Monday, August 24, 2009

Lower Yough Trip

The Youghigeny river is located in Pennsylvania, about 3 and a half hours from DC. It was quite the drive and while I wish I had been able to go for the entire weekend, at least I has the time and chance to make it for one day. I arrived the night before for a little car camping and we headed out for an early morning launch of 9:00. Basically we had one hour to get to the launch point after setting up shuttles. We were actually on the river just after 10:00 once all was said and done. It was almost a comedy of errors. First I forgot my prescription sunglasses and I don't have a backup strap for my regular glasses, so I had to go back for them after my trip saturday morning with another group. Once I got to the campgrounds I realized I forgot my tent pegs at home with my hammock. I found out that one of the other people's car had a dead battery so the morning of the run, we had to jump her car which she then got promptly locked out of while it was running. She had to wait for AAA to come and help her while we set up shuttle. She showed up just before 10:00 and we were able to get her set up and on the water. After that we all had a good run.

I have never run any other river but the Potomac. The Lower Yough is rather pushy and I wasn't quite sure what to expect considering all the not so pleasnat things I had heard about it from other people. Entrance was my first experience with the Lower Yough. It wasn't so bad but I did flip my edge and had to roll. I ended up being the first roll of the day. We all had done practice rolls earlier but I was the first in current. The water was quite cold. I wasn't sure what to wear but after talking to everyone and seeing what they were wearing, I decided on the semi-dry top, as that was what I had with me, and a mid-weight wool base layer. Good thing too as I think if I had been wearing less I would have been cold. The day was overcast and a bit on the cool side which was nice. At one point I did start warming up but a quick roll fixed that problem.

So at this point I have had a relatively good beginning. And then I found out that Cucumber was the next set of rapids. I have not heard anything good about this rapid. In fact, most people tell me they have taken nasty swims here. So I was not looking forward to the rapid, but after we passed through I started to wonder two things. First, it was easier then expected so I wonder if they had a higher water level. Second, how on earth do rapids get their names. Cucumber?!? At least Entrance made sense.

This one was going to be a tough one. I didn't remember hearing anything about it, but the large warning sign near it and the serious talk was enough for me. It wasn't that bad but it was big and pushy. I made it through then found out the rock was so badly undercut that people get sucked in and don't come out. It is a really bad place to fall in.

This one I was waiting for. Not only were we going to stop for lunch but this was a nice play and surfing spot. As I was coming down I decided to hit the wave and see if I could catch a surf. I started down backwards and slowly tried to line myself up. I managed to catch the wave but lost the surf and flipped over. I held the position waiting for the water to level out a bit but it never did so I rolled and found out the wave had held me in an upside down surf. I was back on the wave and surfing again until I got flipped again. I rolled back up more quickly this time and found I had been ejected. I managed to get in a couple of good surfs and I also managed to forget my nose plugs once, hit my shoulder on a rock because it was shallow, and lose the grip on my paddle but luckily I managed to keep one hand hold and roll back up. All in all it was lots of fun to surf and watch the surfing. This was were I had to swim when I ran into a friend's boat, wedged my paddle and flipped in shallow water. Oh well. Not too bad of a place to have to swim.

Bottle of Wine
I think this was the easy rapid that we were supposed to eddy hop at. I caught the first eddy then I didn't fight the current enough and it pushed me downstream. I really have to work more on strength and boat control. I really shouldn't let the water push me around so much. I also had trouble boofing, mostly because I wasn't sure what I was doing but I also wasn't lining up the last stroke correctly. I need to have a last stroke on the side further away from the rock and I have to push my butt over so I hand flat. I tried twice but missed each time. There was no harm in missing but I should work on that too as it is another way to control the boat.

Double Hydraulics
I actually missed this one almost completely. The safe line is down on river right, and I was following someone and didn't realize I had taken the easier line. Likely a good thing as I was having boat control issues. I didn't really have a chance to see the hydraulics though, but the map made them out to be bad. Maybe next time I can get into them a little more.

Bruner Run
The last rapid before the take out and almost the only rapid I was able to catch the last eddy perfectly on. I could see a really nice eddy immediately at the bottom of the rapid so I aimed for it and caught it perfectly. Now if only I can do that more often and on demand.

There were more rapids then this, but these were the more memorable ones. The entire run was lots of fun and well worth doing. I really wish I had been able to do the run both days as I think I would have learned more. I do think this helped me learn some, more to do with river reading. I have to pay more attention and get more control over my boat. I was able to lift my head up from my bow but I don't think I looked where I was going enough. So there is still lots of room for improvement.

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