Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Troublemaker Rapid 2012

Google groups has an interesting setting for paddlers, and Big Poppah saw this post that he wanted to share with everyone who paddles the very popular South Fork American River in Lotus Coloma Valley. Caution! Everyone!


***Please Read Kayakers***

This last Saturday, I was running troublemaker rapid in my playboat.  I decided to take the beginner line, which is to clip the very left edge of the hole and then paddle left of gunsight rock.  I have done this line over 20+ times and hit the hole in the same spot.  It seems that there is a new rock directly after this that will either flip you or put you on enough edge to shift your boat into the downslope that leads into the peanut gallery.  I did not flip but had to switch edges quickly, which lead into an instant loss of momentum and my stern slipping down.  I paddled as hard as possible to make it back left of the "guardian rock"  which is the left rock of gunsight.  I made it to the very top of the guardian rock but the current was so strong that I could not pull my weight up and over the tip.  In turn I slid backwards down the rock and into the peanut gallery.  I luckily pushed my weight forward and slid down flat, after a few more hits, I flipped over.  I tucked immediately and started going through the peanut gallery until my helmet hit a rock and my body was pressed up against the rock as well.  I knew to get my knees out immediately and to pull skirt but the water coming off the pillow pressed my boat against me.  When I realized that I was pinned, I remained calm and started to kick and push the boat off of me.  After a few tries, the boat released and I was able to swim out.  Besides a good crack in the helmet, a few solid bruises and a sore neck- it all luckily worked out.  For those that do not know me, this was not a simple push of the boat.  This was an intense push/kick from a well conditioned, strong boater who paddles over 250 days a year.

After I came back from running film on the gorge that night, I looked at pictures of myself and others going through troublemaker with the same line.  Most people flipped, the others had the same "edging" issues but in a larger boat were able to pull it off.  There were many swims that followed.  I watched an ugly swim 2 weeks ago and know of another well conditioned, strong, class 4/5 boater who swam as well.

Please take caution when running this line- clip the hole another boat width right, eddy out and ferry across or be ready for the rock.  I do know this river extremely well as I have worked on this river for 11+ years and have kayaked it at almost every flow.  This rock was not there early July when I did the exact same line, multiple times- I have very specific markers and line ups as I count on my line as a safety boater and instructor.

If you have any further questions or info- please let me know.  In the meantime, please be safe and aware.  Please pass this along to any other boaters, outfitters or instructors.
Thank you, 
Julie Mitravitch

Thanks much to paddler, Julie Mitravitch and Google groups for allowing us to share the group's paddling information to everyone!
Coloma Lotus News at Google Groups

This blog belongs to California Whitewater Rafting W.E.T. River Trips blog.

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