MW201 - Black River (Washago)
Saturday, April 28, 2001
length: 4.5km, 1 day
leader: Chris Mack
participants: Chris Mack, Frank Inglis, Kevin Brown, Nicole Mack,
I though that those who were unable to attend might appreciate a few words about how Moving Water 201 went.
Despite a few cancellations, we managed to float a pretty respectable fleet of six boats and seven paddlers: Frank and Kevin paddling tandem, Chris Mack and his friend Fred in solo boats and Nicole and two other yakkers. (Unfortunately, I can't remember their names for the life of me.) It was a little odd being the only tandem boat. I felt a little like the last of the dinosaurs, surrounded by a pack of the latest in sporty little mammals. (Frank and my paddling style is also evocative of the larger dinosaurs in that it features separate brains operating front and rear, occasionally at cross purposes.)
After waiting as long as possible for the MIA Chris Potvin, we hit the water at about 11:45 and got moving after some brief noodling about near the put-in. Chris's review of strokes and eddying in/out techniques was much appreciated. It's amazing how much better things go once you've figured out the proper way to steer.
It was obvious right away that the water was much lower than it was two weeks ago at MW 101. Chris can probably supply the exact numbers, but the level had to be at least a foot or two lower, if not more.
The island at the put-in was completely visible and the bridges no longer required expert limbo proficiency. Although the volume was much lower, it was a much more satisfying paddle this time around. The various features were actually there instead of simply being washed out. The effect was almost disorienting: it was barely
recognizable as the same river we'd run just two weeks earlier.
In addition to being more forgiving to novices, the slower current and lower water levels allowed a lot more time for sight-seeing and general messing about. That section of the Black is really quite lovely, especially when everything's not submerged. We had a beautiful spring day, too: sunny, mild and no bugs!
I don't know the river well enough to give a blow by blow of the trip, but we worked our way down fairly slowly, taking lots of time to play. Considering the length of the trip and the great conditions there was not much point in hurrying. About half way down, we took a break on a lovely little rocky island to rest, grab a bite and, as Fred put it, "bask like a turtle" in the sun.
Both Bell Ringer and Pinky's were, I'm told, back to normal. Frank and I managed to make it through both in an upright position albeit with a fair amount of water in the bottom of the boat. Chris managed to catch a bad line going down Bell Ringer and gave us all a demonstration of his swimming technique. Despite appearing to go for a bit of a scrape, he emerged unscathed and gave it another, this time successful, go. Fred won the show off award, catching the eddy half way down.
Bell Ringer also marked the appearance of the Chris Potvin who had walked up from the take-out after driving around lost for quite a while. Unfortunately, he didn't get to paddle after the long trip.
We hit take-out at about 3:45 -- a very respectable amount of paddling for such a short shuttle. If only they were all like that.
Thanks to everyone, especially Chris who took time out to provide coaching. It was a great run and, at least for me, it lived up to its original instructional billing. I managed to learn a lot and increase my skills and comfort level in moving water.