A few weeks ago my good friend P-Schnitzel and I found ourselves trapped in deep granite gorge. The sun was setting and a cold wind was already slipping down our rocky mountain canyon. Ahead of was one mile of a boulder choked, 300ft per mile drop, class five gorge and our Alpackas were our only ticket home. Swimming was a one way trip to a watery cold grave. Both P-Schnitzel and I are accomplished pack-rafters and sailed through the first few drops with the grace of trout at hoe in their frigid waters. Our “float” trip came to an abrupt halt about half way through the canyon when the majority of the river disappeared into the rocks under our feet. We learned later that a recent land slide had created this new rapid. To complicate things further there was a plethora of drift wood lodged into every available crevice. The beginning of this new rapid was a ledge drop with a log sticking up through the lip of the drop. This log prevented us from carrying any momentum off the drop and forced us to river left. River left was not a good place to be because a giant boulder overhung that side of the stream. P-Schnitzel tried to “paddle” this drop which resulted in his capsizing and a substantial blow to his pack-rafting ego. After a rescue was made it was my turn to run this treacherous drop. I knew I was going to need to do something incredible or else risk a possible trip to Davy Jones’s Locker. What I happened when I got in my boat was born of instinct and life force survive. As I reached the edge I place my paddle blade on the logs tip, with this solid anchor I was able to pull myself and my boat out over the void which gravity, granite and icy water would soon fill. I was doing well and feeling proud of myself for my handiwork up top until I realized I was still headed for destruction. The over-hanging boulder and I were about to collide in mid air! I sprang into action and with the reflexes of a lemur in the jungles I reached out and pushed myself off the rock with my left hand. I landed with paddle in my right hand and pulled on it as hard as could to clear myself of the recirculating hole that to consume my soul. The rest of the run was much the same, requiring countless climbing, canyoneering and ninja moves. The moral of this long-winded story is; there is no wrong way to paddle an Alpacka. Whatever gets you back to Durango in time for Serious Texas BBQ 2 for Tue. works for me. Look for Lime Creamsickle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW_WDoOuCt4 for a visual demonstration of mixed rafting and Ice!
Enjoyed the video a lot , but were those BARE FEET ? Going to lose your toes that way, mate! Also hope you have a good life insurance policy if you have dependents. It does look fun though…oh, if only we have rivers like this in Australia. Also noted no spray decks, which is relevant to my recent posts - perhaps I won’t bother trying to attach them.
All I can say is: sweet.
Wow. I like the re-entry leap. In a stream that had recently re-routed through a alder forest I did some packraft bushwhacking that involved a lot of hands on work, but it was more an issue of physically getting the raft through, not of technical rapids.
Has anyone ever leaped up out of a packraft and climbed an overhanging tree as a dry-feet exit method? I’ve wondered, but never actually done it.