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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

August 13 Hometown Rapids!

 | Published on 8/13/2019
Report by Lois, written later in the week:

This morning after this trip, I woke up and noticed that my Facebook feed showed a memory from 5 years ago, when John & I ran Beitner Rapids with Jocelyn, Harold and Jackie. I knew it had been a while since I had gone down that stretch, but I didn't realize that it had been so long.  While the construction to remove some of the Boardman River dams was taking place, we didn't think it was safe enough to go down through the rocks and downed trees until yesterday (August 13, 2019).  We posted the trip about a week ago, and it filled within 22 hours.  Fortunately, as each email confirmation came in, we remarked, "Oh, I'm glad that person is coming along!"  The group consisted of a very experienced paddling team: John & Lois, Angie & John, Norm, Jocelyn, Ron and Kathleen, with Leigh as shuttle bunny.

We began our Boardman trip paddling from Shumsky to Beitner to warm up our technique, since we were in for major excitement from that point to the Cass Road access.  Actually, I had devised a somewhat complicated shuttling plan that worked perfectly, though Norm decreed that it was more like a technical battle plan in its complexity.  His exact words: I have seen instructions for nuclear power plants that are simpler than your shuttle instructions. 
We had cars staged at Shumsky, Beitner and Cass Road, with enough capacity to haul boats and people wherever they needed to be.  Leigh finished her trip at Beitner.

We saw no other paddlers on the river that morning, though there were a few ready to launch, plus several other folks who watched our progress through the rapids, and then were there at our takeout to see what kind of old people were out there with helmets, life jackets and throw bags.  By the way, the group came well prepared, with 7 rescue bags for 8 paddlers - and none were needed.  There were also a few pruning saws along, but they too were never hauled out.  Things went VERY smoothly, mostly due to the planning by John and the strong cooperation of everyone the trip.  It truly was a "dream team"!

I had gone over to the river a few days beforehand to scout several different spots (Cass, Lone Pine, Oleson Bridge and Beitner), and my trepidation was somewhat relieved when I met a couple (under the influence) who told me that they had plans to run the rapids the following day.  The woman told me that she had "the right equipment" - she showed me her aqua socks!  I suppose that's better than flip-flops.  This summer there have been about a dozen calls to 911 from people who have gotten into trouble on this section of the river.  Within the past couple of months, I have seen the wreckage of a Kevlar canoe and also an abandoned kayak.  We were hesitant, to say the least.

Everyone was pleased with the way John had organized the team, keeping safety in mind as we would paddle any unfamiliar whitewater. John ran the first drop, followed by Kathleen.  They would eddy out and wait.  Then he called me on the walkie-talkie to let me know when each of the others should proceed downstream.  Norm and I went last on each run.  At each eddy, people would remain, some out of their boats, and standing in the river with a rescue rope.  None was ever needed.  After everyone was secure in the eddy, we headed for the next drop, one at a time. We progressed that way until we reached Cass Road. 

After Oleson Bridge, there was still lots of fast water, including one rock garden with so many boulders that it was virtually impossible to avoid all of them.  We were all very happy to have plastic boats!  The group agreed that the day was challenging, and that it might be easier if the river level was about six inches higher.  But we were still thrilled to have gotten through safely with no mishaps.  The gauge height was about 4.85 feet and the discharge was running at about 220 CFS.

Afterwards, most of us reconvened at Samsara, where we feasted on southeast Asian cuisine and promised to conquer the rest of the river eventually. It was a stellar day!

Photos by Jocelyn and Norm

Pictured below: Norm, John W, Angie, John H, Ron, Leigh, Lois, Kathleen & Jocelyn



John & Lois

Kathleen doing one of her amazing peel-outs; Ron and Lois in the background

A couple of spots that definitely need more water - but we made it!

Above Lone Pine

John & Norm at Beitner; Lois in the back

Leigh observing the action; Kathleen below


John Willis

Angie Willis