This past week was awesome for paddling with Dane. Emily had just returned from her trip to the Middle Fork of the Salmon and was at a friends house in Washington, DC so she was not with us on this trip. Kristine, Dane, the dogs, and I all boarded the Wavesport RV for the last time to head up to Washington, DC for instructor clinics at Valley Mill Kayak School and to see Springriver, a Wavesport dealer. It wasn’t but an hour into the drive that it occurred to me that the Upper Yough would be running the next day. Dane had never run a creek before. It was a perfect creek for his skill level. I asked him if he wanted to run it and he was beside himself in excitement. It seemed like the 650 mile drive was never going to end, with Dane asking how much longer every 15 minutes. We spent Thursday night on the road and drove the last three hours in the morning getting to Mountain Surf to meet John Mason by noon. John seemed as excited about Dane running the Upper as Dane was. He set Dane up with a new shorty dry top and skirt for his “Danger” kayak (A kids boat I designed for Wave Sport two years ago, it is just a prototype) We got to the put-in and Dane was patiently waiting for John and I since he dressed on the way up. We paddled the first couple of miles which is class 1 with Dane in a bow stall most of the time, except when his bow hit the shallow bottom.
Once we reached Gap Falls, Dane was leading me down. He caught the hole ½ way down the slide and did some spins, then pealed off to see the big hole and skirted it on the right. The run was getting hot now. I just followed behind Dane until John caught up after a couple more rapids. John took the lead and showed Dane all of the lines, slots, and dangers of the river, while I just followed the two of them down with a really big smile on my face. I finally grew my paddling buddy from the ground up. Put the bun in the oven, nursed him through a hard start in the beginning (born at 1 pound 10 ounces, 3 months early) and taught him lots of important words like, foam boat, kayak, eddy, boof, and put-in, and take-out. Now, he not only knows the lingo, but can get to the put-in with me and paddle to the take out like any of my paddling buddies. Cool.
Well, it was uneventful in terms of crashes or anything like that, however, it was quite apparent that Dane was much smaller than the rest of the paddling world. His 15 gallon boat, and his 4’2” 55 pound frame gets tossed around much more than I do. He did a big boof into this eddy that sucked hard into the rock and had a pour over type corner. Well, he must have gotten two linked trickywoo’s, and a back loop in this little benign spot. He never ended upside down due to his playboating experience, but it was quite entertaining and revealing.
At the take out we ate hamburgers cooked to order right at the Mountain Surf takeout and factory. John told Dane that he was the youngest paddler to run the Upper Yough by two years. Dane was not interested in this concept, he just thought it was a quality run and wanted to stay to run it again tomorrow. We left for Washington, where Dane’s first trip down Great Falls was waiting!