Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gauley


I hadn’t really planned on spending much time at the Gauley this year. I missed last year’s Gauley Fest so I definitely wanted to make it to that. But with all the other trips I’ve been doing lately I figured two days at the Gauley would suffice. But after thinking about it some I decided I wanted to do the Animal Upper Gauley Race. I hadn’t ever gotten to be there for it so I thought it would be fun. This of course required finding another racer to go with so I made plans with Geoff and we left my house in Rockville at 7am Friday morning to get to the Gauley for the Wavesport Open. As we needed to be at Pillow Rock by noon we were in a hurry. I cringed at the gas mileage as we sped along with four boats on the roof, making it to Summersville in what has got to be a record 4 hours and 10 minutes.

We headed straight to the dam and put on. I was paddling my Project for the fist time in months and feeling pretty awkward. I’ve all but forgotten how to paddle a playboat!! . I was rather wishing I’d brought my Burn! I did my best to keep up with him but ultimately gave up when I ran into Sean, Ian, Jeff and James below Insignificant. We got to Pillow too late for the freestyle comp but got to see the boatercross. Jeff and I watched while the other guys participated in some or all of the events at Pillow, Lost Paddle and Sweets. The boatercross at Pillow was by far the most chaotic and definitely really fun to watch

video

Wavesport Open: Pillow Rock Boatercross

. video

Wavesport Open: Lost Paddle Boatercross

Lost Paddle

The guys were not going to let me live down putting my boat on "The Uhaul of Shame" so for the first time ever I carried up the Panther Creek trail. It actually wasn't bad. That was the one redeeming thing about the playboat, it weighs practically nothing. I had gotten so used to hauling the Solo or Burn around that this felt like no effort at all. In fact it didn’t' feel any harder having the boat than the usual walk up the trail. I didn't have to stop once and actually passed some people who weren't carrying boats!

Maggie and Geoff at the takeout

We hung out around the festival grounds for a bit Friday night and got to sleep early to be ready to meet Bobby at 9am the next morning to do the Marathon. I’d run the Lower Gauley before but had never done the whole thing, so was looking forward to this experience. With different people running different sections setting shuttle took 2 hours. OMG that was a long time to sit at the dam, but at least it was nice and warm and there were lots of people to hang out with.

I was now paddling the Frankenstein. Geoff had let me borrow it for the race and I needed to learn how to paddle it before Monday. I was a bit nervous how I would do in a longer boat on the Gauley, having only ever paddled it in a playboat. But with the miles and miles of flatwater ahead of us having a long boat was certainly a good idea (and man was I glad not to be in a playboat after just the first few miles!)

Maggie running Pillow, Photo: Bob Anderson

We had quite the odd assortment of boats: Bobby in the pink T-Slalom, Sean in his T-Canyon, Jeff in the Hurricane, Ian in a Perception Fox (really cool boat, I’d never seen one of those before), me with Franky and Geoff in his wildwater boat. I ended up really liking the Frankenstein a lot (Eric I may be fighting you for it next summer!) I had hated the Pirouette and besides paddling that some (and the Cheat on a low water race day being the hardest thing) and the Response once I really had no experience paddling anything longer than the Burn on whitewater, let alone big water. So I have to say I was really rather nervous about it. But to my surprise it paddled great. Quite stable and I actually flipped less in it then in the Project! Also felt a lot more in control and it was nice having speed for a change. I had mostly good lines, though it took some getting used to not getting spun out. I had the most incredible back ender at that bottom wave at Insignificant, it was actually rather fun!

Bobby and Ian

Maggie and Franky

We had a good run. Though I was a bit annoyed with the guys for being rather slow. I had been worried I’d have a hard time keeping up with them but they were paddling so slow!! (well not Geoff of course) I wanted to get through all the flat water as fast as possible and they were barely paddling! I remember swearing I’d never paddle the Lower G again when we ran it 2 years ago. Definitely better in a long boat. I am never paddling it in a playboat again, that is for sure.

Despite all the misery of the flat water I DO like the rapids on the Lower G though. Koontz's Flume is probably one of the best rapids on the Gauley. Last time we ran too far left and it wasn't very much fun. but this time I got the good line and it was awesome. Canyon Doors is one of the more beautiful rapids on the run. I also love all the huge waves of the Lower G, the Upper really doesn't have that much of that. I didn't know any lines so I had to be patient and stay behind the guys so they could show me all the fun lines.

Ian and Sean above Canyon Doors

But still the flat water is just painful. Don't even get me started on the Middle Gauley. OMG that is a downright awful run (sorry it’s just how I feel). There is one decent rapid (Wood's Ferry) and the rest is just mostly flat water. That was some of the most miserable 5 miles I’ve ever paddled (just about up there with paddling Cheat lake in 25 degrees, lol) . I would have seriously wanted to kill myself if I had been in a playboat. blah. We didn't stop much other than at the takeout for the Upper . yay for Dagger Dogs!!

Overall though we had a good time and it was a good experience to do the Marathon. I can't say I ever want to do it again but I bet I will. Definitely in a long boat though!!! Though not having to hike out at Panther Creek was nice. Oh and the church food at the end of course!! Geoff ended up kind of loosely paddling with us. in the WW boat he is of course way too fast. He put on an hour after us. Passed us half way down the Upper, waited for us at the takeout for at least a half hour, put on again well after we left and caught us again at Diagonal Ledges, hung out there for a while and eventually caught us again at the final stretch of flatwater.

We got off the river just in time to swing by the campground and drop off boats, buy beer (well Sean and Jeff anyway) and get back to the festival for me to go to Jay Ditty’s shoulder reduction clinic. Jay and a co-worker were running a study on teaching shoulder reduction techniques to non-medical people. As part of the study they conducted a short class explaining how to recognize the difference between a dislocation and other injury and also a few ways to reduce a dislocated shoulder. The clinic was excellent. Jay did a great job of explaining things, very simple and to the point.

I really wished it had been a week earlier since Laura had just dislocated her shoulder a few days before and none of us there were able to help her. I really felt that with what I learned at the clinic I could have at least tried to ease her discomfort. Just in the past month three friends have had dislocations. It’s pretty scary how often that happens and it is definitely good to know how to reduce a shoulder when needed. The techniques are simple to learn and you can really help someone out a lot (or yourself for that matter) by learning a few simple steps.

After the clinic I headed back out to the main fest and spent the night hanging out with lots of friends. I didn’t drink much this time but ate way too much funnel cake, lol. This was probably one of the more fun Gauley Fests I’ve been too. I liked they fireworks, that was new, never seen that there before. The pole dancing contest that Dagger put on was a little over the top but entertaining. I hung around till about 1 am then headed back to the campground with Sean and Jeff (had contemplated camping at the festival but was glad not to have in the end).

Sunday we paddled the Upper again (sans Geoff who didn't get up till 11, we all debated if he'd actually survived the night). I worked on figuring out race lines and did a few race runs through certain sections. I was actually pretty impressed with myself for knowing the Gauley quite well. I know I’ve run it a bunch but until now I don’t think I really remembered a lot of it particularly well before. I beat the guys to Pillow by a good bit so I decided to get out and scope out the race line I ran into Nathan up there and he convinced me to jump off of Pillow Rock. Never done that before, it was really fun.

Jumping off Pillow, Photo: Bob Anderson

Hiking up Panther Creek was rough with the Frankenstein, this time I did have to stop a few times and did a fair bit of cursing as I pitoned the longer bow into numerous trees. I hadn't really made any plans with Geoff for how to meet up with him. This was a mild issue as Sean was heading home. But when we got to the takeout his car was there so I had it moved into the shade and only ended up waiting a few minutes after the guys left. We ended up hanging out at the take out for 2 hours or so. Neither of us were very motivated to do anything. The Jackson crew showed up so I got to catch up with Stephen.

After packing up camp (after a stern warning from the angry owner for checking out six hours late…oops) and running some errands we headed to the dam. I'd never camped there before, its always way full by the time we get there. But we were able to join up with Jeremy and Jen (from Ontario) who had a site. We spent a quiet evening hanging out and just relaxing after what was already a nice long weekend. It was nice getting up in the morning and being right there (granted the race didn’t start till noon so we had plenty of time)

The race was really fun. It was pretty tiring paddling hard for an hour straight. My lines were okay. At Insignificant I got caught behind a play boater and then got spun out and flipped but no big deal. Pillow and Lost Paddle were great. I ended up getting spun left at the bottom of Iron Ring and actually ended up getting worked in the hole briefly but then just rolled up, turned around and kept paddling.

I was actually impressed how quickly it all ultimately went by. The Cheat race had seemed so painfully long but this one actually was much better. When I got to the last few rapids above Sweets I suddenly realized how close I was and got a 2nd wind and started paddling harder again. I had a good clean line at Sweets (I was nervous that I’d crash there with everyone watching, lol). Overall it was just really cool getting to paddle the Gauley direct the whole way . I pretty much had the river to myself most of the way and what few rafts there were all got out of my way. It is worth doing the race if only for the opportunity to have that.

Gauley Race: Maggie

Gauley Race: Geoff

I had the shortest boat in the long boat class so I was dead last in the class of course. came in third in women's though (as there were only three of us, lol). The Frankenstein is great but definitely slow still in comparison. I finished in just under one hour, 4 minutes. Goal for next year is to do it in like 55 minutes, or at the very least under an hour. Geoff won of course, narrowly beating out Chris Hipgrave (they were the only two WW boats). Ian and James raced a Topo Duo (and won their class). AW had food provided right there at the finish so that was nice. We all hung out there for a while. It was insane how hot it was this weekend. The weather was gorgeous, really good weather for camping and for the festival. but I was rather hot during the race.

Ian and James

I ran into Brad (we did the Sandy to Cheat Lake trip back in March) at Sweets and he offered me a ride up at the end, which was great to have, I wasn’t that keen about hiking up after racing and then spending a few hours sitting in the blazing hot sun. After packing up everything we headed to the after party in Fayetteville. It was actually really nice, they had really good food (and free beer of course that I wanted nothing to do with) all included in our 30$ entrance fee. We hung out with Chris and his wife and amused ourselves with a relatively fruitless game of Cornhole while we waited for the awards (well the girls actually did manage to score some points).

As with all boater events this took forever and they didn’t start the awards till 7:30 when they finally handed out prizes (I got a MS spray jacket and some other stuff). We hung out for a while afterwards watching the video from the Wavesport Open on Friday. The boatercross was really ridiculous, especially watching it from all the different angles that they shot from. I can't wait to get a copy of that. We finally hit the road around 9 and made it back around 2am. What a great weekend! I really felt like I finally got the full Gauley experience (Four days of paddling, The Festival, The Race, Wavesport Open, camping at the dam, and yes, hiking up Panther Creek with my boat!).

I had figured that that would be enough Gauley time for me but after the race I was pretty psyched to go back. So when Monica emailed asking if I wanted to carpool it didn’t take much convincing. I roped Mark into coming along again and a few days later I was back on the road to Summersville. We joined up with Scott and the rest of the Paddlers R Us crew and had another great weekend. I borrowed Franky again and had a great time. I had no patience for the huge group we’d turned into (16 people is way more than I can handle). So I bombed down to Pillow both days and had a blast running the rapid over and over (7 total for the weekend) and jumping off of Pillow Rock 11 more times while I waited for everyone. The thrill of jumping started wearing off after a while but I just really had a great time swimming. Most times I was able to swim to one of the eddies just below Pillow and climb out easily but at one point ended up on river left instead. It was quite the challenge trying to get back across. Really quite amazing how powerful water is!

The flotilla

Trying to swim back to river left

I continued on paddling through and stopping occasionally to take pictures of everyone at a few rapids, running Iron Ring twice each day (that one still gets me half the time, I don’t get it!!) and just generally enjoying the great run.

Till next year!!

Mark running Pillow

We can always count on Scott for great Pillow splats

Monica at Pillow

Gauley Fest Weekend Photos

Gauley Photos II

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Laura


I was having a great time running laps on the MD lines, hanging out with good friends in the crowd that had gathered at Horseshoe and just generally enjoying a beautiful September day. It was just four days before Gauley Fest. Laura had come up to get in some practice before her first Lower Gauley trip that was planned with the Jackson Crew that weekend (she'd just one the World Kayak "Am I ready for the Gauley" contest. We chatted a bit and she headed down O-Deck to head home. I was going to hang out for a bit more and was sitting in the eddy. I heard someone calling my name but with so many people had no idea who or why so initially ignored it. But then i saw Helene climbing back up from the bottom of O-Deck. Finally i understood what was going on, Laura had dislocated her shoulder.

I pealed out quickly and headed down. I found Laura laying over a rock with her arm extended out over it. Sean and a few other people were there trying to comfort / help her. Scott and a few others showed up shortly after. But unfortunately none of us knew anything about shoulder dislocations. I'd seen it happen to Mark twice but he'd always been able to reduce his own. I was rather annoyed with myself for not having learned anything to this point. The irony of the whole thing was that Laura, Scott, and I had all signed up for Jay Ditty's shoulder reduction class that he was holding at Gauley Fest just a few days later.

We were able to ferry Laura over to Fisherman's eddy but she was in too much pain to hike up to the parking lot. So Scott called 911 while Sean and a few others worked on comforting Laura and getting her out of the water. It was starting to get dark and it was cooling down so a few people brought blankets from their cars to wrap her in. Soon after we were being circled by a helicopter. When walked up to the parking lot to great the ambulance we were amazed at the scene. No less than 5 firetrucks and dozens of medical and emergency personnel. It was quite the incredible sight.

I so had wished that Jay's clinic had already taken place. I would really have liked to have been able to help Laura. I hope to never see this happen to anyone again but as a boater i know it is inevitable. In the future perhaps i can be more useful.

I will let Laura tell her experience:

After a fun evening “attempting” (generally, I would just flush off) to surf at horseshoe, I decided to call it a night and head down to the take out at Fisherman’s eddy. Just downstream from Horseshoe, is a fairly straightforward class III rapid called O-deck which mainly consists of a few ledge holes. I had done this rapid a couple of times in the previous week so felt pretty comfortable just heading down. I even joked with my friend Helene, who I consider a paddling mentor, that I would “lead her down”. Anyways, at the very bottom of the river left line, I hit the edge of a hole and flipped. At this point, I essentially wasn’t in the rapid anymore and thought to myself—“I can’t believe I just flipped at O-deck”. It was pretty shallow and tucked to avoid the rocks.

When I flipped, my paddle was more on my offside so I began to move it around onto my onside. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the best plan, and I felt my paddle blade get stuck on a rock and my boat started to come up.. “Well, I guess I am doing a bottom brace” I thought to myself. However, all of the sudden, my paddle wasn’t in my hand and I couldn’t control my arm; it was just dangling there in the water. “What the f#*k?,”. I thought. And then the pain hit me…

I swam out and was basically already in an eddy across from the take out. I yelled, “I dislocated my shoulder” as I crawled up to shore. I could already feel the muscles spasming and I held my arm protectively to my chest. While I sat on shore, Helene and a few other paddlers collected my gear and assessed the situation. Several paddlers who had either been running Great Falls or playing at Horseshoe stopped and offered their assistance.

The next hour or so it’s a bit of a blur. All I can say is that several paddlers, both strangers and friends, helped get me across the river to the takeout, called 911, carried my boat up to my car, covered me in blankets to keep me warm (as the sun had now set), and waiting with me for the paramedics. The pain was getting increasingly worse and by this time I could hardly move. Apparently, I kept asking those around me if I would get pain medications when the paramedics arrive- clearing I had a one track mind at that time.

I was only a couple hundred yards from my car (as the crow flies) but first you had to climb up a steep hill . I knew I couldn’t do it given the pain I was in but I assumed when paramedics arrived that they would give me a painkiller and sling and help me walk up, or carry me up the hill. Then I heard a helicopter over head and the approaching paramedic say “the boat should be up here shortly.” My pain was then complemented by humiliation and embarrassment. I was going to be one of those people that they always complain about on the message boards who were medi-vaced out unnecessarily. I tried to stand up to show I didn’t need the help but the pain was too much and I resigned myself to wait for the boat and ignored the humiliation I felt.

Within a few minutes boat came and I went on a very painful ride down to Sandy Landing, a boat launch about a ½ mile downriver. I felt a sense of relief as I saw the blinking lights of ambulance. Finally, I will get my pain medication and someone will put my shoulder back in, I thought to myself. At this point, I think I was almost delirious. Over an hour and half has passed since the dislocation. I was cold, shivering and the pain was unbearable. I didn’t even protest when they cut off my Astral Rescue PFD and my brand new hydroskin top. And I hardly noticed that it took four attempts to get an IV, leaving me with bloody spots all over my arm. I was just focusing on breathing and relaxing to ease the pain.

Finally, I saw the paramedic inject me with something and he told me that I would feel much better soon. But I didn’t! It felt just the same. I asked for some more morphine and the paramedic after the calling the hospital for permission obliged. But even after five injection, it wasn’t working. It turns out I am one of the lucky few that is not affected by morphine! The pain just kept getting worse.

We arrived at the hospital were I was greeted by frantic boyfriend who had been informed by my friends of my accident and had been waiting for me. As a veteran of shoulder dislocations himself, he was very sympathetic. After signing some papers and being admitted, the doctor finally came and reduced my shoulder. The pain, which has tortured me for the past 3 hours receded instantly. I thought to myself, “I wish I had done that to myself three hours ago.” After some x-rays, they gave me a sling and some pain medications and sent me home with instructions to keep it immobilized for three weeks.

I am now almost done with my immobilization period and anxious to start physical therapy. I am hoping that within 3 months, I will be back on the water (or in the pool as it will be January) and my normal active life will be resumed. While the medical literature says that it is highly likely that I dislocate my shoulder again, I am vowing to do my pt regularly to mitigate this risk.

Having been restricted from my regular hectic lifestyle, I have had a lot of time to reflect on this experience. Here is what I learned:

  1. The kayaking community is full of good Samaritans. I still can’t believe how many perfect strangers helped me. Actually, one of the strangers who helped me, a father and son, ended up being chosen to take place my place in the World Kayak contest! I think that is karma at work. Thank you to everyone who helped me and I am proud to be apart of such a community.

  1. Learn how to reduce a shoulder. This is a common injury in kayaking and if you paddle long enough, someone you know will dislocate a shoulder. I know that my situation inspired many of my friends to take a shoulder reduction course at Gauley Fest. I plan to take one soon as well.

  1. Don’t let your pride get in the way of safety. A few days after the dislocation, I ran into, Tom McEwan, paddling legend who I had received instruction from over past year. When I told him what had happened, he said, “What would you have done differently in hindsight?” I laughed and said that maybe I should have waited until I knew there were no rocks. He agreed, but said “What about just letting go of your paddle when you felt it catch?” I responded, “But Tom, I can’t hand roll my boat very well and I would have swam at O-deck which would have been embarrassing.” He just looked at me and said, “ But you swam anyway and at least you wouldn’t have hurt you shoulder….” A lesson I should remember for the future.

~Laura



At Fisherman's Eddy

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ohiopyle Falls Race

Photo: Bob Anderson

I’d forgotten just how much I liked the town of Ohiopyle. Although I’d been there a few times over this past winter / spring it had really been over a year since I’d really gotten to hang out there much. It really is unfortunate that the Falls are only legal to run a few times a year (only once this year so far). It would be nice to have more reason to come spend some time in town.

I had a great time running the Falls for the first time last year and this time decided to go ahead and participate in the race. Geoff and I arrived just in time to get in a few practice runs. We hurriedly dropped off boats, registered and I got in to runs before the start of the race. The level was 1.5, a bit lower than last year. The approach rapids definitely need some more water! My race run started off pretty crappy as I got hung up on a barely submerged rock shelf that I totally didn’t notice. That cost me a lot of time. Oh well, its all fun! Geoff of course won the long boat class, again.


Maggie (Photo: Bob Anderson)


Geoff (Photo: Bob Anderson)

Bobby (Photo: Bob Anderson)

Jason

Maggie ( Photo: Bob Anderson)

Geoff


After the race and watching some of the freestyle I met up with Jason B. and some people for a quick loop run. The weather was gorgeous and it was a great way to spend some time. Afterwards we got in 2 more runs on the Falls. Jason took me down in a Topo Duo on the second. I’d never paddled one of those before so that was a lot of fun. We had a great line and a nice flat landing. Way fun!

Maggie and Jason in the Topo Duo

video

After being wet all day it was nice getting into some dry clothes and grabbing some food before the attainment race. We spent the rest of the night hanging out in Ohiopyle (and yes ended up sleeping in the car in front of the Falls City pub). The next morning I sat at the Market Inn sipping coffee and recalled being there four years ago prior to my first Lower Yough run. I’d been so nervous that day! We hung out in town for a few more hours, checked out Meadow Run (which was very low) and leisurely made our way home. I do hope that some day access to the Falls will be open. Aside from being a fun and convenient drop when nothing else is running, Ohiopyle itself is just a cool place to hang out. Sure would be nice to having some more reason to be there.

Geoff taking the lead in the attainment race


More Ohiopyle Photos

Labels: ,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Due North


Labor Day approached and it was time to make some weekend plans. Scott and I had long ago discussed returning to upstate New York for the Beaver / Raquette releases. I was quite determined to go up there again and improve on what was a less than successful trip last year. Billy and Jason joined in and we all piled into my car (yay another 1300 miles down on my warranty!) and braved the holiday weekend traffic, heading north. Ten hours later (about 3:30 am, would have been sooner but we hit a horrible and unexpected delay somewhere in PA at 10:30 at night) we arrived at our campground near Colton, NY.

We got up the next morning to absolutely gorgeous weather (75 degrees and sunny all weekend). and headed for the put in. I was surprised how few people there were. Compared to the crowds we'd seen at the Beaver releases last year, there was a relatively small group gathered here. The put in is right at the dam and the run starts with a quick warm-up rapid after which we all immediately got out to scout Colton Falls.

Jason on the Put in rapid

Colton Falls consists of a series of ledges and slides and although the moves are generally not too complex, the shallowness of the run makes lining up a challenge. You start of with the option of dropping of a 5 foot ledge into an eddy or else pealing out onto a manky slide leading into the crux move: a ten foot diagonal drop. On our initial runs we all chose the latter option with varied results. Following this drop you head left down another shallow slide, bouncing over a series of holes at the bottom. The rapid drops a total of 60 vertical feet spread out over various drops and slides. It is quite impressive to look back upstream at.

Billy below the Colton Falls first drop

Maggie running Colton slide

We continued getting out and scouting each of the major rapids. We all had good lines at the Narrows and the Tub. Scott managed to run Particle Accelerator (a fun but scary slide) blind. Luckily he at least had some idea where he was going from having read the AW description. After seeing the consequence of a flip on this drop (no one in our group thankfully) that resulted in broken paddles and badly bloodied knuckles I was rather nervous about successive runs! The whole rapid is a long slide leading into a ten foot drop. You make your way down some offset ledge holes and head down punching a series of diagonal wave holes that are deep enough to easily flip you if you are not careful. There is also the danger of getting pushed into the slightly overhanging wall on the right if you get too close. Just before the lip of the final drop things dry out a bit and the slide becomes very shallow. Thus if you were to flip in the holes above, it definitely makes for an unpleasant landing.

Maggie running the first drop of the Tub

Maggie running the 2nd drop of the Tub

Billy running Particle Accelerator

Jason running Particle Accelerator

Scott running Narrows boof

Maggie running Narrows boof

After our first run at 720 cfs we decided we all needed a bit of a rest (after the long drive and only about 4 hours sleep). So we hung out at the put in and Billy was kind enough to provide an excellent spread of hummus, pita bread, cheese and veggies. We lay around basking in the sun, munching on our modest feast contentedly awaiting the 900 cfs release to start.

With the higher flow a lot of the rapids cleaned up some. The holes weren't too much bigger yet but the slides were more padded out and many of the moves actually became easier. More water reduced the scrapey factor making it easier to build up speed. The boof at the Narrows was most certainly a lot improved. After our run we decided to hike down the trail to take some pictures and check out the rapids at lower flow (about 450 cfs at this point). We had a fantastic day and after finding a nice Italian place to eat at a nearby town at we headed back to the campground and crashed early. The campground was wonderfully peaceful and located in a beautiful woodland setting right on the river.

The next morning we got up early again and headed to the Beaver. The plan was to hit the Moshier section first and bomb down quickly to get in laps on the best rapid, Moshier Falls. We spent a little time so the guys could get in runs on the different drops on the first waterfall. I chose to conserve energy for the good stuff. We were able to get to Moshier Falls before most of the crowd arrived. Last year I had been in a terrible mood and had chosen to walk this rapid so this time I was determined to get in some laps.

Maggie running 2nd waterfall, Moshier section

I have to agree with Scott in that Moshier Falls is one of the more fun rapids out there. It all looked a lot more manageable to me this time than it had a year ago and I was excited to put on. We did four laps each and I would have been happy to do more had the crowd not gotten a bit out of hand after a while. The rapid starts off with one easy sliding drop leading immediately into the next. The second drop has an huge wave hole leading into the final move below the pool, an awesome diagonal boof on the far left.

Bobby boofing Moshier Falls

Ultimately I realized that the most difficult move was actually the final rapid (the one I had run last year). On each of my first three runs I tried three different lines and after getting a pretty good working on the third (thanks Billy for pulling me boat into the eddy before anyone landed on me!) I finally decided to actually scout it before heading down again!

We met up with Justin, Ben, and Andy and all of us headed up to the Eagle section. After quickly scouting the slides we put on and made our way down. Once again everything looked a lot less intimidating to me this time. Honestly though I didn't find it to be nearly that much fun and after having pulled something in my back earlier in the day (I was actually in pretty bad pain for a bit) I was content with one run. It was great to have a nice dry day to sit in the sun and watch people run laps. The guys each walked up a few times with Scott of course doing the most laps (including one upside down run on the 2nd slide, no injury sustained though). That night we headed back to the Raquette, stopping in Watertown for dinner.

Scott on Eagle

On Monday we were determined get in some good runs on the Raquette before having to do the long drive home. We arrived at the put in just as the water was coming on. We were disappointed to realize that it would only be a max of 720 cfs release that day. To our surprise we found the parking lot to be deserted. Luckily just then we met up with Justin (from NY) so we had shuttle and a new boating buddy for the day. We did one run and reset shuttle for a second.

On our first run on Monday I had asked Billy if he could get out and take some photos at the Tub. I hiked down to set safety for him since he'd be running it first and alone. He had a good line and climbed up the rocks across from the drop to get a good angle.

The Tub consists of a double drop with two pretty munchy holes. The first drop lands in what is essentially an enormous and very deep pot hole (hence the name of the rapid). The standard line is to run the first drop left of center and the second drop on the far left. The second drop appears to be good to go anywhere (well up to the 900 cfs we saw at least), but the hole gets stickier in the middle of course. If you line up just right there is actually a nice little pad that launches you over the first hole. However there is a fairly sticky little hole in the approach and there is little room to build up speed or really get lined up properly, making this a fairly challenging drop. My runs were all pretty good (with the exception of the last at which point I was pretty tired and managed to flip on both drops but didn't have any issues with the holes). Scott got to surf both holes at one point but was able to get himself out. The lines are straight forward but the consequence of getting too far right at the top drop are high, as we soon found out.

The Tub

On our second run Jason went first, followed by Billy. The rest of us waited in the eddy above. A group of people was standing opposite to us on the right side of the drop. One person was videoing everyone running the drop. We sat and watched as he continued to film after Billy went off the first drop. I started getting worried as he continued turning the camera farther and farther to the right. It was clear that Billy was in trouble. We had a hard time communicating with the other group who all seemed to be quite mesmerized by what was going on below. Justin jumped out of his boat to run down and see what was happening but soon we were given the okay to head down.

Billy running the Tub

Turns out Billy had gotten caught in the pocket on the far right side, gotten recirculated both in and out of his boat for a good long time. From his descriptions it was a terrifying experience. He went really deep and had a very hard time finding the outflow due to the geology of the house sized pothole he was in. He honestly felt like he was going to drown. Definitely a terrifying experience. The hole eventually did let him go but not before ripping off one bootie and an elbow pad. Thankfully he was okay with no serious injury sustained.

Below is Billy’s description of what happened to him in the Tub:

As this was our last run of the trip, and I had had successful lines through the Tub three times before, I really wasn’t at all concerned with this rapid. As I left the river-right eddy, I ferried out into the center of the flow, and then lazily drifted over the next drop, getting stopped in the hole at the lip of the Tub, I surfed my way out of this, not at all thinking about my line through the Tub. As I pulled out of the hole, I took two or three strong stokes to get some speed as I accelerated over the lip of the drop, then hit the kicker in the middle of the drop, landed, and was immediately back-endered and thrown to the right, upside down.

There is a pocket in the right side of the hole, and that is what it felt like I was stuck in. I got a few rolls in, some off-sides, and maybe a back-deck or two, but I wasn’t making any progress in actually getting out of the hole. Realizing that I wasn’t getting out, and that it wasn’t going to flush me out, I decided to pull my skirt and swim.

I held on to my boat because I wanted to stay on the surface and see what was going on so I could decide what to do next. But the water was too violent and chaotic for me to get any perspective about where I was. I decided that I’d be better off swimming, so I let go of my boat, and before I could tuck into a protective ball I was grabbed by the hole and sucked down deep into it. It was like being inside of a washing machine. I had never felt water so powerful before. It threw me around like a rag doll, and ripped a bootie and elbow pad from my body, before sending me really deep, and then back up into slightly less violent water. I think that it may have recirculated me a few times, but I really can’t remember and either way I was now stuck in its strong and boiling backwash and didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I was now underwater and needed some air, so I started swimming upwards. I reached the surface after what seemed like a long time, and took a deep breath before falling back down. I was really hoping that I could stay on the surface, but it took a lot of energy to get up there and stay there. So I went back down, this time swimming forcefully towards the bottom of the pothole hoping to find a current that was heading downstream. I went deep, but could not find a current. I was pretty exhausted now, so I needed more and more air to keep me going, so I once again swam back to the surface. This time I took a deep breath, and them swam directly into the meat of the hole (I think, I may have done this earlier, but the order of events is a bit blurry).

I again was rag dolled and thrown deep into the hole, but this time I kept swimming deeper and deeper until I felt the bottom of the pothole. Unfortunately the floor of the pothole was just rock, smooth sandstone that had been polished by untold amounts of rocks passing over its surface. I could not feel a current down there, and I could not find any handholds to pull myself downstream. So I started swimming hard, hoping to just swim out of the whole pothole, the problem was that I really had no sense of direction down there, as there were no defined currents, and I had been disoriented by the initially swim down in the hole. So I began to feel like I was running out of ways to get out.

While still down close to the bottom of the Tub, I stopped swimming, and just kind of relaxed and calmly surveyed my surrounding. The water was light brown, and incredibly aerated. All around me all I could see were air bubble rising upwards. It was at this time that I thought that I might die. I was not scared, but a feeling of helplessness did flow through me as I accepted that that might be what was going to happen to me.

I had now been without air for quite some time, and was in real need for another breath, but I was also feeling quite relaxed, and I decided to let my body go limp and see what would happen. I knew that I could swim to the surface and get air when I really needed it. So I let myself go limp, and it was at this time that I first felt a current down there. I felt water flow by my fingers on my left hand, so I floated in that direction, and then I felt the current start to intensify, and I instinctively moved with it, trying to flow in the same way that it was. I now was being swept with it, and soon it reached the back of the pothole, and suddenly shot upwards. I popped to the surface, safely downstream of the hole. I was incredibly relieved, and was so happy to see myself being washed over the second drop of the Tub that I didn’t even feel the rock cheese grating my bare legs. I washed down the drop, and was again sent deep into the heart of another pourover hole, but I instantly found the downstream flow and swam into it, emerging in the large eddy on river-right.

~Billy

We were all very glad that Billy made it out of the Tub relatively unscathed and finished the run with no further incident. Turns out that it was Team Wavesport paddlers that were there taking video. So hopefully we’ll get a hold of that soon. I’ll post it here when it becomes available.

Overall we all had a great trip, good weather, good runs, good friends. Although the Raquette isn’t really my type of run anymore I did enjoy it very much (way too pool drop, I prefer things to be more continues, at least with some fun boogie water to fill in the gaps). It certainly has some quality rapids though and amazing scenery. Definitely worth checking out at least once.


Key lessons taken away from this trip:


- It is probably a good idea to set safety at the Tub
- I-81 has permanent lane closures so expect major delays regardless of time of day,
- There are practically no Wendy's in NY state and,
- You CAN cook instant oatmeal in the packet!


Labels: , ,

hit counter code
low cost web hosting


Locations of visitors to this page