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  Names of Rocks and Rapids
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-04-14 12:55 PM (EST)

-- Last Updated: Feb-04-14 1:07 PM EST --

eckilson's post about Zoar Gap and the obstacle called "Oh Shit! Rock" got me thinking about humorous names for such things. I think half the rocks I've seen which only became visible after I'd committed to a particular path that's hardly wider than my boat probably could have been named the same, but the places I've paddled don't have such tremendous flow volume and the consequences usually aren't any worse than the swearing in my head.

I wonder what similar names other people here know about. I only have a few.

There used to be a "Wrecking Rock" on the upper Buffalo River in Arkansas. I never saw it, but saw quite a few photos of people negotiating it and it looked much more benign than the images conjured up by the name.

I think it was Vic who recently told me about a run he paddled years ago, I would guess in the 70s, because there was a rock there called "Nixon Rock", so named because you can't get to the right of it. Maybe Vic, or whomever it was who mentioned this to me, can add something to that.

There's a rapid on the Wolf River in Wisconsin called "Gilmore's Mistake", and that's a name which sounds pretty cool but apparently it refers to an early surveyor's error, not to anything involving a boater.

Any others?

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Messages in this Topic


  Sneaker Sucker
  Posted by: Marshall on Feb-04-14 1:39 PM (EST)
on the Hudson Gorge has always stood out in my recollection of where not to take a swim.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
  Wrecking rock...............
  Posted by: on Feb-04-14 2:12 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-04-14 2:48 PM EST --

Wrecking rock is/was a lot more benign to skilled paddlers than it was to drunken "river dorks".

One summer 2 padding buddies and I were doing a 75 miler on the Buffalo. A large group of river dorks put onto the river behind us; we easily outdistanced them. After negotiating wrecking rock we decided to take a break, and watch the fun we were sure would ensue when the dorks encountered wrecking rock. We were not surprised at the carnage. Rather than giving it a go one canoe at a time, the dorks just tailgated each other into a 6 canoe pile up, on & around the rock.
Great fun if you're on shore watching! I pulled a couple out of the river(at the same time), using both ends of my throw rope. I seriously believe the girl was in danger of drowning if I had not pulled her out. I've seen 5 year olds that were better swimmers. No pfd was worn by anyone in the group, including the girl.
One of the biggest yard sale of "stuff" I've ever seen on a river followe the pile up. I guesstimate at least 2 cases of beer floated downstream when the coolers came open.
The worst of the carnage was a 17 foot Grumman paddled by one couple. It hit the rock broadside, with the open end upstream, and proceeded to break all the thwarts loose from the gunwales, and then wrapped in a perfect U shape around wrecking rock. It took 12 guys pulling on a retired piece of Bluewater rappelling rope to get the Grumman peeled off the rock. Guess who had the rope? The river dorks? NOT!
They had great fun, jumping up & down on the Grumman, in at attempt to get it river worthy. It had several cracks in the hull, broken ribs, and leaked like the Titanic.
The seemingly none the wiser dorks were soon on their way downstream to new adventures.
We dove the river downstream of the rock, and recovered some of what the dorks chose not to dive for themsleves. Several towels, a pair of sunglasses, a fifth of gin in a glass bottle and other misc. Also recovered 12 to 14 beer.

Bailed out of there when we heard another group of dorks approaching. You can only enjoy stupidity for so long; apathy & disdain sets in.

Drank the beer over the course of our 3 day trip; kept the towels & sunglasses, and emptied the gin on the ground. Gin is some nasty stuff in my opinion.


P.S. Several years ago wrecking rock simply dissappeared; swept downstream into a deep hole I think.

  rocks and rapids
  Posted by: pblanc on Feb-04-14 2:28 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-04-14 6:36 PM EST --

Well, there are quite a few rocks named after physical characteristics, such as "Pyramid Rock" (of which there are a number), "Snaggletooth Rock", "Volkswagen Rock", "Fanny Rock" (which resembles someone's naked backside), "Butt Crack Rock", and even "Constipation Rock" (best left to the reader's imagination).

There are those rocks named for the consequences of a screw-up such as various "Prudential Rocks" (which numerous whitewater boaters have gotten a piece of), "Hydroelectic Rock" (a rock on the Chattooga with an underwater hole which a number of boaters have taken a swim through), various "Painted Rocks" (which have been "painted" with the remains of canoes and kayaks), Delabar's Rock (upon which a rather pedantic paddling instructor of that name wrapped a canoe not once, but twice), and the colorfully-named "Decapitation Rock" (which needs no further description). There is an underwater rock on the Ocoee known as "Guide Ejector Rock", named for its propensity to eject raft guides from their craft, and another called "White Face Rock" which allegedly describes the complexion of raft guides who realize they are about to splat on it. And there is "Deliverance Rock" which an expensive motion picture camera was dropped off of and lost during the filming of the namesake movie.

Less colorful names include a number of "Pillow Rocks" (describing the impressive pillows created by current breaking on them), and quite a few rocks named after their supposed resemblance to animals, or parts thereof, such as "Camel Rock", "Walrus Rock", "Frog Rock", "Turtle Rock", "Whale Rock", and "Shark Fin Rock".

Some rocks are named for a preferred method of negotiating the rapid they are a part of such as "Bounce off Boulder" and some are named for people who got stuck in undercuts beneath them, such as "Reeder's Rock".

Colorful names for rapids are almost too numerous to name. There are a number of "Widowmakers" and "Body Snatchers". There is, of course a rapid named "Oh Shit". And there is one succinctly named "On the Rocks". And continuing with the Nixon theme there is one on the Little we used to call "Tricky Dicky".

A few of my personal favorites are "Jaws", "Diaper Wiper", "Pure Screaming Hell", "Pigs in Space", and "Bambi meets Godzilla". The one that really gives me pause though is "Coming Home Sweet Jesus".

  BMF is the name of a rapid
  Posted by: deuce on Feb-04-14 3:43 PM (EST)
on the Cossatot. Hopefully I needn't elaborate. BFR is a general purpose term that is used around here to point out rocks that need no pointing out but should be avoided.
  Rapid names..............
  Posted by: on Feb-04-14 5:42 PM (EST)
Have never run it, and ain't gonna; the rapid known at "Go left and die", on the Green River.

If I decide to try it; I am going to run it on the left. Yep! left, way left; so far left I'll be dragging my boat behind me, as I walk around the rapid.

Have seen some gnarly, nasty videos of paddlers running "Gorilla" on the same river. Looks like a great place to dislocate your shoulders, break your arms, compress your vertabrae, and smear your face on rocks; all before you even get to the waterfalls below.

Another one, supposedly worse than the other 2 is called "Sunshine". Why? I have no clue.


  It was originally named
  Posted by: paddlemore on Feb-04-14 8:48 PM (EST)
Go Left or Die
  the green
  Posted by: zzz on Feb-05-14 12:09 PM (EST)
i got on the green for the first time last summer. a normal release is 8-9" on the stick guage. i was with a friend who lives local and had been paddling it a lot all summer so he was a great guide. we put on in pouring rain at 12-13", which is considered high. then it started rising. fast. by the time we took off, it was 28". i've never been more gripped on a river. walked go left and gorilla, but running the sequence into and through Sunshine will forever be burned in my mind. it was like getting shot through a fire hose off a cliff.
  One could wish that paddlers
  Posted by: g2d on Feb-04-14 11:00 PM (EST)
would always try to be original when naming rapids on a "new" river. Some of the rapids on the Chattooga Headwaters have been given recycled names like "Super Corkscrew" and "Harvey Wallbanger" which echo known rapids on other rivers. A newly run rapid is an opportunity. Don't waste it on repetition.
  Clearing up Nixon Rock
  Posted by: vic on Feb-05-14 2:26 AM (EST)
Well Eric, it was most definitely NOT a rapid that I ran. Nixon Rock is part of Crystal Rapid in the Grand Canyon. Way, way above my pay grade.

My knowledge of Nixon Rock comes from the book "The Emerald Mile," by Kevin Fedarko about the record setting speed run through the Grand Canyon in June 1983. Kenton Grua, Rudi Petschek, and Steve “Wren” Reynolds set the record in a dory named the Emerald Mile during a great flood on the Colorado River that also threatened Glen Canyon dam.

In the book Fedarko talks about how Crystal Rapid was changed by a flash flood in the 1970's. The flood deposited a new giant rock in the river that required the river guides to figure out a new way to run the rapid.

According to the book the guides decided that the best way to run Crystal Rapid was to run it on the right. There was only one problem – the newly deposited rock. The guides reportedly named it Nixon Rock because you couldn't get to the right of it.

In my opinion the book is a "must read" for anyone interested in paddling.
  local river
  Posted by: daggermat on Feb-05-14 5:40 AM (EST)
The Farmington in ct/ma. . New Boston section has Decoration rock, corkscrew, and bears den. Decoration rock got moved by a flood 2 years back and ain't what it used to be. My first time running it I was lucky. Eddied out and saw total chaos behind me including eckilson. Corkscrew is well named. Bears den my favorite section. Beautiful scenic cl. 3 where initial set up is crucial.
Further down there's " high bank".....and the Crystal rapids section has s-turn and culminates in "boateater" if you do the later takeout. Easy fun wavetrain but nowhere to hide if you flip and real ledgy making a roll painful.
  Thanks Vic
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-05-14 12:19 PM (EST)
I was hoping you'd chime in. I have no recollection of the context of conversation about Nixon Rock. At least I correctly remembered that you were the one who told me about it!

Thanks also, because I think I will look for that book.
  Here's a couple more.
  Posted by: glendorado on Feb-05-14 9:33 AM (EST)
"Almost Always" is a 25' drop on the Lester River in Duluth, MN. Name is because it's almost always portaged.
"Hells Gate" is a class IV-V rapids on the Kettle River , Sandstone, MN. It looks like you're entering hell. Been to both. Haven't run either. Both are over my head, but have seen paddlers run both.
  Target Rock - Appomattox River
  Posted by: booztalkin on Feb-05-14 11:39 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-05-14 2:38 PM EST --

My canoeing mentor explained there'd be this big rock in the middle and that the current would take me right to it and that I should go left. And he told me it was called "target rock" because most novices smack into it as if they were aiming for it.

We came around the bend and there was a rock formation with a large bulls-eye target painted on it. I considered myself beyond novice, but I hit it.


  That reminds me.
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Feb-05-14 11:56 AM (EST)
Someone posted a video here a few months back that showed a bunch of people in rental boats all smacking into a rock. I think it was in Britain or somewhere in Europe. Someone suggested painting a bullseye on that rock too.
  favorite rapid names
  Posted by: zzz on Feb-05-14 12:20 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-05-14 12:21 PM EST --

I have 3 names I'm responsible for.

"Screaming Carly", Falls River, MN. Named by me after my friend's wife. Sweet 30' drop at the end of "Foreplay canyon". drops right into Lake Superior in a beautiful spot.

"The Taint", Lower St. Louis River, MN. named at a place with two generally run lines, far river right, and far river left. I finally went center. T'ain't river right and T'ain't river left.

"The Admiral", Devil Track River, MN. 3rd pitch of a 3 drop sequence. scariest drop of my life. about 50 feet high, tricky entrance, reconnect to rock shelf halfway down, shallow pool. (picture in my profile) won't be repeating that one again. Named after Jim Rada (his nickname)who pioneered many of the Northwoods creeks and wrote the guidebook still used today. He died a few years ago on the Presque Isle River in the U.P.

Not named by me, but my favorite rapid name is "Portage Down the Middle", Devil Track River, MN. named because it would be a pain in the ass to try to portage around it (cliffed out)

  I have a rapid named after me
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-05-14 1:52 PM (EST)
I think it's on the Cold River in New Hampshire: Glenn Dropped In. It's misspelled with one "n" (or used to be) in the AMC Whitewater Guide for New Hampshire and Vermont.

A bunch of us AMC'ers ran it for the first time about 30 years ago, and Steve Tuckerman was on the revision committee for that guide book. He named three rapids: Cave Sluice, Krystina's Falls? (Staircase?) after his girlfriend-then-wife, and Glenn Dropped In after my dump and failed roll in my new Gyramax C-1.

Perhaps some New Englander who has that guide book could look this up to verify my memory. Maybe some later editor changed the names.
  Great Topic!
  Posted by: cycle003 on Feb-05-14 2:19 PM (EST)
This is a great topic! Thanks for sharing.
  One of my...
  Posted by: al_a on Feb-05-14 3:14 PM (EST)
favorite names for a rapid is "The Kitchen Sink" on the Madison River in Beartrap Canyon (a nice name itself) in Montana. It's the worst rapid in the canyon, and is named because it throws everything at you, including the kitchen sink.

I believe the Buffalo shifted course and by-passed Wrecking Rock. It also shifted course and by-passed another "famous" rapid in the middle section, the name of which escapes me at the moment. But Clabber Creek Shoal on the lower portion is still there. I'm also drawing a blank on the rapid that used to be on the Eleven Point above Riverton that is now by-passed. Mary Decker Shoal is still there, though.

There were a bunch of named "chutes" on the Current River that caused lots of problems during the days of wooden johnboats. Pump Lead Chute, Coot's also a question whether the old-timers meant them to be "chutes" because they were narrow and fast, or "shoots". They were not a problem for canoes with experienced paddlers, but ate a lot of the early rental canoes. They are pretty much all gone now. The river has widened and shallowed in most of the riffle areas, probably because of the weakening of the banks from jetboat wakes.

On Ozark streams, nearly all the bluffs, big pools, and hairier riffles had place names that originally came mostly from the old tie rafters, who floated masses of railroad ties down the river to market during the heyday of logging. Many of them are forgotten now. Most were named for the people who lived close to that spot, but some were pretty colorful. Of course, the bluffs don't change much, but the pools and riffles appear and disappear as time goes by.

  Housatonic river has a few
  Posted by: daggermat on Feb-05-14 4:10 PM (EST)
one called "Rattlesnake", which is beyond me in an open boat. It's a rapid maybe 1/2 mile long, just below a several hundred foot high power company reservoir. I scouted it at no-flow level one day, and it scared me. Undercut boulders, egg shaped house sized boulder, funnel shaped rocks. A friend runs this whenever it's up, and his son gave his life there rescuing a classmate who got stuck in a hole while swimming.
There's also "cookie basket" which Aaron and I encountered unexpectedly one January, about 2 hours before I ordered drysuits. We both styled this drop, would have been dead if we hadn't. Turns out when I was bragging about this rapid on a local board, a guy called me out on it. I didn't know the name, gave the description and location. His response was chilling. 2 rescue guys died trying to save some paddlers there, who had also died.
T'ville has a rock called "Aircraft carrier"...undercut, looks just like the ship from the right angle.
Local playspot is called "Satans Kingdom." Official name, has a sign and everything. Named for local superstition, a couple cl. 3 features. Bought helmets right after running this one the first time...
  Seem to remember
  Posted by: paddledad on Feb-05-14 4:20 PM (EST)
Hall's Bay was the one by Riverton?
  Hall's Bay Chute
  Posted by: on Feb-05-14 5:43 PM (EST)
Hall's Bay is about 3/10 of a mile downstream of Boze Mill, and upstream of Riverton. Back in the early 80s, you could run either left or right at Hall's Bay. You sometimes had to eddy out real quick if you went left, because of strainers. The left side is pretty well clogged now.

Mary Decker is about a mile and a half above the Turner's Mill access.

It would be a real stretch of your imagination to call either one a class 2.

  Posted by: pblanc on Feb-05-14 5:45 PM (EST)
Hall's Bay Shoals or Hall's Bay Chute. What is this about it being bypassed?

There really doesn't seem to be that much left of Mary Decker Shoals these days.
  Posted by: on Feb-05-14 10:00 PM (EST)
What you know as Hall's Bay Chute hasn't been bypassed.

There used to be a very narrow channel with an S curve that you could run to the left of what you know as Hall's Bay Chute. It was frequently blocked by strainers, and even whole trees (on occasion) after the river came up in flood stage. This was back in the 80s.
It's now clogged with gravel.

  Sweet tooth
  Posted by: eckilson on Feb-05-14 5:14 PM (EST)
on the Sugar River in NH - looks like a tooth. The Tville section of the Farmington in CT had Car Rock and Aircraft Carrier - pieces of the breeched Spoonville dam that looked like... a car and an aircraft carrier (sort of). They are gone now with the removal of the Spoonville Dam. Boof Rock on the West River in VT - guess what you do there. Can't think of any others at the moment.
  so sad to hear of that
  Posted by: kayamedic on Feb-09-14 7:50 AM (EST)
though I think it was Aircraft Carrier that actually took lives under its ledge. I remember a little kid that shouldn't have been near the river getting caught under it.

I always fixated on Car Rock and hence always hit it.
  lots of interesting names out there,
  Posted by: tdaniel on Feb-05-14 8:32 PM (EST)
many for holes- on the cheat in wv, coliseum rapid features a particle accelerator, and recyclotron.
Other cool names are "cloud chamber" and "zoom flume". Anytime a rapid mentions a "saw" I get a little nervous- table saw, hack saw, chain saw for example. "nutcracker" and "bloody nose" are names that garner my respect as well.
When my kids were little they wanted to know the names of "rapids" which were really just unnamed class II rips that they got a little splashed by. So I made up names to tell my kids: spiderman I, spiderman II, superman I etc. they were happy and none the wiser.

In Maine many of the rapids are listed as "pitches" or "falls", examples:Stair Falls, Godfrey pitch, Grand pitch- some are class II while others are class V+

Many rapids are named for logging activity like iron ring, cribworks, hulling machine

I always figured there had to be a good story behind "dog slaughter falls" in Kentucky. "Hells Canyon" and "the River of New Return" certainly sound imposing. On the other end of the spectrum is "Insignificant" (rated class IV or V) and "fuzzy box of kittens" a reworked name for "guide's revenge" on the Gauley. Renamed to keep the liability lawyers at bay. "Julie's juicer" and "the room of doom" sound pretty cool as well.
  Joe Baroni rock plaque, Housatonic?
  Posted by: g2d on Feb-05-14 11:32 PM (EST)

Anyone know the story behind this plaque?
  hey gary I enjoyed your flicker pics,
  Posted by: tdaniel on Feb-06-14 10:47 PM (EST)
you really get around, there's just so many great places you can go paddling around the country and it looks like you have checked a lot of them out, I've got not idea about the plaque on the housatonic but really enjoy thumbing through your pics
  I tried again to google joe baroni,
  Posted by: g2d on Feb-06-14 11:40 PM (EST)
but failed. If I were up in that locale, I imagine lots of people would know.

Thanks for your comments regarding Flickr. Most of those pictures are used in trip reports on the UK website Song of the Paddle (SOTP). I should make a list of links to those reports, for any who might use them to prescout some runs.
  Naming rapids
  Posted by: ppine on Feb-10-14 11:04 AM (EST)
There are several unnamed rapids in the lower Grand Canyon. For the last 4 smaller ones we came up with:
Last rapid
Last but Not Least
Next to Last
The End
  The Dumplings and Initiation
  Posted by: eckilson on Feb-09-14 6:58 AM (EST)
on the West River in VT. On release days, the river can be a mob scene

The Dumpling are a couple of large rocks in the river - you need to do an "S" turn through them. Initiation is a long wave train at the start of the run right below the dam.

  Middle Chestatee in Georgia has two
  Posted by: g2d on Feb-10-14 3:36 PM (EST)
"name" rapids. The first is Coppermine, just below the highway put-in, and near a huge cavern excavated for copper mining.

The second is also related to mining long ago. Tons of rock were blasted loose from a bluff, and ended up in the main channel, where they won't permit a clean run unless the water is way up.

When we first ran it in the mid 70s, I named it "Blasted Rocks", kind of a double entendre reflecting one's thoughts when trying to dodge and hunch through the close-set rocks. The name stuck, though folks often drop the final s and miss the double meaning.

I'm waiting to see if my name sticks to a huge pile of rocks and logs on Section 00 of the Chattooga Headwaters. It's a mandatory portage at any level one might care to run. Paddlers started calling it "blockage" but I had already tagged it "Impaction", and some of the paddler pioneers seem to like that better.
  Posted by: dougd on Feb-10-14 7:06 PM (EST)
on a small stream in Maine! No one is ever gonna go there unless they are as stupid as we were but that was my name for this bugger that cost me a pair of chotas, leather gloves, and a wetsuit! If I were to ever go back there it would be with a few sticks of dynomite a fat cigar to light it and an evil grin on my face!

  How could I forget Joe's Rock
  Posted by: eckilson on Feb-11-14 5:12 AM (EST)
Just below Bear's Den in the new Boston Section of the Farmington.

This was a dam release, and the boat was easily recovered the next day before they turned the water on. One foot stomp and it popped back into shape.
  Flipper and the Recyclotron
  Posted by: willowleaf on Feb-11-14 12:56 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Feb-11-14 2:39 PM EST --

I let some friends talk me into doing a modest Class I-II section of the Youghiogheny 8 years ago (not a fan of whitewater, for reasons to be mentioned later, and I was in a borrowed ancient Augsburg mold home-built glass slalom boat with a too big sprayskirt and one of my touring paddles). Looking at the river map in my ziplock baggie as we started down I saw a rapid tagged "Flipper". As I approached it, I was amused at what looked like nothing more than a slight standing wave that I expected to slip through easily. "Wonder why they named this Flipper? Because it looks like a dolphin? Whoa! (gurgle, spltt........) Oh, yeeaaah, I see. Now where's my boat?". Both of my companions also "flippered" right behind me. Only time we capsized on the whole run. Devious little riffle, that one.

Thanks T-daniel for reminding me about Coliseum's "Recyclotron". My FIRST whitewater experience was doing the class V Cheat Canyon 35 years ago in a two man raft, with another paddler almost as green as I was. I wore a tank suit, cutoffs, a tee shirt, old sneakers, a Mae West and a hockey helmet. I went through the second set of rapids trapped under the raft tangled in the paddle lines. The raft floor blew out an hour downstream and as you can't walk out of the canyon we pushed on, gripping the sides with our thighs since all that was left was an ovoid inner tube. By hour number 2 I had figured I was going to die anyway so I might as well grit my teeth and hang on as long as I could. As we approached the roaring lip of Coliseum Falls where the rest of the group was waiting in the pool below I realized we were too far off the line and were going to be sucked into the Recyclotron. Made a split second decision: I either help my partner paddle in which case both of us get spit out or I drop the paddle and wrap arms and legs around the remaining tube. Chose the latter, filled my lungs as we plunged and gripped like a leech through several rinse cycles before I popped above the surface for good and my friend George grabbed me by the scruff of my vest from his kayak. It felt like I tumbled in that whirlpool for an hour. Survived that 7 hour trip with nothing worse than a bruised knee and a persistent dread of whitewater that I've only started to shake in the past few years.

One of my favorite rapid names is "Yard Sale". Don't recall the river (somewhere in Idaho) but there was indeed lots of flotsam and jetsam below it when the amateur rafter groups washed through. After we had watched this process with amusement for a while I suggested renaming it "Spatula" since it so handily flipped the big rafts over.

  Posted by: pikabike on Feb-11-14 3:12 PM (EST)
My favorite name, because it instantly conjures up something vicious and grabby.

On the Dolores River, if I remember correctly.


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