Last Thursday I ran Austin Stream for the first time - what a wicked good kayaking run. Thereís this one section that begins with a 25-foot in diameter pool that forces itself into a 4-foot wide slot. The slot is at a 40-degree angle and goes for 40 feet into a small pool, before the current takes you over a 12-foot waterfall into another small pool, then another 12-footer into a big pool.
Iíd never really run waterfalls, but after scouting these two, the lines were clear and I was pumped to give them a try.
Later on, I did wind up swimming at the bottom of a nine-footer. At this spot, there is a stream-wide (about ten feet) drop, but only the river left half of it has enough water to run. Of that five feet of width on the top, just three of it remains safe on the bottom, as there is a rock guarding the extreme river left shoreline.
The problem is the current pushes you to the left as you go over the drop, so you have to be prepared to make a corrective stroke as youíre going over.
Unfortunately for me, I had over corrected to the right on my way down and when I went for a right-handed sweep, I got only air. This "air brace" maneuver caused my center of gravity to shift and before I knew it, my body was headed for the rocks on the river right side of the drop!
Luckily, my boat landed in the water and killed my gravity-motivated momentum before my body hit the rocks. Unluckily, as I landed softly on the rock, my trailing paddle blade became wedged in a crack and twisted out of my hand.
I wound up flipping over. The hole there was not ferocious, and I was able to attempt to push myself right-side up off the rock, but I didnít make it. Then I missed a feeble hand-roll attempt before I pulled my skirt. All in all, though, it was a minor swim as I simply stood up and dragged my boat to shore.
Iíd like to give that drop another try.
Then on Saturday, we headed to the Penobscot for a couple days of boating there. That night we ran a multi-company guide play trip under the full moon - of course you never wouldíve known it was a full moon with all the rain falling down.
Just as we carried my huge blue Riken around McKay Station, the horn sounded. We put on just as the water was dropping.
We had a nice hit at Exterminator (one swimmer) and then proceeded to get stuck sideways in Little Heater (just for a minute though).
After a cable Crib run in the dark, I lined us up for Bone Crusher. Dropping in sideways at 1800 is a good way to stick that surf - and it worked again, boy.
After five minutes of side-surfing and high-siding, I got sucked out of the raft. Like a shithead, I let go of my paddle when it caught the downstream water and twisted my arm the wrong way. I lost sight of it, so I did what any guide who just got chucked out of an awesome surf does: swim back to the surfing raft. Kristen extended me her paddle and I climbed back in as the Riken finally begin to spin in Bone Crusher.
Of course, I never really got my feet planted inside the boat after I climbed back aboard, so I was unceremoniously dumped from the raft again. This time I grabbed the boat, and Scotty, who also got dumped, managed to loop his finger through my sandal (good olí Tevas).
Well, the two of us trailing off the boat in the green water was enough to yank it out of the hole, ending the surf.
One thing I didnít mention about losing my paddle, is that it wasnít mine. When we got back into the raft and I revealed Iíd lost the guide stick (who Scotty had borrowed from Alicia), there was much scorn piled upon my head.
But then Lincoln, in his kayak, spotted something bobbing ahead at the confluence of Natureís Way.
Sure enough, as we paddled in the dark up to the moving shadow, it was the guide stick.
I call that good news.
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