Last week at the board meeting we discussed paddling within your abilities during the covid situation since you don’t want to force someone to have to get close to rescue you nor do you want to have to end up in a possibly overtaxed local ER.
So when the Lehigh got dumped on I convinced a few unfortunates to join me for the 20 miles from Whitehaven to Glen Onoko. The army core of engineers (ACE) said they’d be releasing 5000 cfs until they got dam back to the maximum they are supposed to keep it at. I’d done 4000 cfs a few years ago and knew to be cautious…as the water’s flowing in the trees we had the longest swim I’ve ever that day (though the swimmer came out with a ‘that was fun’. But still, it’s the Lehigh, the first real whitewater we often take folks out on. So what could go wrong?
As we were loading boats someone mentioned they weren’t bringing a rope as “can’t imagine a scenario where we’d need a throw rope.” So opted for more food and clothes.
Of course with covid and personal stuff the last time I paddled whitewater was early January.
Since I recently sold my playboat and now only have a short creeker I decided to try something longer and squirtier from the KCCNY loaner stock. Chris D. hauled a Dagger Redline out , 9 feet of pointy kayak which was state of the art from the end of the last century and designed for my pre-covid weight without extra gear.
After all, it’s only the Lehigh, so what could go wrong?
Boat fit great though with the gear I needed for all day on the river it was a little back heavy. Bit squirrelly starting out and still feeling ok as we got going. Easy enough to roll so what could go wrong.
Approaching triple drop everyone reminded us to stay right…but I could have sworn it was nothing but huge waves when I ran it at 4k years ago…so to add some excitement floated in dead center.
Came over a pretty big wave and there’s a hard line and a big foam pile.
Been it’s been a while since i paddled maybe I was a little off my game…so instead of accelerating like I should have to break thru I floated down a long straight hole…didn’t even come close to making it thru the foam pile.
Easy enough side surf…tried pushing myself backwards toward the right but sure didn’t seem like I was making any progress.
Tried flipping to grab some green water on the bottom to see if i could pull myself out. Nearly lost the paddle.
At least rolling back up was easy.
But paddle all I could didn’t seem like i was moving at all. And I haven’t gotten as far as cartwheeling so didn’t know how to get myself pointed in the other direction.
As i was getting out of breath with the effort of side surfing I finally decided to flip and pull. And of course came up stuck in the hole and recalled the conversation as we’d been packing of “can’t imagine a scenario where we’d need a throw rope.” After all 95% of the river is 100 yards plus wide.
At least my head was out and I was getting air most of the time as I bounced around in the hole.
Ducked down into the solid water below the foam pile again and stayed down for awhile…again nearly lost the paddle as I angled it to pull me downstream …but came up finally and was at least moving downstream. At least I’d stayed in the hole long enough for folks to get in position to catch my boat.
So yeah…the moral.
Do as I say, not as I do. Now’s a good time to be cautious.
After that I avoided the biggest of holes like Amy’s and we ran the rest of the river. Blue sky and as I got used to the boat so much fun working the rapids and talking. After Rockport we saw no other paddlers – such a difference from normal summer Lehigh of trying to stay spaced between rafting flotillas. So all in all an amazing day on the river with 30 seconds that were way too scary.