This is quite tardy, but only because I haven't gotten around to it. I don't even really buy the notion of confessing swims, because I'm all about total transparency.
It was late April, the California hillsides were green, the rock was smooth, and you could taste the sweet fragrance of poison oak in the air. We'd exited Devil's Canyon on our third day on the Middle Fork of the Feather through a brief snow storm. Its tail still nipped us with strong gusts of wind. The first sign of civilization appeared as we passed a couple of irate dogs guarding the local pot farm. Only a couple more rapids of note were left before we declared full success on our trip.
We all eddied out on river right as the next looming horizon line approached. We waded across the channel to get a good look at it. There was a 12 foot ramp into a munchy hole backed up against the cliff wall on river left. While I was still looking, someone jumped back in their boat and fired up the obvious tongue, gutting the hole, taking a big ender and barely clearing the boil line. Then the next person followed suit, and the next, and the next.
My instinct was that this was a dangerous looking hole that could keep a swimmer, and one that I would normally want to set safety on, but everybody was tired and just ready to go. My other thought was that there looked like a shallower line down the ramp, right of where everybody was going that might provide a little bit of an autoboof and hit the weaker part of the hole. I scanned the portage options, thinking I might want to take a pass on this hole. There was a reasonable portage working my way across the channel and down some rocks. I watched the last person enter their boat and go. I thought, well, I'm going to hold everybody else up if I portage, most likely it'll go ok, so I'll just run it like everybody else.
I peeled out in the current and lined up the drop with wind gusting in my face. Somebody said I wasn't lined up on the tongue, but I didn't get a good boof stroke in, which allowed my edge to drop and I got dumped over. I rolled up and it was pretty apparent that I was in the meat of the pocket hole. On the scout, I was concerned that swimming out of this hole might a problem, so I didn't given it much thought before pulling my skirt almost immediately.
I resurfaced fairly quickly against the cliff wall and was able to get a hand hold on the cliff, and actually had my foot on a tiny underwater ledge and thought for a moment I might be able to just climb right out of the hole. Before the glory of that thought could fully wash over my mind, a surge grabbed me and plunged me right back into the maelstrom. Fortunately, I went deep this time and flushed out fairly readily, but with plenty of time to contemplate whether or not I was ever going to flush.
Relieved, I swam to shore, retrieved my paddle, and got out in time to watch my boat cruise around the corner, which ironically was one of the very few places on the run that wasn't pool drop. However, it also wasn't that continuous and my buddies were able to quickly corral my boat to shore. No harm was done other than the impossibility of ever making it through a season without a swim.