Monday, October 11, 2004

Powerful Popper

After my first descent of the Upper Yough, it took a while to return. I had wanted to go again but I missed the September Saturday release while I was in Canada and had a wedding to go to on the day of the October Saturday release. The UY season was coming to an end and Monday was the last recreational release day. Fortuitously it was also Columbus Day, that completely useless holiday that all of us government employees get off.

So who else was a government employee?…Why Ian of course!! So we packed our gear and headed to Friendsville. As we approached western MD we gradually saw the incredible change in foliage. It was absolutely stunning. The colors where amazing. I hadn’t seen anything like this since I moved from New England 12 years before.

We arrived in Friendsville rather early and didn’t see anyone there yet so we got breakfast and chatted with some people at the raft outfitter. Soon a few people showed up including a guy named Ben who I had met on the LY that summer. We put on and floated down the flat water to absolutely beautiful views.

Since Mark had to work that day I didn’t have my favorite guide. Along the way a guy who introduced himself as Kevin started chatting with us. He seemed familiar. I said this was only my second time down and I was a bit nervous. He offered to show me the lines. As Ian was paddling his playboat for the first time I didn’t see any harm in this. Figured it would be good to give him some time to get his bearings anyway.

Kevin told me to follow close behind him and I did. We made it past gap, down the boogie water and to Bastard with no problems. He quickly explained the line and we were off. Unlike my previous trip I was much less nervous and actually understood what he was telling me. I nailed the boof and we continued on. Things where going fine through Charlie’s and Triple Drop and I hadn’t even flipped yet! We stopped at an eddy a good ways above National. Kevin wanted me to run the boof line.

At this point the flotilla of rafts that had been behind us caught up. One raft was having some problems with a few people swimming. Suddenly my trusty guide pealed out of the eddy and started chasing the swimmers. He told me to wait there. I thought it was nice of him to help but was nervous being left there alone. Then it hit me, I figured out why he looked familiar!! He was the guy we talked to that morning at the outfitter! He was one of their safety boaters!!

I watched as he helped the rafters but instead of eddying out above the drop he continued on to the boof line and disappeared over the horizon. He had not explained the line to me. Ian and the other guys were no where in sight. I was all alone. I didn’t know the standard line so all I had to go on was having seen where Kevin had gone. So I took a deep breath and followed. I don’t remember much but I definitely didn’t make the line. I ended up right in the meat of the hole.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I remember Josh telling me that it would spit you out if you just hung out for a bit so I did. Sure enough after a moment I felt it let go. I was tired but ready to roll up. But Kevin was right there next to me ready to help. I wanted to make it up on my own and was rather annoyed that his boat was right on top of mine. But I figured it would make things easier just to take his bow.

View looking up from National

After a rest at National we continued on. Surprisingly Kevin stayed with me. A part of me wanted him to just go away but he was a very good guide despite the incident at National. So against my own better judgment I continued to follow him. He did a great job of leading me from there but it was very fast paced as he needed to keep up with the rafts.

I think that he must have lead me through Time Warp or TW Redux or something as I don’t recall having run the Gun Barrel that day. I do remember following him through some pretty tight slots. It went well though. I was having a good time but was getting pretty tired. We stopped a ways above Powerful Popper. We were barely in the eddy a few seconds it seemed before he tore off again. I had barely had a chance to catch my breath and on we went.

As I followed him I was getting increasingly tired and could barely keep up. I hit a wave and it flipped me. I was so tired my roll failed me. I tired a few times but it just wasn’t working. I felt myself go over the drop (thankfully it is plenty deep) and into the swirly water bellow. Powerful Popper lives up to its name. There isn’t much of a hole below but the convergence of currents there creates strong eddy lines. The water there is actually so aerated that the entire pool around it looks like a giant glass of champagne I was exhausted, low on air and I just could not fight my way out of it.

So yes, after a long swim free streak (it had been over 14 months since my last swim) I was out of my boat. I came up in the pool below and much to my embarrassment found that everyone was right there ready to help me. Ben and Kevin had both been trying to give me a bow but I just didn’t realize it. I came up and grabbed onto Kevin’s boat. Oh and of course Ian had taken my camera and was busy documenting the whole thing!

The rescue was simple; they pulled me and my boat just a few feet to the adjacent eddy. I was fairly angry. The pace was way too much for me. I took my time draining my boat, knowing that Kevin would have to follow the rafts. I was glad to be rid of him. We finished the rest of the run with no further problems.

Me running Cheeseburger Falls

Overall I really enjoyed the trip. I felt like I definitely did very well (especially Bastard through Charlie’s). I felt like my problems where mainly a result of exhaustion. I was very happy to have Mark as a guide again the following summer. I definitely wanted to take things slow next time.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

hit counter code
low cost web hosting

Locations of visitors to this page