How Rapids Get Named
By Chris Jones
On December 17, 1995 I got a call from Nathan Kline at about 8:00 in the
morning, "Cowper's got a creek he wants to try, 50/50 chance it's up."
Well, I dragged my carcass out of bed, got all of my neglected (no water)
gear to get her and went to Nate's. "Got an inch of rain in Deer, Cowper
thinks Boss Hollow will be up." We load all the gear on the trusty
Trooper and off we go, picking up Lance Jones' boat and swinging by to get
Chris Anderson. We tried to get Andy out of bed,but he said OK and rolled
over and went back to sleep.
We hauled butt north, got caught in a traffic jam on I-40, turned out to
be geeks rubbernecking at debris on the side of the road. We barely
caught Cowper in Conway, and again we were off. We met Lance on Hwy 7 at
Rotary Ann, changed at Pelsor, and found the road to the put-in at the
"Who'd a Thunk it" store on Hwy 7. Made it to the put-in and water was
pumping along. The ever tolerant Debby Doss, Cowper's wife, was
along and ran shuttle for us.
We put on at about 2p.m., five of us, me (Chris Jones),Cowper (I can smell
a good creek) Chadbourn, Nathan (I ran that backwards) Kline, Lance Jones
(No relation), and Chris (looks like Sound Garden's lead singer) Anderson.
Cowper said, " There's a tree down about an 1/8th of a mile down." Turned
out to be about sixty yards, Nate and Cowp having a close call.
About another 100 yards downstream (I think) we came on the first major
rapid, a long technical one with a nasty sideways leaning almost undercut
rock about midway down. Cowper and Nate managed to boof onto the top of
the rock and slide over, I tried the same approach but missed the boof,
although I managed a nice brace and cruised under the over-hang. Holding
a line proved to be difficult, being out of the water for 7 months, with
one exception, 4 months ago at Dierks. The stream was also tight with
numerous rocks deflecting boats off line.
We continued on for another 1/2 mile stopping and scouting from time to
time, with several good III-IV drops. The most outstanding one required
us to rope some limbs out of the way for a good 8 ft fall . When I ran
this one, I got bumped off line several times by submerged rocks and limbs
pulling at my paddle, straightened it out in time and made a good recovery
in the pool below.
After a little more continuous class III stuff, we eddied out and began
discussing a drop that was coming up. We looked back upstream, and Lance
had pinned on one of the numerous trees down in that section. He got out
and recovered his boat, a fortuitous occurance as it turns out, as it gave
us time to scout downstream. After about sixty yards of class III stuff
with little or no eddies, the creek made a ninety degree turn to the left.
There the creek dropped 20-40 ft (It looked really big) down a twenty or
thirty yard rock slide. The first 10 yards of the drop was the ninety
degree turn to the left, and the last 15-25 yards turned right 90 degrees
and continued to plunge.
As there was only one micro eddy above the drop, with diagonal waves and
holes to keep you away from it, and with the first ninety degree turn
looking pretty nasty, we carried the 60 yds downstream and put on in the
middle of the slide. Nate and Cowper went first, and went screaming
(fast) down the slide. I got in my boat and followed. It may have been
my weight ( I am somewhat heavier than Nate and Cowper, and having been a
couch-potato Weather Channel junkie for 4 months, a little heavier than
normal.) that caused me to drag and turn like I did, but I made it to the
bottom of the slide. But when I reached the bottom, I was sideways. I
braced when I hit, but my velocity made it a pointless and costly gesture.
My head slammed into the bottom (solid rock it was) and made my ears ring.
When I braced as I was going over, my paddle caught on the bottom, and the
fulcrum provided by my hand and boat proved enough to snap my paddle in
two. I rolled up, and realized I was still heading down stream, the rock
slide had leveled out, but was still providing a healthy current. Not
wanting to abandon my boat, and doubtful of my abilty to bail out and hold
on to it, I decided to chance the next drop, a 6-10 foot fall(It looked
big). With half a paddle in hand, I tried to build up a head of steam,
but scraped at top and went over sideways, into the only really nasty
hydraulic on the run. I tried a roll with my half a paddle, threw it away
and tried a hand roll, missed, tried again, thought it was successful,
but was pushed back down. Then I bailed. Thought it would spit me out,
but it had only pushed me to the edge and was trying to suck me back in.
Still not willing to let go of my boat, I swam for it, I made it out just
as Cowper came over.
I got to shore, collapsed, and asked Cowper if my escapade entitled me to
name the Rapid. He looked like he was thinking about it, then looked at
me, nodded, and said "I think it does."
So here it is folks, the first slide:Broken Paddle, the second drop:
Half a Paddle.
The rest of the run had some nasty spots worth mentioning, but my
performance was marginal, at best, the rest of the way down. Someone else
can tell you about it.
Hope this provides some insights into the naming of rapids, and also that
everyone gets a good chuckle out of it. Any comments about this incident
can be kept to yours elves, and Tom, that means you (I've got a copy of a
certain video, Tom).