I was paddling upstream on the St Joseph yesterday and the river was just below flood level so the upstream grind was brutal so it was especially important to stay close to the shore and paddle in the calmer water downstream of fallen trees. I’m paddling along and in one eddy I get the feeling like I’m going really fast. Then I realize that it just looks like I’m moving fast cause the tree in front of me is moving towards me…and gently bouncing off of other fallen trees along the shoreline where I’m paddling. After a brief moment of terror I realized I had a little room and pulled waaaay over to the shore and took a pic as the tree passed me.
Totally common after big runoff events. The Sacramento River is full of trees. Some are anchored on the bottom and some are moving in the current. No problem if you plan ahead on big rivers. There is plenty of room to maneuver. Big problems on small windy rivers when you can’t see them coming and there is no escape route. The velocity of the current has a lot to do with the danger level. The example above is a piece of cake.
Trees anchored on the bottom are a much more dangerous situation especially if they have lots of branches. Then the water moves through them acting like a sieve. It is easy to caught in one with high velocity current. Then you have a strainer. They kill people.
Several years ago , before I became the mostly inexperienced paddler I will always be , I took a very inexperienced friend on an Edisto trip.
I apparently didn’t understand flow rates and levels but the river was high and fast. Probably should have changed the venue . In spite of that, we had a good trip. In one bend she lost her paddle. She was safe but it scared her. The paddle floated to me and we continued.
Near the take out a small submerged bush was being pushed back and forth and she was convinced it was out to get her. Again, no danger and she floated on by.
We all had a good laugh about it at dinner and I’ve always been thankful how well it went.
Moving bushes and trees in the river are nothing to be ignored like Tom said.
Here is my tree story.
I went out alone on Lake Constance, one of the largest lakes in Europe. The wind picked up and blew me ashore where I aimed for this tree and climbed the tree vs a cold wet exit.
I knew I needed a hand but I spoke no German as it was my first week or two in Germany, so I yelled to the guy on a date walk, BOY, BOY!
He looked quickly away because he didn’t want to get involved with a crazy person. The next guy comes strolling with his girlfriend and I yell again: BOY, BOY!
And he rips off his shirt and comes running like he will dive in and comes down to the water and grabs my boat and helps me out of the tree. His date was very impressed.
two types of men, I know which I would pick
I still need to learn my wind limit on this long boat even though I have a rudder.
Wind is no joke.
It was like choosing a glide path for a crash landing.
That’s a beautiful location.
I agree that wind is no joke. I think I have a pretty good understanding of my wind limits but I probably need to give more respect to weather forecasts since I’ve also been caught in memorable situations when the wind picked up a lot.
The thing is, it didn’t matter how hard I paddled.
maybe 14-20 knots which isn’t really that much but I was useless.