Saturday, March 12, 2016
Rock Creek Dam
This is the story of one rapid: The Rock Creek Dam. Back in 2011 we had tremendous floods and the crew in Quincy went looking for high water marks. I remember looking at the Rock Creek Dam, it was spilling over the top and I wondered, “If Boomer were here, would he run it?”. I looked and looked and thought that it might go, but put the idea away in favor of charging much more manageable waves and holes. A few days ago my friend sent me a picture of the same dam, but this time instead of flowing over the top of the dam, the dam had been opened and a massive 14,000 cfs was spilling over it’s gigantic ramp. At first the force of the ramp scared me, then the impact that I might face, then I thought rolling would be the challenge. With each fear came a rationalization, some experience I could use to figure out what this new rapid might feel like. I remembered the transition on Freebird, the 40 footer on Middle Cherry with a reconnect in the middle, and thought the transition on the ramp will be okay. Then when thinking about being flung off the ramp at high speed the rapid I called on was Big Bird, the 50 footer on the SBMF Feather where you basically run a waterfall with a vail so thin it is barely worth being there and figured that the impact couldn’t possible be bigger than that. When I saw the maelstrom at the bottom I thought of surfing the Gutter in Idaho at high flows and rolling in that big wavetrain, and soon I had pieced together enough evidence to believe in the line. So this is what became of it.
I share this process to further explore how we move ourselves forward and piece together experiences to understand and be successful in new experiences. Sometimes we need others to show us the way, sometimes we can piece together old experiences to understand new ones. Either way, we still have to be bold, all the while using our experience and the experience of those around us to minimize risk. We need to be responsible while still pushing ourselves forward.