Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last Whitewater Paddle of the Season

Today was the last White water paddle of the season. It was on the Lehigh River at a higher-than-normal release level -- about 1240cfs. All summer, we paddled at about 750 cfs, so 1250 was considerably bigger. After 3 years of only one flip (because of someone running into me), today I swam twice (for non-paddlers, that means I didn't get a combat roll and had to "escape" from the boat by taking off the skirt and "swimming" to safety -- not something you really want to do in rapids). My detailed report is below. We joke about Dave Geesey -- a really good paddler who never seems to mess up; thus, the "Dave Geesey School of Paddling."

When I signed up for the Dave Geesey School of Paddling, it seemed like the right thing to do -- eloquent, smooth, controlled, and precise handling of the boat-- never needing the Rick Brown School of Learn-to-Roll from a Video and winter roll sessions. The curriculum said all these paddling moves would come naturally with time -- and they sorta did for 3 summers; except for the one time an unnamed paddler kinda rammed me in the side of my boat pushing me up on a rock in the Nescopeck and dumped me in the water (and the other time in a foot of water in the Dauphin Narrows never really going "under" - does that count?). I can't say the paddler interferce was technically a "swim" since it wasn't my fault. 1240 cfs in the Lehigh River is just a little bit bigger than the 750 cfs I've grown accustomed to all summer. Those lessons taught in the DGSP were practiced repeatedly all summer, and the summer before, and the summer before that. But there were two lessons I either wasn't paying attention, was stoned, or skipped. They were the lessons on what to do when you hit rock, and what to do when you go over a bigger-than-normal drop with a bigger-than-normal wave at the bottom of it. I've seen the DGSP lesson on rocks -- boof, slap, slide, and grab it with your hand when all else fails. And I've seen the drop, kick, and punt moves off ledges too. So I officially flunked those two lessons and it showed today. The first was at triple drop. Tony went over the ledge so nicely -- just like HE went to the DGSP. "I can do that -- I did it two weeks ago", I thought. Wrong. 1240 cfs caught me off guard and over I went. Did I even think about that Rick Brown School of Learn to Roll? No. I thought of where is that handle and get me out of here fast. The next lesson I didn't learn was in No Way. Drat...I'm at that same spot as I've been at three times this summer and there's NO WAY to go! Today my boat decided to sit sideways on a rock with the slant of the rock putting the upstream edge IN the water. Imagine the thoughts of the DGSP running through my head as I hung there for about 20 seconds figuring out what the heck to do. Plunk. Upside down again. Double Drat. Now I get to float down the remainder of this rapid. Thank God for the Magic Boat guiding me - I probably would have tried to stand up like a rafter. Oh, and thank God for the absent minded forget-my-PFD, "Jeff", who so kindly picked up my paddle that some absent-minded paddler left fall out of her hand. I'm now going to write the DGSP and ask for my money back. And the Rick Brown School of Learn-to-Roll from a Video? Sometime in January - Cumberland Valley School District.

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