Chattanooga Now A creeking connoisseur: How record rainfall and sheer commitment helped one local creek boater spend 50 consecutive days on whitewater

Chattanooga Now A creeking connoisseur: How record rainfall and sheer commitment helped one local creek boater spend 50 consecutive days on whitewater

June 1st, 2019 by Sunny Montgomery in Get Out - Departments

Lucien Scott rides a Class V rapid on Suck Creek.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Pluviophile (noun): a person who has a fondness for or a desire for rain; a lover of rain — also known as a creek boater.

To understand a creek boater's love of wet weather, one must understand the sport.

"Creeking" is a niche whitewater sport that involves — you might have guessed — paddling creeks, which differ from rivers in that they are generally steeper, narrower and lower-volume, or capable of holding less water.

In the Southeast, these tributaries run only with rain, of which the Tennessee Valley has recently had no shortage. In fact, with a total of 67.01 inches of rain, 2018 went down as the wettest year on record. Last December, local kayaker Lucien Scott made it his mission to take full advantage of the region's rainfall. Earlier that month, the 33-year-old had undergone hernia surgery. While waiting to be cleared for physical activity, he wanted a goal to help motivate his return to the sport.

"I decided I would try to paddle as many consecutive days on whitewater as possible," Scott says.

Lucien Scott takes a selfie on Suck Creek, while a friend gets "pitted" on the rapid behind him.

Lucien Scott takes a selfie on Suck Creek,...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Tune in

Lucien Scott was recently featured on an episode of “Day Fire Podcast,” a new local podcast dedicated to all things outdoors. You can listen to his interview at dayfirepodcast.com.

The day after Christmas, his doctor gave him the go-ahead, thus kicking off the challenge, and ultimately resulting in Scott's 50-day paddling streak.

"I got my 50th day on Suck Creek, and then immediately had to leave for a four-day work trip," Scott says.

A husband, father of two sons, ages 6 and 4, and a full-time science educator at the Creative Discovery Museum, Scott says daily paddling logistics can get tricky, especially when "I can't, with good conscious, put kayaking over being a dad and husband, or a good employee."

His ability to paddle every day for 50 in a row was made easier, he says, by living in Hixson. His home is 10 minutes from the Class IV North Chick Creek and 20 minutes from the Class IV-V Suck Creek.

It also helped having a flexible job.

"I can work 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and buy myself a three-hour lunch window. I can stay late. I have a pretty understanding director. On days that I don't have a lot going on, I can walk in and say, 'We got 2 inches of rain last night. I need to do the Bear,'" he says, referring to a stout Class V creek located in North Georgia.

And Scott often wakes before sunrise to paddle before breakfast.

"Dawn patrol on the weekends is even more important than weekdays because that's family time. I can get up, paddle and be home in time for pancakes," says Scott. "When you have everything to do and have to make time for paddling — that only makes me want it more."

 

Stats from 50 days on Whitewater

North Chickamauga Creek (Bowling Alley* section)

Class III/IV

Total laps in 50 days: 61

*This is an accessible 1/2-mile run, making it easy for paddlers to get multiple laps in one session.

Suck Creek

Class IV/V

Total laps in 50 days: 11

Daddy's Creek

Class III/IV

Total laps in 50 days: 2

Whites Creek (Lower section)

Class III

Total laps in 50 days: 1

Tennessee River

Class I

Total laps in 50 days: 4