Monday, July 09, 2007

"Eventually, the Horse will get us all...."

I never much liked that statement, true or not.

After weeks of running the VA lines, the river had dropped down to about 2.8. Reasonable MD lines level for me to try the entire run again. Higher than I'd ever run the whole thing before. I debated running Pencil Sharpener but decided to look at it from the bottom first. I was pretty tired and wanted to conserve some energy so decided just to do Z-turn which is a pretty easy move. Got out, scouted Horseshoe, it had been 9 months since I'd run it last and never at this level. It looked good. Joe had already run it and climbed up next to the drop with a rope. So off i went, my line was good, but not perfect, got slightly endered off the drop, but not big deal.

It was about 98 degrees outside, the water is getting into the high 80's and the sun was beating down hard, even at 6pm. Plus i was pretty damn tired already after driving back from NC the night before. So i decided to walk up and do one more run on Z-turn and then Horseshoe and call it a day. I planned on coming back to run laps on Horseshoe the next day.

So i walked up and watched some others run Horseshoe then went the rest of the way above Charlie's. That hike there is actually really easy compared to hiking up the flake to VA lines or up to Pummel. I decided not to bother doing another lap on Pummel as it would have required climbing up farther and i was tired. Decided to also forego a run on pencil sharpener, best to save it for a lower level, looked fairly beefy from the bottom.

Ryan had showed up a bit late and needed someone to show him the line on Horseshoe as he'd never done it before. No one else was around so i got out with him after running Z-turn. "I'd show you by running it,but i don't know if i'll do it right" I half-jokingly told him. Talk about self fulfilling prophecy....

At this point only Ryan and Sean were around. Ryan standing there with me wanting to watch someone run it, and Sean had gotten out on RR above the drop. I was kinda hoping to have someone in the water with me before i went, but everyone else was still up at the top running
Pummel. I looked at Sean and signaled for him to grab a rope since he was standing there anyway. He waved back at me "nah, you don't need it". Fine. So i put in and pealed out.

The ferry over to river right isn't particularly difficult. But the current is moving fast and it is easy to get turned if you're not careful. I came down, angled right, but didn't quite making over far enough. It is a very fine line between being too far right (and hitting that little f-u rock) or being too far left and falling into the seam. Well i was definitely too far left . I probably went off about 4 feet from the launch pad well off line. Immediately got backendered and flipped into the right side, just below the launch pad. That part doesn't have that much water going over it and i was able to roll up and surf it. Working hard to try to get out.

But the boil line is way downstream so this was mostly a fruitless effort. In fact it probably just made things worse cuz as i was trying to work my way out of it i was gradually getting sucked into the meat of the hole. As soon as i felt myself slide in there i knew that was it, no way out. I hadn't gotten much air and i knew that time was limited. I wondered how much time i had exactly as i dropped my paddled and pulled my skirt.

The boat filled with water instantly and as soon as i was clear of the cockpit i balled up as tight as i could. I held my breath as tight as i could, feeling as if the monster was trying to suck every last ounce of air out of me. It pushed me down deep and i felt myself hit the bottom. I pushed off and waited, wondering how long i would be in there. I was probably fifteen feet underwater, no air in sight. As soon as i hit the bottom i was pretty sure i was okay, i was in the greenwater. I crawled over some rocks and may have kicked off the bottom some for good measure.

Nonetheless, after a few seconds i was just about getting worried, i didn't have much air. And then suddenly i felt myself start to rise. Things were calming down and i was pretty sure i was clear of the hole. But i still had a long ways to go to reach the surface. i was way too worn
out to try to swim up, so i just stayed balled up and waited. After a few seconds i finally popped up, about 40 feet downstream of the hole. Ryan didn't even see me come up. He was expecting to see me closer to the hole.

After getting my first, much needed gulp of air (and some water) i started swimming. I was clear of any real danger but did not much like the idea of swimming O-Deck. For a class III rapid it's got some pretty big pourover holes in there and i didn't want to get beat any more. I swam to the river left wall and eventually was able to find a foothold to brace myself on while i climbed up the wall. Good thing too as the RL side of O-Deck also has this little flake at the bottom, fun
to bounce off of in your boat, probably painful to run on your ass.

I climbed up and watched as my paddle floated on downstream. Started hiking up and met Ryan who had run down to check if i was okay. "Your boat is still in there!" he said. Sure enough there was my poor Solo was bobbing around in there like a cork. We watched it for a minute or
so before it finally came out. Sean had gotten in his boat and was able to corral it over to the RR eddy and eventually ferried it back over to me. Ryan let me borrow his paddle to go search for my own (which had washed up in a nice pool of muck below Fisherman's Eddy).

Overall i just lost one piece of foam but nothing else. Glad to have made it out of there okay. It wasn't nearly as bad as i would have expected. I think that i lucked out a fair bit. I was only
recirculated in the hole sans boat for a few seconds and the beatdown wasn't nearly as violent as i would have thought. Definitely the scariest hole i have ever been in though. 2.8 is still a fairly
forgiving level it seems. Several people said they were glad i got all my gear back. "Fuck the gear, i'm glad to be breathing" I said.

I was very thankful to have escaped relatively unscathed and definitely had one simple fact well reinforced: The Falls are a legitimate class V run, not to be taken lightly. The drops can be very forgiving at times, and very unforgiving at others. The river certainly has the power to beat you down and is easily very humbling. "More dangerous than it is difficult"... This has proven true many a time.

It took me two days to "get back on the Horse" so to speak. But couldn't let this get to me.

(No worries, I still love the river, see my next post)

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

hit counter code
low cost web hosting

Locations of visitors to this page