For at least a year now Andy Hobson and I have had an eye on Chewacla state park falls, and its probability of successfully running it in our kayaks. Its a 25 to 30 foot drop that lands in a very shallow pool, about 2-3 feet deep at extremely high water(shown here). That leads directly into another 25ft off vertical waterfall/slide we call "Stidham falls"(below). Together dropping 60 vertical feet in about fifty yards.The Lower falls/slide known as "Stidham Falls" has been run for a few years now but still remains one of the few class 5 drops in Lee county, not to mention one of the southern most class 5 rapids in the southeastern United States. Its a technical drop that can be nothing but fun when run correctly, however deal out a great bit of carnage to those who don't. If you look at the top of the frame of the these pictures you can see the upper falls in the background.
The pictures on the left where taken at a minimum runnable level for the lower falls, which is WAY too low for the upper falls(as shown). The pictures on the right side of the screen where taken at a high flow for the lower falls, which is the minimum flow for the upper. When Andy and I ran it on Sunday, it was higher than the photos shown here on the right.Wanting to safely run the upper falls meant waiting on the right timing. We had scouted out all possible lines of the dam, but between waiting for an ideal flow and knowing the landing was so sketchy, the factors had never aligned together resulting in a run straight out of the 26 acre Chewacla state park lake.But fortunately tropical storm Fay brought lots of water our way, and on the weekend, nonetheless.
Brittany and I met Andy at about 8:30 Sunday, August 24 2008 with intentions of going straight to Chewacla. The state park has lots of cool features, including class 5 park andhuck.... the catch, a $3 entry fee on the weekends and $2 on the weekdays and a two hundred yard walk from the truck.Upon our arrival we could hear the water from the parking lot and suddenly a great feeling came over us. We quickly suited up and hiked the 1/8 mile trail down hill to the falls. Walking straight to the upper falls, we had high hopes of a large enough flow to run it. And it was BIG.
The highest I've ever seen it. But that's what we needed to see, honestly. We ran the lower falls at the highest flow it's ever been run, I'm willing to bet. Andy fired it up first and it was amazing, flawless. With a class four plus lead in, this drop falls about 6 feet vertically before driving over a super fun auto boof/launch dropping about ten to twelve feet into a large hole. Then about a ten foot pool into the last lead out hole, also beefy(lower falls shown here with Andy standing by). We each ran it several times with all smiles.
Pumped from our good lines, we had to go take a second look at the notorious upper falls. This time thoroughly scouting out the river right line. The landing was actually more shallow, but all other aspects of the line where much more inviting than the river left one. After rigging up a sweet little boat saving system we launched Andy's boat, filled with about 15 gallons of water, off the drop for a test run. As soon as we saw how well it took the drop we both knew it was on......And so we ran the shit.
I ran it first, and Andy soon there after, and it was all goooooood.
The following photos were caught by an Auburn/Opelika news photographer, William White. He happened to be at the park on his own account, and this is what was in the newspaper. More to come he says on a CD he plans on mailing me.....For some reason i couldn't load the video straight to the blog so...
Make sure to Check out the video here: http://www.vimeo.com/1648150