April 16, 2018

April 15 2018 Upper Mulberry, Calvert Prong

Yesterday was fun in an old-school boater kinda way. I initially tried to plan a trip to East Fork of Flint Creek. This run has no internet gauge so Ron Looney who lives nearby it checked the bridge gauge on his way home from work, about 7 am. It was about twice the flow we hoped for. We changed plans to meet at the takeout of Calvert Prong at 11am. The thinking was, we might get another read of East Fork Flint, and Calvert was (sorta) on the way. 
The Locust was running about 7 feet, which usually means Calvert is in at a good level. Calvert doesn't have an internet gauge OR a bridge gauge. But there are pylons in the stream next to where County Rd. 1 crosses Calvert, and we can use them to tell if the run has water. I loaded up my trusty Liquidlogic Kayaks Stomper 80 creekboat. It's my 'default' kayak choice when I don't know what kind of day we are going to have, creeky or river running.
On the way to Calvert, I stopped by Blackburn, yet another run with no internet gauge. It was in flood so any gauge on the bridge was hidden. I've wanted to paddle Blackburn for the first time and have yet to get to do that... yesterday was definitely not the day to try it. Heading on towards Calvert, I drove past the turn to check on the pylons on the hwy 1 crossing, to discover they were under water.
When I arrived at the take-out for Calvert, I was surprised by the number of vehicles. A lot of Alabama boaters wanted to paddle something different than the standard Locust and Mulberry runs. I walked out onto the metal bridge that crosses the river at the take-out and looked at the current. As I suspected from the hidden pylons I checked earlier, Calvert was in flood as well. We had a discussion of what else nearby we could run, that included Upper Locust, but I was unsure of what Cornelius Falls would be like at this level (any beta on that?). Some of us decided to run Upper Mulberry. The Mulberry was at 6 feet per Ming's stick gauge. (Yes, the Mulberry has no internet gauge either; the state defunded the USGS official gauge of one of the most popular beginner rivers in the state. Two people have made their own homemade gauges that upload data to the internet and both of these gauges are down right now. One is Ming's stick gauge and she was able to report it on Facebook.) Back to the story. Some folks decided to stay and run Calvert. I predicted, "Well it will be flat, and fast..." While the others prepared to run Calvert, Andy Lee and Lynn, William CraftonMing StephensChase Bryan and I drove 20 minutes to the Garden City parking area (takeout for the Upper Mulberry) and while we were consolidating boats for shuttle we got a phone call that the others were done on Calvert and headed our way! We put on about 12:30 with Matthew Walz and James Henderson from the Calvert crew, and the rest met up with us on the river.
The Upper Mulberry was wonderful. Just freaking wonderful wave trains, and I made a mental note to put this run in consideration any time the Mulberry was over 4 feet. I've ran it before but it had been awhile, and yesterday was a perfect level. There was one eddy line where some of the guys in playboats tried to stern squirt, with lots of rolling and laughing... I have some video to post later. There was a Jitsu, an RPM, and an Axiom rolling around...
We finished up and some of us headed back to the Calvert take-out. We got there around 4pm to find it had dropped a foot. We didn't check to see if the pylons were visible. I kinda pondered going home as it was still high, but decided to run it, hell we were there. Andy and Lynn, Ming, Matthew, James and I put on. The water had dropped enough that some of the rapids were in play, and the one bigger rapid, Cyclops, dealt out some carnage, including the wonderful view I had as I paddled behind James, as he got munched in a curler in the drop and executed a perfect roll. I wish I had a helmet camera video of that moment! 
I do think this was the highest level I've paddled on Calvert. A quick muddy run and some wave trains, but most of the surfing was washed out. I'd preferred it had dropped another foot; today it will likely be nice, as the Locust is holding at over 6 ft. I had a dry hair day again today, which isn't exactly a good habit, I need to roll more. It's hard to motivate myself to roll when I'm in my comfy Stomper, in a warm drysuit on chilly, brown water. I know, I know. On the way home I checked Blackburn again, it was still pretty high, which suggests the dam at Inland Lake might have been releasing overflow. It might be good today.
Pylons to check on County Rd. 1 bridge view of Calvert. They weren't visible yesterday.

March 31, 2018

Fun Stuff 2018

Unbelievable! 2018 and I've already paddled twice.  Seven days total on the river out of the past two weeks.  Sweet!
Jan 1st - BCC Feast At The Beach.  In the LL Stomper 80.  6 of us paddled the Mulberry at 1/2 a foot.  Weather freezin-azz cold, maybe 20F?  Alex S. got a great roll at Lunchstop.  Then we had chili around a nice bonfire at the takeout.  Photos here.  


Jan 5 - Locust.  Level 2.1.  In the LL Stomper 80.  To Swann.  Sunny and in the low 30's.   Icicles on the rocks, and iced over eddies.  With Norma L. and Josh H.  Josh let me try his new medium Pyranha Ripper from Double Trouble to the beach across from Austin Creek.  Sweet boat! Photos here.


Icicles on the Locust Fork
Jan 20 - Lesson on the Ocoee with Kirk E.  In the LL Stomper.  Release was from midnight thru 11 am ET, so I drove up at 4am.  5 hour lesson, very thorough.  Stoked to do more lessons with Kirk!
Then I drove to Mary M's house, and had dinner with her at the Hoppy Trout in Andrews.  

Jan 21 - Demo medium Ripper, Nantahala, thanks to NOC for the demo!
Jan 22 - Aimee Mann at the Lyric Theater.  Great show!  My first visit to the Lyric.  Fantastic venue.
Feb 3-4  - Locust Fork Races.    I did not race.  I did spectate.  Sunday the river had come up so the set of gates below the last hole were very entertaining.  Most racers flipped there.  Most rolled, too.  Some flipped and rolled a few times.  I wish I had taken video.


Dry weather spell... then... RAIN

Feb 10 - Mulberry take-out.   In the Dagger Axiom 8.5.  With William who let me demo his Axiom.  Weather forecast had a flash flood watch so we just goofed around at 5-0 instead of running the river.
Feb 11 - Graves Creek and Calvert Prong.  In the LL  Stomper.  With Andy, James, Riley, and others on Graves.   Andy, James, Matthew and others on Calvert.  We had a bad strainer incident.  Graves is a cool little creek that needs wood cut out.  Portages, carnage. I swam at the strainer.  Calvert is clear of wood and delightful as always.  Level on the Locust high,  7-8 ft.  Locust portion of Graves was tall wave trains.
Feb 16-18 Grotto Getaway.   At Maranatha camp.  Really nice place for our SERA!  I stayed in a hogan with the Howells, Andy and Gary.  Ridgewalk on Saturday in the mist and rain, I found a blowing lead high in elevation that we are excited about returning to.

Feb 18 Locust Fork.  In the LL Stomper.  With Clayton and Kahyee, Lynn.  Many folks on the river.  Level in the 3.5 range, which is a good filled in medium.   Weather in the low to mid- 60's, sunny at first, then cloudy.   I was happy to wear the drysuit.
Feb 24 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper. What a change 5 days of warm temps makes.  Can't believe it's real.  
Mulberry today at 1.5 ft. In February. No drysuit. No drytop. I was in a shortsleeve top, and IR shorts. It rained some on us. The rain and the river water were both mild.temps. Unbelievable, wonderful day.   With Clayton V. and William C.
March 3-4 Mulberry Fork Races.   I was gate judge coordinator, so I didn't paddle.  The level was in the 2.5-3 ft. range on Saturday, closer to 1.5 on Sunday IIRC.  It was very cold both nights and I found out my 20 degree bag isn't even a 40 degree bag anymore.   It was sunny both days and the gate judges did their jobs well.  I'm impressed with how much hard work it takes to put on this event every year, and it's been going on since 1980.

March 9 - 12 ALF.  With the Lost Tribe.   Drove up Friday afternoon.   Middle Tellico K1 Saturday at 1.8, sunny, 50's during the day.   Middle Tellico OC2 Sunday at 1.7, sunny, low 60's.    Mulberry Fork K1 Monday at 3.5.  It was snowing and cold at the Tellico on Monday so I drove south to find sunny skies and 50's in Alabama.   I didn't take photos this ALF. 
March 18 Locust Fork.   In the LL Stomper.  Level 3.1.  With Ross Jacobs, Jason Hardy for his first trip on whitewater in his Dagger Katana, Shahn and others.  Weather mild.
March 24 Mulberry.   In the WS Project X 56.  Level 1.5.  This was correlated to both bridge gauges and new digital gauge.  Weather chillier than predicted and water temps chilly as well.  I wore my shortie top and shorts and was underdressed for the occasion.    We surfed our tails off.   With Andy L, Joan S, Clint (new boater).

March 30 Tellico.  In the LL Stomper.  Level 2.3.  Weather and water temps mild.  Predicted 100% chance of rain, instead we had blue skies and puffy clouds.  I am convinced that it's impossible to predict weather in the Smoky mountains and their kin.   This was a quick day trip to get wire from Mary Mills for our SERA.   Chattanooga traffic going home made it a longer day than I wanted.  Still worth it.  Always.
March 31 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper.  Level 1.5, same as last Saturday.  Weather warmer, water still chilly, glad to have my drysuit on.  Surfed a bunch again.   With Andy and Lynn, Joan S., Clint, Josh H., others.  Great day.
April 7 Paddlefest.  Chilly, upper 40's, windy.  The event was a bust.  I felt terrible for the event organizers, but Mother Nature had other plans for us.   I didn't paddle.

April 8 Mulberry. In the ProjectX 56.   In the drysuit which means big shoes for the drysuit socks.  ugh.  my feet!  Nice weather though.  Still chilly but sunny.   Afterwards I visited the Caudles.
April 14 SERA workday.  HUGE rainstorm that night led to:

April 15 Upper Mulberry, Calvert Prong.   Trip report here: http://dangerjudy.blogspot.com/2018/04/april-15-2018-upper-mulberry-calvert.html
Weather overcast, some sun, it got to 60.   Mulberry was at 5 feet when we got to the stick gauge.  Locust at 7 feet.  Calvert needs better correlation.  A bridge gauge hopefully.

March 16, 2018

Cardune/Cardoon recipe

'Tis the season for Cardune, a Sicilian delicacy.  I thought I had a page about this already, but it's not showing up in a search, so...
Should you know what these are, and be fortunate enough to have a local grocer who gets them in early Spring, celebrate. Cynara cardunculus are a relative to the artichoke and when they are cooked properly they taste kind of like artichokes.  



Clean like you would celery then with paring knife, peel any obviously tough strings and discard. 
Cut the cleaned cardoon into 4-6 inch pieces and place into large pot of water with the juice of one lemon in it and turn on high heat. 
When water comes to a boil, continue cooking until cardune pieces are tender, but not mushy. 
The cooking time might vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. 
Keep testing them to make sure they are tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water. 
 Pat dry with paper towels and prepare your coatings. 
Make one bowl with beaten eggs. 
One bowl with seasoned flour. 
Dip cardune pieces in then egg, then flour, then in pan of heated vegetable oil mixed with olive oil.  Do not crowd in pan – dip, flour and fry as you remove cooked cardoon.
Fry until golden, then turn over and brown on both sides, place on paper towels to drain.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
They are delicious warm or cold.


.....
"The Cardoon has a long history in American horticulture, as it was a common colonial vegetable and one grown at Monticello in long rows. Today, few bother to grow the plant for food, opting for imported artichokes or those flown in from California, but the cardoon offers a more sustainable option to air-shipped artichokes, especially for those who garden in the north, and as an ornamental and a vegetable, it can be planted in the border rather than the vegetable garden."