January is often a time of high rainfall and awesome boating around northeast Alabama and 2019 was no exception. However, after a couple weeks of great paddling my creeking season was suddenly put on hold when I broke my ribs on my cockpit during a rough reconnect on Asleep at the Wheel on Allen Creek in Georgia. The name Asleep at the Wheel comes from how easily it is to get past the point-of-no-return and accidentally committed to running it without scouting, a situation that happened to the first descent crew and happened to the two paddlers in front of me on my first time down. What you can’t see in this video is the long sequence of slides above the main event that lure paddlers in with only one, last-chance eddy on the right to get out and scout. Not that scouting makes that big a difference since you can’t see the bottom from the top anyway.
Asleep at the Wheel is both intimidating and unique and despite having run it a few times over the years it continues to make me nervous every time. Combining footage shot by friends and I from a few different runs over the years seemed like the best way to showcase this beast… and everything looks better in slow motion! At 1:13 in the video below you can see the hit that took me out for a bit.
After five weeks of not boating at all (and missing out on some epic flows the whole time) I finally decided to start easing back into boating. On one particularly high-water day I talked my buddies Jerrod Jones and Chuck Holbrook into checking out an obscure run high in the Little River watershed. In fact, it is so high in the watershed that the put-in and the first half of the run are in Walker County, Georgia, but the take out is just upstream of the town of Mentone, Alabama. We knew the East Fork of the West Fork of the Little River had been run once or twice before, but I’m pretty confidant in saying we had the best flows of any of the groups to attempt it. What we found was a fun run with great water quality and scenery and perhaps most surprising, very few portages for wood considering the size of the streambed.
Over the next six weeks I slowly eased back into paddling as my ribs continued to heal. Eventually, as spring (and the local creeking season) were winding down, I finally felt fully healed. Needless to say I somewhat felt like I missed out on a lot of my normal spring creeking, but at least I was healed up before summer travels and I was determined to make it a memorable one!
Until Next Time…