Kayaking Day 7: First Time on a River

Trip Start Jun 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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What I did
whitewater kayaking

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Saturday, August 4, 2007

Today Brian, Me, Fred, Jason, Mike and Spooky met at Rockport. Oddly enough Allen the man who sold Fred his kayak a few weeks earlier was there also with his friend Art. So the 8 of us decided to go down the river together. We set up a shuttle and drove to the put in at White Haven.

I was nervous. I still don't have a roll and the river was about 850 cfs on dam release. I knew at that level there were a few slow class 3 sections of white water out there. We got our kayaks down to the river....which was difficult....there were tons of kayakers all over the place and gear was spread out everywhere.
The guys discussed who was going to lead and who was going to keep an eye on Jason and I since we are new and can't roll. We set up a leader and a sweep and cut out into the eddy.

I could tell immediately that the Lehigh was moving faster than the water we encountered at Kelly's Lock. I was scared but I followed the guys down river. Almost immediately we hit the first rapid. Apparently its called Iniation.....sitting in a raft I prob would have laughed at it....things felt quite a bit bigger in the kayak. I had a healthy respect for everything on the river in a kayak.

I followed Fred's line down through the bumpy rapid. I was afraid of getting trashed and tipping over immideately. I didn't want to be a hindrance to the other guys who have a ton of river experience. Suprisingly I got through it fine.

It was amazing how low you sit in a kayak and even small wave trains kick up quite a bit of water in your face. Oddly enough I find my kayak more stable on moving water than flat water.....but I'm odd like that!

After Initiation there is a small flat water section before the river enters Tannery, the next set of rapids. This didn't look as big as the Initiation rapids and that's because Tannery is class 2 not class 3. I continued to follow Fred through the rapid, there were a few guys out fishing on river right and we had to try to avoid them.

Somewhere around here Jason went for his first swim of the day so we pulled into an eddy in the relatively flat water so we could collect his gear and drain his kayak. After he was situated we took off down the river again.

Next we came to Triple Drop, which I didn't like the sound of.....thankfully no one was telling me what class the rapids we were going through were or I may have been even more nervous. Triple Drop is class 3, pretty big stuff for your first time on the river! I could see that there were some holes and quite a few big waves I was going to have to go through.... thankfully I remembered the advice in Anna Levesque's video....."when in doubt lean foward and paddle hard", that's exactly what I did too and made it through ok.

After making it through Triple Drop and paddling some flat water we came to Z rapid.... immediately I recognzied the chute from a prior rafting trip.....and I though to myself "son of a bitch this is that rapid with the churning eddy line and the huge nearly unavoidable rock at the bottom!"

So I sucked it up and followed the guys in.... I did ok and pulled into the eddy on the left side of the rapid..... that's where I made my mistake! I was able to get into the eddy ok but I didn't have alot of practice at Peel Outs and this eddy line was the worst I've encountered yet! So I peel out, lean the wrong way and get flipped....I had to pull and swim! I drug my kayak back into the eddy line, drained the water out, got back in and tried again. As soon as I peeled out a raft came thundering down the chute and hit me. My kayak got thrown into the big rock and I got flipped again.....this time the raft pushed me and my kayak down stream....so I didn't get to go back into what I have come to term "Shitty Eddy".

After swimming through some rocks I was able to get my kayak to shore and really drain it out....after I got situated we paddle down stream again. Next we came to Lunch Rock, and sure enough there were rafters and rafting companies all over the place eating lunch....the kayakers were lined up in the eddy on river right to surf the hole there.

We pulled in at Tom Turk rock and got out of our kayaks and stretched while some of the guys took their kayaks to the top of Lunch Rock to do Seal Launches. We ate our power bars and then took off down river.

We next went through No Way, Eddy Turn and Staircase Rapids. Near the end of Staircase Jason took his next swim of the day. After we collected him we went through the Ledges...I could tell we were going to be here for awhile...all the experienced guys were surfing in holes. I went down stream and got caught in John's Wave....it spun my kayak around and I ended up side surfing for a second before I got flipped and had to swim.

I pulled into the eddy to drain my kayak while all the guys were lining up to surf John's Wave. Fred got flipped on his attempt and had to swim. Then the silliness started......the guys decided to trade kayaks to see which they liked the best.......they were even big men in my little kayak! We were there for quite some time!

After everyone got back in their own kayak and got readjusted we headed downstream through Mud Run, Second Chance, and Larry, Curly and Mo Rapids, we got through those without incident!

Next we came to Wilhoyt's and the way Allen and Art were talking I was almost horrified to go into it.......they were telling me all about this huge rock and the hole near it.... I follwed Fred to the left of the rock and everything was fine. After Wilhoyt's we went through a bit of flat water then some small riffles to the take out point at Rockport.

We drained the kayaks, got the gear collected and headed out. It was a great day. We were on the river for about 7 hours. I was really tired but I had a gerat time. I was nervous but did pretty good anyway.
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