Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
This year we are: Brian Pickett (fearless leader), Wesley Bradley (with the J.A.W.), Stuart Everett, Steve Moore, Scott Sidener, and Matt Dalton.
Support Crew: Natalie Pickett, Tonya Everett, and Juli Blue.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
That being said, it sure can be rough on boats and shoulders!
Alan and Stuart hit the waters of Wilson Creek this morning at 9:00 am and -6 inches with the goal of getting in 10 laps in order to put our team total for the competition over 10 grand. While the lines weren't always beautiful, every lap was a blast in its own right and we were cruising toward an early completion of our goal. Our fearless but sidelined team captain, Brian, was running a great shuttle and photo service - and doing it all with his arm immobilized due to last weekend's shoulder dislocation and clavicle fracture. The Jackson 5 team was out there as well and they were tearing it up - TVF style. J5 already had 3 laps when we got there and they passed three times as we paddled through our laps (we were pacing ourselves pretty conservatively because we had no one to rotate laps with). Even with our slow and steady pace, Alan still managed to crack his H3 somewhere on lap 1, 2, or 3. Luckily we had two extra boats with us, so he saddled up the Jefe for the rest of the laps.
As Alan and I were approaching Little Woodall, the RL slide before the entrance to 10 foot, the J5 boys were closing in on us. I suggested to Alan that we do something goofy as we dropped over - for their entertainment before they lapped us again.
(Don't try this at home... this man is some kind of professional something...)
Alan does some kinda rail grabby thing and I go all out with a rail grab and paddle twirl - grinning ear to ear - until my boat kicks left and all of the sudden I'm side surfing in a really rententive hole. As I'm riding a pretty good brace, I see Brad peek over the lip and I try to give him a somewhat sheepish look because my foolishness had me side surfing right across his line. About the time he went around me though, the hole surged and my shoulder popped - OUCH - I flipped and managed to roll back up wondering why my arm wasn't working right. I managed to get both hands down near the left blade with my right blade way out in the outflow, but I couldn't move myself to either side because my arm refused to extend away from my body. As I'm wondering "what do I do now" Brad from J5 paddles up into the hole in his Mega Rocker and bulldozes me out of it while enjoying a pretty good rodeo ride himself (MANY THANKS BRAD!). Once I was out of the hole, I flipped, punched out, and climbed out on a midstream rock where I explained that my shoulder was dislocated. After about 30 seconds of hearing how to twist my arm around in an extremely painful series of positions (to get it back in joint) I suggested that I'd probably just tweaked it really badly. At our suggestion and, after seeing that we seemed to be in a safe place, the J5 guys headed downstream and sent our shuttle man back up to find us. While Alan was getting my boat back across to the roadside bank, I remembered an article that explained how to fix (reduce) a dislocated shoulder:
Our shuttle pulled up before we had even climbed up to the road and as we accepted the sad realization that we would not make our 10 lap goal we did the only thing respectable boaters can do in such a situation...
we drove back to civilization and ate mexican!
Peace, love, and TVF -
Friday, March 30, 2007
Enter the Dirty Bird. It had the basic ingredients we were looking for: water and gradient (not much of either, but beggars can't be choosers). At 163 feet per lap from the power plant to Hartford, we figured six pigeon laps would replace the Wilson Creek day with a few extra feet to boot.
Josh and Stuart headed out from the Tri-cities just before dawn and slid into the waters of the mighty Pigeon for lap one at 9 am. The ~1500 cfs flow was fantastic and in less than 90 minutes they had finished the lap, set their own shuttle, and were sliding in for lap two. That's when they noticed the dark bands on the rocks and the river bank... the power plant had quit generating and the level was dropping. Laps two and three were completed before a quick lunch break. Four, five and six knocked out by 6pm. As the flow dropped from 1500 cfs to 250 cfs, the lap times increased from 90 minutes to 120 minutes. Some of this increase was due in part to the fact that our heroes began goofing off more and more as the day progressed and enjoying every minute of it (maybe not every minutes they were paddling through the elongated flatwater sections...but all the rest for sure).
By the end of the day, they'd dropped 978 feet (ON THE PIGEON), paddled 28 miles, and driven 96 miles (both cars combined) of self shuttle from the power plant to Hartford or vice versa.
It wasn't hairboating, but it was a day we owe entirely to TVF - no way it would have happened otherwise!
More details to come - hopefully they will include:
1) An account of running the bottom half of the rapid only using the right hand end of a double bladed paddle
2) How Team Shepherd really went above and beyond to be good samaritans (and undoubtedly sacrificed a lap's worth of gradient in the process)
3) What it's like climbing out of the Watauga gorge with a dislocated shoulder (not good)
4) Just how good Edgar looks when he happens to drive up right as previously mentioned climber steps out of the woods in need of a lift
5) Brian's diagnosis, prognosis, and plans for the future
Really tough losing our team captain on the next-to-last weekend... he did, however, rack up 506 vert feet on his way out (first lap)
Get well soon
Brian's Account of the Watauga Incident!
As I started my first lap on the Watauga, I was tired and sick. Allergies had kept me up the previous night, and I was coughing my head off on the river. Not to mention five laps on Wilson Creek the day before. However, Alan and I had big plans for the Watauga. When we made me at the take-out, our fellow competitors and friends, Team Shepherd were there with one pair already on the river. We quickly changed into our clothes and took off for the put-in. The Watauga was running at 129 cfs, and we quickly made our way through the opening rapids. We had no trouble until we came to a no-name rapid above Edge of the World. I had relaxed after a drop only to find myself right against a rock with one hand on my paddle. Unfortunately, I was completely unprepared for the hit, and went over against the rock and dropped my paddle due to my suprise. Of course, I went for a little swim. I gathered up my gear, drained the boat and set off again. But... I forgot to put in my drain plug. Once again, I stopped, drained my boat and took off. Without putting in my drain plug. So, after Edge of the World, I drained my boat and took off again. But forgot to put in my drain plug! Finally, above Heavy Water, the drain plug was in and we were good to go!
We learned from Team Shepherd at the take-out that we could have walked Stateline Falls on our previous run and counted the gradient. We absolutely would not have run it if we had known that! However, last weekend we learned you can sub-out pretty deep and still be ok at Stateline even at 122 cfs, so we took off. Again, decent lines were had and no problems were encountered. The rest of the lap was finished without incident and with drain plugs in!
When we pulled out for the first lap, I had finally found a good groove with paddling, so I wanted to continue for a second lap. If it had not been for TVF, I would not have done a second lap, but really wanted the 1,006 feet for the day. We joined up with two members of Team Shepherd and hit the river. Things were going great until Shit Kicker rapid. We took the standard line, starting on the right and then moving through the slot back to the left. I performed my standard line through the rapid, which involves cutting left too early, and then catching a small eddy on the river left side. As I peeled out of the eddy, I had reached out pretty far to take a big stroke to put myself where I wanted to be. My paddled lodged between rocks, and I felt a pop in my left shoulder as I followed through with my stroke. It hurt, but I thought nothing of it. As I made a big right then left hand turn and approached the last drop, I put a big back stroke/brace on my left side to prepare for the final drop. Then it happened, the shoulder completely dislocated. I felt it give and then slide downward and heard the crunching sound as it went out of joint. I tried to stay upright, but went over and pulled my skirt, going over the final drop upside down, slightly in and out of my boat.
I managed to perch myself on a rock in the outflow of the rapid and yelled that I was not OK and my shoulder was dislocated. The Team Shepherd guys attempted to help me get across the river, but I knew that a simple jump into the water and swim of five feet was what I needed to do. I eventually shrugged off the pain, ponied up, and jumped off the rock into the river. Once I reached the shore, the guys were in action. I made three good attempts to put my shoulder back into place. It was to no avail, and I was simply hurting way too much to continue trying. The guys made me a sling with some webbing and rope. Then, we all knew what was next. A hike out of Watauga Gorge.
The guys asked if I was ok to hike out of the gorge. My response was "I don't really have a choice but to be ok." And that was all that had to be said. With a still dislocated shoulder, a make-shift sling, and a paddle in hand for support, I began the straight-up hike out of the gorge. The rhododendron was dense and the gradient was steep, making finding a path out that much more difficult. I had to stop several times, but I knew there was only one way out, and that was to press on and hike up the gorge through the pain. I FINALLY heard cars and the road and knew I was close. I had never been happier when I saw the guard rail for the highway above me and knew that I was right at the edge of being out of the gorge and probably a mile or two hike from my car. The second I exited the gorge and stepped on the side of the highway, I saw a familiar car driving toward me. It was Edgar from Team Shepherd. He had just driven up to the put-in to help with shuttle for some other guys. Out of dumb luck, I had managed to exit the gorge at the EXACT second he was driving back. Let me tell you, at that moment he may have been the sexiest kayaking beast I have ever seen! He picked me up, drove me back to the take-out, and offered to call it quits on the river for his team in order to drive me to the emergency room. I refused to let his team do so. They had easily given up one lap on the Watauga in order to help me. I could not let them give up anymore gradient.
Off I went to the emergency room with the shoulder still dislocated. I was going to head to Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Elizabethton since it was on my way back home. When your shoulder is dislocated like this, you are in quite a dilemna. Driving around turns really fast hurts, but the slower you drive, the more time you have to sit there hurting because your shoulder is out of joint. It ended up taking me about 50 minutes to reach Sycamore Shoals Hospital due to a few stops when the shoulder pain became unbearable. 15 minutes into that drive, I really wished I had allowed those guys to drive me to the ER.
When I arrived, I walked in the ER in full kayaking attire. The sprayskirt was still on, lifejacket, wetsuit, drytop, and make-shift sling. I asked the receptionist if this was the strangest apparel they had ever seen anyone where into the ER. Unfortunately, they said "yes!" I was really hoping to get a funny story after that. About 10 minutes after checking in, I was given a room. An X-Ray was taken to determine the extent of the injuries, and then the doctor tried to put the shoulder back in place. Unfortunately, they were unable to get it in, so they knocked me out. When I came to, my shoulder was in place and an X-ray was being taken to ensure that it was really back in joint. I was told that I had a serious dislocation and a hairline fracture of the clavicle. I was asked if I wanted to have surgery right then and there, and I refused.
Currently, I am waiting to get in with an orthopaedic surgeon. The full outcome will be determined at that time. I know that surgery will be needed. It will be needed to restore the shoulder to functioning capactiy. I want to paddle again. In fact, the sooner the better. I love paddling and feel like I was born to do it. It is too big a part of my life to give up, and I can not imagine my life without it. Even if I can't return to kayaking, I have enjoyed TVF. It would be a great way to go out, with days on all of my favorite rivers with my favorite paddling buds. I'm scared that this is going to be the end of my paddling days, but you can bet your ass that I'm going to do everything I can to come back. We'll see you on the river soon. I'll keep my shoulder surgery blog/updates here.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Friday's TVF: 680 feet
Saturday brought the Doe River down to a calmer 600-800 cfs day. Alan and I made our way to the Doe to attempt a 4 lap day. As we drove to the put-in, the snow really began to come down. By the time we slid our kayaks into the water, there was an inch of snow on the ground. It was a nice, though slightly cold day on the water, and our first two laps went extrememly smooth. However, I was completely exhausted when we put in for the third and my surgically repaired left shouler was really feeling it. I hate admitting it, but I took some great beatings in Body Snatcher and Flagpole, and we both decided that a 4th lap might involve me swimming the entire river. So, after a 3 lap day, we called it quits for the weekend. We no longer have any days left on the Doe, but we do have 2 days on the Little, 2 days on Tellico, 1 day Wilson, and 1 day on the Watauga left. Plenty of options for our last three days in the competition.
Saturday's TVF: 1,625 feet-brian
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Sexy Kayaking Beasts at Guys Ford
Stuart and his mentor, Andy C. (SKB for the day)
Brian getting it done at Hydro
Stuart MegaRocking Hydro
We had a bit of excitement when the lead boater realized about halfway through Heavy Water/Anaconda that we were halfway into HW/Anaconda and started waving our newbie into the RL eddy at the bend - no problems though. At Stateline, Alan and Brian decided to fire up the falls while Andy and Stuart seal launched into photo/safety positions. Alan's line was clean but he went pretty deep, while Brian's boof was textbook and unphotographed (dead camera batteries). Brian explored the river left channel at Rewind/Boof Ledge and we do not recommend it.
Alan fires up Stateline Falls at 120 cfs
The group's consensus was that the Watauga at 120cfs felt alot like a -6" Wilson Creek but with much more excitement per mile. What a great way to rack up 1012 total vertical feet!
The Beasts at the put in (Confluence of Porters Creek and Middle Fork of the Little Pigeon)
Josh fires up the first boof of the run
Brian goes big, boofing the right side of this retentive ledge that has already had its way with Josh and Stuart
Stuart drops the ledges before the takeout for the fourth lap - 1280 feet!