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Paddlers Hit Swollen French Broad

Updated: Monday, January 21 2013, 10:21 AM EST

The French Broad River is way up after a week of rain.

"We were talking earlier today about when the last time it got this high was, because ... it doesn't happen very often anymore," said Blue Heron Whitewater Owner Fritz Johnson.

A swollen French Broad River the day after the storm is, for some, the only reward after a week of rain and - in most areas - just meager snowfall.

"It changes quite a bit at higher water, it gets to be more like a western river and less like a southeastern river, you get really big waves, and big holes," said Johnson.

Johnson estimated that a five mile stretch that would normally take about two hours to paddle, with today's current, would take just about a half hour.

"Over the years there's been a number of incidents of people getting out there at high water, of people that did not have skills or equipment to do it," said Johnson.

"It is dangerous, but if you know what you're doing and you've been there, and you're comfortable, then actually this level is just a little more playful," said avid kayaker Jack Mayhouer of Weaverville while standing on the bank of the Broad Friday.

Mayhouer spotted Section 9 and made plans to paddle it.

"We were just drivin around and saw that the rivers were swollen, and I'm just trying to get a run in before the daylight ends," said Mayhouer. "This is definitely the highest it's been in the past five years I bet."

After a week indoors, it's a welcome challenge.

"The goal is to surf waves, and find a great wave, normally there's not a lot of waves out here because there's not that much water, so hopefully today I can find a couple waves," said Mayhouer, before pushing his orange kayak off into the current, and paddling down the river.

Follow Ashlea Surles on Twitter @AshleaSurles


Paddlers Hit Swollen French Broad

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