I spent about 1.5 hrs trying to pole upstream at 2 different rapids on the South Llano river this weekend. Both of these rapids were basically river wide gravel bars where the water depth varied from about 1ft to 4 inches over a 10-20 yard stretch of the river. I was not able to proceed up either rapid despite multiple tries. I tried both a sitting and a kneeling position. Kneeling seemed a little more powerful, but not significantly.
In both cases I was able to pole up to almost the shallowest point (fastest current). However at that point I just stopped in place. I could hold position for a short time (by poling as quickly as I could) but at some point the bow would swing enough that I could not hold it upstream. Once the bow swung around I was quickly pushed downstream. I made many many tries with the same result.
- I had a difficult time deciding where to grip the pole, ie what length was the most efficient.
- I was not sure what to do in the recovery phase. If I left the pole in the water and tried to just slide it up and forward I seemed to produce significant reverse force and slow the canoe. Lifting it out of the water seemed very awkward and slowed my stroke rate.
- I did pretty good poling in sections where the water depth was consistant. However when I was in sections where the water was rapidly shallowing (and in some cases deepening again) I had great difficulty in getting a firm plant and good forward force.
- In deeper water I could turn the canoe almost as quickly with sweep strokes with the pole fully extended as I could with a single blade paddle.
- Of all the advice I got on paddling in shallow water “get out and walk” was the best. A quick exit and re-entry got me across several bars where the kayaks ran aground. At some point I think I used every one of the different shallow-water suggestions except “get a short bent shaft”. The “get out and walk” also worked pretty good getting upstream through the shoal rapid when I finally gave up trying to pole.
- I am told that all the “rapids” we went through were not even rated, ie less than class I. At various points 2 people capsized, I was forced to brace and got enough water in the canoe that I had to stop and empty it to get stable again, a couple of people hit rocks and got turned and came through backwards, I got wedged sideways between rocks when I missed making a 75 degree turn, and we were repeated told that we had to make a hard right or left after a drop to avoid a strainer or being pinned on a high bank. If class I is significantly harder than these then I can not imagine ever doing a class 2.
- The South Llano River now has some excellent faux algae on many of the rocks as a result of my great skill in transfering the green Krylon paint from my repair work to those rocks which seemed to need a little more color.
Thanks again for for all your help and suggestions.