One of my New Year's resolutions was to boat every month this year. I've done it back in Maine several years though some of the winter months I covered by boating at a "mini Skook" reversing tidal wave near home on the coast. I figured winters are so soft here in the Ark valley, relative to Maine, that it would be easy. Well, between work and a month of real winter, this weekend came around and I hadn't gotten out yet in Feb. Worse, my normal low water run from #4 down through the Fractions was locked in with ice.
I've been watching the new features get built in the playpark and getting psyched for the young crowd that will be able to take advantage of them but I decided years ago that my shoulders are too valuable to risk playing in holes and I've become mostly a river runner and when I'm lucky a creeker. But, after determining that everything above BV was too iced in to float I started to look at the park in a new light. There's very little ice in that section and a bunch of new features and reworked old ones plus somehow I've never run "BV Falls" just below the park. I decided to run from the foot bridge at the first play feature down to the private bridge just below the "Falls". This would give me a personal first descent of the Falls and I believe straight up first descents of the 2 new features at the bottom of the park. Do I get to name them?
Yeah, yeah, there's only maybe 150 CFS in the Rio right now but I'm an ELF kinda guy and I really wanted to boat. I tried to recruit my main boating buds but they were off skiing (a stupid sport if it takes you away from boating) and my son thought I was a little off when I pressed him. Instead he offered to walk the trail along the run with his 14 month old.
So I broke a cardinal rule and put on alone late in the day with the temps in the high 30's. That section might be 3/4 of a mile long and is really quite a beautiful "run" by itself. I was able to find a fluid channel all the way through and have some fun with the various features. BV Falls was fun, good basic ELF creeking, with the challenge of negotiating the drop enhanced by the ice that blocked some of the channels.
The brand new bottom feature, just finished this past week, is a real work of art. From a functional standpoint it has good gradient coming into it so the "green slab" is going to be fast. There's a good drop into a nice sized pool. Its pinched by some beautiful rock work on both banks with 2 large eddies. It has the look and feel of a world class spot. You know its going to be very dynamic as the water comes up. Its a present for us all waiting to be revealed. Included in the boulders shaping the feature are some really nicely sculpted Rio bottom boulders. (One of my fave parts of ELF boating is being down in the guts of the Rio channel and being able to see the water sculpted rocks that we're normally boating over.) The river right bank is steep at that point and with the creative vision of Jed, Mike Harvey and team and the superlative excavator work of Chris Miles and his team there is a beautifully landscaped large rock retaining wall/seating section. The trail is fairly high above the rio here and work is progressing on a really nicely sited set of railroad tie steps up to the South Main square above. I've had the good fortune of watching Dustin compete all over the country and the world and this is as nice a spot for an event as any I've ever seen.
So, anyway, I took out at the bridge and dragged my boat back to South Main and my apartment but decided to stop at the Eddyline brew pub on the way. I left my boat at the door thinking they needed to install some boat racks like their bike racks or the hitching posts for horses back in the day. Sat at the bar with my wet skirt still on and had a celebratory shot. I'd gotten my February boating in.
See you on the Rio.