Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sandy Gorge

Today we did the Sandy Gorge. The level was around 3,000 cfs or 10.3'. With a light rain at the put in and warm temperatures it was a great day to be on the river. We elected to put in upstream of the '64 logjam and take the easy trail down.

Ryan stretching at the put-in

The '64 Logjam

Getting ready to head into the gorge

Things were going smoothly, the river seemed to be at a great level and before long we came to the first big rapid. Boulder Drop. I probed ahead and got into a small eddy on the right. I then proceeded to climb up and check for wood. Things looked clean and good to go, so I signaled back to take the right shoot and then cut left. Jim fired it off first.

Jim coming through the right side of Boulder Drop

Things looked good until he got pushed to the left of the first rock and not to the right and subsequently flipped in the process. He managed to get one failed roll attempt before he was swept into the next slot. Oh shit . . .

The last shot I got before I realized that Jim had become pinned in the slot. If you look closely, you can see the end of his boat where he pinned.

Quickly realizing that Jim was pinned heads down in strong current, I dropped the camera and scrambled up the rocks leaping across to the next large boulder hoping that I would be able to get to him in time to free the boat. This apparently was a strong signal that we were in trouble as Ryan and Jason quickly headed downstream to assist. I had made it closer to where Jim was, but I couldn't jump to the boulder that he was pinned on, it was just too far. I could see things were very bad. Jim was pinned fast and I couldn't see any movement. Shortly after this, the boat broke free, but I couldn't see Jim anywhere. Panic hit me. Maybe he got shoved in an undercut or became otherwise entrapped. There was nothing I could do. Thankfully, moments later, Jim flushed downstream as Jason was rounding up his boat. Ryan helped Jim down to the next eddy and got him out of the river. It was as everyone drifted around the corner that I realized that I was somewhat stuck on this boulder in the middle of the river. When I had jumped out, I had also jumped down. This complicated getting back. The span was only maybe 12', but I now had the challenge of grabbing onto the rock rather than landing on one. I studied my alternatives, none of which would work and then went for it. Thankfully I made it without a problem. (No one could get back to me and if I swam we couldn't get back to my boat)

It turns out, Jim had pinned hard and even after pulling his skirt he still could not get free of the boat. But, he didn't quit and eventually came free.

The rest of the run wasn't without excitement. Rasp rock was a little on the sticky side and held me for awhile before I was able to claw free. Jim was understandably a little off his game and flipped but flushed through.

Jason scouts Rasp Rock and then runs the gut

Ryan scouts Drain Hole. Notice the sieve on the left, though there was a nice pillow today that made it easier to stay out of it

The last rapid on the run is Revenue Bridge. We bumped our way through without any problems. Everyone went right of center.

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