Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Creeking: Lester Laps

The sun shone brightly as I awoke late in the morning basking in my freedom from responsibility. Every day I found found myself amongst the rivers waters. Chris Baer had drifted into town from Colorado for the sole purpose of boating and the two of us had of schedules and priorities straight. While spending the early afternoon scoping drops near Superior WI. As the afternoon sun began to fall in the sky we pointed the truck in the direction of the St. Louis. But when a text wrang out exclaiming that the Lester had broken free of ice and was running... we abruptly pulled a U-turn and headed for Duluth proper.

Footage via Chris Baer captures the essence of Lester River... look for me in the green boat, blue drysuit, and red paddle.

Lester River from Chris Baer on Vimeo.

Arriving at the Lester a crew quickly amassed and myself, Chris Baer, T2, Brian, Strassser, and Anthony shuttled for the first lap on Lester River for the year. We put on and dropping into Limbo Falls I immediately was knew the run was going to go well. When we arrived at Almost Always, the convoluted 25 ft falls, \given it was the the first run of the year, I new that the level was not to my liking... I would patiently wait to run the drop. By the next day the levels had risen to a comfortable medium high level and I grinned as we put on. When we arrived at Almost Always my mind was made up. I scouted as Chris styled his line over the falls. I followed up next peeling out of the eddy sighted my line and stayed focused. I dropped into the mini eddy above the falls lined-up and paddled for the lip. I placed a left boof stroke at the lip and sailed into the air landing on top of the piling waters. As my world entered the vertical I felt the boat begin to spin out leftward. I braced hard as the impact was impending. I was blown onto my back deck and soon tucked, waited for the calm, and rolled up triumphantly. After another lap and my confidence bolstered, I ran Almost Always again with improving lines (no roll needed). Techno Tommy arrived at the river late as the sun was about to set and needed a paddling partner. Being tired but still invigorated I agreed and we bombed through my third lap on the Lester!

 Tending wounds on the Lester!

By the next day, I had been paddling 9 days straight without a rest day and fatigue was beginning to greet my body. I told everyone I would take the day off and set about scoping the more northern rivers. But when I arrive back at the Lester their was a party still going up for a lap. I jumped in a truck and headed up stream. Putting on I could tell I was not on my game. By the time I had portaged "Naked Man". Our group became fractured and I found myself paddling virtually alone. When I arrived at Almost Always I had caught up to Chris. I made a quick decision and decided I would run it. As I came to the lip of the drop I saw a red boat pinned on the left lip of the falls. I found myself blasting into the micro-eddy with too much speed, and it spun my boat sideways as I approached the lip of the falls. With all my strength, I helplessly threw a monstrous sweep stroke and barely pulled the boat around as I plunged over the lip. Amongst the wash of exploding vertical waters I ready myself for the impact. I blewthrough the hole at the base emerging unscathed without a roll in need. I released the tension in my gut with a "whoop" of triumph and smiled at the waters ahead.

Flirting with distaster on Almost Always!

Over the course of three days I had lapped Lester river five times and ran Almost Always 3 times. Every night I went home my spirit felt fattened and obese with contentment... living the most fortunate of lives.

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