Wilson Creek Gorge
January 1, 2012
Level = -6

(some photos courtesy of Bev, Cindy and Lang)

Whenever I'm joined by my buddy Joe at Wilson Creek, our conversation invariably turns to all the great paddlers in SRVCC that we think might like the gorge.  There are so many, but Lang, Cindy and Tommy are always at the top of the list.  I ask them just about every time I go when the level is low, but one thing or another has kept it from happening.  With projected temps near 60, a steady -6 level, and free time for everyone, everything finally fell into place today, well, except for the fact that Joe went and let his arm fall off the last time he went paddling, so he wasn't able to join us.  Patrick W agreed to join us though and Bev was on hand for support and documentation.  That gave us a very right sized group on the water of 5, with 3 making their PFDs.

 I'm not positive what they thought about the gorge, but I can tell you that they all handled it like pros.  I say it every time I see an open boat on WC, and I said it many times today... I don't know how those cats do it, it impresses the hell out of me.  The turns are so technical and tight at low levels, but Lang fought his way through the jumbles and simply aced 10Ft, BoatBuster and TripleDrop.  WC isn't the easiest run in the world and Lang once again proved how much distance he continues to place between his paddling ability and his RiverRookie handle.  Tommy came close to dry hairing it and only rolled once at the bottom of Razorback when he ran up on Patrick who was surfing at the bottom.  That is one less roll than I had today.  Cindy looked better than everyone, except for Patrick who always makes things look effortless.  She only got tripped up once, above 10Ft Falls.  When I saw her boat come into view, she was upside down, she quickly rolled up, only to find her boat against the rock at the top, which put her in the unenviable position of holding a brace for all 10 feet of 10Ft Falls, right into the hole at the bottom.  It was something to see, I wish I had it on video. 

Our sunny skies turned to clouds, the temps dropped and a rain set in.  Cindy, Lang and Tommy all ran clean lines at Boatbuster and Thunderhole and we found Bev there snapping pics.  Cindy seemed to really enjoy Thunderhole, but she was getting pretty chilly after getting wet at 10Ft and since Bev was there with the truck, she went ahead and decided it was a good spot to pull out and change into some dry clothes, ending her day on a very good note.  Tripledrop was fun and fast as always, Tommy and Lang both had nice lines.  I think Tommy said something at the bottom of it like "That rapid is a M*&$^#(*$&@R!"  Tommy had lots of good quotes today, like "All I see are horizon lines!" and one from Pulp Fiction.  And I am pretty sure I heard him proclaim after running three different rapids that they were the hardest on the river, the first time he said it was at the bottom of No Name Ledge.    At Razorback, Lang's boat kicked right at the bottom and nailed the wall hard enough to break his stern thwart, hate that happened, but it sounds like he already has some good repair ideas.  For only the second trip in a row, I managed a fun rail slide at the end of the run.  After Tommy dropped over, I saw Lang running the chute instead of paddling over the slide rock.  I said "There is no way he can get that boat turned at the bottom."  Then Lang hooked it around on a dime, I thought it looked pretty cool.  Then Patrick had a nice long slide all the way to the bottom, smooth as always. 

Tommy wanted to keep paddling at the take-out and we told him we would pick him up down at the the paved road, but I guess he didn't want to be unsociable, because he went ahead and took out with the rest of us.  For me personally, I really love Wilson Creek and thought it was a great place to kick off the new year, the water was clear, the skies turned blue again after we reached the parking lot, and I got to spend the day with some great folks.  I know that on my first run down the gorge, I was too nervous and focused on the lines to pay very much attention to the scenery, as most of my thoughts were solely on the drops and the rapids, but one of the great things about making return trips is that the rapids just get more fun and the scenery really starts jumping out at you.   If our three PFD paddlers had that same 1st time experience today, I hope that they return to make more runs, because they all showed today that they certainly can handle the technical aspects of the run.  I enjoyed Patrick's company on the drive to and from the river and of course enjoyed getting to spend some time with Cindy, Lang, Tommy and Bev.  I can only hope that I find myself frequently on rivers this fun among such good company in 2012. 



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