Every region in the US is known for different kinds of whitewater. I’m originally from California, which is known for pristine high sierra multi-day adventures. However, the majority of the day to day runs consist of boulder gardens with endless water boofs and big holes. Moving to the Southeast 5 years ago was a kayaking culture shock.
By contrast, the Southeast is known for technical low water creeks. From the well known Green Narrows to the less known West Prong, the Southeast is full of technical rock boofs with shallow landings.
While I enjoy the new type of kayaking and the challenges it brought, I also miss the big water boofs and holes of my California favorites. Then, one day I paddled the Pigeon Dries.
The Pigeon Dries is located along the Hwy 40 interstate on the North Carolina and Tennessee border. I had driven past it countless times while going to other rivers and had always been told it has the name “Dries” because it never has water. After 4 years of living in Tennessee, I finally got the chance to experience this run for myself.
Shortly after putting on, I realized what I’d been missing. This class IV-V run was very similar to all the California type whitewater I’d been missing. Pool drop nature with big boofs, holes, and waves. Also, despite being next to a highway, there a only a few places where you even notice it. This quickly became one of my favorite runs in the area.
Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, it does not often have water. Despite being located in a major river drainage, this run is blocked by a dam. The water that would usually make this awesome run floatable, get diverted and flows into turbines at the takeout. However, for the last year and a half, one of the turbines has been broken. This makes it so instead of diverting all of the water, some of it overflows into the natural riverbed after a heavy rain, making the river runnable.
Every time for the last year and a half, I think sadly at the takeout that they may fix the turbine and that may have been my last run. However, to this day, the turbine remains broken. Hoping they continue their slow slow progress of the problem so more people can enjoy this new/old gem! See you out there! ~Diane Brasuell