Yesterday was the perfect fall day. Cool clear skies, full moon, November 1st, day after Halloween, and the creeks were all running. We couldn’t decide between the Upper Caney Fork and Cane Creek at first, but settled on Cane Creek as Nick only has a couple of runs down it, and Emily had never run it. Dane and Clay know it like the back of their hands. We sent Dane out early (with his new drivers’s liceance) to check the gauge at the take out, where it read over 4″, a nice solid level.
I loaded boats on the Landcruiser with my new extra long bars on my thule racks (i was tired of struggling with 5 boats, so i went really long on the bars and added a boat stacker).
Tara, Clay’s girlfriend, came along and ran shuttle and did a hike at Fall Creek Falls State park.
I brought the take out party (Budweiser American Ale, Lays potato chips and tostitos and salsa, a great substitute for lunch).
the drop down into the gorge is always a little sketchy with the boats, so you keep an eye out behind you for falling boats, paddles, or family members. A human chain on the toughest spots makes it easier and safer, but i have seen some scary stuff there, and Dane can tell you about his first trip falling down the cliff, but at least he bounced instead of broke.
At the put-in you are below Fall Creek Falls in a big bowl. We always paddle behind the curtain into what feels like a class 5 hurricane.
Emily and Dane paddled the Punk Rocker and Little Hero, but Dane paddled the Pink Punk Rocker, while Emily paddled the Green Little Hero. That was funny. they had a couple of discussions on the way on who would paddle what.
Emily asked the typical Emily question, “is there any warm up rapids, or does it start out hard?” Cane creek has some nice warm up rapids. Unfortunately, this creek doesn’t get run by many people other than the Rock Island group, so you don’t get beta from anyone normally on new wood, etc… We have had some big rains and some big wood moved around, right from the beginning, meaning we’ll be going slow and scouting every drop.
Nick and Clay paddled the Classic Super Hero, that they plan on racing at the Green Race, but couldn’t really unleash some fast non-stop paddling through the rapids as we had to scout everything.
Once you drop into the gorge the walls tower up hundreds of feet, lit up by sun on one side, and the trees just a few days past peak are still incredible. Sycamore trees line the banks and often in the river making eddies as well, and are perhaps my favorite tree to paddle among, with their beautiful white camo bark and size. The river kept us busy enough, scouting for trees, finding our way down rapids with new trees in it, and making sure emily had a good first run on it.
When we got to “airplane turn” rapid, the last major rapid on the river, I went last and did everything just as I wanted. I got to the bottom crack where you drop straight into a rock, make a hard left in between two rocks with a little hole that tries to suck you back in, but isn’t bad. I was at the point where i was either going to get sucked in or go out depending on what I did next and my left arm was down at my side, and my left shoulder was about to hit the left rock wall, I pushed myself away from the wall hard with the outside of my arm and back of my hand at the same moment I hit the rock and there was a big “crunch” in my shoulder and a popping feeling of something giving way. I knew I hurt my shoulder but it was a new one for me. I asked Nick to come down the rest of the river with me as I wanted to boogie out of there before it stiffened up too much. I managed to float and steer with one hand through most of the rapids but had to paddle a few and it wasn’t fun taking strokes. The pain was moderate when not paddling, so I could still enjoy the scenery, and it didn’t ruin my day. A couple of downed trees was the worst part as I couldn’t wheelchair myself, and I couldn’t get my spray skirt on. Emily and nick got my skirt on the two times I needed to portage around trees crossing the creek.
my truck was at the takeout and the beer was cold. It took me a while to get dressed, but Nick had an open beer ready for me and Tara had some Advil. We enjoyed the takeout party and Dane was the designated driver. This was lunch and the pain killers at the same time. A nice drive home, listening to Fleetwood Mac-Rumours CD, just like when i was in high school coming home from river trips, but 30 years and now two shoulder injuries later.
Kristine was cooking homemade pasta. I switched out the ice pack for a hot bath with KC until dinner was ready. We had a great dinner and I decided on waiting until Monday to go to the doctor as it is pretty clear that I just have a separated AC. the tell tale bump on top of my shoulder where the bone sticks up, and the swelling that goes with it. it isn’t like the doctor is going to “fix” it. Amazing how quickly you can find something out with google, including the typical treatment, etc..
It is Monday morning, and i am not kayaking today, nor tomorrow. not sure how long this will be before i can ready to go again. i have only been out of commission due to a shoulder once before, in 1991. Different injury this time. no surgery last time, none this time i am sure.
I am glad we all got out on Cane Creek yesterday. Emily did awesome, and it was a terrific run. I’ll be going for the world’s record fastest recovery time on this shoulder, however you do that, not sure. Remind me that picking up KC is a bad idea- tried it this morning, ouch. If i can just keep myself from doing stupid stuff, I’ll be fine.