(Now with Video)
Kim was going to be in LA to attend a wedding. I had a weekend planned of paddling. We’re at the tail end of the natural flow window for a lot of stuff, and I knew this was going to be a prime weekend for hitting up some good stuff. I had plans lined up for Saturday and Sunday, and I went to bed excited.
A strong crew of paddlers from Fresno and Kernville was heading north to run South Silver creek. South Silver creek is an incredible run. It drops over 700 feet per mile, and stands out in my head as one of the most incredible miles of whitewater I can imagine, let alone that I’ve run. You can see Kim’s excellent photos from a previous run here.. Take a look, it’ll give you an idea of the run.
Saturday, I woke early, before my alarm went off. I made breakfast, loaded my truck, and headed up the hill. We met, piled into one truck, and headed to the put-in. A short hike to the put-in, and we were heading down “Autobahn”, a fast fun slide. Water seemed a little low, but still enough.
There are a few rapids up there, and then one where everyone was scouting. I pulled up last, and Peter was getting back into his boat. I had portaged this rapid two years ago, but Peter gave me the beta and I decided to just run it. I didn’t see it, but Peter flipped in the rapid and rolled up. I headed into the rapid, flipped, and struggled to roll. After trying to roll, and failing, I bailed out of the boat and swam to an eddy. It was here I realized why I had had such a hard time rolling. I was missing half my paddle. Bummer. Luckily I had my 4 piece backup.
As were running another lower rapid, I saw a group struggle to free a pinned boat in that rapid. Rough day.
Before long, we got down to the Teacups, a series of decent size waterfalls. I went last, and was fighting some serious butterflies in my stomach. Don’t know why, really, other than than my busted paddle and swim, but I was jumpy and scared. I ran the first teacup fine, then on the second rolled and hit my shoulder and head. Rang my bell pretty good.
By now, we were on top of Skyscraper. I wasn’t feeling good about anything today. And Skyscraper is big. The top looked bony. People were bouncing through. Bouncing through the rapid, if you bounced left, the line looked easy. Bounce right and it could get ugly. Peter ran it first, and pinned (got stuck). He was out and rescued before I got there, but it took a bit of work to get the boat free. We did, and he promptly ran it again.
the rest of the group ran it. And I stood on shore, realizing I had no enthusiasm for it at all. I simple just didn’t want to run it. Weird for me, as I’m normally pretty enthusiastic, but I just wasn’t having a good day and had no real desire to run it. Geno asked if I was going to paddle, and I offered that if he wanted to take a second run down it, he was welcome to use my boat. I bet he wishes I hadn’t.
I was filming his run with Bryant’s video camera, and he bounced right, and got flipped 1/3 of the way down. No real sign of rolling or attempts, the boat just continued down upside down. I stopped filming and started to get in position for a rescue. After the final drop, he finally came out of the boat. I got a rope to him, and we pulled him across the creek. He was in a ton of pain. We pulled him out, and his drytop was cutoff. His shoulder was clearly, visibly dislocated.
Another paddler offered to reset it for him, and did. He felt better, but clearly wouldn’t be paddling more. I was clearly not having a good day, and offered to hike out with him. We got him across the creek, and up the 6-8 foot rock band to the trail to hike out. I was following up the rock band, and slipped, falling 6 feet or more. Bounced off one rock, and had another break my fall. It completely knocked the wind out of me, and I was hurting. After resting a couple minutes, I took a safety line and climbed out. Hiked out with Geno, and drove to the ER.
While he was getting checked out, I debated getting checked out too, but didn’t. Sunday I was in great pain, but as long as I didn’t move, it was bearable. Watched movies. Sunday evening something caused me to vomit, and the pain was so intense I thought I was going to pass out. It sucked.
Monday I had to drive to San Jose, and try and act OK during a job interview. The drive sucked, every bump in the road caused intense pain. After the interview, I headed to hospital, where they found 2 broken ribs. Sucks. I guess I won’t be paddling for a while.
At least I have fun painkillers.
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