I have been thinking a lot, since yesterday, about the Mystery Eddy (ME) pin I got myself into on Sunday and have some thoughts. If you’re interested in reading the synopsis of the ordeal you can catch it on the Swim Board 2013 thread. Here’s the link…my pinswim is on page 22.
Well, right off the bat I can think of 2 prominent things I did that lead to my pin.
1) I have always eddied out, river right, above ME so that I not only have proper angle to enter the eddy, but also to give the person in front of me time to move along. I did not do this. I headed on in.
2) I usually chose my line while in the above, river right eddy. I was still uncertain of whether I would catch the eddy or I would charge right. I was not committed.
Although I was paddling okay on Sunday, I felt like I was lacking the charge I usually have on Bailey. While I’ve run it as many times, if not more, than most of the other local runs, I always keep my game face on in there because it gets my heart
going – in that good way. I didn’t intentionally go into ME complacently…I think on most other days I would have made the eddy even though I was a little low, but this wasn’t most other days, and I didn’t make the eddy and I paid. Why didn’t I think about how I might not hit the eddy and what that outcome might look like? I’ve known other people to swim out of that rapid, not because of a pin situation, but I can’t help but wonder why it never occurred to be how easy it is to pin there. I have certainly never thought of it as a sieve…although there is clearly water going in between nasty little cracks within the boulder cluster.
I also have to think about what I did potentially right or wrong (if there is such a thing) after the pin was in place. My first thought was, “ Holy shit, how did I get here? I’m stuck as shit – but I have air.” My next thought was that staying in the boat and finding a way to work my way off would probably be better then pulling…
So, I took a few good breaths and was able to reach my paddle around toward the river right current hoping whatever resistance I was able to find might be enough to shift things in a way I could peel off the rock. I don’t know that that was necessarily a bad idea, but the result was completely unsuccessful, as now I had 460 cfs hitting my chest and face, and my paddle had been ripped out of my hand.
Someone has suggested that I might have been able to twist my hips to 90 degrees which would aid in using leverage to get my out of the boat, without needing my grabloop. If that person wants to chime in on that, please do. I’m having a hard time wrapping (pun intended??) my head around the idea there, but think that any and all options should be attempted when you know you need out. I felt like I could barely move, so I don’t know if this method would have worked, but having options to explore is imperative. I’ve practiced wet exiting without using my grab loop just so I know I can, but with all that water hitting the back of my head and back, I’m not sure that pulling would have been good there. Maybe if my boat had filled up too, I would have been even more solidly in the same place?? Or maybe I would have flushed out of my boat??? I don’t know. What made sense to me was to try to find some current. Not a bad idea, IMO, but not successful either. I think that when I did get to my grab loop, the fact that I was on my back deck helped me get out of the boat. My upper body was closer to the river right current.
I don’t even know what to say about getting caught up underwater. I know I fought to get off as best I could. I don’t know how effective my efforts were until my pfd shoulder strap ripped. I think that slack is what put me in the current enough to shift things. It seemed as though the moment I started to move, I was caught by something else, but I was able to move one of my legs in a way that provided for enough of my body to be in the current to flush out. It was weird.
Interestingly, I didn’t feel stupid out of breath during the whole thing. I was pretty thankful to get to the surface after what I knew to be an uncomfortably long amount of time…but I didn’t feel like I’d just been worked in a hole, gasping for a sip of air. Also, although the gravity of the situation had not escaped me during the situation, It wasn’t until I was out of the water that I really “felt” the weight of what had just happened.
I am so grateful to Gavin, Billy and Neil for the support afterward…we were all kind of in a, “what the fuck!!!!????” state of mind for a moment, but first and foremost they made sure I was ok and then let me know they would have gotten to me. They wouldn’t have fucked around – they would have been doing everything to get me –I know that much.
Try not to hammer on me here. I think I’ve learned a great deal from what happened and have a thick skin, but really don’t want to feel the wrath of the buzz about all the shit I did wrong. Keep it constructive if you want to chime in. Thanks,