Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Deep Creek will be releasing from 7 am to 11 pm

Got Ice?

What’s that you say? Deep Creek hydro is releasing from 7am to 11pm, and there is 200cfs of natural flow? Awesome, what could possibly make this day better? It falls on a national holiday, so all my buddies are off from work? Wow, who would have thought that Martin Luther King Jr. could have such a profound impact on the paddling community as to net me an all day holiday release on the Upper Yough. Maybe I can bag three runs or so…

Oh wait, Dr. King’s holiday is in January and it is 17 degrees.

Well either way, I know I can talk some of the goofballs I paddle with into ten miles of challenging class IV whitewater on a day like today. And so it came together… a trip through the ice canyon of the Upper Yough on January 21, 2008.

Carnage Carl and I (Jason Hilton) drove down to Friendsville to meet up with JMac for a nice, casual paddle. You see, now that JMac works nights, he can paddle during the days, anyday! It just requires that he not get any sleep, but sleep is for wussies anyway right? So Carl and I get there early, and go to check the river out, you know to see if it is frozen solid, boatable, or somewhere in between. I took a picture, you can decide for yourself.

You Decide, Boatable?

The Bridge Peer Looked Like An Icebreaker

Alrighty, back to the car to keep warm and wait for JMac. As our conversation crossed the many spectrums of BS that they normally do, we began to look for differing ways to insure our warmth on the ten mile long paddle to come. I opted for the Russian way, and bought us some little Vodkas to stimulate our inner fire (Disclaimer: The Got Boof Crew does not condone Boating While Intoxicated), rationalizing this action as necessary for our survival. I was prepared to eat Carl if that had been necessary for our survival also, but I didn’t bring this up.

Russian Heater

JMac arrives in his shiny new ride, we strap up the boats, leave the dry clothes at the bottom and we’re off. We stopped to shoot some photos at the putin, and talked about the great photos we could take on the river, to show this common run in a different light from the average paddler’s perspective.

Guys At The Putin

I have just recovered from my lasik surgery, so I was a bit tentative, but Carl encouraged me to go for all the “regular” moves that we traditionally do (at 90 degrees in the summer), by driving into the Eddy of Death at Gap Falls. Now of course, I had thoughts about how stupid it would be to swim out of the bottom hole on a 17 degree day, but I couldn’t let Carl count coo on me like that now could I? He tried to block me by pulling out of the eddy as I was coming in, but for that move, I have no shame in running Carl over as he is coming out. Surely he saw that his life was meaningless to me at that point, as he immediately picked up the pace and cruised out of my way.

As we went on down through the rapids, we continued to push each other, and JMac continued to be the smartest of us all by not chancing it. That is, of course, the great thing about paddling with JMac, at least you know he will make it out to tell the tail.

Somewhere in Charlie’s Choice we all stopped to take some pictures of the beautiful ice covered landscape. It was incredible! Blue ice on the walls, ice and snow covered boulders, clear green water. Pulitzer type photos you know? Oh wait, I can’t open my PFD pocket to get my camera and I just bent the crap out of my zipper, the only part that had actually been protruding through the ice. Hey JMac how about you? Want me to pee on your PFD to de-ice your zipper so we can get your camera? If Carl had a camera, it would be of no use, he just tore the whole top part of his zipper off trying to add more fuel to his Russian Heater. Well trust me readers, it was spectacular!

It took about two hours to run the river, which is very brief when you paddle with JMac, but he did not feel the need to play as much on this trip for some reason. Despite the ice build-up, we were all very warm by the takeout. Good thing too because it took us 45 minutes to chip through the ice to get our clothes off and change. At one point all you could hear was Carl swearing as he tried to detach his icicle covered beard from his pfd and drysuit.

Guys At The Takeout

Carl Loves It (Because He Doesn't Know His Beard Is Frozen In Yet)

Half Way Free

All in all it was a great paddling day on one of my favorite rivers. Lasik allowed me to see the river through a new set of eyes and the clarity was confidence inspiring. It looks like a good start to another great year of paddling with some of my favorite crewmates.

Great Day!