Sunday, October 01, 2006

Great Falls, Part II

After all summer of looking at it the level was once again back to 2.9, great time to run the VA lines of the falls. Wednesday we met Scott and headed out to the Flake to scout. We walked down to the Spout, checking out U-Hole and S-Turn along the way. We had the lines pretty well figured out on our own. Joe joined us as we got back to our boats and went over a few key points and we were on our way. Scott went with Mike and eddied out at the bottom. Joe, Mark and i waited in the eddy at the top and i decided to go first. I came down the first ledge, got a great boof off the top drop and slid right along the rock that separates the drop from the U-hole. Hit the bottom straight on. It was a perfect run! I got to the bottom and saw that Scott and Mike had eddied out too far down to have seen my run. Joe and Mark were behind as well. So no one saw it! poop! At S-turn i was doing well but underestimated how far left i'd get pushed at the bottom and didn't work hard enough to the right. I hit the pillow at the bottom and flipped, rolled right up, no big deal. This time i had gone last though and of course everyone saw that!! Figures!! I got out and scouted the Spout. I'd been really nervous about it. Something about that rock under the curtain that made me pretty uneasy. My run wasn't great, i pencilled in too much and got a good nasal douching. Overall though i had a great time and felt pretty good.

Saturday we went out for a second run. Another great line on U-hole (although i did end up a little too far left at the bottom, and eddied out right above the undercut, a little unnerving but not a big deal, kinda a cool move). S-Turn also went well this time. It was weird though cuz i got splashed really hard in the face at the top and my eyes were so blurred that it was like paddling through a white fog. I was able to visualize the line though and made it to the bottom without incident. S-Turn is probalby one of the longest and most involved rapids on the falls. I still flipped on the Spout but no nasal douching this time. So my first two runs weren't perfect but they were good. Mark had good lines and was also enjoying getting to run another part of the falls.

Scott had a pretty sketchy line on U-hole Saturday morning and Sunday we were all kinda nervous about running it. We got out and scouted again, just to be sure. My run was perfect again and that took the edge off. A little too much I guess cuz I let my guard down when I got to S-turn. I screwed up my boof stroke (okay so I keep taking a right stroke instead of a left where its really obviously a left stroke move, worked out the first 2 times... I know better now though!!).

I came off the drop, hit the reactionary on the left, flipped, tried to roll, hit another wave/hole and got pushed back down, the water is pretty chaotic there, smacked a rock lightly with my shoulder, not too bad, smacked my head lightly, also no big deal, thinking I can hold on easy till it calms some... Then... BANG!! It felt like somone threw a brick at me. It hurt so bad there was no way I was going to roll and not flip again in that swirly water, so I just held on tight to my paddle, waited for the pool, and hoped there would be no more rocks. There weren't. I felt myself hit the final wave/hole at the bottom and knew I was at the pool above the final 20 foot drop and rolled up fast now, gave Scott the okay and floated into the eddy above the Spout.

Mark came down, asked if I was okay to run the last drop. He'd seen me flip but didn't know what happened much after that. He asked if I needed a break and I said I just wanted to get down to the bottom. I hurt but could still paddle. There's really no good way to climb out of the gorge at this point anyway. So I took a moment to breathe, let the guys go first, waited for the okay whistle and went. Paddled from right to left as hard as I could but I was pretty well worn and my back/shoulder hurt as I moved. I didn't make it as far left as intended and went right off the middle of the drop.

As I came over the lip I had this moment of panic, I thought was going to hit the rocks on the right, I'm not sure if got a boof stroke in or not or if it just shot me out on its own but I landed fairly flat and in the middle of the big soft boil at the bottom. The landing was perfect, felt awesome (well except for that ache in my back), I don’t think I even got my face wet. So after the beating I got my first clean run on the Spout so that felt really good, I felt somewhat redeemed. Afterwards Scott was going to do a second run so we climbed up the flake with him to watch. Probably wasn't the best idea but I felt reasonably well and didn't want him up there alone.

Later that day were were supposed to be going to the Dickerson whitewater course (Mark was demoing a new creekboat). I was initially going to just go and watch but after a few hours of rest I felt pretty good, took some ibuprofen and was able to paddle for a few laps on the course. Could't make all the moves I usually go for but still was able to have a good time. I'm thankful it wasn’t worse and will definitely be taking that left boof stroke from now on! And shoping for a new pfd.

So no serious damage done, just a bit bruised. I hit just below my shoulder bone right about where my pfd ends I think. I really like my Astral vest, I was actually thinking about upgrading to a newer model (have had mine for 3 years or so). But I just really feel like I need more coverage and none of them seem to provide enough.

The VA lines are a lot of fun. The moves aren't super hard but the consequence of mistakes is pretty serious. It's pretty incredible being in the gorge that is formed there. Once you commit to it you can't see the rest of the falls at all. It's almost like being on a completely different river. People say that the VA side is far more forgiving but so far its given me one of the worst beatings yet. Nonetheless i look forward to more runs soon!

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Anonymous Pete G said...

Nice photos! I love the angles and PoVs. Sorry I couldn't have been there Sunday. How was the run?

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad about the spout. At these levels it's actually better to pencil it. If you hit your line and land flat it hurts. Once you start running it at 3.1 - 3.2 is when you have to boof so you clear the hole. Did you guys hit the MD lines as well? I must have just missed you guys.

1:06 PM  

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