Monday, April 27, 2009
There's a few certain days in your life that will be outstanding. My first run of the Split Rock River will be one of those days. The crew for the day was Split Rock veterans Andy McMurray, John McConville, and Chris Baer and the Split Rock virgins Steve Bletch, Tommy Gram and I. We started out with a nice warm up paddle and a little bit of easy whitewater from the put in to the bridge marking the start of the run. We eddied out on the left and scouted our first challenge. It started with a lead in to a tongue, down to a hole, the river fans out and and into some ride em down rapids which narrow down to the last drop, hole and into the eddy. That's the plan. I watched as the boys ran the drop with only one flip at the bottom. I've always admired people who can run creeks. It's amazing! Being a 50ish woman I don't fit the stereotype for gnar creeker, but yet the desire is still there. This was it. My chance to see if I can. Chris led off and I watched him style down. OK...Go! I paddled out and before you knew it I was in the eddy with the boys! Whoo Hoo!! It felt solid! Kind of like really good foreplay before the main event. With a smile on all of our faces we paddled downstream. Andy, John and Chris were amazing leaders! We stopped, scouted and ran. Took our time and shot photos and video. The drops kept getting bigger until we got to the long slide in the canyon. As the rest of the crew ran it, Andy and I scouted. I could see the crew at the bottom. They looked very small...yes it was that big! Back at the boats Andy pointed out the eddy just before the drop and said I could stop there and set up my line if I wanted. I ferried across to river right and turned downstream. My line was good! I felt good. I paddled over the edge. The feeling was like no other. Fully committed, full on free falling! Screaming down the river...holes and waves at the bottom were only speed bumps to slow you down from warp speed! Smiles and laughter in the eddy below...Damn! This is incredible! Our group was pretty tight by then. We ran and scouted...took our time and enjoyed the company and the amazing beauty of the river. We came to the last drop, Under the Log. By then I had an amazing day and the drop looked a bit too much for my energy level so I walked it. One other walked with me...no regrets. We paddled to the lake for the ceremonial roll in Lake Superior. It was my first roll of the day. At the parking lot we drank some beer and our group split up. Andy headed to the Midwest Mountaineering Expo to promote Pyranha Kayaks. Steve and Tommy were off to the South Shore. Chris and John on a mission to run the Onion River. I was done paddling for the day so I went with Chris and John. The Onion was thumping to say the least. This was going to be amazing to watch. Rock, paper, scissors. Both really wanted to be first. Chris came out on top. While setting up the video a man appeared out of the woods. Said he'd like to watch them run it. John asked if he might be John Alt? Sure enough...the man, the myth, the legend! Chris went up and had an incredible run down. Then John had an equally great run. We picked up the camera equipment and I watched John and Chris chase down the last long slide..fun! The day was finished off scouting the last fall on the Manitou as the sun set. Two things that stand out that made the day memorable. One..the river. Two..group dynamics. When those two things are golden, magic happens. Photos are by John McConville, Chris Baer and some from me. Thanks for taking the great shots!