Mark Taylor controlling the first reconnect on Laurel Falls
Home on the kayak tour
Ty Caldwell launching off of the first ledge at Darwin’s Hole
A random paddler finding the flake at the top of Darwin’s Hole
A long scout ensued, it was definitely a “marginal monster.” Mark Taylor set his eye on the center line, a bouncing, reconnecting, slope to vert to slope. After watching his very clean but bouncy line, my concerns were reconfirmed. I really didn’t think I would have much control on the third reconnect. The speed and violence of the reconnect looked like it could be a career ender. So… I contemplated a far right line. It was a triple drop jumble, the first two drops looked like the tea cups on the Paralyze rapid of my local run Lake Creek. The third feature was a 40ft drop with a light reconnect half way down.
Mark Taylor sending Laurel Falls on the Laurel Fork
Boone NC has inspired me to revisit northern NC again and again, thanks Boone Boys.
Boone NC, hosts the most fun loving community of boaters ever.
These guys went out of there way to welcome me into there community and show me a spectacular time. We charged into rapids 12 at a time, with people in every imaginable and unimaginable eddy. Took the time to stop and enjoy beers in the amazing canyon. Showed off every blind corner, tiny slot move, and silly attainment ferry. Freewheeled off of every drop conceivable, and boofed a hand full of terrifying ledges.
Team Tiger Blood
If you haven’t watched the Charlie Sheen video, where he claims to have Tiger Blood in his veins. click below.
The annual Watauga race was approaching quickly and Team Tiger blood was formed, Ty Caldwell, Tyler Mayo, James Lowry, Matt Redmond, Clay Lucas, Mark Taylor, Ryan DeKay, and I had joined forces to be the almighty cause of chaos and destruction during the race.
Imagine lining up against the river bank with 50 of your closest friends. Make sure the slowest people are downstream and the fastest upstream, so they immediately have to start making there way through the pack. Now place a bridge that is only two feet above the river level a little too close for comfort. Nascar fans use the term, “the Big One” for the amazing wreck that takes half of the cars out of the field. The Big One was about to happen on the Watauga.
GO!!!! The pack took off and as the slower paddlers were getting to the bridge the faster paddlers had approached full speed, the “big one” occurred directly under the bridge. There was screams and paddles clacking off each other, the bridge, and faces. As the posse reemerged from beneath the bridge the order of the pack was significantly altered. A couple more minutes into the race and the collisions and “rubbing is racing” attitude was in full effect. Ten minutes into the race and the lactic acid was coursing through are veins, the pack had become a single file train through only some of the rapids. The Watauga river is one of the best down river race venues I have ever attended, there is a myriad of good lines through every rapid, and this allows for constant jockeying of position. Thirty minutes in and we were approaching the finish line, State Line Falls. The top competitors were still fighting it out while entering the final rapid.
Team tiger blood won the race, by having more fun and creating more chaos then any one thought possible. Chris Gragtmans personal blamed me for his loss, lol. Eric Chance the local wonder, did have the fastest time… but who cares. The Watauga race is an amazing grass roots event that put a gigantic smile on my face.
Watch out Team Tiger Blood is out there.
1. Eric Chance
2. Chris Gragtmans
3. Toby McDermott
4. Chris Harjes
5. Clay Lucas aka TIGER BLOOD
6. Jim Janney (1st short boat)
7. Colin Hunt
8. Mike Patterson
9. John Quigley and Steve McGrady (First and only K2)
10. Tyler Mayo aka TIGER BLOOD
11. Red Green boat with FNA full face???
12. Kirk Eddlemon
13. Alex Matthews
14. Ryan DeKay aka TIGER BLOOD
15. Chris Baer aka TIGER BLOOD
16. Saunders Southecorvo
17. Garret Thompson
18. Van Nall
19. Dylan the Highschooler
20. Red green boat geen t-dub ????
21. Ty Brown Caldwell aka TIGER BLOOD
22. Dennis Gilfillan