Suck Creek is Chattanooga's local roadside gem. If you are wondering why its called the Suck, its not because it literally Sucks. The reason lies in the history of the Tennessee river before it was dammed. Back when the Tennessee river was wild and scenic, some considered it the Grand Canyon of the East. The river was, and still is high volume, gorging out the surrounding sandstone mountains to create a magnificent canyon perfect for rock climbers, hang-gliders, mountain bikers, and of course kayakers. Now, I'm not saying the Tennessee is good for whitewater boat riding today, but in its pre-dam stage, I'm sure it had some Big ole' Burlers in there at the right water levels.
That being said, this is how the name Suck Creek came about. When the river was still wild, and the river was the best form of transportation around, many a boat captains challenged the mighty Suck rapid on the Tennessee. There are stories that say 100' long barges were know to get sucked into this knarly hydraulic and flip, causing all passengers and cargo to go for a swim. Suck Creek supposedly flows into the Tennessee right where this rapid used to be.
I can't say that the Suck Rapid dishes out its fair share of beatings anymore because its now flat-water, but Suck Creek sure does. When they built the road that runs parallel to the creek, workers blasted and hucked huge jagged ricks into the streambed. During some road repairs, they even chucked peices of scrap asphault infested with rebar into our beloved Suck. As you can tell, this gave our local gem quite a knarly character.
Nonetheless, Ron Stewart, Mike Culberson, and my dad Paul Pruett were planning the first decent in the early 90's. Ron was one of the greatest whitewater pioneers around. He claimed first D's on most of the steep creeks in the Chattanooga area in boats like the Cosrsica and Freefall LT. When the rain arrived and the time came for the first D of Suck Creek, my dad was forced to work and bail on the mission, but warned Mike and Ron that 2 people aren't enough poeple to set proper safety in the case of a pin. Hungry to slay the beast, Ron and Mike put on by themselves anyways. Unfortantely, Mike got pinned on one of the first rapids we believe is now called Road Construction and Ron wasn't able to free him. Mike died that day on Suck creek. Ron was especially remorseful of the situation, as was my Dad, and neither or them ever paddled the run again.
Ron Stewart also recently passed away this past Spring after battling Cancer for many years, still teaching Calculus at Baylor, my High-School, up until the very end. I want to give my greatest respect to Ron and Mike for paving the way for all the Chattanooga Chargers. I dedicate this vid that I shot on a low water day to both of them for Given'er Full Throttle.
My Dad always warned me that Suck Creek is not to be taken lightly, and I didn't my first time down in a Space Cadet. But with people achieveing such crazy feats as running 100' waterfalls, and the Middle Kings in a day, its hard to step-back and realize that without the old-school chargers, we would never be where we are today. I hope we will continue to make them proud.
Heres the vid. Charge on Brothers and Sisters.
8 months ago