Kayaking Day 10: Kayak Clinic on the Lehigh 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
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today was day 2 of the kayak clinic I took in White Haven with White Water Challengers.

First we were going to have a class room session to review the skills we learned on flat water yesterday and also go over river features and how to read white water. We did that until everyone's questions were answered.
Then we loaded the shuttle with our kayaks and gear and set off for the river. We were being sent to the Upper Gorge section of the Lehigh from White Haven to Rockport....that's class 3 but since the water level was at 250 c.f.s. and all the rafting companies were using the lower 2 sections of the Lehigh for their trips that's where we went.

We put in up river from the Triple Drop. We entered through some little creek that feeds the Lehigh...we had to carry our kayaks down a steep cliff then go through a tunnel with the kayak until we got to the Lehigh. It wasn't easy!

We started by paddling upstream toward the Staircase Rapid. Our instructors found a good spot and first taught us Peel Outs, everyone had a few goes at it. Then they taught us how to enter a Eddy and an Eddy Turn.

After we practiced that a bit they taught us how to Ferry across the current from one eddy to another. I found ferrying to be the most difficult as my playboat spins on a dime! Once we ferried across to the other side of the river they had us do a peel out from an eddy then paddle downstream and enter the next eddy only to repeat the process several times.

After everyone got the hang of that we paddled further upstream to a small wave so everyone could practice ferrying across the current and getting into the wave to surf.

This was my first intentional surfing attempt, it was fun but odd feeling. After everyone did a dew surf attempts we started downstream.

I had been on the Upper Gorge section of the Lehigh at 850 cfs and the water level was much higher. At 250 cfs there were more rocks exposed and the lines through the rapids weren't nearly as easy to see. First we encountered Triple Drop, our instructors had us catch the eddy on river right and line up for surfing attempts on John's Wave....this wave was harder to catch than the one upstream! Everyone made multiple attempts and the first sets of swim occurred here.

After playing we stopped for lunch on river left near John's Wave. After lunch we got back out on the Lehigh.

Next we came to Mud Run Rapid......we gathered in the eddy where Mud Creek feeds the Lehigh. One man flipped and the instructors had to help him get his kayak drained so we could continue on.

As we went through the rapid I remember thinking...isn't Beaver Hole around here somewhere.......surely enough I went into it and got flipped. That was my first swim of the day. I had to swim the kayak through quite a bit of rocks til I could get it to shore. I got my kayak drained out and got back in.

Next we went through Second Chance rapid which I discovered the meaning of its name......there is a big hole in the center of the run that will get you if Beaver Hole didn't. I got flipped in this one too.....it was horrible...the water was so low that I could about reach the river bed with my hands but not enough that I could flip the kayak over. I had to pull and swim. Thankfully I wasn't too far from the shore on river right and could get back into my kayak without alot of trouble.

The instructors were busy because that hole flipped two other people. After everyone collected their gear and got back into their boats we went through Larry, Curly and Mo which at this point looked like a rock garden because the water was so low.

I think I got flipped in either Curly or Mo and my legs took a severe beating on the rocks! Apparently three swims is my magic number in the Upper Gorge!

Next we went through Wilhoyt's and we used the sneak route. Someone swam on this rapid. I was just glad it wasn't me. After that we went through some small riffles until we got to the take out at Rockport.

It was a good day on the river, I could have used a higher water level but you don't get to decide that! I learned a few new moves, met some nice people and got more confident in my own paddling and water reading. My legs looked like shit!
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