The "right way" to break a paddle and take a jaw hit in Gore Rapid as I learned yesterday, is to do it with a large group of skilled and willing to help paddlers who patiently and efficiently clean up the results of your carnage.
Also, choosing to wear a brand new, first time in the water, full-face helmet on the very day I happened to have my first ever facial encounter with a rock, was likely helpful in avoiding a trip to the hospital.
After 15 to 20 runs through Gore Canyon with me always being the rescuer and never the "rescuee", I finally had my first experience in Gore as a swimmer, and it was a doozy. My second swim anywhere in 4 years will be remembered as my worst swim yet. I definitely hope I never surpass yesterday's swim in intensity.
I will describe the details below of how and what happened for those who might be able to benefit from the scenario, or who might be curious, but first I mostly want to say thank you to everyone that helped. So many people did, and I don't know everyone's name well.
Special thanks to Mariah, who after breaking fingers herself in an amazing and successful left line run through Gore rapid, still was the first back in the rapid to offer aid during my swim. And though the rapids were too big to drag my butt out, just knowing someone was there and occasionally hearing them encourage me to keep at it when I would pop up for a brief second or two along the way, really helped my spirits and kept me focused on the upcoming eddies. Incidentally, I didn't make it into an eddy until just above Pyrite.
Also, thanks to Sean (sorry if I got the spelling wrong) who was piloting a raft, and who was exceptionally gracious in letting me know he would be there for me in whatever way I needed to get me out of the canyon, including giving me a seat on his ride if necessary.
And thanks to Buck who I just met that morning, who really went out of his way to make sure I was looked after the rest of the way down, and who also happened to have a $40 recreational breakdown paddle in his boat. I was so happy to have that toy paddle, because in my condition, I don't think I would have had the courage to paddle out with my hand paddles.
I said I would post the story of what happened to cause the face hit and broken paddle that set things in motion, but this post is getting a little too lengthy already. Maybe after I have been awake long enough to finish the crazy personal list I started last night of how many body parts got damaged, I will add another post with the story about what went wrong and my suggestions on avoiding yesterday's unpleasant right line scenario.
By the way, everyone was so efficient in getting everything ready and getting my boat back across the river to me, that the lengthiest delay during this event was actually me laying on a rock slab feeling nauseous, broken, and unable to move for a half hour before I could consider standing up and moving around again.
So many people contributed to getting me back going again. Sorry for the holdup, and thanks again for everyone's help.
[The broken paddle was a custom made, zero offset, bent shaft Werner Sho-Gun Carbon, probably one of, if not the most, expensive paddles on the market. If anyone ever finds any part of it, I will pay a reward to have it back just as a souvenir of that day. The right blade is easily identifiable with 2 Savage Snow tiger logo stickers on it.
I shot several video clips yesterday before and after the Gore Rapid "incident" with my little waterproof digital camera.
Contact me if you are the boater described below and if you would like me to get copies of the footage to you.
My direct email is: [email protected]
1. Mariah, I have a clip of you running the left line in Gore Rapid.
Also, the boat that amazingly went left of the higher rock before Indecision Rock on the right line is in that clip as well.
2. I also have a clip of the red (or orange) boat that went before Mariah on the left line in Gore.
1. Anyone who was in the Blue Raft is welcome to contact me for a copy of a video I have of your approach and drop at Tunnel.
2. Green Boat (yellow or orange paddle blades, white or silver helmet)
3. Another Green Boat, but with a dark helmet.
(Ivan and Ladislav, I have clips of you guys at Tunnel also if you are reading this.)