Monday, November 14, 2011

Middle Cherry

June 20, 2009.
I am sitting in my boat, alone in an eddy. Cliffs on both sides, and a 40' waterfall roars below. Double the expected flows are pouring over an unexpected drop.
Everybody else ran it and was fine.
I've never run a drop this big.
The portage has poison oak and wet cliffs. Even if you manage to seal launch in by yourself, you might get spanked against that wall, and in the hole below. You don't wanna be the guy that swam out of a seal launch.
I don't want to run this.
I don't really have a choice.
I'm gonna run this.
Line up here, get to the edge, and send it home...

We had an adventure on Middle Cherry Creek. We put on at the confluence with Eleanor Creek, and found ourselves with 750cfs or so. A lot more than the 300 we saw at the take-out, that the groups the day before had paddled. Guess they turned it up while were running shuttle. It was a bit more of a day than I was looking for, but it was also an experience I won't forget. Middle Cherry is a classic granite mix of bedrock and boulder pile, sieves and waterfalls. I hope to get back someday.

Hiking in. This was referred to as the Ewok jungle. As in, it would be a lot easier to navigate if you were an Ewok. If you hike in at the confluence, DO NOT get down in that ravine.

First Portage. Bad hybrid of heavy water and mank. Adam Johnson photo. I think the river right portage was better, the wall Shannon and I are walking along was slick and exposed.

Jay Moffat boofing into a Big Boulder Garden.

Early Portage. Not sure where/if this gets run at lower water. Adam Johnson photo.

Jay Moffat on a nice clean bedrock falls.

Shannon Carroll on a sweet ramping drop right below. Gorgeous Place.
I drove too far left here, and smeared off the rock with no speed. Fell into the hole below flat, disappeared into the foam, and then hit the green water behind it. It stopped me immediately, and I buoyed back up into a short surf. I'm not sure I'm explaining that well, but it was a unique experience. Enough so that I was laughing as it happened.

Shannon Carroll right above the big waterfall

Shannon Carroll on the big waterfall. (Freebird? Quarterpipe?)

Jay Moffat on the same. I asked what his line was gonna be, and he succinctly replied, "I'm gonna boof the s**t out of it. " He did. Worked well.

Late portage. (Crazy Train?) Boil in the landing area was too aggressive for our mix of time/level/injuries.

Other notes:
1. Observing the others contrasting paddling style was interesting. Don't know why it stood out that day, but it did.
-Jay took hard, precise strokes, like he was literally punching holes. Strong, intense and in control.
-Adam paddled with the efficient, fluid style of a playboater, and of a youngster who already has more days boating than most will ever log.
-Shannon boats with grace and comfort. She tends to glide through the chaos like she's dancing. Even when we made her sit in her boat, in an eddy, for fifteen minutes while we portaged across/through a sieve, next to a huge complex drop. Which she cleaned.

2. I was an extremely happy, relieved dude when, shortly before dark, I saw a diversion dam with a small shed next to it. Building=Access=Egress. Below the diversion dam was a huge slide into falls that we wanted no part of, but has gone nicely at lower flows for other people.

3. There was a lot more I originally wanted to talk about when I started writing this:
-Differences between vacation paddling and expedition paddling (and paddlers),
-Coping with loss and fear, as this was right after Ed Gaker drowned in Colorado. He was supposed to be with us on this trip. My head was all messed up.
But, I could never find a tone I was comfortable with, so you are stuck with some bullet points and a notion.

4. There are more photos from our day at my picasaweb, and Adam's
The Caliproduct crew has several photos from the trip the day before. Start here and click previous to browse through on chronological order. They also have one of those new fangled motion pictures from the same run.
Geoff Calhoun ran it this summer at low flows, but still had a fun time. I'm glad to see his reaction above the big falls was similar to mine. I may be alone on this, but I enjoy his running commentary on go-pro clips.