Kibler Valley, Virginia
December 12, 2009 - 9,000KWs
I made plans to meet Stephen G and James C in Kibler at 1:00. It was 38 in Mount Airy, so probably somewhere just above freezing in the valley. Stephen got hung up and was running late, but I was already out of cell phone range when he left a message letting us know. So when he wasn't at the meeting spot, James and I headed on up to the top, figuring that Stephen would find us there. We thought the level looked a little lower than it was two weeks ago, so I went in to ask what the release was. They assured me it was every bit of 9,000KW. We put on right behind another group of four and just as we were getting ready to paddle down river, we saw Stephen pull in. James and I surfed at the station, water was a little chilly, then when Stephen hit the water we started paddling downstream. Stephen turned out to be pretty good at catching small eddies and we had a nice three person flow going on. Each hopping from small eddy to small eddy, everyone picking different ones. By the time we got to Public Enemy I was thinking that this was going to be one heck of a smooth running trip. That was the jinx because as I pulled in next to Stephen in the eddy below it, I turned to see James broached across the left chute. The front of his Nitro had just ever so slightly caught the rock, I think, and the current pushed his stern into the rock bank. So he was sitting with his bow against the rock and his stern on river-left, with a whole lot of current pushing into his boat which was turned facing upstream. He was stuck.
Had it been July I would have went for the camera, but when
icicles are hanging off every rock, any swim would be tough, so I grabbed the
throw rope instead, thinking the whole time that I was going to regret not
having a picture of this. And I do. You don't get too many chances to see
James in a predicament. James could hear his boat starting to make popping
sounds and quickly worked it loose before something broke. I had climbed out of
my kayak and was on the right bank with my throw rope when the Nitro took off
down stream, right side up, without a lot of water in it. I figured that it
would be a lot easier to catch it there than who knows where downstream, so with
the throw bag's carabiner in one hand I took a big jump into the river, clipping
the boat as I landed. Now if I had been able to reach the bottom, I would have
only been in the water for a few seconds. Of course that didn't happen and I
had to make the slow swim pulling a canoe back to shore with Stephen helping to
nose it along.
Here's the funny part. As I climb out of the river, wet, frozen, dragging James' boat onto the bank, I see that dog walking through the woods on the river-left hillside making his way to the bridge. I yelled "That *#&#$* *#&$& *#&%& is going to stay DRY!!!" Pretty good laugh over that. Things warmed up once we started paddling again and the rest of the run went great. I enjoyed seeing all the four and five foot icicles hanging off the rocks. And, believe it or not, after all the whining I've done about my creeker, I'm really starting to dig the Rocker. It's fun to hit rocks and look for slides, plus that sucker will whip into an eddy. So I had fun and appreciate Stephen and James heading out in the cold with me. After sitting in wet gear for the whole run, changing clothes in that heated bathroom at the hydrostation was awesome. I think that was 7th Kibler run for me this year, all at 9,000KWs. Definitely a good year for the local stuff.