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Geezers Weekend of Creeking

Friday-Sunday Apr 7-9, 2006
Kayak: Lisa, Rowan, Ian, Jon, Anne, Steve, Martha, Felicia, Cheryl.
Organizer: Lisa Egan
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium

Friday we paddled the Lower Ashuelot (NH) class II-IV, What a fantastic warm up to my 2006 paddling season. The river is a decent continuous river, at low level it was running at I don't think it exceeded class 3. The Ashuelot experienced massive flood damage in late 2005. Because of this flood the river is strewn with debris from landslides, buildings and what looks like lots of pool toys.

The river is about 3 miles long and is a great late evening paddle. Although we paddled in our creek boats the river provides plenty of surfing opportunities.

So on to the Main event.(well sort of). Creeking for Geezers (I am a geezer in training). A creek course run by Zoar.

To say the least I was very nervous and scared when I heard on Friday that Bruce was considering putting us on the W.B of the Deerfield (V)..mmmm I think all of us said oh my god we are going to die. Our instructors Bruce and Mo where fantastic. They eased us on to the WB by firstly doing a hardly run section on the upper WB. A nice class II/ III to warm us and practice our basic skills...Nerves were abundant - I think we felt like lemmings being led to our death. The Readsboro falls came all to quickly...This is where the main section starts. Our stomach in our mouths, our knees quaking we began to scout the first drop know as Holey, Holey, Holey - to me and the others it was Holy $%!# Crap. A technical class IV with a not so easy run out. In my mind I knew if I didn't run nerves would continue to get the better of me. I asked if any one else was running it but I was met with the expressions of deers caught in the headlights.

I was one of the last to run it. I paddled slowly down caught the first eddy ferried across to the bank and stared down at the drop with a huge mass of boily white mass below it ready to swallow me up for breakfast and I wasn't sure whether it would spit me out...right about now I was thinking "why oh why do I do this". With a deep breath I paddled towards the drop and plopped down, with a short praise of my self I tackled the next section cheered on by my fellow geezer. We HAD survived. The group's nerves had dissipated and our confidence radiated. Next came a series of IV holey drops, willing to catch any kayaker that even dares to get of line. We all cleaned it again - yeehaa!!

The highlight of the course was being taught to boof...did we master it...of sorts. On this section there is a nice little boof about 6ft high it is perfect for boofing. Bruce had us all run it twice but I think we could have stayed there all day. The river continues on with slightly easier class IV.

We were in are element. Our group had no swims, cleaned most of the lines and we were paddling the infamous W.B of the Deerfield. We didn't run Tunnel Vision...but we weren't disappointed. We had learned a whole host of new skills from Bruce and Mo, but more importantly a lot of us had a much needed confidence boost. what a day. We did two rivers the Warner (IV) and the Blackwater (IV).

I have to say these rivers are very similar. They lull you into a false sense of security. One minute your paddling class 3 then before you know it your running class IV. The Warner..was amazing. The sluice drop we had to run is a prime place to lose paddles. Remember to turn your paddle before you enter, otherwise your either lose your paddle or worse dislocate your shoulder. Thankfully only one of our group dropped thier paddled but recovered well for the next drop.

One of the significant rapids is pinball and pinball it is. A perfect creeky rapid. Unfortunately for one of our group they took a nasty swim but it did allow us to practice our rescue skills when we unpinned the sunken kayak.

If you ever run this you must do the final drop it is actually after the take out, but you can paddle back up stream afterwards. We came to a horizon line which is clearly an unused old dam. Ian paddles hard towards it and disappears...oh my god where did he go. Lisa laughed and said " go on it's safe". Yeah where I have heard that before!!

So I paddle hard and as I go over the edge it like being on slide except this slide has a kicker which threw me in to the air (I am smiling now remembering how much fun it was to run this) and made me land with a huge splash.

The next river was the Blackwater. If you put in at where the guidebook suggests expect a total 2 1/2 miles of flat and 1 mile of whitewater. Of course the flat separates the rapids and the whitewater is definitely worth it...the first rapid (bar an easy class III at the start) is about 1 ½ miles down stream after lot of flat!! And it sucks and it feels like it is never going to end. .

The first drop is a cracker. A weird little 6ft drop, slide or hole depending on where you run it. We decided even though it was followed by pool we should set up safety...did we need it noooo. Our confidence was soaring!!

The Blackwater is then followed by some easy class 3 and flat. Then be prepared for a huge tumbling mass of whitewater and rocks this is known as eggbeater (IV). This rapid is a long and very continous with some ledgy drops that have only one line to run. A couple of our group won the humpty dumpty award for this rapid...the guidebook quotes a swim here would result in a long and bumpy one and any swimmer will win the humpty dumpty award. Two swims and two pinned boats...meant it took us a while to finish this rapid. the eggbeater definitely lived up to its reputation. It also marked the end of the river and the end of a fantastic weekend of paddling.

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