Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lewis (falls section) birthday run

Lewis River
all photos by Aubrey Russell
For my birthday, my family, girlfriend and I camped at the Lower falls campground.  It had been over a year since I was here last.  That time I had shyed away from the lower falls after seeing Rush Sturges get stuck in the cave, and I broke my nose running Upper falls.  This year, my goal was to run Lower falls if I was feeling ready.  On Friday I ran the upper section with my stepdad Dave, and I had run a pretty interesting falls up there.  Sunday rolled around and it was time to run the falls section.  Jean Loosmore and John showed up along with Tim Brink and ORT, with Paul Guinea also along for the run.  Jean realized pretty quickly he had forgotten his PFD so he opted to video the show.  After scouting, we all put on and ran Taitnapum, a 20 footer that produced some interesting lines.
Paul went first and cleaned up.  I went next and was planning on a plug for practice, but hit a pad anyway and I dropped at a 45 until I hit the rock face forming the fall which dropped my bow and I came up facing the falls but upright. I got out and got a cool angle of the raft running it from where I was.  I was close enough that when they hit, they splashed a sheet of water onto me as I protected my camera!  Last was John, some miscommunication caused him to be offline and he got turned sideways and dislocated his thumb!  So after some interesting lines we headed down to Upper falls.  We scouted the first class IV sliding drop and all successfully ran that, then we eddied out and scouted the big part of Upper falls.
     Jean's girlfriend was starting to get sick, Jean couldn't boat, and John had dislocated his thumb, so they decided to call it a day and head back home.  Meanwhile we all got set up to lower ourselves to the shelf between the nasty part of Upper, and the sweet 35 below.  Getting into the eddy in a controlled manner is the most crucial part of this drop as I learned last year when I got blown out before I could set up.  This year Ox helped lower me backwards into the eddy and I got a controlled ferry into the river left side of this drop which is a bounce bounce hit into the pool below.  Last year Nick and I went much farther right and it is a ten foot slide into an autoboof 25. I wasn't up for that this year, the water was lower and the pool was not very airated over there. The left worked out great and Paul followed my line.  Next the raft worked its way into the current and dropped off the completely vertical far right side.  Amazingly they landed upright with a couple collided heads(football helmets were a great idea).  From here we hightailed it down to Middle falls.  Paul went for the gutsy left side slot and came away upright.  This drop was really technical where he went, the video and pictures should give you a good idea.  I went for the low stress far right slide with a paddle twirl after the raft slid down sideways.
 The raft had already taken off by the time I finished talking to my sister, mom, and Aubrey.  Paul and I played catch up for the next half mile.  We finally rounded a corner and got out above the big one.  Paul and I headed down to scout while Tim and Ox started lining their boat down to below the lead in rapid, which was too narrow for the raft.  I have not looked at a drop as long as I did that one and still decided to run it.  I wanted to do this perfect or not at all.  As I was getting closer to feeling ready we looked up to see Tim and Ox loose control of the raft, as we watched helplessly it plummeted over the edge, unmanned.  Well, that sucked.  As Tim and Ox took off to corral the boat downstream, Paul and I again set our sites on lower falls.  After a large chunk of time I decided to go.  I went upstream and got in my boat, I don't remember the upstream scouting or predrop ritual, but as I floated down I saw Paul waving the camera, signaling that he couldn't get it to work.  I didn't really care, I wasn't running this for the media, it was for me and I didn't want to refocus myself again after showing him what I hadn't pointed out earlier about the cameras more detailed functions, so I told him it was fine and continued into the lead in.
         I came through the lead in and slid into the fast water leading into the falls.  I haven't been so focused on a drop as I was then.  I saw where I needed to go, I took a stroke off the top ledge to keep my bow up but I didn't want to plain out because the lip of the 40 footer was just downstream. I was in control right where I wanted to be, I shifted the boat slightly to the right, took a right boof stroke, left correction stroke, remembered I wanted to tuck, took another right stroke as I came into my tuck so as not to throw anything off.  Then I hit, I am guessing I landed at less than 45 because I didn't sub out.  My face hit my arm, which hit my deck, but it was fine because I was tucked just like I wanted.  I took a left stroke and I was sailing through the gorge below the drop and into the huge pool below.  Sweet, it went absolutely perfect.  
     I was feeling just dandy, I was completely satisfied. No one except one random camper saw my descent (Paul was running down from up-top, my family and Aubrey hadn't arrived, and ORT was collecting there boat).  The moment was mine.  I was feeling so good that helping ORT slog there boat up the canyon rim below the drop wasn't even as painful as it should have been.  This did however remind me of the last time I went on a "raft first descent" with Tim on the N. fork Clack and we shlepped the raft up a couple hundred feet through the brush then too after missing the normal portage.  I have now come to expect this from first descents with the ORT crew:).
Paul drops lower falls
    Next up was Paul, I don't know his thought process so I can't give you a blow by blow from him, but it must have been pretty good cause he came away upright as well! 
All in all a great birthday, and I am very glad to have spent it with all the right people, in the right places, doing the things I love doing.  Thanks everybody.
extracted from my pdxkayaker film fest entryfile:///Users/jacobcruser/Desktop/

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