With rain, warm temp’s and snow melt, all the rivers are up in New England. I wanted to paddle something close to home, so we decided on the Quinapoxet River or the “Mighty Quin” - a short 3-mile run with continuous class II/III rapids. It’s just an hour from my house, and a river that I had run several times before, so I didn’t expect any difficulties – silly me.
The biggest rapid on the river is a broken dam at the old Springdale Mill. That’s where my troubles began. As I pulled into an eddy above the dam I floated back into a strainer, leaned the wrong way, and over I went (rookie move, no offense Rookie). I was out of the water quickly, but lost my paddle and couldn’t hold on to my boat as it floated back into the main current.
I watched as my boat bounced over the broken dam. It continued downstream through a mile of continuous rapids before the guys were finally able to push it to shore. (Thanks guys!) It took me a while to hike down along the banks, but when I finally caught up I was on the wrong side of the river and my spare paddle was gone. I was done paddling for the day!
Still, it could have been worse. My boat didn’t get pinned so I guess the river gods were watching me, and at this point I was only a half-mile from the take out. It did get me thinking, though, about what could have happened in more remote location – wrong side of the river, risky swim across, and no paddle even if I could get to my boat – yikes!
Like all paddlers, I try to strike a balance between safety and stretching my paddling skills. Just another reminder I guess – sh*t happens.
The strainers are all pretty visible - even submerged you can see their effect on the water. The one in the eddy that flipped me was very visible. I just didn’t expect the current to push me toward it - it wasn’t much of an eddy.
That is actually my buddy Paul dragging my canoe back - no pictures of me yesterday. Those in boats got back to the take out before me since I was on foot. Paul felt bad for me and hiked up to retrieve my boat. It was a relatively warm day and I think the bare batch of ground is just where water is running off.
OUT you go
in water’s RAGE,
and the Erik Epic turns 'nother page,
or is that hull
that turns Erik,
when that sneaky Eddy
takes a turn with stick?
Glad you didn’t have to follow your prodigal prow for all of its wintry semi-sub ride downstream. And, sorry the riparian riever decided to take a prize in your paddle. Well, Christmas is comin’. Howabout 'nother paddle? Please put a Millbrook Norge in by an old man’s saddle.
Hats off (even though riparian riever already possesses several of my own) to the undaunted frother!
Glad you’re okay. I actually thought about paddling saturday while out for a hike, as the local creeks were cranking. Still up yesterday, but I went up to the track for my first run in weeks, and got some vehicle maintenance in as well. Since I quit paddling my supply of eyeglasses has multiplied; funny how that works.
I think you did the smart thing, letting others corral the boat and you getting out of the water. Winter swims aren’t fun in wv and can only imagine they are even less fun in new england. Focus on all the things you did right- dressing for immersion, going out with a team of boaters, gettting over the strainer, getting out of the river, heading downstream toward your boat and to your buddies after you swam.
WW demands attention: especially if you are pushing your limits or just doing something very familiar. Complacency can rear its head. Paddling keeps us honest/humble. Boats, paddles, and other gear can easily be replaced and remember we are all just between swims.
Just got a chuckle thinking about your Crystal swim, sidesurfing that hole I had avoided all week. Hit the bank at S turn, your canoe came in as well behaved as could be, and the young boy picnicking with his family asked if he could rent it. Now that was funny. Then the swims in the snow…in the dark…no wonder my present infatuation involving 5.56, .308, 9mm and .45acp seems so safe lol. Warm and dry, yahoo!
July 26, 2009 - great day. Here is what you wrote right here on p-net:
“My local run was quite high for a few weeks, and Aaron and I were paddling daily. The normal class II turned into a much different animal. So the weekend comes and I’m really up for heading out of town, trying something else, but I get an e-mail from my favorite paddling bud in the whole universe wanting to come over and play. Okay, we’ll hit this run again. We come into the very start of the longest biggest rapid and this bud of mine goes into a hole and starts side surfing. Gee, I think, that hole looked too big all week, but hey, if my bud can do it, I sure can, so I start to eddy out and wait my turn. Well, all the sudden…WHOOOMP, and my bud gets windowshaded, paddle looking like a turbine fan blade, over he goes. Boat goes one way, buddy goes another at a rock, Jeff Budz rights the boat ONE HANDED, and only lets go when I tell him what’s ahead. My anonymous bud has a long long swim. The rest of us eddy out at a bend, my spot takes me along a bank where a family is having a cookout. Eck’s canoe comes bouncing down the river, eddies itself out next to me. Two kids look at the canoe and ask “is that for rent?” I point to the blue helmet bobbing down the river, slightly bloody body attached, fortunately still alive and kickin’, and say "ah, it’s already spoken for."