Monday, August 01, 2005

Pink Power

In late June the T1 finally met its demise. The cracks around the seat bolts had finally expanded till they sheared through the plastic and I found myself gradually sinking on a LY run. As I am probably one of the few people who actually really liked the Transformer, it was rather difficult for me to switch to a new boat. But i knew that it was time to move on.

I had paddled Suzi's Pocket Rocket before and it was similar enough in general size and shape to my T1 that i figured I would probably be happy with it. Suzi let me borrow hers to try out and after a few trips I was sold. So I started searching the Boatertalk Gear swap. It wasn't hard there were half a dozen Pocket Rockets for sale. Funny thing was that there were no fewer than three PINK pocket rockets!! That was it! I was destined to have a pink pocket rocket. So I asked the sellers for prices and pictures and ultimately bought one from a guy in Florida. Go figure...He'd barely paddled it and only at the beach so it was in great shape.

The Pocket Rocket proved to be a good choice. It is more comfortable than the T1 and much easier to throw down. With a good bit of practice I was finally able to start learnign to do flat water chartwheels and bowstalls. I had gotten up to three points by the end of the summer.

MD Chute

Learning Cartwheels

At Horeshoe

By October I had also gotten up the confidence (or arrogance) to run the Upper Yough in my playboat. The Pink Power was ready to go. We planned to be there for both the Friday and Saturday releases. I optmistically only packed the Pocket Rocket. The first run needed to go well or i'd be playing shuttle bunny.

First playboat run on UY

Mark had been considering hand paddling but I insisted that he needed a stick in case he needed to rescue me. We met Scott A. at Friendsville so at least we had one more person for support. The first run went surprisingly well. Much of the river actually felt easier as I was more comfortable in the playboat. I missed the boof at Bastard and got a bit of a beatdown but didn't let it get to me. Some of the larger drops presented greater fear factor but overall I felt mostly fine. I had some trouble with getting stern squirted here and there but made it down with few further problems.

Running the Mushroom on UY

The second day went fairly well also. This time I nailed the boof at Bastard. Everything was going fine until we reached Fuckup Falls. The river was running low, about 1.6 on the Sang Run gauge. It was the lowest we'd run it at. The only place I had really noticed the difference was at F-Up. At the top of the drop you paddle throuh a fairly narrow channel in between two rocks and continue on down. The low level was causing a rock that was normally submerged to appear barely below the surface in the middle of the drop. I had seen it the day before and was able to avoid it. Unfortunately I forgot about by the 2nd day.

I like this rapid a good bit. It's technical but not terribly difficult and i'd never had any problems with it before. I was used to being able to paddle right next to one of the two rocks at the top as there was usually water going around the side of them forming a small cushion. At this level though this cushion did not exist. Where I normally would have slid right by I hit one of the rocks slightly instead. This pushed me to the left slightly. It wasn't a big deal and my corrective stroke would normally have been enough to get me going the right way again. Unfortunately this time it pushed me straight onto that partially submerged rock. Had I been in my creekboat I probably would have just bounced right over it. But it stopped the playboat dead in its tracks.

This of course immediately flipped me and I ended up running the rest of the rapid upside down, hitting every rock on the way down with my head and shoulders. I rolled up at the bottom disoriented and quite upset. That had been the most painful beatdown I'd ever had. After a few minutes of rest and time for the headache to subside I was fine. No injuries sustained. Overall i felt like the playboat runs went about as expected. I was glad to have had a chance to do it. :)

Surfing at Horeshoe Wave

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