Went out to surf 10 footers on Lake Michigan with Jeff and Zach. Caught some good ones, and was closed out by one wave that sent me deep; I heard my ears pop while I was still in my boat. The waves were pretty irregular, some dumping, some mushy, others were just strange and irregular. I was catching some good waves, though a few were closing out on me. I got onto one that ramped up huge. I couldn't get down the face of the wave fast enough, and it ended up carrying me up to the peak. "Oh fuck," I says to myself, and go over the falls hard. I was stretched out on my back deck, trying not to pitch-pole, but it was of no use. I landed on my face, and my cockpit rim was smashed into the small of my back. I rolled up in pain, and then had to get out of the way of the next wave that was right behind it.
I managed to surf into shore, wincing in pain. I pulled myself out of my boat and watched my buddies surf for a little longer. When they came in I was still in some pain, but it wasn't too bad. Got worse when I had to walk to the car and change out of my clothes. I hung out on the beach for a while while they surfed and the back felt all right, but when I had to get back to the car I was in a lot of pain. The ride back to South Bend put me in a lot of pain; I had to keep shifting my center of gravity which made it a ride full of pain.
The boys dropped me off at home, and I tried to self-medicate with a couch, beer, and alleve, but it wasn't enough. The spasams were still terrible, and A. took me to the doctor, and then to a hospital. After an X-Ray and a CT, we found out that I hadn't broken a vertebra, but a disk was slightly displaced, and I had heavy straining. Now I'm fairly doped up and putting in some heavy couch time. Might make the Russel Fork in a week and a half, but it's looking a little doubtful.
The rest of the festival was fun; lots of vendors selling gear I don't really need, and some good videos shown on big screens around the fields. Managed to get home around 1:30, after getting a ticket from one of South Bend's Finest.
Before that I got in a run on the Golden whitewater park, which was fine but full of tubers (the people in the rubber rings, not the potato family).
Bridger and I ran Bailey on Friday and had some issues. It was just the two of us with pretty high flows and clear skies. Bridger had a roll on the second of five falls; he jacked his shoulder once but was otherwise ok. We had clean lines through most of the steeps, and then both walked Supermax.
Not too far after, I was slowed down by a hole and instead of being separated, we were just about on top of each other. On the next little drop, Bridger followed the current down a smooth line to the right, while I boofed a bit of a ledge hole into a boiling eddy. As it turned out, the eddy was much more boil than eddy. I started digging when I realized I was getting pulled back, and then I was in the pourover. I carped for air once, but didn't get much. As I tried to roll, I was spun around and thrown between the boil and the hole. I ended up swimming.
The swim sucked. It was fast-moving class IV, and nearly eddyless. My legs were smashed among rocks as I tried to swim for shore, then around bigger rocks that also tried to kick the crap out of me. Bridger jumped out of his boat and tried to get a rope to me, but I was well past him by the time he was in position. I finally drug myself out of the water about 300 yards downstream, in a significant amount of pain. Fortunately, my paddle floated leisurely by, and we were able to retrieve it before Bridger ran downstream after my boat, which was eventually recovered. The only thing missing was the bootie with the broken zipper that had been sucked off of my foot.
We reassembled ourselves and finished the run, walking the Deer Creek rapid, since I wasn't paddling very well (exhausted, hurt, a little shaken). The rest of the run finished out fine, though I've been limping around for the past couple of days. I might make it out to the Confluence to roll a bit, but I won't be creeking until my legs heal up.
Another black rock run. Smooth sailing, despite the date.
Got up to the Narrows of the Poudre to meet up with a guy I hadn't boated with before. We had high water, and should have been in for a good time. Things being as they were, I swam at the run-out of the first rapid, Sports Car Corner. I had relaxed after the rapid and was flipped by a lateral wave. As I was setting up to roll, my paddle hit a rock and was pulled out of my hands. I was screwed. I pulled out of my boat, considered hanging onto it for a second, then gave it up and started heading for shore. The swim sucked; I sucked in a lot of water and was happy to pull myself into an eddy, despite being sans paddle and boat and left shoe. I climbed out, and our shuttle bunny picked me up and we drove down to where the other boater had corralled my boat. The paddle never showed up. I was eventually driven back to my car and I changed clothes (the drysuit kept me dry throughout the ordeal) and started hiking the river to find the paddle.
The paddle never showed up, though I did find the Nalgene bottle that came out of my boat. The paddle is still unreturned. Weak. A 10 second mistake and a $300 paddle down the drain.
I ended up killing some time in Ft. Collins waiting to hang out with a buddy of mine, but when he was late I headed for Denver. I made a bit of a half-hearted attempt to paddle the next day, but we couldn't find a guide, so I ended up hanging around town.
Another Black Rock run, this one with a ton of people. I think we had 10 boaters or so on the run at the same time. Bridger and I ran together as usual, and cleaned everything. We saw a couple somewhat sketchy runs of Rigor Mortis, the V at the bottom of the run, and I packed up to go catch my softball game.
Bridger, A. and I headed out to Crested Butte to do some creeking. Though there was a race on Oh be Joyful, we figured we should be able to avoid some of the crowds and get some boating in. We rolled in pretty late and set up camp in the dark. After a pretty chilly night, we awoke to clear skies.
We hiked the Slate River, since the put-in was right at our campsite. Unfortunately, we found a pile of wood in the middle with a narrow line around it and a bit of an ugly portage. That, combined with mediocre drops, lead us to opt out of the run. A. came along for the scout, which was too bad, since it was a bit of a sloppy, bushwhacking mess.
We headed up to Daisy Creek, which involved a river ford that the FJ handled with abandon, and some 4-wheeling to get to the put-in. We tied in with another group and walked the whole thing, scouting for rapids and wood. One of our crew decided to walk, and the remaining 4 fired everything up. Things went smoothly to start; everything boated a little easier than it looked. Then Mike broke his boat on a fan-tail rapid and we had to patch it while scouting Big Wood Falls, which everyone paddled cleanly. We boated down to Rip Your Head Off, which only I ran. It was a fun rapid, boating fairly easily, though I lost a contact in the last part of the drop when I was keeping my eyes wide open to make sure I wasn't off-line and headed for the head-ripping rock.
We went over to Oh Be Joyful (OBJ) to scout it and catch the tail end of the race that was going on. Then we headed over to the East with a new guy we had met up with. We dropped our boats at the top and our car at the bottom, then hiked the 3/4 mile shuttle. We had good flows, and it was a roller-coaster of fun slides and surprisingly big holes for the size of the riverbed. We took out above Stupid Falls 10 or 15 minutes after we had put on.
We headed into CB for dinner and supplies, though I was battling a headache that was either from dehydration or from borrowing one of A.'s contacts to make it through the weekend. We probably headed for the tents around 9 after a long day of hiking and boating.
After waking up early and breaking camp, we headed for OBJ. It would be my second time on the run (after breaking a paddle on the 25 footer the first time out) and Bridger's virgin run. We hiked our boats up the whole thing, memorizing the order of the drops.
The put-in is on a pile of rocks about 4 paddle strokes from the first drop, a falls of around 15'. We fired things up after resting at the tail end of the hike and getting into the right headspace to run the river. Though a lot of people talk about OBJ as a low-skill plop-and-drop, they're usually class V boaters that have lapped the run dozens of times. As a first or second timer, it's still very steep.
The first drop went smoothly for both of us, and we headed downstream through some small slides. The second falls of any significance is preceded by a tricky lead-in. I penciled more than I would have liked, but ran it clean. Bridger came in at an angle and was rolled at the hole at the bottom, but hit his roll.
Then came a slide with nasty rock on the left-hand side and a hole at the bottom. I had a fairly clean run and continued on towards the big falls, catching the bathtub-sized setup eddy before it and resting for a bit. Bridger was a long time coming. He had gotten stuck at the hole at the bottom of the slide and almost didn't make it out. When he finally did, he was tired and a bit rattled, and rested before meeting me in the setup eddy. It was around then that I started to have second thoughts about running another lap.
The 25 footer (or 30 footer, depending on who you ask) could have gone better; I didn't charge left hard enough and almost smashed my bow on a rock shelf in the right side of the LZ. I bumped it a bit with my bow, and surfaced somewhat sideways and was flipped by the curtain. I fought back to the surface and away from the wall and into the clear. Bridger had a pretty clean line.
The real tough stuff was over, though we both got caught in surprisingly large holes in the bottom slide.
As we were taking out, Bridger mentioned that he thought one lap for the day might be enough. I couldn't agree more. At those flows, it was just a little too sketchy for us to really be having fun on the water. Happy we had ran it, we were equally happy to head back to the truck and home.
Got out onto Alto-Alto with Bridger. We had good flows (900 or so), and had A. as our shuttle bunny, and even a sunny day. Unfortunately, the run itself didn't quite measure up to the rest of the circumstances. Billed as a great class IV run, it had a single class IV rapid, which boated pretty easily. It was a pretty run, and it was good to jump on a new river, but I wouldn't get in line to do it again.
Since we couldn't find a guide to take us on some of the local Vs, Bridger and I headed back to the Big Thompson, which was a blast. We both fired up Cannon Shot, and had a great run of the rest of the river. It was good to get some of my confidence back after stomping some of the lines, and it took all of four minutes to hitch a ride back to the top. We even found some orphaned gear; a paddle in an eddy and a boat pinned up against a logjam. We had some rescue practice with the boat, and managed to get both the boat and the paddle out of the river and into the car. It isn't very often that we come back with more gear than we left with. I put up a post on mountainbuzz and learned that 2 boats and paddles had been abandoned when a boater swam and dislocated his elbow, and his buddy ditched his boat to follow. The rightful owners are coming for the gear later this week. If they're nice, they'll bring scotch. Fun day altogether; it's hard to not have a good time in continuous class IV.
Got another run in on Black Rock. Everything went really smoothly, and I made a new paddling friend. Can't complain much.
Headed out to the Big Thompson, which had water. Neither Bridger nor I had run it before, but it looked like lots of read and run III+ to IV+; challenging stuff but nothing life threatening. We looked at the Sluff Section, which contained lots of gradient, two ugly drops and one pretty one. I ended up running the pretty one, Cannon Shot, which lead us into what was essentially one big 4 mile rapid. Things went really well; we even handled the surprise IV+ section well, and blew through the whole thing in about an hour. Then we hitched back to the top of the run, where two other groups were putting on, and we let ourselves get talked into a second run. This time around we both fired up Cannon Shot, and headed downstream with the group. When we got to the class IV+ stuff above Drake, one of our members portaged, while I lead the group into the rapid again, eddying out behind a big rock about half way through. I was feeling good, especially since I had a clean run on it last time, and I dropped in. Things went well until the end, when I started feeling tired after a series of boofs and holes.
A hole near the bottom of the rapid tried to flip me, and I half-assed my brace and was flipped. I floated into a hole upside down, which surfed me for a bit before it let me go and I could roll up. As I was rolling up I saw a 3 ft wide slot that I was headed toward, and I tried to put in one more paddle stroke to straighten out, but it was too late. My bow caught on one rock and the force of the current jammed my stern against the other and pinned me solidly. I could reach the bottom of the river with my vertical paddle, which I leaned on, and assessed my situation. Water was pouring over my boat and my body, covering me to mid-chest. I could breathe, and I was stable. Things could have been worse. I blew my whistle three times hard, and prepared myself for waiting things out until my buddies could eddy out below me, get out of their boats, and come to help me.
Moments later I felt a tap on my helmet and someone grabbed both straps of my PFD. The boater who portaged the rapid, Frenchie, had heard my whistle and was standing on the rock behind me. "What do you want to do?" he asked. I replied "I'm stable, and I can breathe, and I can reach my sprayskirt. I'll count to three, pull my skirt, and try to step out of the boat. Pull me out." I counted down, pulled, and he extracted me and dropped me into three inches of water next to the rock he was standing on. I didn't even have to take a swim. As I was getting out of my boat, one of the other boaters in our crew got into trouble in the same spot and almost ended up pinning as well; we grabbed the bow of his boat and pulled it over the top of mine so he wouldn't get stuck. That dislodged my boat and we chased it downstream, where a couple of the other boaters eventually pinned it again near shore where I could get to it. All of my gear was still there. I was ok, the boat was ok. Not too shabby.
We ran the rest of the river down to the park and headed home. Aside from the sketchy bit, the Big T has made it onto my list of favorite rivers. Really busy, not too tough but not too easy either.
Got in another after-work run of the Black Rock section of Clear Creek. It has more water, and was a lot more fun. Could even do with a bit more. Was out there with another new boating friend, and we both took a look at Rigor Mortis, the class V that ends the run. After a bit of consideration, we decided to run it. He ran first, and I set safety with a rope. We needed it. He folded into the very seam that we told each other you didn't want to go deep in, and he flipped into the big hole and swam. He got into an eddy quickly and safely, but his gear didn't. I chased his boat for over half a mile in all of my gear. I'm not much of a runner. His paddle eventually pinned vertically where he could get it, and I kept racing after his boat, which eventually pinned on a rock where I could get to it. I was exhausted. The rescue took way too much time, and I was eventually late for the dinner reservations A. and I had made. She took it well.
Headed out to Boulder to run the lower stretch of Boulder Creek. It didn't have close to enough water. Most of the run was sliding over rocks, aside from one channelized narrows section, which was a lot of fun. It was interesting to get on a run and paddle with new partners, but I won't be dropping everything to get out to the run again anytime soon, unless it's running with 4x the water.
Got out on Lower South Boulder with another new group, which I managed to be sort of the organizer for, even though I hadn't met any of them. Flows were good, and we had plenty of sun as we put on in the afternoon. We portaged the 3 big rapids, all except for Mariah, who ran Bridge Falls, a complicated, somewhat manky drop. She styled it, and showed up all of the boys. The bulk of the run was really fun, boat-scoutable class IV, my favorite style of boating. We also got to drop off a 30 foot dam drop, which gave everybody some major butterflies but boated easily. The crack in Craig's boat finally let go in the last mile or so, and he tried not to pull a Captain Nemo as we slid over the last few rocks to our take out.
Finally got out to Bailey, with another crew pulled together off of mountainbuzz. Put on under overcast skies onto a good level. Our whole crew walked the first of the Four Falls, which was a not-terrible line with terrible consequences. We styled the other 3 of the falls, and then Will managed to get flipped and snap his paddle on a rock in a class IV below the falls. He was ushered to shore quickly, and we had a pretty efficient boat rescue, and eventually boat and paddler were re-united, and the split was pulled out. We had smooth sailing down to Supermax, where we all portaged the first drop and I ran the second half, usually called Tampax. We were leap-frogging another group, and I didn't see anyone run the first, trickier part of Supermax. Then it was more fun, channelized class IV read-and-run until Deer Creek Rapid, where we scouted again and all generally had good lines through the pushy but fairly friendly rapid. Then it was just more class III surrounded by beautiful granite domes until things settled out to a few class II riffles to the takeout.
The runs last weekend were fun; Waterton and Foxton weren’t real intense, but offered some nice scenery and a chance to get my bearings again. Gilman Gorge was up in Vail, and was a lot of fun. Good, technical creekboating, without anything of huge consequence. Dowd Chute was just short and sweet.
I was able to get in my first after-work paddling run last night. I got out to the Black Rock section of Clear Creek and managed to catch up to another boater who was on his way to the put-in. He hadn’t done the run in 2 years since he had been recovering from a shoulder injury, and I had obviously never run it. We managed to take everything on without major incident though, and had a good evening of creekboating. I had considered trying to get back out there tonight, but it doesn’t look like there will be quite as many people out there, and I’d kind of like the level to come up a bit before I head out there again. I’ll likely get out there on Friday. Then it’s a long weekend, which will hopefully be full of boating.
Got out and paddled Foxton, Waterton, Gilman Gorge, and Dowd Chute this past weekend. Good introduction to the CO creeking season, and hopefully I'll be able to get the boat a little wetter next weekend as things warm up.
Bobbing Down New Rivers
There has been a significant amount of discussion in the club, both online and in the real world, about how fast paddlers in the HCC should advance and who should decide how fast club member should advance. To ease the semantics of the debate, we’ll call this hypothetical, fairly novice, paddler Bob (since if he gets in over his head he may be swimming). Allocating this decision—whether Bob should run a certain river—is a bit of a high-wire act.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to do it. The first is to adopt a sort of control system, where a trip leader, generally an experienced boater, decides if Bob can go on a certain trip. The second option is to adopt a relatively laissez-faire approach, allowing individual paddlers to decide whether they’re ready for a particular river, and leaving the decision to Bob. On one hand, we have safety as a consideration. If boaters get in over their heads, they become a danger to themselves and to the group. On the other hand, paddling is a fairly individualistic sport, and many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of giving one person veto power over our decisions to run a particular river.
Once all of the dust settles, the control system looks like an untenable option. Placing the bulk of the responsibility of the safety of a trip on one leader puts a heavy burden on that person’s shoulders, and could result in depleting an already small group of trip leaders. Moreover, adopting a control system approach undermines the all-for-one, one-for-all approach cohesive teams use when approaching paddling safety.
We need to leave the decision of whether Bob runs a certain river with that paddler. However, we still need to keep safety in mind when putting together paddling trips, and safety must always, always take priority over the worry that we might step on someone’s toes. If anyone, trip leader or otherwise, familiar with Bob’s abilities doesn’t think he’s ready for a river, that concern should be voiced.
In the end, it is the responsibility of each paddler to appraise their skills and decide whether they are ready for a new run. It may be difficult for some new boaters to know if they have the skills for a certain run, and if that’s the case, they need to start asking questions. What is the character of the run? Big water? Creeky and technical? Are there a few big drops that garner a Class IV rating, or is the entire run made up of continuous Class IV maneuvering? What is the hardest move on the run? Answers to these questions should give Bob an idea of whether he has the skills to approach a particular run, and should allow him to improve his skills at his own pace while paddling new rivers.
None of this is to say that groups as a whole don’t retain a sort of veto power. If Bob is paddling with six people, four of whom don’t think he should run the
I would suggest that, generally speaking, the following skills are requires for safely paddling the following classes:
- Class I-II
- Wet exit
- Forward stroke
- Sweep stroke
- Class III
- Reliable eddy turns
- Reliable roll
- Decent draw strokes
- Rope use
- Ability to boat-scout Class II
- Proficiency in basic hand and whistle signals
- Class IV
- Bombproof roll
- Accomplished boat handling, including compound strokes and ability to catch small eddies
- Rescue skills
- Throw rope
- Pin extraction
- Basic CPR
- Boat-based rescues
- Ability to read water
- Ability to boat-scout Class III
- Class V
- Ability to run continuous, demanding rapids
- Significant physical endurance
- Expert level boat-handling skills
- Ability to catch micro-eddies
- Ability to maintain control in steep, confused water
- Expert water-reading skills
- Expert rescue skills
- Ability to work as a cohesive, interdependent team
At breakfast, we tied in with Brock, Brian, and a substantial group of other boaters. We got on the Falls since it doesn't run very often and serves as a good introduction to the creek runs on the South Shore. Things started out with Powerhouse Falls, a 10 footer or so with a somewhat complicated move to setup, and then off of a sweet spout. It's a full-on start to the run, and a few of us fired it up, while the rest of the crew put in below. It was followed by a number of fun little ledges/slides, none of them carrying any big consequences.
Everyone in the group had a full-on creekboat, aside from Jeff, who was trying to be a hero in his Big EZ. It was not to be. After smashing through some rapids on his head and pitoning a somewhat significant ledge, putting a baseball sized dent in the nose of his boat, he walked out.
Then there was asshole, an out-of-character drop compared to the other ledges, where the whole river is funneled into a narrow, steep slot, partially blocked by the "hemorrhoid" rock which tossed lots of the outflow into the air. Many carried, and a few of us ran it (my run was fine, but a little shaky). Then there was a fun 6-8 ft ledge, followed by a mandatory portage around a tree. Back in the water, we hit another 8ft ledge, and after a slight respite we ran a series of small, close ledges, all fun little boofs. Zach joined the swim team there, getting caught in the hole at the bottom, but he was fine after an easy rescue. Two more significant ledges remained, the last which was a fun slide into a boofable 4 footer or so. Lots of fun. After a fast run through a dam and past the fishermen near the river mouth we were done.
It was so much fun we decided to do it again. I half expected the second run to be somewhat uneventful, since we knew the lines. It was not to be. I had a marginal run of Powerhouse, getting knocked off line at the lip by a little flake. I hit the pool at the bottom with too much angle and fell into a hole created by the falls. It flipped me, and I rolled up under it. Then one of our crew swam at asshole after getting flipped in the bottom hole and getting pushed into some rocks; I bagged him out and it wasn't a terrible swim, but it could have been a lot worse. Then Steve ran the wrong side of one of the multiple ledges and got his boat pinned under a birch tree that hit him at about the waist. He managed to walk out of it, but it was scary. Then Zach got thrown into a wall at the dam; he broke his paddle and cut up his hand through to the fatty tissue.
While the rest of the Indiana boys were done for the day, I was still up for more boating. I went off with Brock, Tenzin, and Steve to do the Upper Silver at pretty high water. I walked the first major rapid, Hail Mary, a 3-parter that looked do-able, but it was the 3rd run of the day on 3 hours of sleep, and I didn't really want to take any big chances. The boys ran it smoothly though. Brock told me "things pick up after Hail Mary." He was right. We dropped into about a mile or mile and a half of continuous class IVs, each stacked on top of the next with few eddies in between. Lots of slides, and a few clean ledges, all of it pumping. Things went well, but if they would have started to go wrong, they would have probably gone wrong for a long time. We then all took out at the Cabin Section, usually class V, which was in the high reaches of V+ with all of the water. Everybody took out, though Tenzin and Brock looked at it for a lot longer than I did.
After driving around and looking at some waterfalls, we had drinks and dinner at the Canteen and headed back to the hotel. Duffy and the Arkansans (ar-can-sans, mind) partied pretty hard, while the Indiana boys crashed out, needing more than 3 hours of sleep this time around. Apparantly they had a fun (albeit loud) time, and the birthday boy managed to sweet talk the poor desk clerk a bit.
On Saturday we headed to the Lower Silver, which Brock described as a lot of fun, mostly boat-scoutable class IV. It was fun, but he was wrong about the IV bit. With the water level high, things got busier. We had a swimmer after the first drop, and after we managed to fish him out and look at the next major drop, three of our group of seven walked off of the river. The remaining five of us ran a complex set of ledges, and then took out again in a small eddy, tying our boats to trees so they'd stay in the eddy, to scout a three-tiered class V drop. The line was there, though complicated, and 2 of our group decided to portage. Tenzin, Brock and I ran it, with clean lines all around. 100 yards down, we scouted another pretty big triple drop, this one with a more straightforward line, which was run by everyone. After some flatwater, we scouted the Railroad Rapid, a confused flume that pushed toward a large, jumbled, river-wide ledge that contained a tree, which most of the current wanted to push you at. 3 of us ran that one, with good lines again. After one last class IV flume, we were done. Or, I was anyway.
Brock and Tenzin went on to run Silver Falls, a V+ jumbled waterfall with a tricky lead in and a huge hole at the bottom, which was just below the take-out. Tenzin had a clean line, and Brock had a great start, until he wedged his paddle blade in a crack about halfway down the drop and snapped the right blade. He remained upright, but hit the hole at the bottom like a ton of bricks. He was flushed out, and then it took him a while to roll on his 1/4 of a paddle blade. Tenzin eventually had to ferry my paddle across to Brock so he could make it back to our side of the river. It was a full day.
On Sunday, we did an early morning lap of the Falls in order to get the boys on something steep (they had done the Rock the day before, which was apparently a little underwhelming). Tommy was with us, a friend of Kev's who hadn't really done any creeking before. It was interesting for me, since it was just the four of us and I was leading a river I had run twice, but things went well. I was the only one to run Powerhouse (I had the same line I had the second run on Friday) and we had clean lines all around.
On our way back home, we hit the Peshtigo at high water, which was pretty fun. Fun, big-water lines abounded, and Zach even did a few unintentional creekboat rodeo moves in a big hole. We ran into some of the other HCC members on the way down, and paddled out in sunshine and 75 degree weather.
This is the last trip before Colorado, since a funeral and finals fill up the rest of the weekends. It was a fun trip though, and the new helmet held up well.
After the face-smashing a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a new helmet. Its a WRSI Current with a FPS (face protection system), basically a removable chinguard. My old helmet, a Shred Ready, didn't fit me real well, and if it took a big hit it could slide back on my head a bit. Made me nervous. That's the big selling point of the WRSI; the design is completely geared toward keeping it on your head and especially on your forehead.
It also fits the bill since I can use it without the mask for playboating and with the mask for creeking (like this weekend, woot). Seems like a solid lid, and it fits well. It's a little tough to slide over my gourd with the mask on, but once on it's comfy and spacious. We'll see how it goes this weekend.
So we drove out to Webster Springs and got in around 1am. The drive wasn't too terrible, though a little sketchy due to Crush's driving. We crashed in the bunkhouse, and rolled up around 8am and went to a little cafe to grab breakfast (mmmm... biscuits and gravy). Then we headed to the Upper Meadow with some other HCC paddlers to do a little baby creeking. The run was good, and padded out a little as the day went on. The shuttle was pretty rough though; we did some plowing with the trailer hitch on Crush's trailer. I lead a lot of the run, even though I hadn't run it before, since it was fun class III-ish boulder gardens and since I just like leading that kind of stuff.
After resetting the trailer's leaf springs, which sucked, we headed back to Webster for dinner at the cafe, and ran into some other paddlers from our group. Then we headed back to the campground/bunkhouse. We caught some local musicians jamming on a little stage, chatted with some people about levels, and crashed. I ended up pitching a tent outside since the bunkhouse was pretty hot and crowded. We caught some rain throughout the night, but not too much.
The local talent:
The next morning there was all kinds of debate at breakfast over what there was enough water to run. After an hour or so of kicking out a couple ideas and then rehashing them ad nauseum (a problem when you're rolling with a group of 20 paddlers of mixed abilities), we decided to go down to the racecourse to see what the locals had to say. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do, so I spent most of the hour gritting my teeth and trying not to take anybody by the shoulders and shake them until they agreed with me. Once we conferred with the locals, it became clear that we were running the middle Cranberry.
When we arrived at the Cranberry, our hearts dropped. It looked really low. After some protracted shuttling, a group of us were standing around waiting for the shuttle vehicles to come back, and Zach, Kev, Scarecrow and I decided to start out early and break the group up a little bit, since we couldn't easily run with 15 people in the group. We started down, boat-scouting everything as we went. The run was great; full of technical rapids that I would probe, grab a setup eddy, see the line, and we'd all run down. Nothing too scary, but plenty of stuff to keep us busy. We had a bit of a worry that we had missed the take-out, but finally came upon the cars.
Since we figured the main group was going slowly, we loaded up our boats and drove to the put-in. We found Fufu walking out, and she hopped in with us to run shuttle. We started a second run, and caught up with the group maybe halfway through the run and lapped them.
Once everyone was packed up it was back to the campground for dinner and a shindig. A bluegrass band was playing, there was beer on tap, and pizza next to the beer. And fraternizing paddlers. It was fantastic. I did a bit of dancing, hung out with the Marshall Whitewater Team, and got to bed at about 2am in the midst of a healthy rain.
I awoke the next morning to another debate over what river we should run. The rain fell on saturated ground, and all of the rivers were up. After more debate and teeth-gritting, we decided to run the Back Fork of the Elk.
Though we had originally planned to split the group up, we ended up gelling together when we came to the three big drops. Armed with the idea that these were just plop-and-drops, I let Zach scout and tell me the line. He said that I had a big hole in the center, and that I wanted to go left over two boofable ledges. I lined up middle left, and as I came over the lip I saw a big hole feeding a nasty seam. I looked to the left and saw the line he had described all the way on the left bank. "This is bad," I thought, and tried to boof the hole. I got my bow up, but didn't have the speed I needed, and was typewritered into the seam. I braced right and left, and thought I had gone under, when I realized that I had been shoved through the hole and into a cave. I was upright and dry and behind the curtain. "Bad," I thought. I tried to paddle out and got flipped by the curtain; when I rolled up I was in the clear.
Just about everybody else rand the drop on the right, aside from Zach, who ran our intended hero line.
The second and third drops were both run clean (though I looked at the big one this time around, not trusting second hand beta).
The problems started on a river-wide, irregular ledge further down. Most of the group ran a long rock finger with a few inches of water running over it; Zach and I ran a hero line on the river-left over a large-ish hole.
Then the debacle started. I outlined the entire story and safety issues HERE, but the cliffs notes version is that we had a swimmer, people tried to rescue both boat and swimmer, failed at both, and then people followed the swimmer through a small ledge drop and plopped sideways into the hole themselves, on top of said swimmer. Then we had 3 people in the water, and since only two of us were still in our boats, we had a hell of a time pulling everyone out. At one point I thought I might be pulling out a body. At the end, everyone was ok, but shaken.
Then, on the last drop, Sharron flipped and caught a rock with her face and almost blacked out. She was rescued, but had her two front teeth slammed backwards to the point that she couldn't close her mouth. She had a trip to the emergency room in her future.
We finally headed home at about 4:30, and rolled into South Bend around 2:30am. It was a good trip, though it brought up some concerns about the safety consciousness of the club. Hopefully we'll be able to get on some more good water this spring.
Drove south on Friday afternoon with Kev and Zach after we packed everything into my little Saturn (32 mpg with 3 boats on the roof!). We camped next to Baby Falls on the Tellico, and then got on the river bright and early on Saturday morning. The Tellico hosts a number of 5-6 ft ledges, some rocky boulder gardens, and Baby Falls, a 14 footer. The run is pretty short and entirely roadside, and we were able to get 2 runs in before lunch. Around noon we headed into town in the rain, grabbed some lunch, and checked levels of other area rivers. I wanted to run something new, but was outvoted, and we decided to give Kev and Zach some more creeking practice with 2 more laps on the Tellico.
After getting dinner with the whole HCC crowd, and after much debate, we decided to get on Daddy's Creek on Sunday. The drive from the put-in to the take-out that we had to use was about 50 minutes, so there was lots of talk as to how to keep the shuttle to a minimum. We decided to camp at the take-out, which meant driving around on TN backroads at 10pm, getting a bit lost, but eventually finding our campsite.
I woke up early the next morning and started kicking people out of their tents. There was more debate about shuttles as other boaters were a little slow getting up and even slower deciding what river they wanted to run. After racking boats, unracking and reshuffling boats, and re-racking boats, we finally had teams and shuttles worked out. Jordan, Kev, Zach and I headed to the Daddy's put-in and got on the water, 2' of it on the bridge gauge. After a few miles of riffles, we got some run-and-gun class IIIs, and then we got to the canyon. It was fun boating in big boulders; I'd peer over the top of the rapid, see an eddy, hit the eddy, and relay beta to the rest of the team before running the rest. Interesting rapids, but nothing too taxing. Kev and Zach both got stuck in a hole early on and played bumper boats for a while; Zach paddled out and Kev swam, but the rescue was easy. We picked our way through the canyon until we got to Rattlesnake, the main event, which we scouted and found a pretty easy line. We had a few more III+/IV- rapids after that, one which Kev ran semi-unintentionally after missing an eddy, but he ran it well.
We had a bit of a paddle-out to the alternate take-out, but the water was moving and the scenery was pretty. After a bit of a hike-out, we were back at the car and soon on our way back to Indiana.
Hopefully I'll have photos soon.
~Willow Creek, AK
~Upper and Lower St. Louis, MN
~Mississippi (Sauk Rapids), MN
~Clear Creek, CO
~Oh Be Joyful, CO
~Henson Creek, CO
~Palmy Play Park, NZ
~Lime Creek, CO
~ Uncompahgre, CO
~Wolf, WI (Section IV)
~Green Narrows, NC
~Poplar, N.Shore, MN
~Upper and Lower Gauley, WV
~Vermillion River, MN
~Sturgeon Falls, Manitoba
~Arkansas River (Granite, Numbers, Royal Gorge, Salida), CO
~Cache LaPoudre (Spencer Heights, upper/lower Mishiwaka, rustic, narrows sections), CO
~Middle Fork of the Buckhannon, WV
~Daddy's Creek, TN
~Upper Meadow, WV
~Middle Cranberry, WV
~Back Fork of the Elk, WV
~Upper Silver, MI
~Lower Silver, MI
~Daisy Creek, CO
~N. Chickamunga, TN
~Cain Creek, TN
~South Saint Vrain, CO
~Proving Grounds (NSV), CO
~Upper Yough, MD
~Top Yough, MD
~Lower Yough, PA
~Stony Creek, PA
~Crooked Fork, TN
~Island Creek, TN
~Castle Creek, CO
~Slaughterhouse (Roaring Fork), CO
~Gore Canyon, Colorado, CO
~Upper Animas, CO