Gotta Talk about Daddy’s Creek

The theme for my first time boating Daddy's Creek

I’ve been going over the river’s I’ve paddled (namely the ones with pictures right now), and I just realized I can’t write about the rivers without writing about Daddy’s Creek, the one that at 2.0 ft is a fun gorge and at 3.2 ft scares the bejeebus out of me (and some adult male friends I have). So quick break down of Daddy’s Creek:

The River

First off, like most all the Cumberland Plateau area rivers (Obed, Big South Fork, etc), Daddy’s Creek is kind of in the middle of country way out there. It’s an easy drive, but the shuttle’s a longer one. Also, like most gorge-type rivers, Daddy’s Creek changes significantly with difference in water level. I had been told this numerous times about gorge rivers, but nothing prepares  you for what you experience on the river. At almost 3 and a half feet, the calm spots disappear, the wave trains become monstrous, and the eddy lines are rapids in their own rights.

Oh, and the pour-over hole on river right toward the bottom of the river suuuuuucks. But I

Mark Newton styling Daddy's Creek. Photo credit: Jeff Moore

digress. Daddy’s Creek is about 6.8 miles long ending and eventually drains into the Obed (with a river between that for the life of me I can’t remember right now). You can actually start at Daddy’s Creek and finish at the end of the Obed for a 19 mile run, which I’ve heard is both fun and exhausting.

Daddy’s Creek in the summer was gorgeous, but if it’s anything like the Big South Fork, this river should definitely be done in fall to enjoy the full splendor of the autumn colors on the trees and the deep blue skies.

Running Daddy’s Creek

So, I ran it twice in a weekend, the first time at 3.2 and the second at 1.9 feet. The first time, I joined a group of 9 older, experienced male paddlers. Most of them were nervous. Do you have any idea what hearing nervous whispers among your more experienced paddler friends feels like? Well, it kind of feels like hearing your dentist whisper to his nurse how he wasn’t expecting your root canal to look this difficult. I suppose the only difference there is that I had no laughing gas to find the scenario funny. I didn’t even have a beer. So I told them to hush, and we started along the muddy, turbulent water down Daddy’s Creek.

What a ride! The rapids were huge, the eddies were small, the eddy lines sucked, and I flipped more than stayed upright, but it was a grand time. I really enjoyed riding on top of a wave and using it to boof into an eddy, something I had never done before. The biggest rapid on the whole river is Rattlesnake, a two-part rapid ending in a wide drop called the Fang.

A few more substantial rapids follow behind Fang, one notable one for me being Rocking

One of the few times Jeff caught me right side up on Daddy's Creek

Chair (or Rocking Horse). This rapid converges two sections of the river into one so be prepared to brace or you’ll do a Charli and flip toward the end of the rapid. After that rapid, for the most part, the river mellows out and ends at a bridge. Normally pretty high above the water, the bridge was partially submerged when we took out on the 3.2 feet day. Needless to say, we ended that river experience with beer, courtesy of one awesome boater I met that day, Kemper.

The normal flow to run Daddy’s is around 1.9-2.4 ft, at which point it is more mellow and more of a scenic run that anything else. Either way, I enjoyed this river, though next time I might opt out for the slight insanity run.


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