This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mill Creek, Ishi Wilderness

I am disgruntled. The MF Feather, my favorite multi day trip was perfect the day before. It stood at 2700, a flow that fills everything in without dolling out punishment for mistakes. Then the rain came. The river swelled. It fucking ballooned. It doubled in 24 hours and kept going. Jared and I drove down to Chico to meet the rest of the crew. I lay in bed that night waiting for it to peak and then quickly plummet back down to runnable flows. At 11 the gauge stood at 5500. We didn't know anyone who had ever run it that high. I woke up at 6 am, hoping for a drop in water level. The gauge stood at 5200.

There is one choice remaining. Mill creek. Forty eight miles of what has been best described as "Not classic, but beautiful". Great. It feels like settling to go to the prom with the girl that has a "great personality".

Jared Licht, taking his share of the food
From Chico we drove a windy road for 90 minutes to put in. We made one stop. You ever seen five guys go pee on the side of the road simultaneously? I hope you do someday... perhaps if you follow our car.

Clancy's brother, Tristan, drove us to put in.  We made quick time and were on the water by 11.
Getting ready to launch

After a few hours of low gradient tree dodging and boulder bashing, we made it to the 'Mandatory Portage'. We made long work of it by overly debating what we should do.

"It doesn't look that bad"

"This portage would suck"

"No, it is easy. See"

"Oh yeah. Hmmm... Still don't really like portaging that much. What if you take the log out of that second drop, then it looks good"

And so we set off. Bash. Bash. Pin. Spin. Woo! One more classic Mill creek rapid done. Hoorah.

There were some good ones too.

Clancy styling the first half of the boof. 
Did I say there were good ones. I meant there was a good one.

And it was beautiful... The scenery of course. Not the rapids. 
We enjoyed some respite.
Coming around a blind corner I quickly hopped out of my boat to see what lay around the bend. I see a small rapid that looked just as good as the rest of the run. I small chute with a few boulders. I think to myself "There could be wood in there, but I can't see any. It will be fine".

As Jared floated by he yelled "Where do I go!?" "To the Left" I replied without much thought. He floated into the rapid. Suddenly he was pinned in the middle of the rapid. Galen was right behind him and stopped in an eddy. I was floating along and didn't see anywhere to stop so I grabbed onto a branch. I fought the branch and the current to stay in the same place. I soon found myself not caring so much about holding on so I let go. I thought a class II rapid lay below. I bashed into Galen, spun around and hit Jared. As I turn my nose downstream I see a piton rock and avoid it to the left. What I could not see was a tree that was wedged in between that rock and the shore. My hull hit the tree and immediately turned me facing upstream and pinned me against a rock with my chest. The water poured over the rock onto my face. I couldn't breathe. I reached for my skirt but the rock blocked my reach. I couldn't move. The water filled the orifaces of my face, down my nose, in my mouth.  The rock was crushing me. I felt paralyzed. My mind hurried to come up with more ideas, trying to get something to change.

For a moment I thought of Clancy, as he must have been watching me slowly run out of air and see that Jared was still pinned upstream. I felt pity for him. Having to watch his friends struggle. I thought of the guilt he would have if I died. That he was only feet away.

I reach down my skirt, it is partially off and I try to pull on it. Nothing. I push up on my knees to release myself. This paralysis is killing me. I lift my arms up to try to pull myself up and POP. My shoulder went out. But then everything releases and there was no more tension. I am swimming. There is a moment of calm.

The color leaked out of my face. I am blue. I feel cold, inhuman. But I am free. My shoulder. My shoulder. I kick some rocks and make it shore.

I laid down and he asked me to relax. He started pulling down on my arm and POP. Back in. The rubber bands in my shoulder feel like play doh.
My poor shoulder.

This was the end of our adventure on the river. For the rest of the story check out The Things They Carried. 

Beers to skulls ratio: 1 to 3. Easy shuttle. Long run. Beautiful. Crappy rapids. Worth doing again? Not for me, but obviously my experience is tainted, but I was thinking that I wouldn't come back before I almost died, so now it is really a no brainer.

Hitchability? horrible.

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