||On a Clear Shade you can see forever. Not so on the Stoney Gorge at very high water.
A story about what a few miles of continious Class 5 whitewater can do to your boat, ego and adrenaline levels.
Everyone was safe. Equipment damage was moderate to severe. And that was just from the shuttle!
...The Clear Shade, an exceptionally pretty stream, was a shade lower than optimal. But the scenery was great and the white water, though fast, tight and technical, was a lot of fun. We even had a small falls to run at the end.
...The upper Stony was high. The following is from http://www.benscreekcanoeclub.com, the local canoe club's web site:
"Top (Gorge) section is good Class III-IV creek run. Plunges furiously in first few miles, then levels off with medium-difficulty rapids. Scout first significant rapid 0.4 miles below covered bridge near retaining wall for strainers (boulder garden that accumulates debris). Use extreme caution on this entire section during high water levels - rapids become continuous, approaching Class V, with few eddies. To find put-in, from Rt. 30, take S.R. 1007 approx. 4.0 miles to T-565, right turn to covered bridge. Take out at Rt. 30 bridge or upstream at Mostoller bridge."
...Gertler says the 2 inches on the Rt. 30 gage is low runnable. Locals said that 6 inches was fine. A foot is very high. We put on at two feet at 3:30 in the afternoon. Local hard-core creek boaters taking off told us that the beginning of the trip was "Intense. Very intense." The river had risen a half-foot since they put on.
...We paddled a mile and half, maybe two miles of heavy, complex, continuous rapids. Two open canoes (Wayne & Eric) and a kayak (John). Blind, heavy rapids continued around bends. Lots of trees in the river. A boat just a few yards in front of you sometimes dropped so much it dissapeared from sight. Eddies were the size of doormats, when you could find them. Boats sometimes volunteered to surf huge holes. Mine got loose when I tried to eddy with a boat full of water and was clotheslined by rhododendrons. It made a perfect eddy turn on its own, 50 feet downstream. The front thwart was broken. The heaviest water had abated, but the river velocity was still very fast, perhaps 15 mph.
...We spent a hour getting all the people and equipment on the same side of the river. We were running short on daylight and my boat was damaged. We decided to walk out. The snow was deeper and the brush denser then we would have wished for a long portage.
...It was dark by the time the boats were loaded. We picked up the shuttle cars and headed south on four lane Route 219. Wayne's Suburban, carrying all three boats, was in front. I was in the rear, John in the middle.
...Suddenly, the boats lifted and came crashing down on the highway. John swerved to the shoulder to avoid the wreckage. I did, too, and by the time I stopped, I was even with the boats. I quickly backed up and pointed my headlights on the three boats still strapped to the mangled roof racks. I got out of the car and waved oncoming traffic to stop. John somehow managed to pull the tangle of boats and racks to the side of the road.
...We haulted traffic long enough to clear the small pieces, then reloaded the boats and retreated to the safety of a motel. Both canoes had some damage to their sterns. Wayne's Royalex canoe had a six inch long crack running in from the gunwale edge. John's kayak, the uppermost boat, was not damaged. My Kevlar boat received a small crack that is already repaired. The roof rack upright that failed was a molded plastic piece that showed large bubbles at the failure point. Yakima is replacing the racks.
...On Sunday, John and Wayne paddled the Laural Hill Creek. I went home and repaired my boat. John spent an extra day in Somerset, getting a new fuel pump put into his car. I guess that was to be expected. -- Eric