Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Swiftwater has now been RESCUED!!!!

,however, the wild things were tragically lost downstream in the confusion that followed.

In other recent news, 8 of us witties just got back from a great swiftwater rescue course with Sam Drevo from NW River Guides in Portland. Sam's been a great help to jump starting the Whitman whitewater program, running both this course an an ACA instructor course that 5 of us took almost two years ago. Also ASWC gave us a lovely little lump of money from the contingency fund to subsidize this expensive, but absolutely delightful, course. thank you ASWC- you rock.

Now to the nitty gritty, scroll down if you just want to look at pictures.

We started out friday evening with a harrowing drive the 4 hours to Portland. We made it to the thai truck in Hood River about 2 minutes before they close, and for the first time ever, I was tragically underwhelmed by the curry I got, ick. The next morning we rose early and made it (somehow) to the new classroom at the Next Adventure paddlesports center. We spent the morning with an introduction to swiftwater rescue prevention, leadership, overall philosophy, and some knots.
Following some delectable burritos, we sped on out to Dodge Park, at the confluence of Bull Run and the Sandy River. Due to the cold water, we were able to do a foot-entrapment drill and some throwbag practice in the parking lot before putting on our gear and hopping into the water. If you want to know about how cold the water was, you should ask anyone who was on the course. We did a variety of swimming and wading and bagging, and pretend drowning and shivering and smiling and hugging and then changed back into street clothes and blasted the heat (and Britney Speers) in the truck on the drive home. Pam Hayes had made some wonderful chile for dinner along with a pie! We holed up for some homework in the evening, while Nathan and Simon rolled down to Durham to buy a trampoline.
Sunday dawned with some nice fog and light rain, perfect conditions for going paddling. We met up again at Next Adventure and spent the morning focused on rope use and pinned-boat situations. Before heading out to the river a few members of the group decided to lighten their wallets on a PFD and some helmets that look like they belong in Star Trek, at least they protect those precious brains so necessary for kayaking (or unnecessary depending on how you look at it). By the time we got to the park we sure were ready for some paddling, and since the gate at Dodge was closed, we decided to shuttle up to Bull Run and do all of our training for the day in the course of the mile and a half run. The level was pretty low (800cfs), but no where near as bad as the 350cfs of two weeks before. We put on and headed down a ways to practice getting a stabilization line on a "victim" who was pinned on the upstream side of a river-center boulder. The group improved vastly in the course of the drill and we're definitely going to keep on practicing in the next couple of months. A bit further downstream and we worked on some pig-rigs and technical rope systems, but it was getting dark and by the time we finally made it to the cars you could barely see the rock that the bow of your boat was about to collide with.

Overall we had an absolutely delightful weekend and learned a whole bunch of really necessary skills. This course helped to open up a bunch of folks to leading trips for the WW club, and hopefully we'll see that taken advantage this spring once the rivers are up and the weather warms a bit. Most of all, it's great that Kate, Nathan, Fiona, Drew, Adam, Lish and Simon were willing to shell out some money and commit a weekend to learning this stuff. Yippeee, now lets go paddling.

By the way, no wild things were harmed in the process of writing this post, or rescuing Adam from the parking lot, or most of all, in rescuing the swiftwater.

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