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Article Added on Wednesday, February 16, 2000
Confessions of a Kayaker
Story contributed by Jason Black, with photos by Julie Bertsch

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Big Splat on the Big Sandy
Black picks his line at Big Splat
It's a weird feeling, hearing the rain pounding on the roof in the middle of the night, and you're going boating the next day. It could be the nervous anticipation of running the Upper Blackwater, or the excited feeling of knowing that your favorite familiar stream is on the rise. Either way, it's floating around out there, and touching every boater in the area. It's like feeling another energy, on the water, and off.

Big Splat on the Big Sandy
Feeling the power of lower Splat's brutal crease
On Sunday, after a lot of the snow had melted away, and brought up many of our favorite local runs, we chose to paddle the familiar Big Sandy in Rockville, WV. One of the sweet things about the Sandy is knowing that Big Splat looms down river. That knowledge can affect everyone differently. Just knowing that no matter how long you've boated, "X" amount of years or not, that rapid can just spank you anyway. The line to take, and the moves to make are really not that difficult. It's the consequences that make it so challenging. If you miss that line, or don't make that move... the "what if" factor puts the lump in your throat when you're sitting in the eddy above it, looking down.

Big Splat on the Big Sandy
Jeff Busch gets ready for impact
Ask any long time Splat runner if they have a story to tell about the rapid. Not all of the stories are about them, but they always have one to tell. We should all be listening, and taking notes.

On Sunday we had five successful runs at Big Splat. I say successful because we all came out unscathed, but it doesn't mean that all of our lines were where they should have been. One member of our group came off the last drop too far right, and dropped directly into the crease. Splat chose to spit him out on the forgiving left side unscathed, with nothing more than a broken paddle and his own story to tell.

Big Splat on the Big Sandy
Jeff Simcoe gets ready to launch off the bottom drop
Big Splat is a beautiful rapid in a wonderful place. It doesn't matter if you walk it, run it, hate it, or love it, just always remember to respect it!

Editors Note: The Big Sandy is one of the hidden jewels in Northern West Virginia. It's waters run into the Cheat River basin, where the take-out is for the Lower Big Sandy. The Upper Big Sandy put-in is at Bruceton Mills and the take-out is at Rockville, WV. A beautiful 5.8 mile run with class III-IV whitewater. (A great creeky run at lower levels for beginner to intermediate boaters, with help from more experienced paddlers of course.)

The Lower Big Sandy put-in is at Rockville and the take-out is at Jenkinsburg Bridge (Cheat River). A 5.1 mile run, this class IV-V river can be more difficult at lower levels. Lots of paddling experience is recommended, and many rapids can be portaged around such as Big Splat, and Big Sandy Falls for example. There are still rapids that must be run, and First Island has had it's way with many boaters.


American Whitewater Note: The AWA is in the process of negotiating a license with the Allegheny Power Company to provide better parking facilities at the put-in of this gorgeous run (Lower Big Sandy). Allegheny Power owns much of the riparian land along the Big Sandy, and the Cheat River.