Tuolumne ECHO Guide Trip

May 2, 2006 at 5:49 pm (Rafting)

Dick Lindford said, “If I’d known it was going to be 8,000 at put-it, the trip would’ve been cancelled last week!” But, he didn’t know, and we found ourselves standing at put-in on Saturday morning with 2 other private trips, OARS, and Sierra Mac all putting in on the T. Our group was ready first, so we headed downstream. There were 21 of us in 5 boats, and 2 kayaks: a cataraft, 2 gear boats with paddlers, and 2 oar-paddle assists and the kayaks. I had great paddlers and they helped me make some big moves. At 8,000 cfs, many of the lines open up a little and it’s actually easier to miss the big holes. The harder part was the enormous hydraullics that popped up randomly in “smaller” rapids, like Framecrusher and Powerhouse.

My boat was Fea, Eric, Farmer, and Sabrina and they paddled their butts off for me. I was excited that we had a great line through Evangelist (where I dump-trucked at this level last year) and I was able to face the fear of that rapid and see an alternative line through it way to the left. We also ran way left at Phil’s Folley. In my head was: Right, Left, Left, Left, Right. Left, Left, Center, Left, Left to Center, Right. Those were my lines and I stuck with them.

Crossing the Clavey River was a little tough for me, partly because my nerves were running very high and the pukey feeling was starting to set in, but we made it across and eddied out fine. We ran the Lindford Slot at Clavey, and the day went perfectly. It was definitely a confindence booster and made me realize that I’m actually capable of running the T at big water. It’s no longer just good luck. I can’t believe that at this time last year I couldn’t even row a boat and Adam Walker was trying to impress on us the importance of downstream ferry angles.

In camp was fun but I was pretty wiped. Because of all the other trips on the water, we camped at Big Creek and the creek was pumping. There was also almost no sand, so everyone slept either on a slanted rock or in a big pile of guides in the one sandy spot. The next morning we did z-rigs, sanitation, and first aid workshops and then put on the water again to run Hells Kitchen. Dick was rowing the Cat instead of Zach and they went straight down the center the whole way. Sanchez decided that was a good idea since it had looked fine for Dick, so he followed them. Martin and I both drove our boats hard from right to left into the big eddy. Colleen followed Dick and Jeff and nearly flipped a couple times down the center. As we rounded the bend after Hells Kitchen, we saw a cluster fuck of boats entering the squeeze before the Playground. Dick had gone straight into a huge hole and he and Zach were getting surfed pretty good. Jeff was trying to squeeze by them and we were coming in hot. They ended up getting out, but not without the groover flopping around and Zach finding himself fully submerged at times. Zach was smiling the whole time and Dick had a look of complete terror on his face. But, at 64, he ran the T at 8,000, swam at Clavey, and guided through Hells Kitchen. I hope I’m up for that when I’m 64 too!

The trip ended with a great meal at La Cochina.

The group: Dick, Joe, Zach, Me, Martin, Jeff, Collen, Adam, Sabrina, Fea, Eric, Dan, Kevin, Jael, Amber, Chip, Shawn, Chris, Brian, Dale, Craig.

Flow: 7,500 – 8,000 cfs

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