Sunday, May 11, 2008
Reclaiming Spring: The Brule River
Getting on the river we sped through easy boogey water before reaching the thralls of the Sauna Bath drop. Upon scouting it was clear the drop was a challenge to be contented with. The river narrowed and large volume of water poured over constricted boulder garden. Most troublesome was weaving between two giant boulders in which the river piled up against then short thereafter pouring into a significant hole. They required much contemplation and a couple of logs thrown in to assess the hole's stickiness. After many musings and watching a log get flushed out the hole, I proclaimed that I would run it. I intently analyzed the line one last time while walking back to my boat while my other 3 paddling companions set up safety.
Sitting nervously, on shore with my stomach in knots, I caught the signal and set off. I started down the river left of center avoiding a set of holes. Coming quickly through the chas to the boulders that required weaving, I attempted to move from left to river right. However, the river's speed was pulling me straight at the geo-metro sized downstream boulder. In a split second I determined that I would have to deflect off it's pile. I put a hard stroke in for momentum as I rode up over it's side. I was launched completely airborne forward and to river right off the rock and landed nicely set up for the hole ahead. I paddled hard knowing I needed to punch into the hole. When I hit the hole, I reached for a hard stroke on the face of it's backwashing wall only to no avail. I was being endered and as such had a small hope that I could maintain the vertical and push through...but alas I got flipped. In the commotion I wasn't sure if I was in still in the hole, but I set up and rolled upright instantly and found myself free of the hole. I caught an on-the-fly eddy on the right and regathered myself....the worst was over. I then peeled out and bust through the large pushy wave train with some flushy holes. I raised a fist to the air and triumphantly bellowed at my success as I peeled into the calm pool below.
The four of us continued down the river passing more class III and IV river before portaging the majestic and gnarly canyon of the Brule. Managing to almost take a nasty digger throughout course of the portage, I made it down to the base of the canyon, and put in ferrying out through fast boily water around the river bend. The river then relaxed, however with the knowledge of Devil's Kettle being ahead of us, we could not. Every bend we slowly and carefully came round ready to eddy out at a moments notice. After 6-7 bends of anticipation we saw Devil Kettle looming ahead and portaged it admiring it's beauty.
From that point we were home free and dropped through one last class III drop before reaching the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. We beached are boats happily and exhausted. After a much needed refueling stop a Sven and Ole's, I determined that an attempt at Illgen falls on this day was not possible as tired as I was. I drove home in the dusk content with the day and my paddling.