Wicked Cold 1st Run on the Tohickon Creek

Trip Start Feb 17, 2011
Trip End Oct 23, 2011

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What I did
whitewater kayaking

Flag of United States  , Keystone State
Thursday, February 17, 2011

This was my first run on the Tohickon Creek, in mid February. The day was nice outside maybe mid-50s but the water was still 32 degrees. The level was somewhere between 900-1100 cfs but we didn't know because the gauges were frozen. 

I went with my friend Mike who lives in the area and who runs the Toh all the time so he knows it well. It goes without saying that we were in full drysuits with under layers because the water was so cold. 

I decided to use my playboat for a creek run, which I never normally do. So I knew it was going to be interesting because the water was running higher than normal and the water temps were freezing. 

We put in about 2 miles up river of the normal put-in just to get warmed up. Mike had me peeling in and out of eddies. He is a kayak instructor so he is always pushing us to be better boaters. 

As we approached Fish or Swim rapid Mike had me turn my boat backwards so I could catch the wave on the fly. I still am not fabulous at side surfing and this was a rather sticky hole. I managed to front surf a bit and got one spin in before dropping my upstream edge and getting flipped. I managed to roll but it was damn cold!

We continued down river through some waves, ledges and skirted some big holes. We pulled in at Corner Hole and worked on some peel outs before heading down river. 

We passed through more small ledges and then entered Chainsaw rapid and ran the tongue down the large flume. It was fun but the waves of water hitting you in the face were just mind-numbingly cold!

Mike ran ahead of me on No Name Ledge rapid and got flipped in the backwash. I came down behind him and managed not to run him over while he was trying to roll. I got caught on a squirly eddy line flipped and rolled. This is when I figured out that my gloves are not near warm enough for paddling this early in the year. 

Next we came to Triple Drop rapid, I ran the first ledge clean and we pulled in to scout the next two drops. Sometimes for me scouting is a bad idea, it makes me more nervous. I often think it would be better for me just to follow someone through something and then take a look at it at the bottom. Since I was already underwater twice and was already rather cold I decided to skip the boof move on river left and try to run the line on river right.....really bad idea! I made the drop, hit a hidden rock got flipped, sucked into Green Monster and had the paddle ripped from my hands and had to swim! Its really shallow there too!

I got quite a few got bangs while swimming but my pride was much worse. I hadn't swam in over a year so I had to eat some humble pie...I don't like the taste. My swim made me more cold but we continued on. Next I had to contend with the third drop of Triple Drop. I'm not even sure what happened here, a huge diagonal wave caught me off guard and flipped me. I got my bell rung and ended up swimming again. 

I was now starting to feel the effects of hypothermia. My reaction time was greatly slowed down and my arms felt like lead. I could barely move them but we had to continue on. 

I followed Mike through Racecourse rapid, he made me keep talking so he knew I was upright and making sense since my hypothermia was starting to get bad. 

We bombed through Hat's Rock and Pyramid Rock rapids. I had trouble keeping up with Mike and getting my boat where it needed to be. I was absolutely freezing and completely drained of energy. I will never forget that feeling. 

So it wasn't the best run for me on the Toh but I will do it again when the water is warmer and I'm sure I'll do fine!

Tohickon Creek info: http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/1672/#zzqmjl5t2l2v056RiverMainGadget55

More Tohickon info: http://home.ptd.net/~ab257/tohickon.html
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