SWAMPED

I started the day out excited, yesterday’s rapids & a good night’s sleep had left me giddy with confidence and anticipation.  Everything on the river was beautiful. I took some GREAT pics, beautiful rock formations, wildlife, this was going to be the world’s greatest blog, filled with photos National Geographic would be proud of… or so I thought.

First challenge of the day was getting past Leadwood MDC Access. Carrying my kayak is easy, carrying it loaded with sleeping bag, tent, food, etc. not so much. With 2, it would be easy peasy lemon squeezy.  When it became obvious no one would be there to help I mustered up the ‘ganas’ and muscled it over.  Just below Leadwood is a maze of rapids that had several choices.  I made a lucky choice and moved on.

BUT, sometimes you make a choice and that sets you on a path you don’t want to go down.  I took what I thought was an easy choice, which led me to two choices, follow all the water under the tree, or spin out into the shallows.  I chose the deeper thalweg.  But that left me with two worse choices, one path led between 2 rootballs maybe 2′ apart or go down the chute that I couldn’t see down.  I chose the unseen chute.  Big mistake, it was a dead end.  Lots of water, but nothing but tree trunks covering the surface.  I thought I was dead, but somehow I stayed afloat, managed to back out of danger and get my kayak wheeled around, now all I had to do was either spin on a dime or make a huge push for the shallows on the other side.  I pushed for the shallows, but didn’t make it ended up sideways in a hard flow that swamped me instantly.  In my head I’m just screaming NO, NO, NO GOD!  This isn’t happening! Once out of my boat and chest deep in cold water I shifted into hyper drive.  Somehow the kayak I could barely muscle across the access, I threw over a log with one arm into the shallows and I was out.  Cold, wet, but with 60deg temp and bright sun, I realized that even with my skinny frame, I didn’t need to do the emergency fire.  All I could think about was how was I going to make it 20 more miles today and make the right choice through countless other little rapids?  Every choice would become critical and I knew I couldn’t afford to do this a lot.  Fortunately, I was about to enter sections of the river I’ve been on so I wasn’t operating in a vacuum like I had been, but deeper water and different seasons change everything on the river.  That is the utter beauty of the Big River, or any river.  It is never the ‘same’.  It always has something new to share…. just like people.   Each of us may think we are dimensionally narrow, but that is a lack of perspective.

Thanks for reading so far.

A succession of little rapids that would be my undoing.

A succession of little rapids that would be my undoing.

One thought on “SWAMPED

  1. I’m following your trip, using the paddler’s guide online and google maps to try and keep up with you.

    We have a long stretch of riverfront between Calico Creek and Brown’s Ford. My grandfather got it in 1902. About 15 years before that, there was a mill built right down in the river, it didn’t last past the first year’s annual flood.
    50 years ago when I was a kid, that old mill was a rapids across the river, now it’s just a riffle.

    I look forward to your next update.
    paddler’s guide online http://www.lmvp.org/kayakswarm/PaddlersGuide/

    Like

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