Count down to Canyon: trip report...(Wilko sized)

Count down to Canyon: trip report...(Wilko sized)

Post by Kieran Coghla » Thu, 15 Oct 1998 04:00:00

Robyn and I had our first successful run of class III water this
weekend, on the Kern River, in the canyon, from Lake Isabella to Hobo
camp ground.  Over all the trip was a great success, but there were a
few "hard knocks..."

Well, let's just say that I've learned the "hard" way, to tuck my head
when I go over!

We drove up to Tillie Creek camp ground Friday night, Don and Becky
showed up about 30 minutes after us, and we all went to bed early.
Saturday we had to meet the rest of the party at the ranger station, and
get river permits for those of us who were canyon-newbies!  The
agreed-upon meeting time at the ranger station was 8am.

We left camp for the ranger station Saturday at 9 am.  We were late, but
this was okay, as Pete "the mean white cop" needed a nap, since his
shift only ended about 5 hours prior.  (Pete ended up making Saturday's
4-hour run with less than 2 hours sleep in the previous 24 hours).

So, we all got our permits, headed to the put-in, suited up, and were on
our way.  Don, who probably has about 15 years experience running the
Kern River Canyon, took tail.  Ken, who has several years experience
running the canyon also, took the lead.  The middle was comprised of
Les, Dana, Pete, Matt, Robyn, and myself.  The water was great: about 70
degrees F, and 1600 cfs total outflow (1000+600 after Borel).  Dana and
Matt were our biggest concerns, as neither of them were able to execute
a roll.  Matt swam so many times, that I'm just not going to mention
it.  If there was a class III drop, pretty much you can assume that Matt
swam!  Although we were able to T-rescue him once or twice.

Robyn had a good swim on the "wall o' rock" rapid.  The desired path was
to go down the chute in the middle, and cut right immediately to go
around the "wall", then cut left immediately to come back around.  The
first cut right was hard to make and some of us who were there for the
first time ended up leaning into the "wall" and pushing off and around
with a hand.  Robyn was one of the many who did not make it through this
one upright.  She dumped somewhere right after the chute, and ended up
going around to the left (which turned out to not be that bad of a
route.)  We watched from below, as all we could see was her paddle
sticking about 4 feet up into the air as she conversed with the fishes
down through the drop.  She later told us that she was patiently
waiting, like a good little roller, to get the paddle into position for
her roll, when she started to slip out of the boat.  She felt the skirt
coming away from the rim, as she struggled with the paddle to get it
into position.  Unfortunately, just as she got into position, her skirt
came all the way off, and the boat filled with water.  She tried to roll
anyway, but alas, the boat was too heavy.  Other than that, though,
Robyn did quite well, and definately had the best roll of the "newbie"
group, her pool-time paying off well for her.

The rest of Saturday's run was fairly uneventfull, except for Matt's
trials and tribulations.  We found one great pour-over that we all took
turns playing in for a while, and Don pulled a couple of beautiful
enders in it.  The rest of us tried, which made for some great roll
practice most of the time!

Sunday proved a little more exciting than Saturday.  Robyn decided not
to boat, due to an upset stomach, and pending school assignments.  Becky
also decided not to boat, and watched James instead.  So it was just the
guys on the second run.  Matt took the inflatable kayak this time, and
had a lot more fun, as a result.  I can't tell you a whole lot about how
the day went, because I only particpated for about 1/3 of it.  In the
first drop of the "wall o' rock" series of rapids, I lost my line, and
went over in the chute.  I knew that I had time to roll up before
broaching on the wall, but as I was getting into position, I took a
pretty good blow to my forehead.  I remember thinking, "boy, that was
close, good thing I'm wearing a helmet!"  I was a little dazed, but
still quite cognicent, so I tried my roll.  I was on my off side, and
didn't get it.  I knew the wall was comming, so I punched out, and swam
around it.  The last one down the drop, I yelled, "Ken, find me an
eddy!"  He pointed, and I saw the others behind an outcropping.  As I
swam towards them, wondering why they were looking at me so funny,
(c'mon, haven't you ever seen a guy swim before???) I yelled, "I hit my
head pretty good, I need to rest for a while."  Les responded with, "we
can see that! keep swimming!!!"  I thought, how can they tell, is my
helmet cracked?  Then I tasted it: *** on my lips.  Uh-oh, I guess the
rock missed my helmet after all.  It did, and I now have two inch long
gashes right above my eyebrows. (Just in time for Halloween!!)  As most
people know, the scalp bleeds profusely, and when the face is wet, it
looks even worse.  Matt took a snapshot, so it should be fun to see me
all red.  I rested for a while, and washed the *** away.  But I still
had to run the rest of "wall o' rock," because the canyon walls allowed
for no take-outs in this section.  This was not very fun, as I was very
shaken, and didn't have my wits or balance about me.  I made it through
without further incident, other than one unintentional "oh, shit" stern
ender (for lack of a better term), from which I landed upright.  My head
was starting to throb, so the sight of the first take out (although
"illegal," the first bridge is the first spot to safely take out if
needed) was a welcome one.  There were some campers there, who let me
use their first aid kit to clean and dress my wound.  I can only imagine
what I must have looked like to those campers as I walked up: a 6'7"
boater, in full kayaking garb (sans helmet), skirt still bouncing on my
knees, *** oozing from my face, "hi, uh, can I use your first aid
kit?"  Anyway, all hail the wonders of Bactine!  That stuff is the
best.  It numbs and cleans in one easy step!

Well, to make a long story a little less long, with incredible luck in
timing, I was able to flag down Becky and Robyn as they drove to the
take-out.  Once there, I did a better job of cleaning and dressing my
cuts, and ate most of the remains of Robyn's surprise birthday cake.
(She was very surprised, thanks to Don & Becky picking up the cake in
secret; Robyn almost cried!  Happy 24th, babe.)

When the rest of the group got to the take out, we discovered that I was
no longer the star of the show, as Pete had taken a bad blow on the last
rapid, on the forehead, just below the helmet, and was bleeding pretty
badly as well.  So Robyn played doctor for the two of us, while the rest
shuttled cars and loaded boats.  

On a more poignant note, I thought it quite "apropo", when I returned to
r.b.p. to find the "c-to-c vs. sweep roll" thread, which included a fair
amount of discussion about protecting one's face from rocks.  I've
definately learned my lesson: when you're going down, tuck as soon as
possible!!! I didn't, and paid for it.  Luckily, I came away with only a
minor cut and a headache.  I guess it's as they say: live and learn.
   Kieran Coghlan, Mechanical Engineer, The Boeing Company
                Cal Irvine Rowing, '92-'96
"...The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
    I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
    I shall use my time."  --Jack London
   "There is more to life than increasing its speed." --Gandhi
 Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Boeing Company.


Count down to Canyon: trip report...(Wilko sized)

Post by Wilk » Thu, 15 Oct 1998 04:00:00

Great carnage-report Kieran,
Although if I were an American, I would probably have to sue you for
the plagiarism... ;-)

It was close to Wilko Sized, but of course "Wilko sized" also means
6'8" (72 vertical degrees Celsius for the Ratt), and I haven't
met an American trip report writing paddler of that size yet. You do
come close with 6'7" of course... :-)

Wilko van den Bergh
quibus(at)worldonline(dot)nl       OR      Wilko(at)dse(dot)nl
Sociology Student  at the Tilburg University,  The Netherlands
Whitewater Kayaker                         AD&D Dungeon Master

  No man is wise enough, nor good enough
                           to be trusted with unlimited power.
                                      Charles Colton