boat with water.
I had to do quite a bit of rock bracing with paddle and hands to keep from
going for a swim. After what seemed like an eternity (actually about
3 seconds), I slid off the rock and into the eddy below with half a boat
of water. Mark saw my folly and ran to the right and had no problem,
but only after I had set up to take his picture.
The rest of the trip was uneventful.
It was just a long paddle through more spectacular scenery under perfect
weather conditions. The whole trip took less than four hours, including
time to scout Kinlock Falls and make at least two major portages around
logjams. On the way home, we made the obligatory stop at Lamar Marshall’s
store in Wren to look at the museum like exhibits and fill my comeback
cup with coffee.