Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eyes Wide: The Cascade River

Myself running "Discretion"

I knew it was coming. The signs were on the wall, Cascade river was to be run. Yet my shoulder's were sending me messages that my weekend run of the Kadunce was not without consequence. They crackled warnings with daily tasks and movements. I told myself that I would resist the lure of the Cascade River. But when the call came I failed and couldn't say no.

The leaves, still in their infancy, hung on the passing limbs as I starred through the window glass in quiet somnolence. The clouds, each in their independence, allowed the sky and sunlight to glorify the space between their midst's while we made morning passage northward. I sat in frank contemplation of the hours that lay ahead. The Cascade River was much fabled. Guide books championed it's beauty and treachery, paddlers from throughout the country kept it on their tick lists, and it's waters inspired an implicit veneration amongst paddlers.

The car lurched to the roadside as I cradled my coffee, and took a last sip as we each stepped out. We had arrived at the river and walked to the bridge to check the river's flow. Measuring approximately -4 or -5, the river had met my predetermined standards... I told myself I wouldn't paddle unless it was -4 or below. The Cascade river has quite a character. An in or two in the river level makes drastic changes to whether she is a angry torrent requiring razor precision or a moody gnashing that has some forgiveness to mere mortals.

The anticipation built as the gravel rattled from the wheels as we made the turn into the parking lot of the put in. After quietly readying for battle, I set my kayak along the river side, made myself comfortable inside it, and followed my companions in peeling out into the river's flow.
Ahead in the distance a horizon line was becoming more distinct. We each eddied out and exited our boats to look at what we knew was ahead.

From the shoreline, "Hidden Falls" stretched out before us in it's menacing glory. It is an impressively long and steep slide whose main flow snakes from one river bank across to the other before exploding off an invisible obstacle that creates a 3-3.5 ft roostering pile. Hidden Falls thus terminates from the rooster in a continued slide into an ominous hole.

Video example of Hidden Falls (courtesy of T-Bone)

It is a drop that I believe very few paddlers do without instance of nerves or doubt infecting the recesses of the mind. I was no different as watched from shore as Ryan and Andy ran it perfectly. Walking to my boat and getting in, my stomach was in my throat, and as I pushed off shore I nervously gulped in attempt to bring it back down.

As I paddled over the horizon line hugging the river left, I piled into oncoming curler which directed me into the main flow and the ride of my life. The river picked up insane speed, as the flow rocketed me across the river. I smashed through an erroneous wave and when my eyes cleared I could see the final scene. There stood the thunderous 3-4 foot wall of water and split seconds between me and impact. My eyes wide as I have known, my grip tighter than humanly necessary. My last strokes fell into the water as I made my last adjustments to my line, attempting to point slightly left. I exploded into the gnashing billow of water. The hit was violent and my eyes were blinded by a wash of white. My orientation felt skewed, but it soon became clear I was not upright. I could feel my paddle and hands batter against rock. Adrenaline dismissed any sensation. I was more concerned whether I would find myself battling the ominous right hand hole or in the gentle left hand pool.

A slide show of my progression down hidden falls (Photo credit: Ryan Zimny)

When the scraping stopped, their was a moment of calm as I made for my first roll attempt.... it failed. I calmly repositioned and tried again. I came to the surface and was relieved to find myself in the calm left hand pool.

Ryan and Andy signaled to see if I was alright. I checked myself over, nothing was immediately obvious. But as I paddled into an eddy, I noticed a large gash in the neoprene over my left thumb. Then the pain start to flow insidiously to my thumb and familiar feeling of warm inflammation came to it. Yet it seemed I could still paddle with the pain and stiffness.

There less the 50 yards down stream lay "Discretion". Another class IV/V drop consisting of a complex boiling set of ledges, before terminating in a significant hole with a right hand outflow. I had less apprehension about this drop, the line seemed clear to me. I got back in my boat. Attempting to line up near the right hand bank, I was surprised to find myself sliding over a rock ledge that I was not aware in scouting. It pushed me left towards the meat of the hole. I kept battling back towards the right, and found myself on line for the culminating hole. Getting some strokes of purchase I dug deep and collided with the hole emerging in the outflow with relief.

Slide show of my progression down "Discretion" (Photo credit: Ryan Zimny)

Continuing down river, I noticed my thumb was feeling stiff and wouldn't let me use it without a shot of pain. We came to another horizon line shortly there after. The river ahead plunged ahead over a series of ledges and holes before being split by "Moose Rock". Half the river went left dropping steeply through a narrow turning constriction, and on the right it flowed over a long slide. I fought with brush on shore and tried to get a better look at the line on this class V but had only minimal sucess. We each went ahead and I sparred with a myriad of holes, waves, and gnashings. As I neared moose rock and made my left hand choice, the river extended its grip and turned my boat sideways to the current just as I was to descend the left line. As I crested the lip, I threw some desperate strokes to straighten out my boat but was still off line. I dropped in and the river easy over threw my boat. Underwater, I felt two significant hits to my head before sensing I was in deeper water. I knew there was a slide ahead and had no interest in getting anymore hits while underwater. I pulled my skirt and found a sketchy footing while clearing the water from my eyes. My boat washed into slide while I stood mid-river waist deep in current fighting to keep my feet gripped to the rocky bottom. I inched my way over to the right hand wall while waist deep in current and found shallow path down the drop.

My confidence was obliterated, my thumb throbbed, and I was breathing heavy with fatigue. Though the pride in me wanted to run the rest of the river, the reality was things were stacking up against me. I would venture to say that 40% of creeking is grounded in your paddling confidence and the mental picture you have of your abilities. Mine had taken a serious blow and I decided I would pull the plug and walk out of the Cascade River.

I paddled the last bit of class II boogy water before eddying out and carrying my boat ashore. I climbed up the steep hillside lining the Cascade with a rope attached to my kayak below. Arduously I haul my boat up, found the trail, and drug her on a long 2 hour long walk back to Lake Superior. I was humbled by the Cascade River. Walking in quite contemplation, I knew that it was a good experience for me. Each river demands respect. While measured confidence and aggressiveness sometimes rewarded by the river, unrealistic pride is not. The fact is I am not a renowned paddler, I do not have enumerable years of experience, and I have many skills to build and much yet to learn. But I am passionate about learning from each drop I run, every river I paddle, and every paddler that I share the river with. I love whitewater and one cannot learn without a rough day on the river.

The the sun poured onto the budding spring scene and warmed the pavement on the drive homeward. I sat quietly fighting to keep my eyelids open and slowly felt my frustration melt as we left the river behind us.

Me on Hidden Falls

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring Firsts: The Kadunce

The majesty of the Kandunce (imagine 2 feet more water in here)
photo credit: Laramie Carlson

From Lake Superior I watched the shallow Kadunce flow, barely lapping over it's rounded stones. As we put our kayaks to our shoulder's and walked up the trail along the creeks banks, my imagination could not grasp that such a small and innocent creek could induce such tales of intense descents. The trail persisted uphill and the river's waters fell further and further below us until the river was scarcely to be seen amongst rising rock walls. On occasion we peered intently over the precipice to the river below looking for logs impeding the flow of the river, which could become a deadly entrapment for us afloat in it's slot canyon. And though the river flowed deep in the canyon below, it's width was often an easy stones throw, and at some points with a good leap could cross to it's opposite edge.

Inside my mind I ignored the nervous thoughts that crept internally at sight of the river. Finally as I rounded a corner of the trail, the river's roar became more imminent. Before me opened up the sight of a large and complex drop of perhaps 35 feet in total. Depositing our boats on the trail we all climbed down to scout the drop. After sliding through a shallow and walled set of sliding flows, the creek poured over a 3 foot shelf which then constricted into a narrow chute of 3 yards in length and nearly a single boat width. This jet of water cascaded vertically on its left onto a flat table of rock, and its right an amphitheater rock creating a sliding falls. The water thus culminated in a constricted boiling pool before the water slipped into the chasm of the slot canyon.

The biggest drop on the Kandunce

I viewed this scene and fought with myself as doubtful thoughts insidiously gnawed at my confidence. I had serious concerns about several components of the drop and needed to see a paddler go over it before I could quench my doubts. Joel and Justin bravely put on and launched themselves off the drop with skilled composure as they landed and slipped through the gateway of rising rock walls into the ominous slot canyon. The rest of the party walked up to the trail and grabbed their boats.

Joel fires up the main event on the Kadunce

I lined up and pushed off third in line for the river ahead. Ahead of me each boater slid over a horizon line. I gave some space then peeled out and over the entry drop. I sped down an 8 foot slide tight gripped as the water banked off the wall and turned to the left. Ahead the river slid over a few sets of shallow holes before the main event. Yet some how amongst the shallow scraping I found my boat on edge and soon over turned. My helmet drug on the bottom as I impatiently waited for deeper water to roll. But it wasn't coming. I had waited long enough and knew that a 35 ft drop lay ahead of my over turned boat. On my left (were I normally roll) I felt my paddle meet the rocky wall, and instinctively knew I would need to roll on my off side. I let go of my paddle with my left hand and pushed off the river's bottom up righting myself. Facing backwards, I turned my boat straight and ploughed into the pool before the main event. I threw strokes of purchase over the middle left of the shallow shelf that composed the entry into the drop. Then going through the chute I stayed balanced as threw one last stroke as I rocketed over the edge. Flying through the air I landed on the sliding falls and flew into the pool below landing somewhat flat without going deep. Relieved to not have to roll, I tangled with the enclosed pools rock walls and fought into some calmer waters.

Joel staring down the jaws of the slot canyon

Ryan ahead of me was not to be seen as he had already gone into the slot canyon. From the pool I looked over my shoulder at the paddler behind me crest the previous drop as I turned to the waters ahead. I paddled looking into the jaws of the slot canyon ahead and passed into it's shadowed gnashings. The river smashed and banked quickly off it's right hand wall. The intensity happened so fast, it felt as if I was a pinball. The river banked off walls so tight that often I would disarm my grip from my paddle and brace of the walls with a stiff arm and hearing my elbow pads do there work. Suddenly the water in it's darkness met a horizon line and I dropped over a 10 foot vertical falls going airborne and viewing the tiny pool below. This drop was known as "Mandatory Piton" and it's name was suggestive of the fact that it was difficult to avoid landed and hitting the left wall of the pool. Avoiding Ryan in the pool below, my intuition angled my boat to the right while airborne towards to outlet of the pool. I landed and surfaced upright and back peddled to successfully prevent a piton. I was then unexpectedly pushed against the left wall and clawed with left hand keeping myself from being over turned. I paddled through the outlet below and continued down the steep ascent. After a few more water slide turns while ducking under some pinned logs the light came dimly back to the river as it's canyon walls opened up, I eddied out in a small pocket of calm water.

Justin wrestles the Kadunce

As myself and Ryan exited our boats another paddler shouted, "swimmer"! We rushed upstream as a yellow boat washed into our grasp and then a shoe. Gathering these items, the paddlers narrowly ashore ahead shouted unintelligible utterances obscured by their echoings in the canyon. A swimmer never came, and we were relieved to seem him poke his head from the canyon rim indicating he was okay and had climbed out.

I stood for a moment to take in the serenity of the place. The slot canyon walls soared 80-100 ft plush with thick layers of age-old green moss as water dripped from above. The river roar echoed amongst the walls and created a slight mist. It is places of beauty like these that so few experience as we do and are treasures to every paddler.

We drained the empty boat and sent it on it's way ahead of us as we paddled onward. I watched as each paddler was lost around a left hand corner. Turning the corner there lay an unexpected 6 foot drop into a mid sized pool. Dropping clumsily over it upright I continued onward. After paddling over one last 4-5 foot drop the river calmed and shallowed further losing it's constricting walls. We slowly scraped our way towards Lake Superior. We exited and stepped onto the dirt banks and walked our way down the trail out of the canopy of boughs and into the roadside light.

Each of us had an enthusiastic smile as the adrenaline still coursed. Talking like excited school children we each replayed the run in our minds and verbally... fighting to hold onto the events and solidify it in our remembrances.

The day came to pass as the light faded in vibrant colors over Lake Superior. I sat by warmth of firelight on the beach comforted by the ebbing waves and vibrancy of the night's constellations. Fireside laughter echoed amongst the trees as grateful contentment painted my sleep.

(All paddling photos credit of Ryan Zimny)

Spring Firsts: The Poplar

Ryan amongst "Beliek Surprise"
(all photos credit: Ryan Zimny)

The wind was pressing against the windows of the car as I road northward toward the waters of the North shore. Stopping along the way for coffee and to look at river levels, the group of paddlers was buzzing with enthusiasm. We arrived at Lutsen and made our way across the golf course to check the condition of the Poplar River. Levels were looking good and respective piles of gear formed as which each readied ourselves for battle.

The first of adventures was getting to the river. Mounting our kayaks as if on horse back, we sped down the remnants of snow covering Lutsen ski run... kicking our heals in deep, hoping to not careen into the snow-less gravel at the hill's base.

Justin lets er' fly to the put in

At the river's edge, feeling slightly rushed and out of sorts I jumped in my boat and pushed off with my paddling compatriots ahead of me. The river, sparing no time, jumped immediately into class III boogey water boulder gardens. It took me a little while to adjust and get my paddling senses warmed and attune to the waters ahead. But as the rapids went on I felt more and more at home as the river meandered through Lutsen's Golf Course. After punching a small yet significant drop we eddied out. I walked ahead to let my eyes see what my ears heard as a roaring in the distance. Ahead lay "Belieks Surprise".

Though I had seen pictures and read of the rapid, upon the sight of it, I was taken by it's impressiveness. After passing under a foot bridge, it consisted of a long and tumultuous slide with numerous roosters strew about and a curling side sweeper guarding it's entry. I watch as a few of our group took on the descent with lines styled. I eyed the line for one last time then turned and walked back to my kayak. At the crest of drop I saw my line and added purchase to my strokes I looked to punch the sweeper. Smashing into and through it the sweeper made one last grasp turning my boat. Ploughing into the next rooster I was turned further and went into the midst's of the slide backwards.

"The crest of Beleik's Surprise"

Beleiks Backwards

Resigned to my fate I leaned forward to keep my stern up and calmly viewed the chaos that I had already passed bracing for any impact. Knowing that their was a hole at the slide's base. I took my first opportunity to turn my boat in the nick of time and slammed past the hole.

Getting straighten out...

Having eddied out, I looked to my companions for a description of the river ahead. I knew it was a class IV+ canyon section, but descriptions of rapids in whitewater are often futile... "follow the water"... "Punch the holes".... "You can run it anywhere". As often happens in whitewater, nobody really remembers an exact line and so your intuition will have to guide you. I hardly remember any canyon as the class III gave way to Class IV+. I threw hard vertical strokes punching holes in all directions. Each time an explosion of water hit and your eyes fought to clear their view of the river ahead. At one point I remember blasting through one hole gain my sight only to burst into another, and another. Finally the river poured over a intimidating left-hand hole. I mustered strength to slide around it on the right only to be smoothly banked by the river charging against the right hand wall. The river calmed as we took out from the river greeted by the stale perfection of a golf course lawn.

The speedy descent of the Poplar left more daylight ahead. We left our gear on as re-racked the kayaks and headed for the Kadunce River... (to be continued on the next post)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day Before The Departure

Before departing on a week long road trip I knew I would not be able to paddle. So before leaving I decided to go out for an afternoon run of the Lower St. Louis. Myself and two others dropped a shuttle vehicle at Jay Cooke state park and ran on foot back up to Thompson Dam. It was a gloriously warm day with temps in the mid-sixties, and the sweat beaded on my brow as we put on our paddling gear and pushed onto the Lower Louie.

The level was in the mid 3000 cfs range and the river was a fun ride. I managed to get a little surf time on big glassy after riding the rollercoaster of wave trains through the canyon section. The after sliding through the "first sister" and dodging the "second sister" we portaged around the Octopus. Putting on again we cruised through the boogy water to Jay Cook. There we each sailed off the the 12 footer. My line was too far left and sent me into the meat of converging waters near the base. Fortunately it posed no problems as I rolled up and made my way onward. Disliking my line, we all walked back up and ran it again, each styling our respective lines!

It was a good day of paddling that had me grateful for the creeking that I have right in my back yard. There is no better way to end a day than watching the sun fall driving away from the river.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The First Ascent of The Season

Took a fun little jaunt out to Ely's peak to do a little climbing for the first time of the season. I managed to fire off trad lead of the a easy little route. I then followed the trad lead of my partner up the "Flake". We left as the sun was setting. It was a fun afternoon.

Rappelling after my lead

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Black River

I awoke from a hard nights rest on my cushy air mattress to the sun shining through the transparency of my tent. The crew of paddlers packed up camp from the Presque Isle River and headed out to the Black River for a day of intensity. I was sore from the long day of paddling the Presque Isle day before and knew I would enjoy the first half of the Black River as a spectator.

After scouting the water levels and the gnar our group of 12 paddlers suited up. 7-8 of the twelve put in to run the first section including Potowatomi Falls and Gorge Falls. The rest of us set up to support the rest. Two went up and helped get boaters over the around infamous "Birth Canal" (a nasty hole). Meanwhile, I rappelled down to the sticky base of Gorge Falls, tied myself off, and had a throw rope ready in case of a swim. It was majestic place to be. The sun shone bright and the temperature rose into the 60s as I sat in the shadows of the canyon, pleasantly cooled by the mist rising from Gorge Falls. I watched each paddler one by one style their respective lines. In between paddlers I watch the elegant eruptions of water from Gorge Falls base... entranced by it's beauty. After all had safely run the Falls, I ascending back up and made my way to the put in.

Gorge Falls

Putting on with the 11 other boaters, I couldn't help but smile. I enjoy paddling in large groups. Safety in numbers gives me confidence and I learn from the many styles of paddlers and their lines to each drop. We paddled onward through a bunch of class III+ drops before arriving at a distinct horizon line. We had reached Sandstone Falls, a class IV+ to V. I eddied and scouted the scene ahead. The water poured over a steep 10-12 foot conglomerate ledge. As it did it hit an outcropping ledge on it's way down and created a huge boiling pile before plunging into the hole at it's base.

3 boaters quickly ran the drop and portaged up for a second lap. After observing the results for two of the different lines taken by others, I chose to run Sandstone Falls "up the gut" ploughing right down the middle and through the meat. I set up my line with some direction from paddlers ashore and paddled hard. I collided with the first boil and was mostly blinded in my descent, but attempted to continue throwing stokes for momentum as the harsh collision of the hole eveloped me. I shot down and submerged completely. The hole felt as if it shot me into a bow stall and yet I emerged surfacing upright. Like my predecessors running this line, I had run into the hole and was submarined out 6 feet behind it's thrashings. It was a quite ride.

Sandstone Falls

The river continued onward over numerous fun class III drops before reaching an ominous horizon line. We all eddied out... some to spectate Rainbow Falls and others to scout it's line. I watched as 5 paddlers braved the treachery of the falls. Each fought down a tight line while only 3 feet from falling over the precipice of death, punching into a curler they plunged over a 30 foot semi-vertical falls into the churnings below. Each paddled away unscathed.

The group converged and paddled only a short distance in the sunlight to the sight of the expanse of Lake Superior. Thus ended a memorable weekend of paddle, wrought with carnage, triumph, and contentment!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Presque Isle

Having never paddled the rivers of the southern shore of Lake Superior when I heard that a large group of paddlers would be going in that direction I joined the band wagon. After a 2 hour drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I found myself at the Presque Isle River. I heard much of the river knowing full well that it was a South Shore classic run. After watching other boaters hit up the last sections of the river, myself and a paddling companion stepped into our car and drove to the put in. It was to be the beginning of a long day.

From the road we traveled 4-6 miles on sub-par logging roads till we reached a locked gate. We thereby walked with 50 lb kayaks slung over our shoulders 40 minutes as the blubird sky let the sunshine through and warm the air into upper 50s F. We reached the river wet with sweat and took moment of rest to dry before sealing ourselves in our drysuits for the 8 miles paddle.

Getting gear up at the put-in

I put onto the river and paddled into the unknown. I knew only what was written of the rapids ahead.

The river dabbled over class II whitewater amongst clay banks, before gradually constricting to some class III rapids. Very soon I knew we would hit the first significant drop, Triple Drop (IV). Through the choas I eddied out and saw it before me. It consisted one ledge with a descent hole followed by a small pool before the river drifted over another and more significant ledge before dropping again in more class II. After much debate on the line to take we came to consensus and my paddling buddy offered to go first, to which I yielded.

John going over the lip on Triple Drop

After watching his successful line through the choas I enter my boat and push away from shore. I ferried across river and made for my line. I was a touch off, but punched through the first ledge without incident and paddled hard to the next. I dropped over the next ledge giving some propulsion and push onward and through the hole.

Next on the docket and only a few bends of the river ahead was "Nikomis". It was a much fable drop that I heard much about. Within a small rocky gorge with walls on both sides the river constricted of a small ledge hole before, rocketing over another ledge creating a meaty and intimidating hole. There were two options, crash down the right side blasting through multiple obstacles in transition between ledges before crashing into the main hole at it's weakest point. We both decided to run the left side pushing through a small hole on the first ledge and riding a large tongue of water and building speed to crashing into the meat of Nokomis with as much speed and momentum as possible.

I volunteered to run it first and slipped into my boat. I threw some effortful strokes and punched the first ledge hole with ease.

Myself readying to punch the entry hole into "Nokomis"

Seeing the choas ahead I paddled hard through small pool that fed the tongue. I saw my line and shot for a small curler marking my line. Blasting through it, my eye were wide as I paddled down the tongue that accelerated me a rocket speed for the hole ahead. I brace hard as I collided with the wall of water ahead. Unable to see anything, I felt my boat being tossed a bit as I worried that I was stuck in the hole. But in those milli-seconds, my boat had blasted into the hole up onto it's pile and "typewritered" me rightward to it's outflow. I emerged with a whoop and a fist pump at my success.

Myself looking back on "Nokomis" after emerging victorious

My paddle buddy punched Nokomis with much the same line and with the same success. We paddled down river with smiles.

My paddling partner running Nokomis

Paddling onward we came upon the first of of three conglomerate ledges. The first one we portaged due to the shallow mank. The second we scraped down losing plastic from or boats. At the last "Lepisto" conglomerate falls, I hopped out of my boat on river left to scout. My eyes saw the river pour through a small channel into the pool below making a giant wave. But that was only what my eyes saw... I directed my paddling campanion from shore to run it. He plunged into the drop with wide eyes and was stopped dead in his tracks... my eyes were wrong... this was a nasty hole. He fought valiantly while I helplessly grabbed a rope on shore. He was endered, looped, sidesurfed, and thrashed about. After rolling up 5 times, he pulled his skirt and swam. He went down and didn't come up until 4 seconds late. I quickly jumped into his boat and retrieved his kayak. I felt terrible having directed him into harms way.

It was about this time that we saw that the light was waining in the western sky and we paddled hard over flat water to racing the falling of the sun. We approached the most intimidating portion of the run. The first river opened broadly over a thirty foot slide Nawadaha Falls, then a short while further coursed over a drop resembling giant stair steps dropping another 20-30 ft over Manido Falls, before at last plunging 25 ft vertically over Manabezho falls.

The first of these obstacles, I paddle hard over the lip and followed the flowing water over the left hand side of Nawadaha Falls. I continually adjusted as the slide through it's best at me. I arrived at it's base without incident.

Nawadaha Falls

We then scouted Manido Falls. Each time the river poured over a stair step it seemed to make a hole. My paddling companion had run this before for, but with the light waining into dusk we picked a line and went. I followed his line down the left center line on the drop, and through some hard strokes for momentum. I slid of the first two stair steps and saw the hole ahead as my eyes grew wide seeing the last stair step pour-over.

I threw a futile boof stroke, before impacting the hole and found myself in a wicked side surf. Facing to the river right I paddled hard to stay upright my shoulder nearly under water in my brace due to the steepness of the incoming pour-over. I then threw the bow of my boat into the choas of the incoming water hoping to squirt out the hole. I rolled up to find myself side surfing and facing river left. I stayed calm and planted my paddle hoping to catch some greenwater to pull me out. I realized it was useless and pulled my skirt as I flipped over.

Manido Falls

It is at this moment that a boater determines there fate... I swam upwards. I knew that I did not reach the surface, I was in for a long harrowing ride in this hole. Fortunately, it spit me to the surface and seeing my boat pushed off of it and down river. Paddle in hand I could see, that there was still 10-15 feet of slide still left in the drop and I lined up to go over it on my ass. I bounced off a few rocks before being deposited at it's shallow base. I was bruised but un broken. My boat wash down river next to me and I grabbed it and pull it ashore. I was panting hard half from the adrenaline and half from sheer exhaustion. Having a keen sense that karma had caught up to me for our incident on the third Lepisto, I got my wits about me and saw the horizon line ahead of Manabezho falls.

Manabezho Falls as it is normally viewed

I had waited all day to run the 25 falls and despite my poor luck on Manido, I was dtermined to run it. By this time night was fall and the landscape was becoming apparantley dim. As my buddy portaged down the base of the falls for saftey, I agonized over the line. Deciding I jumped into my boat and charged ahead. Seing the line I was fighting for I paddled for the lip. It came sooner than I had expected and in an awkward way. There was no time for a boof stroke, I was already falling into vertical. I cork screwed weirdly and saw the base of the fall collide with me and my boat with a thud.

Myself ready for a roll attempt after Manabezho Falls... it was dark

I emerged from Manabezho dazed, I had run it but with a terrible inelegant line and had run it as the sun last rays could barely be seenon the horizon.

Still ahead the river rocketed through a narrow gorge into lake Superior, and the ride was name appropriately "The Flume". As we paddled I could hear ahead to rivers roar. It was now almost full night and the drop was becoming hard to read. Yet it having little consequence but to flush one out to Lake Superior we blindly went ahead. It was choas! I took a left had sneek line, as I watch my companion smash into a wall of water on river right. Sliding pat him, I paddled hard as a massive curler threw my kayak upside down as if it were a toy boat in a bath tub. Underwater I felt the choas around me and waited for it to subside before rolling up. Clearing the water from my eyes, I saw the river rise into one last wave. I blasted through the hit and found myself floating into Lake Superior.

Zoom Flume (imagine this in the dark!)

In the darkness we laughed at that choas we had skillfully botched and emerged from. We paddled the shorline to the campsight and carried our boats up the 50 ft clay banks along the shore of the lake. We arrived to find the camp mostly empty, bacause half of the paddlers had gone looking for us. After finding them and letting them know we were back safe, I peeled my soggy drysuit from me and went to bed. It was perhaps the most epic day of paddling I had yet experienced. Although not the cleanest paddling I have done, certainly it was more than rewarding!