Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Typical scenario: you're paddling down a river with friends (or even strangers) and come upon a horizon line. You can see that the river goes over a drop, but that's it. No idea what's below, if it's runnable, how hard it is, or even how long. So your buddy gets out to take a look at it while you sit in an eddy trying to guess what it looks like. Your friend comes back and reports: "it goes". That's all you need. As a simple but profound act of trust you peel out and run the rapid. As you do so there is always a little doubt in the back of your mind, that rational fear of the unknown that warns you you might be heading for trouble. But there is a moment as you are going over the edge, well past the point of no return, that you get to see the drop and exactly what is happening and you realize that it does indeed go.
At least, that's how it's suppose to happen. Sometimes to get to the lip and what you see in no way implies that it goes. In fact, it clearly does not go! But you've committed and you just have to make the best of whatever horrendous route lies before you. That happened to me a few years ago on Brush creek and I ended up running the normal first portage. But it can actually be run and I recently got some pictures of a friend running it quite successfully after due scouting and deliberation. My run started with my worst moment of sheer terror while kayaking and ended with me being pinned on the tree at the bottom (though I did actually run the drop successfully). A near dislocated shoulder pulled me off the tree and I rolled up fine, if a little sore. So maybe it does go...