Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My what adventures we have!

Some days things just don't go right. With a day off and friends coming to town to paddle, everything should have been good. But the friends were delayed a day. No problem, there's plenty of folks around to go paddle with. Boomer was talking about doing Golden Gate on the SF American. I haven't been paddling a lot and knew it would be pushing it to run something that hard, but I was still game. But we needed a third strong paddler, preferably one who knew the run. Thought we had one the night before but by morning he was headed elsewhere. No problem, we revised to do Lover's Leap and I found a new third to join us.

Boomer's car was in the shop so I agreed to pick him up on the way and we'd meet the third en route. But once again our third decided to head north to other waters. So Boomer through a bike in the back of my truck for the shuttle. He had done the lower section of Lover's a few days prior and so we decided to do the middle section - most say it's better anyway, and even a touch easier. We locked the bike on the road just above the nasty waterfall and drove up to the put in. Flows were low but it made the pace manageable - there's very little space between the rapids on this run.

My boof off said rock
But even at the start we saw lots of signs of wood - most of it was out of play but we were taking our time and making sure everything was clear. Shortly into the run Boomer led off a nice boof but landed hard on a hidden rock and cracked his seat. He also hurt his back/ribs in the process. But we continued on. There were some fun rapids but the wood kept getting worse. Lots of scouting and some painful portages around logs. Boomer's back was hurting more and more and made paddling hard and trying to lift a boat excruciating. The quick four mile run was turning into a slow arduous journey.

Eventually we got to a river wide log jam. A big one. It looked like beavers on steroids had gone crazy. As we climbed out on the log pile (the only way to portage) we saw another jam downstream. Boomer was hurting and tired of paddling with all the dangerous wood. I wasn't really have much fun on the water, either. So we looked up and figured the road was as close here as it was likely to get for a while. So we started the hike out.

The hill was steep and covered in pine needles and crumbled granite. I could at least shoulder my boat - Boomer couldn't lift very well so he would hike up and haul his boat up with a rope. It took two hours to climb out, with the very last bit the steepest. I had gone to climbing with both hands with my boat tethered behind me when, within one handhold of the top, the log I was standing on gave we and I my boat started downhill with me tethered to it. I caught myself on tree quickly enough but I brought out the rope and finished the last pitch and pulled my boat up from the top.

So now we're back on the road but in between the bike and the car, thinking we were much closer to the bike. We tried to hitch for a while but Californians don't seem to eager to pick up dirty, ragged guys wearing paddling gear. No problem, I started walking towards the bike. Turns out the car would have been just as fast a walk. Once at the bike I rode but up to the boats and we finally caught a break and someone stopped to give us a lift. Boomer retrieved the truck while I packed up and we were loaded and back home only slightly late for dinner.

Certainly not a picture perfect day of paddling. But aside from Boomer's injuries (which appear to be nothing major, thankfully), it was a grand adventure. It's days like this that we need to appreciate what we do and what we're capable of. It's the hard and tiring slogs that we must endure to receive the reward of paddling beautiful rivers in beautiful places. It's what makes us stronger for the next time. And the next time can never come too soon.

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