"Gulf is not much more than a drainage ditch" -Keith Yell.
This creek was first run several years ago by Lenny Rubin, Richard Vest, and Matt Vest. Lenny tells the story: I found Gulf Creek and got in touch with Richard Vest about doing a 1st decent. We walked the creek in the early fall and thought it was a bit radical although possible. One very rainy day I got a call from Richard asking me if I wanted to give Gulf Creek a try. Richard, Matt (Richard's son) and I did the 1st decent. It was a scream.
Unfortunately at this time, Brad Hinds highly discourages people from going over to Gulf Creek. He is currently (2/02) working with the St. Clair County official & American Whitewater on access, it is a long battle. (I'd heard this was going on several years ago - MD')
Near Steele, AL, Gulf has made it into Paddler magazine as one of the cutting edge runs in the southeast. It is on Chandler Mountain, home of Horsepens 40. Some property around it has just been donated to the Nature Conservancy, but there are serious landowner issues. Mark Travis has helped out with some rapid names and overall flavor of the creek. We thank him for this since your editor probably has too many kids and not enough cajones to do this run.
Gulf has class IV type moves with serious consequences, but not quite to the extreme level of Jones. Short boats are a requirement. If you get over-committed, you always have the option of walking out. Just don't walk left, because the landowner at the bottom of the run on the left is NOT friendly to boaters. This is an understatement.
I apologize if this description is not completely accurate, but it should be ballpark. The first (major?) rapid is The Elbow. Then comes Speedway - a 1/4 mi slide. At the bottom of Speedway is a triple drop. Subsequent rapids include Roll of the Dice, Do or Die, and Bustyerbutt Falls. About 50 yards later, a mandatory portage begins. It covers about 200' vertical feet and takes 15-20 minutes to walk. Next is 22'-25' Godzilla Falls. Then a complex series of moves through an elbow, and a hole called the bull corral leads you to a 1.5 boat length long pool which immediate precedes - The Terminator. The Terminator is big, hard rapid. After that things mellow to III-IV, and then you'll see a house on river left. Here you will encounter a fence. Walk it on river right. The take-out is about 300 yards downstream.
**At least 2-3" of rain is required to get this going. There may be a gravel island on river left just downstream of the put-in. If it is covered, the level is OK. If this run is high, you may experience fear and pain.
The length and gradient are just an estimate. Numbers are arbitrary at this point, the run is steep.
Mark T has another rundown:
The run is hard to catch with water in it. Once the water table is good, usually that area needs 1 3/4" rain fall (Minimum) to get on it at a lower level. Make sure that you are in route BEFORE it stops raining cause it will not hold.
On the up stream side of the road, look to the right tube and you can see a yellow painted line. This is the minimum line. There is a Red line for the HIGH water mark (They may be faded as I painted them years ago). Anything between the marks is good to go.
For the most part the run is super sweet. There is one mandatory portage that will take about 15 to 20 minutes. This section is called Godzilla. A good warning is the waterfall that falls in from the River right side ( this is Jake Creek). Also the fact that you are staring out across the tree tops looking out over the horizon line is a good sign also. Get out on river right. At the bottom there is Godzilla falls. This is a 27 to 30 footer river wide waterfall that lands in a pool less than 10 feet deep. Just below this is the hardest most technical drop on the run. We call it the Terminator... Miss your line.... Enough said...
Great run with rapid names like..
Bust your but falls ( totally vert 17' that lands in a pretty sketchy area)
Do or Die ( this one has 2 drops in it totaling 30 to 40 feet )
Speedway ( 1/4 mile long river wide slide that terminates into a NICE hole)
The bull pen ( Mark T almost lost his life here and it is 30 feet from the terminator)