Scariest bail out for me, at least psychologically...we were doing what we think was a first D of a small creek by Pueblo, called the Saint Charles, I believe it was 1996 or 1997. The thing was just coming down from flood as Beullah had taken a hit a few days prior and it had been raining like crazy in the wet mountains. So we were five strong and getting some beta from a long time club boater from PPWWC, just before putting in, he is leading because he has researched this drainage and was taking notes to write about it. "Nothing significant for the first mile or so" is what I heard.
Not a 1/2 mile down, if that, we hit an obvious boulder choked garden, not good right after a 25 year flood. Everyone is gone from the scouting eddy except my buddy Jeremy and I. The moves are tight up top then a dogleg right, no visual. I go for it thinking it looks like an eddy will be to the right of the boulder that's blocking the view. Well, should have gone with my intuition and scouted. After the dogleg, all hell broke out.
Someone/something was getting circ'd in a narrow slot hole, about a 4 foot drop. Nowhere else to go but straight forward into the hole. I did get time, right as I was approaching the hole to see that not only was I probably going to impale someone, surf with them in the hole, tumble with some plastic, probably swim but to top it off, most the current was going right into an undercut boulder to the left that was dumptruck sized. So I take a few good strokes, get stuffed either by the hole or other kayak, I'm upside down, getting chundered, there is another boat, possibly another chunder victim, we are playing greco roman in the hole and the thought of the undercut about 10 feet downstream - oh, and I know Jeremy will probably be dropping in soon. I feel quite an impact on the bottom of my boat, not sure where I am, can't roll because shit is on top of me, I think I just got stuffed under the left side undercut. I pull, pop up in a decent eddy on the right, three people in their boats, me and Jeremy's dad in the drink. WTF!
Jeremy's dad went into the undercut and was flushed. Pretty scary. He walked out. These were some early creeking days for me. I learned a lot that day.
Just a footnote...the St Charles is quite a unique paddle. Some good rapids, the geology is sweet as it starts in granite and ends in standstone mini gorges, and you can paddle under a giant flake of granite for about 40 or 50 yards. It looks like the huge flake sluffed off and bridged the creek and the creek just tunneled through. We are not sure about the 1st D but if the rapids are unnamed, I want to name that first one Charles In Charge. Jeremy and I also ran the other forks of that drainage if anyone wants beta. It is obscure, and only a drenching monsoon season will have it running.