Most memorable river experience! - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-31-2007   #1
ecarlson972's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 288
Most memorable river experience!

So there has been so much SHIT talking and BASHING for the last month or so (I am guessing since the season is winding down) I thought I might start a thread that everyone can enjoy. Good or bad tell your most enjoyable or memorable river experience!

Mine, I could tell you about the few times I almost flipped my raft (still a virgin) or I could tell you all the stories in between. But I think the most enjoyable time I had is when I bought my first raft two years ago next week and did an overnight trip on the Colorado from Pumphouse to State Bridge! I realized that I finally found something I love to do and I could not be happier! Since that day the only thing I can think about is being on the river flat water or class four (the biggest I have done so far) I dont care! As long as my dog and my freinds are with me I am having fun!

So tell your story!!!!


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Old 08-01-2007   #2
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 373
High Water salt

Now this is a thread worth responding to

I ran the salt a few years ago with two good frinds and Wilson, andevil 4 legged, in Febuary. We put in and the flow was about 10-15K and we expected it to go up. The first few miles were fairly uneventfull and there was plenty of room to float by the bus eating holes. Wilson has spent so much time on the water that he actually reads water. When you float by some monster feature you can see him turn his head to look at it as we pass. We got down to salt river draw and needless to say it looked a bit different than at normal levels. There were two 8-10' high rolling waves stacked on each other. Steve and I went Left of the whole deal and were sitting in the eddy waiting for John to catch up. He went right of the first wave the gutted the second. He rows a 16ft PRO and was pretty well loaded. Steve and I see him coming up the wave with about half of his boat over the wave just before he got denied and sucked back. Then we see him come back up the face agin, still straight, and see 1/3rd of his boat before he is sucked back. By this time we were scrambling to get throw bags ready for the inevitable carnage. John must have done some serious highsiding and the next thing we saw was his rig shoot out the side of the wave like a cannon ball. That was quite a ride, says John. We swill a beer and continue on our way.

We camped a few miles down from there on the right where the river was pretty wide and we had room to put the kitchen and gear way way up from the rising water. I see Steve walk by with a stick, more like a tree, and he walks down to the water line and procedes to pound it in to mark the water level. John and I both give him some shit about the size of the marking stick.

So next morning we wake up and I peek out of my bivy to check the marker stick and there is 15" of the stick that started out about 6' tall sticking out the water.This turned out to be 25K. This of course sparks some conversation lead by Steve. So we pack our gear and prepare to push pff. The morral is good and the promise of exictment is in the air. This would be the point that the little light should have gone off. Humm, mabe we should lay over? But the best laid plans of mice....

The morning goes smooth and we blaze through the rat trap section and we all just focus on staying off the walls and the rest is flushed. This was all of our first time down this stretch so the was deffinatly some tention about exactly where Quartzite would appear. We come arround the corner and are in the last strait stretch before Quartzite and John has gotten a bit out in front. Steve and I are close enough to communicate and we look at each other and affirm, That must be it. I grab Wilson and stuff him in the well between my legs so he is as low as possible. Steve and I watch John drop over the brik and see an oar go straight up in the air and I just get a glimps of John's brand new high float PFD in what should be the pool below. Steve and I both scramble to get in to the scout eddy to take a look at what just eat a 16' loaded boat.

I am rowing a pretty heavy 14' round boat and Steve is in a light long trip Cat. I get in the top eddy but there is no way to get to the scout point. As I am trying to get across the eddy line in to the lower eddy steve passes me and jumps in to the scout. It takes him a few minutes to get tied off and I am trying not to get sucked out of the eddy. At this point I am getting anarobic and I know it's time to go. "FU#$ Me I'm out", I say to Steve. I pull as hard as I can to get out toward the middle to avoid a pour over that comes off the scout ledge. As I droped over the horizon line in to the malstorm I said, Wilson we're [email protected]# ed. I have no idea how I made it through or exactly what it looked like but was very pleased to have the black side down and the dog and I still up. After a couple of minuts of jumping on my oars to get them unstuck and repositioning the oarlocks that were all twicked the chase was on.

After about 8 min of looking hard for John and/or his boat to no avail, I pretty much thought I was looking for a body. One and a half miles down from Quartzite I Saw John standing on the river Left waving at me and a wave a relief swept over me. His boat however, with all the kitchen and his PG was long gone. We sat there trying to get our heart rates down to under 200 and in about 15 min we see Steve coming arround the corner ridding on the bottom of his boat. John, Wilson, and I jump in my boat and head out to intercept Steve. We Get a line to steve and John and I start both rowing to try to get steve's boat over to an eddy. After missing three eddy's we finally make it happen. We flip steve's boat over only to find that a rock has cleaned off both oars. This would be the advertisement to carry two spares. Fortunatly I did have two spares and with some adjustment we made haste for the first camp we could find.

We pulled in to the Cherry creek camp and all of us were happy to be alive including Wilson. Fortunatly the D.O was on my boat and food was on Steve's. We ate like kings and drifted off to sleep. We all sleep like a soaked bar rag. When we woke the next morning the water had dropped to the about 10K and we had the pleasure of doing a 150 yrd portage to get the boats back to the water. As we pushed off we were still a bit weary from the events of the previous day. We were now on a boat recovery mission scanning both sides of the rio for any sign of the carnage. Six miles down I saw somethind Yellow in the distance and as we approched it became apparant that it was indeed an oar that crabed in a pile of debris and found it's way through John's floor. The boat was 10+ vertical feet above the river and 50 feet or so back. Fortunatly he has a lace in floor and the oar just slithered through the laceing.

We started to rig a system to flip the boat and arround the corner came a group a yakers on the 2 day mission that were happy to help us transport the pig back to the water. After we filled them up with beer they took off. They didn't get to Quartzite untill the water had dropped so they looked a little puzzled when they heard our story of the V to V+ drop.

The rest of the run was uneventfull and we were all happy to get to the take out with all of our gear and one hell of a story that would become a mainstay of the campfire for many a trip to come. I headed up the long trail to get my truck while the rest of the crew relaxed. And just when you thought the fun was all over.... NO TRUCK.

After verifing that the shuttler did drop it at the take out we found a ride to get John back to the put in and retrive his rig. We then had the pleasure of fitting 3 boats, 3 guys, and Wilson in to John's single cab half ton pick up for the 14hrs drive back to Idaho.

I am pretty sure the only reason that I was the only boat to stay black side down is my precious cargo...Wilson.

Sorry that took so long, and yes I still know I can spell.

Happy boating
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Old 08-01-2007   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 95
This is a toughie!

I honestly can't say there's one particular trip that stands out, but one whole season instead.

Last season was the most epic I've encountered, with numerous second descents of class V+ rivers in da UP of Michigan. Even got down to Wisconsin and ran some amazing rivers. I think the most memorable experience of them all was floating down a river with a good buddy that I knew would take care of me (and I would so the same for him) and we were the only boaters on a remote creek in a very unique part of N. America. Sometimes the descents went at 1 drop, maybe 300 yards of river in 45 minutes because of the severity of the drop and the challenge of setting safety. That kind of adventure boating is my favorite...back to back V+ drops with long class IV boogies to the takeout.
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Old 08-01-2007   #4
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 701
Cool Topic

In the 90's it rained for a week and boulder creek went huge. I remember in 700's, but it is just a memory. When coming up to the park, some girl was freaking out about her boyfriend caught in the first hole. We roped him out and then started doing laps with a guy from BOC who was there in his orange T-canyon. I still remember his line to the police when they were watching us. "You wouldn’t kick a guy off the slopes for too much powder, right"! Every feature was a potential keeper and the hole rides were epic in my cross fire. Later ran into a guy who was always around in a green sleek who always wore a hockey face mask and had a scruffy beard surfing in the library hole. I've forgotten the names. It was full on that day!!

In the late 80's or early 90's the Arkansas went off. It was my first day in a scorpion and everything just looked huge. It was amazing how that river can haystack up with volume. The back deck on that boat was sort of a diamond and it seemed like I was finding myself vertical all of the time. (More a lack of ability than the boat). Somewhere in the vicinity of #6 I found myself flipped end over end and sliding back into a hole upside down. Four or five role attempts later I was swimming. Made an eddy clean down in fractions and had to walk back up the train tracks to the car.
Does anyone remember the flows and the years?
Lots of other memories. Some really awesome, and some of the worst moments of my life. All on the river. Thanks for stimulating this.
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Old 08-01-2007   #5
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Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
I've had my fair share of mishaps, "oh shit!" moments, and embarassments on the river, but my most memorable experience is definately a positive one. First, a little back story. In the spring of 2004 I was living outside of Washington D.C. with the Potomac just minutes from my door. The water levels were epic that year, high water and good play that lasted well into the summer. Unfortunately, I was laid up recovering from shoulder surgery while my boater roomates went out and played. It was around this time that my girlfriend expressed an interest in learning to boat. Now, mere weeks before this she had told me that there was no way in hell she would ever try it, rockclimbing was soooooo much cooler. I couldn't do anything about it with my bum shoulder, but my roomate volunteered to show her the basics. By the time I could paddle again, Kate was rolling and working on her peel-outs and eddy turns. This was a perfect situation for me because I basically had to relearn every stroke in the book in order to get my shoulder back into kayaking shape. I never had to resent paddling the easy stuff with her because I simply was not capable of doing anything harder.

Fast forward a two seasons, Kate is a burgeoning class IV paddler and keen to do some exploring. So, we load up the car and head for Canada, first stop Montreal. We had a couple warm-up sessions at Expo 67 before heading over to the world-famous Lachine rapids. This was the biggest water that Kate had ever seen, but we made it down to the staging eddy for the waves with no problems. I take a ride to "demonstrate" the line-up and drop-in technique that is necessary to catch Big Joe, the monster wave you see in all the videos. After watching me, Kate paddles right out there and catches the wave on the first shot (my first time there, I missed it, and that was after peeing my pants about it for an hour).

As the day wore on, I started taking rides on the big green wave, known as Pyramid, that is just river left of Big Joe. While I am surfing Pyramid, Kate drops in and catches Big Joe. Just then, some clouds roll in and a serious downpour starts, the divots from the rain drops turn my smooth green wave into bumpy one. I look over, and there is Kate in a backsurf with a huge shit-eating grin on her face. And then it hit me, we were surfing together out in middle of a mile-wide river with the rain pouring down and sunny skies visible up- and downstream. If there was ever a reason why I wanted my girlfriend to start paddling this was it: to share this one-of-a-kind experience in a place that so few people ever get to see. Fuck yeah, that just made my day writing that down.
"A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes writing for the majority in New Jersey v. New York
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Old 08-01-2007   #6
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Tabernash, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 113

This past spring, it seemed like every Fraser Valley river rat (except me ) went on a trip down the Grand Canyon, which is my dream river trip. It's not that I wasn't invited, but since I work at the Medical Clinic located at the base of Winter Park Resort, March is not the time for me to take off 3+ weeks if I intend to have a job when I return!

Instead, since I managed to score a 3/25 Salt River permit, I channeled my energies into putting that trip together instead. It came together well mid-February, but the low flows and lack of snowpack caused four of my invitees to back out the week that we left (argh!) Everyone had some doubt as to what we'd find when we arrived at the put-in but we didn't care - we were prepared and running it! As it turned out, it had rained hard for several days prior to our arrival and the flow was better than expected!

This being my fourth season running my own raft, I am still the rookie and am fairly certain several of the folks on this trip were counting on me for comic relief (and rescue practice ).

Knowing there were 29 Class II-IV rapids in the first 42 miles, I was a nervous wreck at the put-in, certain I'd hit the wall directly below the put-in or flip somewhere along the way, but to my surprise, I did fine the first day. The second day, after 3-4 miles, I couldn't shake the feeling I wanted to puke, so I turned my boat over to a competent boater who was riding as a passenger on another boat. That night, I felt ashamed, but thought I'd done the right thing, safety first and all that crap.

That was before the whiskey started flowing. The next morning, I was still quite drunk and, as the other boater was preparing to re-rig my entire boat to his liking, I announced that I was going to go ahead and get back behind the oars. I still wanted to puke, but after running the first few rapids cleanly, I was confident that I could run the rest just fine, which I did - got a little tossed in Corkscrew just below Quartzite (ACED IT ), but other than that, we all made it fine.

A most welcome layover at Cherry Creek came after the BIG RAPID day and we partied hard in celebration of our accomplishments.

Since that trip in March, I've done the Yampa (swam Warm Springs with my oar in hand ), Deso, the Fraser, the Ark, Upper Blue and multiple Upper Colorado trips and whenever that feeling of wanting to puke starts in, I remember that victorious run down the Salt (as it turns out, it hit 2100 cfs on the BIG RAPID day) and I (almost) enjoy the adrenalin rush! I'll keep this in mind when I face Lucifer Rock (Gates of Lodore) this coming Monday and Skull (Westwater) Labor Day weekend
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Old 08-01-2007   #7
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Damn! How the hell do you pull all these permits? I've been trying to get Lodore permit for years.
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Old 08-02-2007   #8
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Originally Posted by COUNT View Post
Damn! How the hell do you pull all these permits? I've been trying to get Lodore permit for years.
Planning, persistence, REDIAL and a little luck! And when all else fails, having a broad network of fellow boaters helps, too
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Old 08-02-2007   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
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My most memorable day on the river so far was in the summer of 03. I was guiding in Alaska on the Nenana river. We had a bunch of big storms come through and drop a lot of rain and snow. The river came up to about 36,000 cfs, our commercial trip cutoff was about 23,000. I got another guide and a bunch of friends together for a run late in the day. Usually the Nenana is a class III-IV run, but at high water it gets serious - standing/breaking waves from 15-25 feet tall, and current moving at 20 mph. We put on with two 18' boats and 9 people in each boat, with waves and holes this big we wanted a lot of weight in the boats.

I always love that feeling when you know you are going to run something that is seriously scary and your stomach is in knots. The sense of commitment in the face of fear is part of the appeal of boating for me. The first few rapids were big but had relatively safe lines. The first major challenge was Cable Car. It was late enough that the sun had a golden glow, but being in Alaska we had no fears about running out of daylight. The entry to Cable Car was guarded by a 20 foot lateral that blocked the view of the rest of the rapid. The first boat disappeared over the top of the lateral and the action was on. Approaching the wall of water, the sun, the sky and everything else disappeared from view. Rowing up the wave was a surreal experience. You wait for the moment when you crest the wave and know that you have the power to get over it and not get back surfed. The view from the top of the wave was awe inspiring. A series of massive 20 ft+ standing waves funneled directly into a 18 foot tall breaking wave, and laterals as big as 6 feet tall were randomly interspersed in the rapid. The lead boat took one of the small looking 6 ft laterals broadside sending the guide flying and nearly flipping the boat. The guide managed to grab the frame in mid air and hang on. He got back to the oars just as the boat disappeared over the next wave. We slid down the back of the first wave and were alone in the massive trough. After seeing what happened to the first boat I squared to the lateral before setting up for the next wave. The boat accelerated even quicker as we headed for the final breaking wave. In my head I knew that we were in for a coin toss on the last wave. I dug in with all my strength as we hit the huge breaking wave. The boat slowed and came to nearly vertical as we began the moment that would determine if we broke through or if 9 people were going for a huge swim. The boat kept moving forward but the angle was getting steeper, then with great speed the boat dropped and we were through.

The run would continue like this for miles, but no waves were as huge as those in Cable Car. A final challenge came in Coffee Grinder. All 36,000 cfs are funnelled into a box about 30 ft wide with offset 45º degree walls making waves that rise and fall at 90º offsets. You never know when one wave will fall to be replaced with one that will flip you. That much water in a small space starts doing strange things, we made it through the rapid only to have a whirlpool open beneath the 18 ft boat and almost flip us.

We traveled 13 miles in about 45 minutes. Thankfully the boats stayed upright and we had no swimmers. It was the most amazing trip I have been on so far.
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Old 08-02-2007   #10
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ww guide/ frame builder/welder, mobile fabrication gig
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Join Date: Feb 2007
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Mine would be old news, but still the most epic. June 15th 1995, or maybe it was the 18th. anywho, Im a third year guide ( the most dangerous ) we rolled from C.B, to run the gorge. Rumor had it that sunshine had changed, and it was a need to, to go and see. We wound up hooking up with a couple cat boaters, but needless to say, we were late, and they were no where to be found. so, we rally on the beach, normally loaded with what 30 buses? to find it completly void of anyone. ( K, now switch to black and white mode) now, pics at the shop were takin at about 3200, and there big 16x20's for marketing, and its HUGE. we were expexting 4200-4800, but while all the more " experienced" guides were debating on if or not we should run, it flashed. BIGGGGG. there was one dude, huge, hairy, and bearded, laying on the hood of an El camino. "sunshine will put the fear of god in ya", he says......we smile and pass on. we had three 14' e-class NRS rigs, and outta those, one boat of "solid", or worse yet, "confident" , "guides". We get to sunshine, and it is the biggest shit I had ever seen. (BTW) there was a dude that ran a studio at the time, that shot the gorge, and he said" you guys make up your mind, ya, or nay. I'll go shoot you, or go home........etc. anyway, we decided to go, and he was on scene.

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