It was a weekend of carnage, and that’s the way we like it. Joined by Ashley and Ryan, my partners in crime for the next two days, I met up with Neils and Chris and a bunch of clients at 10am. I was given command of the Scout, the 11′ Avon that has the steadfast stability of a little tank with enough roll in her to keep you guessing in the big rapids; next to the mini me, she’s the most prone to flips and that’s why I love her.
Most of the rapids were good; we found a rhythm and smashed through the regular rapids–rock and roll, gopher holes, lower gorilla– while the boat bucked beneath us. So of course after surfing for a while at Rodeo Hole we decided that it was time to go big and hit the Drunk Tank.
A word on Drunk Tank. A new hole in Drunkards Drop–a previously unobstructed 4′ wave-producing drop running laterally across the river–Drunk Tank was born of a landslide sometime around February of this year. The slide placed a multi-ton boulder in the middle of the rapid, displacing the water behind it and creating a massive snarling hole. When the water gets high enough, rafters can attempt to run over it. Once over, a boat would have to negotiate the 10′ drop into the hole, fight through the pile, and come out the other side. We haven’t seen that happen yet.
So it’s assured destruction going in, so Ashley’s screams were warranted. Unfortunately, we got pushed further left by the helical than I’d anticipated and missed the full meat of the drop. the end result was the same.
Granny’s was actually surprisingly snarly today too, a fact that Chris’ boat discovered when they endoed in the top hole. Watching from the back I’d seen the innocuous bump of the other boat steal precious momentum which allowed Chris to get thrown end over end–complete yard sale.
Then I noticed something in the body language of some of the dumped passengers that sent me into borderline panic; they weren’t fighting for air. Floaters were bobbing in the water, hands extended, faces just below the surface. They didn’t know how to swim. Switching into rescue mode I embarrassingly forgot the first and most important rule of self protection. In my effort to get my crew over to help, I nearly broadsided the boat with another wave. Two capsized boats with potential drowning passengers was not something that would end well.
Eventually we got over to them and pulled them out in time, but in the number of times I’ve reviewed the video I’m still embarrassed by how poorly I conceal my growing sense of panic to the crew and how reckless I was in not assessing the situation before acting. Most of the time the videos I post are fun, and we play hard on this river because it’s relatively safe. But making mistakes like that on a different river is likely not going to have as pleasant an outcome.