Note: there are a number of whitewater streams in Alabama named Dry Creek. This description provides informaton on the Dry Creek in the Short Creek watershed.
Steep but somewhat forgiving, Dry is indeed dry unless big rain graces the area. Any fast hard rain can bring it up, and not too much volume is needed due to the very narrow streambed. You can't get there too long after the rain stops unless we've had over three inches or so. If Dry is running, you can be semi-confident everything else on Sand Mountain is big. Dry is a fun run that is hard to catch because it drops out so fast.
Dry is a quality micro-creek that will challenge and excite you without making you dance with the Grim Reaper. It is one of my favorites and was the first steep micro run I ran way back when. Several slides and congested class III+/IV- dominate the run. After the initial bushes, you'll run a shallow and somewhat long slide. Some tight and twisty but pretty easy stuff then follows until you reach the big slide. You will recognize the big slide, I hope. The big slide is at least 40' high total. It is fun. Starting far left and then ending up center seems to work. If you allow yourself to go farther right, you may get some very cool airtime. (Recent trips have found success on the center right line - a shelf extends from the left shore to the center of the drop at the bottom, which either was not present when this guide was written, or is difficult for modern short boats to clear.) Lower water descents have led to serious back pain. A pool is conveniently located at the bottom. Scout or walk on river right.
Below the slide the action is tight and constant with small pools and no rapids harder than IV, with one exception. This is a class V- undercut rapid that is often portaged. Just above the V- rapid is a fun slide that pillows up on a big rock on bottom right. Below the V- is a slide, then pyramid rock rapid after a short while. Many other III and IV rapids follow.
Almost all the logs were chopped out of this in 1998, but they have finally returned by early 2009. The lower half of this run needs flossing pretty badly.
A gage has been painted on the downstream side of the river right put-in bridge support. 0" is just above the bottom of a step on that support. 0" would be pretty low but runnable, you might get down it with a shade less. 4-6" is very nice while 12" is high. You can run it higher but you'll tend to wash from one rapid to the next without a chance to consider the tree you are washing under. If it is too high, just wait a few minutes, it'll drop out soon enough.
The main course is served. Dry runs into Short on the Lake. It drops about 380’ over 2 miles. I’ve walked parts of it 4 times, including a brief chainsaw session. Ever since I heard that Jim Pockstaller and Shad Bridge had run it I’ve wanted a piece of it. On April 19 Town was peaking around 2900 cfs, so Barry Hart, Jim Pockstaller, Casey Kyle, and I got a good slice. It was perhaps the second time it had been run, and it certainly has not been run often.
I can honestly say this run would not have been possible (for me) without my wife Mary. I was running early that morning and had time to get up to the expired dry goods and produce store put-in to arrange for creek access and check the level. All was in order. I got back to the Short take-out whereupon I discovered to my horror that I had left my gear bag in the garage. I hastily made a call home and caught Mary on her way out the door to church. “Eh, could you do me a favor?” She made it to the put-in in 1 hour flat. I owe her big.
We put on and immediately scouted and ran a shallow 10’ slide. We had to scrape to avoid a tree. A series of sometimes tight class III rapids with one or two logs were next. This was class III at the high end of the scale, sweet stuff, steeper than the above creeks. We came to the big 40’ multi-slide falls. It impressed. Barry summed it up as usual: “It’s probably lean back and smile for the camera, but you are one wrong move away from plastic surgery”. We needed Fred along but he was out nature walking with his girlfriend!! We walked.
After some bouncy stuff which had seen the saw, we came to a twisting 10-15’ shallow slide terminating in a big pillow. No problem. Just after was the meatiest rapid other than the big falls, a 20’ multi-drop with a lovely log and undercut on the side. You might call it a IVE. We considered the risks and walked. Quite runnable with no wrong moves but the penalties said “Hello!”.
From there on to the lake was good, unclean fun. The rapids were all class III but the whole run edged up to IV. Frequent log scout/walks rendered Caseys intractable sprayskirt ordeal-inducing. No shear drops but many a tight move. Serious fun. This must be run again but first needs a summer or fall chainsaw excursion down its entire length.