Suffering needlessly

Ok while we are covering “underwhelming” trips in a separate thread, how about sharing your “suffering needlessly” adventures. This video footage is from last summer. We knew the possibility of wood existed but had no recent beta (american whitewater, recent guidebooks, first hand accounts) to go on. So we rolled the dice and lost- still a very memorable one day adventure.

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Rough day but beautiful country!

Hey, you all got a great workout in beautiful country. :+1: I am jealous. :no_mouth:


I went with a group to float the Courtois. The previous day there was heavy rain/thundershowers that virtually sat over that part of the Meramec basin. The head of the group failed to check the conditions, so we drove all the way to the Courtois, only to find it a raging, muddy torrent. Not to mention it was about 110 degrees out. It all could have been avoided.

Real suffering would’ve been being caught under one of them strainers. :face_vomiting:

-And at least no one seemed to portage a canoe. :canoe:

Even the rough trips beat any day at work!

Beautiful stream side country for a hike. Great place to hike with a fly rod which seems more useful than a kayak/canoe.

20 years ago I did a “rough” launch to do an exploring paddle in Jax Beach/Ponte Vedra Beach FL area. The tide went out and I had to muck it for about a mile in marsh mud up to my waist with just a little marsh grass for breaks. The tide would not turn until well after dark so waiting was not a realistic option. Learned a lesson about checking tides that day!

I don’t know about needlessly but we had a low water fall trip on the Goulais that was a bit rough on boats . Took a brand new (came home on Saturday & launched on the trip the following Thursday) R-lite Prospector down this:

and it looked like this on Sunday at home:

One the other hand, this was worth the trip

and it was a fine thing to do with my 11 year old daughter

I feel ya, It was definately class II with consequences! The creek turned a lot, sometimes you couldn’t see around bends so we would send one person ahead and they would only go around a bend if they could spot a catchable eddy with shore access, Paddle and hand signals were used to communicate back to the others the location of the eddy. Spacing out and boat control were a must. Bushwack portaging you had the opposite problem, you had to work to stay together, and yes, thankgoodness, we didn’t have a canoe to lug around.

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ahh but rival 51 think about the fun you could have been having if there was water in that streambed! I’ve got a slew of boats with cracks, holes, dents, and dings and I’m proud of each “beauty mark” that comes with traveling through beautiful country. I bet that river is a hoot in the spring!

The trip leader needed a “blow out” creek, one you can do when everything is raging . I bet you check your own water levels from now on…and yes sometimes pulling the plug on a trip is the smart decision.

Reminds me of trip, on the Lynches River near Myrtle Beach SC. Beautiful coastal stream that suddenly disappears into a swamp.
We crawled over logs, walked on submerged logs, and through knee deep mud. One guy navigated through but it took a long time.
I won’t do that one again.

String, I had a similar experience in sc on cedar creek (congaree) after a major flooding event, again there was concern about making it out before daylight, we relied on a gps taken off a friend’s motorcycle as our major navigational tool. The wisdom of “just follow the current” doesn’t work so well when everything comes to a complete stand still. I have a knack for paddling swamps with insufficient maps, compass, or gps. Never lost just bewildered a bit! One of these days you and I and castoff are goin’ to hook up and paddle on the edisto- that’s one I still want to cross of my list.

I’m always up for an Edisto trip. Right now is one of the best times to go.


“Your trip could easily have gotten someone killed. Strainers pin people often. You seemed to make light of it. I am glad you had a nice trip, but some people may not understand how dangerous all of those logs and debris are especially on a narrow river, when you can’t see around the bends.” ppine, you are absolutely correct “that some people may not understand how dangerous” wood is. I make light of the agony of portaging- suffering needlessly- that video only touches upon the actual physicality of that day but not the potential consequences of the wood.

“they would only go around a bend if they could spot a catchable eddy with shore access” is the critical safety piece in my post.

yep wood and logjams in particular are dangerous, gotta make the moves: no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The reality is if you seek out “wild places”, smaller streams, and go where there isn’t much beta then wood/strainers is a real possibility. Boat control is absolutely essential. It’s easy enough to avoid that whole scenario. Just go places where the conditions are known, the streams are wide, don’t braid out, and water levels don’t flucuate or at least have accurate gauges.

Wood and undercuts seem to be the major hazards on the smaller rivers in WV where I paddle most. As president of the west virginia wildwater association, I once had to conduct a meeting the day after a member died in a strainer. People were understandably torn up. I don’t take it lightly but also readily admit that dodging trees can be fun. I used to have a webpage (after Superstorm Sandy and the dirachio) where people updated “wood reports”, primarily for folks safety and to raise awareness. We all have to make our own decisions about how much risk and adventure we want in our lives.

As far as getting someone else killed, my paddling buds knew the beta was thin, wood was a possibility, yet the truth is we just didn’t expect there to be so much wood. I would have rather boated a clear class II-III stream but that wasn’t the case that day. A week or so later we boated the metolious in oregon, another stream with must moves. The logjams were less frequent and the portages shorter, but the consequences were even greater because there was one particularly bad strainer with a blind entry. We stayed safe because we only boated what we could see. We all considered the Metolious to be the highlight of the trip (on a 2 month paddling vacation). Just as importantly as the streams we paddled, there were several streams we didn’t paddle because of high water, wood, and dam removal debri. We scouted and discussed before making those decisions as well.

I like a bit of adventure/embracing a little of the “unknown”. If that makes me dangerous than so be it. The current ww rating system is designed to give people a general idea of what to expect in terms of difficulty and danger. A “general idea” can be very different than the reality. The stretch of the Cascade in WA was a class II+ stream with lots of “must moves” (class V consequences)… So it goes…another concern was falling or tripping during a portage, I’m not very agile with the two artificial hips and the wanky knees…lots of concerns on a trip like this…this wasn’t my first rodeo with wood, but the real trick is in making sure it wasn’t my last, you’re only as safe as the last eddy you can catch. My advice is simple, only boat what you can see. If you don’t like what you see or can’t see at all then take a hike (portage)…or there is the alternative “do you feel lucky punk?”


Ppine=troll punk.

He must’ve missed the part where you and your crew were on-foot portaging and cautiously scouting the location.:scream:

OMG! This is a very good thread! Oh the humanity!

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This video should be a cautionary tale for all boaters.
Many do not have enough experience to realize it. This river is really dangerous and could get people killed.
A few years ago some friends capsized on the Willamette R in Oregon in the one bad spot we passed in a week long paddle. I threw them a rescue rope and we got them on shore okay. After they warmed up and calmed down they could not grasp the danger of the fallen tree that was blocking their path. They could not visualize sliding into the branches in a strainer with a lot of current and being trapped there.

All boaters need to spend some time in the water as a part of their safety and rescue practice. Learn about what cold water feels like and the power of the current. Do it in safe conditions.

ppine, you and I will get along just fine. The intent of the op (me) was to post a video highlighting the needless suffering (portaging) due to unknown stream conditions (poor beta, rolling the dice). I got no problem if you or others get something different out of it- perhaps like a book, this video will be interpreted differently as viewer/readers apply their own schema (experiences, prior knowledge, personal feelings) about the content.

So the thread has moved into a different direction or discussion but that’s okay. I like posting about wood/strainers (remember I once created a webpage on it). So here is my list of dos as it pertains to wood. I want to keep this positive.

Do take a swift water river rescue class where you practice swimming over objects.
Do boat what you can see (sometimes a slightly “sh##ty line” is the safer bet than a blind but possibly better or worse unknown route)
Do expect conditions to change (wood moves, especially after high water events)
Do have at least one person in the group carry a spare paddle.
Do wear good footwear for portaging.
Do eliminate snagging hazards by putting paddling jackets over drysuits (to cover the zipper pull straps if they are not covered by the pfd) and also tuck in your excess pfd strap ends, and put whistles into pockets and eliminate drain plug and any other deck or other loose cordage.
Do carry a throw rope and simple pin kit ( which can also be used as a harness for dragging boats) inside your boat.
Do keep moving but don’t rush, run, or take unneccesary risks.
Do space out but continue to communicate with one another (with hand or paddle signals if neccessary).
Do take a light but durable boat.
Do practice seal launching into oncoming current, through bushes and even from logs.
Do practice closing your eyes and paddling, a neccessary skill for paddling under tree branches.
Do watch for fishhooks, snakes, and debri on visible low hanging branches before hitting them.
Do practice ducking forward with the crown of the helmet getting the impact rather than the face
Do lean downstream when sideways on a object (pinned).
Do anticipate the objects and get your weight downstream before you actually hit them (highside so you will float around them).
Do take flotation (wear pfd and have airbags inside the boat) and do take responsibility for your own actions and level of preparedness.
Do remember that strainers are more likely on outside bends but be flexible in your thinking.
Do look for eddies that you can climb onto shore from.
Do make a concerted effort to finish before dark.
Do take short rest breaks with snacks and water.
Do practice downstream ferries, and eddy sets (facing downstream as you catch the eddy) even in a kayak.
Do help each other into and out of boats, pulling boats over logs and do wait on and check on each other.
Do exercise good boat control, and if in doubt scout or portage.
Do remember to survey the scene for hazards before rescuing another boat or person.
Do keep your feet up when swimming aggressively but be a realist and know that their are instances where standing up is acceptable (in an eddy, wading in a rescue situation)
Do make sure swimmers are safely all the way on shore and remember your first priority is people first, then paddles, boats, and excess gear. (yeah I know this is slightly different than the aca)
Do stay current in cpr and first aid and consider taking a wilderness medicine class.
Do have fun and remember to smile even while acknowledging how much the present situation sucks.
and most importantly,
Do acknowledge “a man has to know his limitations”

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My head just exploded. I’d better print and laminate all those for when I get old.