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A Hungry Gihon

Monday Jun 29, 2009
Kayak: Scott Gilbert & Chris Ingram
Organizer: Scott Gilbert
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: very high

Gihon was high at 4 seams surging to 3.75 seams showing which I now know is my cutoff level.

We paddled to the dam on the upper section, it was one solid sheet of water and a nasty walled in hole at the bottom with towback maybe 6ft downstream so we paddled back to the car and headed down to the lower section.

We put in at Bedhead and ended up walking it. Then each tried 4 - 5 times to make the ferry to get to the river right side of Eldorado below Bedhead. At this level the center is a big burly hole and the left has a nasty pocket downstream against the wall. The ferry was almost impossible, so I decided for the "scary ferry" move which was to surf a wave from river left to right directly above the center drop of eldorado. I made the ferry and down the slide on river right but flipped at the bottom directly into the backwash of the hole...immediately felt myself sucked back into the hydraulic and the beating began. Trying 2 rolls, neither which were successful, I then pulled the cord. For the first time ever I had the unpleasant experience of being in a body-recirculation for maybe 8 - 10 seconds but which felt like a whole lot longer than eternity. After the exhausting failed attempts at ferrying I was seriously out of gas and air. The only way I knew what was up and down was the occasional contact with bottom where I would try to push off and get to the surface. Finally by more of a decision of the hole than any action of mine I felt the chaos lessen and emerged about 20ft downstream of the hole gulping for air. With what small reserves I had left I got to the side and clung to the rock wall for a good 20 seconds before pulling myself out and then sat for another good minute or two calming myself down. I played it off when Chris finally found me and we went on a boat chase. We found the Huka and my paddle in the big eddy above pincushion, and went to finish the run.

Well, the eventfulness didn't end just yet, as Chris got stomped on in the hole of pancake which was also big and hungry today but he swam free, fortunately without the body-recirculation...

All in all we only ran about 4 rapids each, and each swam once. I'd say once the Gihon is only showing 4 seams or less on the Powerhouse bridge, my new option will be to walk away, and go to the NBL (North Branch of the Lamoille). We had looked at Waterman Brook and it was surprisingly too low. On the plus side, events like this are sometimes a good thing to remind you just how powerful a river is, and that sometimes you are gonna get beat up by comes with the sport.

Borrowed from a Message Board Post from Scott Gilbert...

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