Wilson Creek Gorge
February 8, 2014
Level = -8

After skipping the entire month of January, I was ready to get on the water.  As usual, when no other options jumped out at me, I defaulted to Wilson Creek.  I always have a good time there.  Joe and I made some quick plans, Lucas and Vince joined in and we were off.  I met Joe and Lucas at the Shell on 421 at 9am, we put the boats on my truck and then met Vince at the take-out around 10:20.  The first sign that things might not go our way was when my truck did not crank.  A quick jump from Vince's truck put me back in business, so we headed to the top with one stop along the way so that Lucas could plan his line through Boatbuster.  The water was low, but it was a perfect day for paddling with temps in the 50s.  Things started benign enough, then as we approached the mank above 10ft, I told Lucas, who was making his PFD on WC, something like "you'll just have to pound your way down through this section Lucas, just head into it where I do."  I watched from the bottom as Lucas executed the hard left-hand turn at the top, everything was looking great, then he flipped at the bottom and broached on a submerged rock.  His head was above water and he was not distressed, but could not get his boat to break free, so he exited and swam to the river right bank.  I signaled to Joe to wait and climbed out of my own boat.  Following what I determined to be an old man debate about who got the honors of climbing in to clip a rope onto Lucas' boat, the one with no dry suit or the one with a hurting back, Joe hopped into the water while I paddled across to help Lucas pull the rope from the other side.  A second rope was added when another crew came along and with the added angle and muscle, we managed to free the boat.  The bottom was caved in, but it popped back out later in the day.  I watched person after person nail the same submerged rock that Lucas hit, then one paddler flipped, lost his paddle, bloodied his nose, attempted to hand roll, then pulled up on my rope after he snagged it.  When Joe hit the submerged rock, he pushed off the exposed rock on his left and dislocated his shoulder.  He chucked his paddle and, using his one good arm, hand paddled to an eddy just inches above the boof into 10ft.  We walked Joe upstream to a better spot, then made a mild attempt to reset it.  When that failed, Joe held onto my boat as I paddled him to the other side of the creek.  I went for the truck and three hikers helped carry the boats to the road.  We dropped Vince off at his truck and headed to the ER in Lenoir.  While they reattached Joe's arm, Vince, Lucas and I enjoyed some  authentic Salvidorean food at Los Izotes.  Bummer for Joe to be out of commission and bummer to not paddle on such a beautiful day, but every day on the river can't be perfect.


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