Tuesday, October 26, 2010

End of the season?

Tim Johnson continues to lead Luc Mehl and me down ever steepening creeks: Magic Mile, Upper Willow, and, this past weekend, Upper-Upper Bird and its handful of stout drops, namely "Walls of Jehrico", a "20 foot" waterfall.

Several interesting things occurred: first Luc wants to turn to the "hard side" -- not to give up on packrafting, but rather to improve his technique, to "paddle like Timmy and Paul and", he adds, "to go down easy rivers with my friends who are just getting started in packrafting."

Second, four of us piled on Tim's 4-wheeler to drive the four miles to Upper-Upper Bird. This seemed pretty weird, riding an ATV to go packrafting, instead of walking.

Third we worked on the first rapid, "Cave Man", like rock jocks on a boulder problem. We kept getting flipped (we being Luc and me -- not Timmy) at the cave wall at the bottom of the drop. Tony Perelli watched us closely, then took his turn and made the drop, hit he cave wall bow-on, bounced off and paddled away. Luc and I were able to replicate this technique and so move on to "Walls of Jehrico," the big drop.

After Caribou Creeks' drowned "Skyscraper Falls" this is one of the cleanest drops around. We studied it and decided that we could drop off its right side and the "horn mid way down we won't even feel." I was not so sure and planned to miss it.

First Tim and then Tony hit the horn and both face planted as the horn caught the boat bottoms and slowed them. Luc, going third, was intent on making a good roll in the pool below (he's been hitting his combat rolls consistently in Six Mile), but instead made a fantastic boof that cleared him of the horn, sticking the huck and sending his fist upward in glory.

Next, we came to the another waterfall, "Inside Out", which was too bony for us to run. The plunge pool was great but the entry slot was narrow and overhung. We three packrafters jumped into the pool feet first, then Tim, the kayaker, folded up his butt-boat and anounced he would be late for his date if he didn't leave. So he walked to his 4-wheeler while we finished the run, a run too bony for fun, exhausting, frustrating and slow

It wasn't just scrape-y but bang-y as we hit our paddles on the rocks in six inch of water for the next couple miles and what seemed like hours.

Luc said, "If I've learned one thing, it's always do what Timmy does: if he takes a line on a waterfall, take it. If he walks around a drop, walk around it. If he leaves the river with his boat rolled up, leave the river. He's always right."


  1. Always right? Remember I swam at the big falls:^) Granted I had no clue what a flake rock on a waterfall would do to a pack raft yet, but I definitely found out & intend not to repeat:^)


  2. Wow - that big drop/falls is impressive!


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