|Run:||South Sauty Creek|
|Class:||IV- 0" to 18"
IV 18" to 24"
|Put-In:||CR 56 / CR 43|
|Gradient:||20,60,60,80,100,40||Take-Out:||Bucks Pocket Park|
|Shuttle:||CR 43 / CR 50 / CR 19||Delorme Gazeteer:||P. 20 G4/H4/H3|
|Water Q:||Primary Gage:||Bucks Pocket (256) 659-2000|
|Links:||TOPO MAP||Required Level:||0", 6" better|
|PICTURES||Indicator Gage:||South Sauty near Rainsville|
|TRIP REPORT||Required Level:||8.35 ft minimum, 8.9 ft should be good|
|This is the sweet meat if your taste is nice III/III+ with several
fun and not too hard class IV's. It remains one of my favorite Alabama runs. It is topped off by hot showers
at the takeout. The action begins right at the put-in with a 6' drop known locally as Matheny's that can
be run a variety of ways. The next 1/2 mile or so is warm-up class III/III+. The first group of major rapids include
Welcome to Sauty (aka Aaron's Ecstasy), Egg Scrambler (Over Easy), Jonah's Whale, and Cliff Left. After this is
a short mellow stretch. The action resumes at Drunken Horseman, which precedes Upper and Lower Minefields, The
Slot, and Bonecrusher. After the bone, nicely spaced III+ takes you to Buck's Pocket.
Just below the put-in, a turbulent constricted rapid can cause the odd mishap. Like most of Sauty, it has a nice pool at the bottom. The warm-up class III continues until you reach a large flat rock area on river left, which is next to Welcome to Sauty. Not far below is Egg Scrambler. The entire creek goes off the right bank on a rapid that actually gets easier at medium/high levels. Jonah's Whale is a big undercut with tree-friendly ways. You want to end up way right at the Whale either by staying right the whole way or cutting across the entire rapid. Cliff Left can be run 2 or 3 different ways but the mushroom rock can collect logs and needs to be factored into any run. CL is easily scouted from the central island.
An interlude I call the intermission follows Cliff Left. You'll know when you get to Drunken Horseman when you see one of the world's best boat scout eddies on river left. It is run left or right (tree on right as of summer 2003). The next rapid is upper minefield, then comes lower minefield. Many routes are possible but I usually go somewhat right to left.
[help from Eric Baker] Between lower minefields and the Slot is a sieve rapid that has become seriously dangerous in spring 2003. This rapid is a slightly challenging right to left line with an angled 5' drop at the end. There is now a log around a foot in diameter lodged vertically in the notch of the sieve on the right. It sticks out above the notch a few feet and the other end (ends?) are jammed somewhere in the bottom. This is an easy place to recognize if you know when you are in the Minefields. There is an identifying rock on the right bank - it is a huge (50 ft by 50 ft or larger) rectangle leaning at about a 45 degree angle with the bottom at the edge of the creek and laying on the right bank. You can see this rock at the top of the second Minefield if you look - at the bottom of the second Minefield it is obvious if you are looking for it. As you run the rapid you will go from top right to bottom left and you can eddy across from it to see the sieve entrance. You can eddy behind the rock that forms the left side of the sieve to see the water coming out. The huge flat identifying rock forms the right side.
This section of the rapid has changed from last year. It seems that the left most boulder that used to keep you left of the danger has dislodged and rolled back and other rocks have moved around there as well.
Beware - this is not a place you want to end up!!
The Slot is next. Catch the eddy on the right or skip it altogether with decent water on the left. Slot-o-rama. You have some control over the entry, but it is likely the Slot will control you at some point. An eddy is on bottom right at medium to low water, a sticky hole awaits just below. Very cool. Now all you have left is the Bonecrusher. (think Ali: "the BONEcrusher"). Scout from the island or from the left bank. A sneak channel skips the meat to the right. The crusher rock is undercut.
The rest of the way is quality III+. One spot to watch towards the end is a 6' angled river-wide drop that sports a hole and a most unfortunate rock just off the right bank. Another is at the end of the Forest (you'll know) where a pinning rock is hard to see on the left around 1' or so.
A first run definitely warrants a look or good advice at the Whale, Cliff Left (which sometimes collects trees) and Bonecrusher. Each of these features large and menacing undercuts that are quite avoidable but potentially career threatening. Undercuts abound elsewhere but are hidden by water except at very low levels. Videos clips are now available on the American Whitewater site by selecting the video link above.
Those desiring supplemental reading may enjoy the story of how Drunken Horseman got its name, by Bill Patterson.
The run is generally made down to 0" (Bucks Pocket Stick Gauge), but features many rock/boat interfaces. I don't bother below 6" or so. Many prefer it from 1.5' to 2.5', yet I like it from 12" to 24". The beautiful people run it up to levels I prefer not to discuss. When the level is 0" to 6", the playing is better and the run is a little harder (tighter). Most of the lines are still the same, although the right line at Jonas disappears and the Left Boof at the Slot gets sketchy. A slick way to find out if the level is under or over 12" is calling the ranger and ask if the low water bridge at Bucks Pocket is passable. If it is not, then the water is over 12".
The USGS South Sauty near Rainsville gauge has replaced the TVA Town gauge as the indicator gauge as of 11/29/2015. Below is a correlation guide for the USGS vs Bucks Pocket stick Gauge:
8.35-8.9 ft USGS = Low = 6-12" stick gauge
8.9-10.0 ft USGS = Good = 12-24" stick gauge
10.0-12.2 ft USGS = High = 24-38" stick gauge
Watch the Precipitation gage. I have gotten lucky by seeing localized rain around Henagar and running Sauty when Town barely moves.
As of early 2009, the run has some wood in it towards the end, especially in the Slot, which is a no go. You can run the slot drop far river left with some left boat angle though.