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Old 08-27-2009   #11
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,031
Hmm, well, I wasn't without my out of boat experiences this year, but they were all just lame and pretty uneventful. Probably my scariest venture was a good old fashion hole ride in Rigo, but I managed to ride it out.

I have nothing to compare with near death experiences on California granite, but I'll steal one from jmack since he has a good pool to draw from and only used one for himself. Think of this as a "Girl Next Door" kind of story.

Four of us went to run the Embudo early season. None of us had been down it before, and although we're not a bunch of chumps, the Embudo was still a challenging run for us, guide or no guide. As such, we were all a bit nervous, but slightly comforted by 3.35" flow, which is supposed to be a decent but manageable flow. Having seen a plethora of video and pictures of the drops and read numerous guides, we weren't exactly going into the great unknown, but we weren't entirely sure what to expect either. I'm not sure what the others were thinking, but my thought was that the first couple rapids would be a good test of whether or not I was getting in over my head. We knew the first thing coming was Long Rapid, and this was a place that you absolutely should not swim if you intended on getting out of the canyon in your boat.

As the gradient started to pick up, we were carefully eddy hopping our way down the river, keeping track of each other, and being cautious not to drop into anything blind. Ian was in front of me sitting in a one boat eddy. I figured I'd round the next corner and catch an eddy, but things seemed to be getting steeper, eddies getting smaller, and after throwing some big braces trying to catch the next micro eddy, I figured I was better off just pointing it straight down and going with it rather than trying to make some difficult moves into tiny eddies.

After what seemed like endless boofs over big holes (it's called Long Rapid for a reason), the last drop launched into a small pool and I eddied out behind a rock. Two more boaters came through with smiles on their faces. We waited a few seconds waiting for jmack to appear. Then I hear that unnaturally hollow sound of plastic bouncing off rock. I turned to Ian, "That doesn't sound right". A second later in no particular order, but definitely not attached as they should be come: orange Jefe, orange Werner paddle, and an unhappy looking jmack. The paddle goes floating on by into the unknown. jmack and his boat wash into the bony right shore with jmack somewhat secured behind a rock, holding onto his boat for dear life trying to keep it from washing into the main current. I ferry across the river and as I'm trying to jump out of my boat I hear something like "Hurry the f-ck up!" I jump out, run down and together we heave that baby onto the shore.

Moments later jmack's buddy John comes running back upstream carrying a orange paddle and a big smile. He had pulled the hero, and slightly reckless move of going through a blind drop and retrieving the paddle.

Whew, what good fortune. Jmack was saved a multi hour hike out through cactus and rattlesnake country. A storm was closing in, we were in a committing canyon, through only one rapid and already had a swim. We gathered ourselves and continued on with only a vague sense of what was ahead. Ya gotta love creeking.

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Old 08-27-2009   #12
possumturd's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 451
Originally Posted by ACC View Post
I was rejected on the first ferry, flipped in the strong current, and slammed upside down into the pocket. Rolled up and tried again with the same result. Not sure how the roll attempts went from there, but I tried many, partially made one or two, went for the upside-down Jesus brace hoping to catch flow around the dividing line between the pocket and freedom, all to no avail. I punched out. Then the beatdown began in earnest. My boat and paddle eventually flushed from the vicious eddy, but I did not.
I had this exact same experience on different river and wrote about it here last year. I was swirling in the room and thought this could be the one. I hung on to my boat. I think I had a hand on the edge of the cockpit rim. As we were washed out to the fence for the nth time the boat deck rotated toward the fence and filled with water and was pulled into the main current taking me along. Scared the living doo out me.

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Old 08-27-2009   #13
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
Originally Posted by KSC View Post
Four of us went to run the Embudo early season. None of us had been down it before, and although we're not a bunch of chumps, the Embudo was still a challenging run for us, guide or no guide. As such, we were all a bit nervous, but slightly comforted by 3.35" flow, which is supposed to be a decent but manageable flow.
Kevin - I've only run the Embudo at high(ish) flows and mank-crew low-flows but I've heard a few people say 3.3 can be one of the harder levels. Apparently a lot of the problematic holes start washing out above 3.4 (although above 3.4 the swims are longer.) Maybe some Embudo vets can clarify.
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Old 08-27-2009   #14
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 807
I'm no Embudo vet, but I can shed some light on how a fella could get in trouble in Long Rapid. I thought 3.3-3.4 was a great level overall. The more constricted rapids were channelized nicely. But Long Rapid was tricky because it was fast and eddyless through the steep section, but still had a bunch of FU rocks barely exposed. It wasn't the holes that got me. I saw the guys in front of me scrambling as they rode high on a pillow going around a corner, so I thought I would cut the inside of the turn. Problem was there were a whole bunch of little pointy rocks just out of water on the inside of the turn. I got flipped there and then banged against a whole bunch more rocks upside down. I got partially pulled out of my thigh braces and pulled like a sissy. So anyway, there you have it from the other perspective. I can't wait to get back and figure out what the actual line is.

-the Girl Next Door
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Old 08-27-2009   #15
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
These stories are scary. It goes to show you when you hear of an accident there were lots more close calls that you did not hear about. Makes one think. Be safe all.
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Old 08-27-2009   #16
Join Date: Sep 2006
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My big beatdown came on the middle kings somewhere in a nine mile long called the bottom 9. I don't know which hole I got stuck in, but I would guess it was somewhere around "huge fucking hole" # 75.

William was right in front of me and after seeing him throw an end or two, I knew it was big. I gave it my biggest boof, but "huge fucking hole" #75 got the best of me. While in the hole, I would occasionally get a break from the "underwater aerial maneuvers" and get a look downstream. Swimming was NOT an option. I don't know how long I was in the hole, but when I finally flushed and made it into the walled in eddy with Will and Rolf. I remember grunting a lot and they informed me that they had enough time to wonder when I was going to swim. lol
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Old 08-27-2009   #17
Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 6
Ok, i just joined although i've been whitewater boating since '79.
So, i want to contribute in some way and here's a story i wrote up about $5 Frank from Fayetteville WV.
If anyone knew or had flown with Frank, i'm sure you can relate and possibly realize that this story is 100% true (to the best of my memory, which is not always 100%)
So, here's a link to my $5 Frank story
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Old 08-28-2009   #18
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185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
Paddling Since: 1864
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 917
I had four swims and they were all lame. The lamest part is that I had four of them. It gave me a head case for a little bit, cause I was thinking " If I can't get out of these four situations, what about the bigger stuff" This year I just felt like an eager 16yr old and was just dying to get that skirt off.

Two swims were on the big South below Cool World proper, one was right around the corner as I got flipped off the undercut wall and went into the hole. It was high water. The other was out of the ledge right after that also at higher water. Plus it was a safe place to swim.

I am the reason Ian swam on SSV, although I also had a contributing factor to my swim.

Swam out of park and hucking Crystal Mill Falls.

No real bad pins or anything, I think the scariest thing was seeing Tom Janney's race time come in at 40/40
970-217-21 six six
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Old 08-28-2009   #19
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Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 702
I must say my season was far less scary and breakable than last season(3 class V swims, 1 vertical piton in a waterfall, 3 broken boats, swimming tripple drop at 3200, one breakdown scattered on Daisy).

I walked away with a swim out of magnetic wall on Escalante, best IV+/V- drop to ever swim out of!

Though I got to follow behind jmack on his unpleasant descent of rip your head off with a clean line, and watch from the cliffs above of deepsouth doing his barrell roll over the rock on obj. On the same trip, find a blade of my breakdown from last season in a log job on the Slate!

Oh and I walked tunnel both days of gorefest, lame.

-jmack....what is it with your thigh braces? Embudo....Lake Creek....I think you still owe a booty for the Cauldron.
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Old 08-28-2009   #20
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 166
Well I don't have any beatdown stories or any real scary moments, but I am stoked that I finally stepped up from class IV this season and ran Tunnel. Although, I missed my line and went to far left into the rock. I missed the hole, but after one failed roll attempt I freaked out and pulled thinking I was in the hole. My first class V drop = my first class V swim... oh well. Next time.

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