On Sunday as GAF was wrapping up and the flooded creeks started to subside, Robert Bone (buyer for NOC), Adrienne, Clay, Dane, and Stephen were plotting the next days exploits. Dane has always wanted to run Raven’s Fork, but we were never around when it was running. Stephen had a mis-hap on his last attempt in which he hiked all of the way up only to realize he forgot his sprayskirt so he had to hike his boat and gear down all of the way to the takeout! Clay was part of the first descent team on this creek and knows it pretty well. Bone was quite experienced with it, and Craig knew it best, and was ready to fire up every line without scouting, including Big Boy.
We had three Heroes and a Little Hero (Dane) for the run and they were a good choice. We put in at Anaconda and ferried accross to the other side to scout it out and none of us wanted to make that rapid our first few strokes down the creek after a long weekend and no time in our creekers for a while. Craig ran it, flipped at the top face towards the undercut, and rolled through the undercut/overhang and kept it going rolling up after and making the rest of the lines. We seal launched in for the bottom drop. Dane and I were enjoying the whole process, talking to each other at each rapid, scouting together, and listening to directions or watching Craig lead the way. We put on at noon and were not in a rush as we had lots of light. Our goal was to soak in the creek, the sun, and enjoy a full day on a steep section of Southeast whitewater. Everyone was paddling really well, and other than a paddle hit and deep brace by Clay on the bottom of Anaconda, I didn’t see a bobble out of Dane, Stephen, or Clay. I managed a big splat on the wall at one of the drops that was quite fun and exciting, but not planned, and it was smooth, but again- not planned. A guy named Judd was also in our group and having a good time, my first time meeting him. Bone is super fun to paddle with, with a great attitude and terrific paddling skills.
Dane was more nervous than normal. He is used to paddling with a full face now, and he didn’t have it with him. He pointed out the spots that made him nervous on each rapid, but did so with a smile on his face and then decided whether or not to run them. He ran everything I did, and often before me. Mike Tyson had him worried with the bottom right wall sticking out and he wasn’t sure about getting left over the last curler being so light. i was in the eddy at the top of the rapid so didn’t get to see him run it, as I was right behind him. I opted for the slalom boater move and caught the eddy on purpose in that rapid. That gaurenteed (assuming you make the move and don’t back surf accross to the right wall) that you had a clean line on the bottom drop, or at least that you wouldn’t take your head off going mach 2. Mortal Combat reminded me of a combination of running Dragon’s tongue on the Ottawa and the bottom drop of Sky Scraper on South Silver in CA. It was a fun one, and another drop that Dane was worried about, as the beta he got was correct, but he mis-understood where the undercut was. He knew the line he was supposed to run but thought if you fell off the big curler to the left that you went straight into a really bad place. it would not be too hard to fall left, but the really bad place was further down on the left. We discussed the line in the eddy one more time and he was clearly nervous. i suggested that he walk it if he wasn’t comfortable but he just splashed water in his face and was ready and nailed it. Once he saw the undercut at the bottom he was much happier, knowing that most of his fear was based on not being able to get a visual on the bad place and imagining it in a worse spot.
Adrienne has been on the run quite a bit and was fun to have on the trip. It is always awesome creeking or river running with girls, as they add a new element. there is something to being female that is quite different from being male.
There is no shortage of great rapids on this run. i have run so many rivers over the years that I stopped really trying to learn anything about them in advance, and unfortunately don’t remember them like I used to. dane is still a catalog of information after each new run and can lead a second run with little issue. i don’t mind running it again for the first time, except when I should be able to remember it and lead it and I didn’t bother to remember the sequence of rapids and lines. I remember stuff from 20 years ago and it isn’t a memory thing but just that I have so many hundreds of rivers from so many places in my brain that I don’t keep them straight and stopped trying.
having Dane along for a second run is like having a guide for the most part. Clay is also a catalog of information on any run he has done.
i will remember the river as being super fun, beautiful and have several visuals in my mind that I’ll cherish as incredible paddling experiences from this run. Awesome.
Back at rock island- lots of water and the helicopter is gone so the road is open!