and cold. Really cold. During the night I had awoken and had to use the
little boys room but didn't want to get up because it was so cold. Now
mind you I am in a 10 degree rated Feathered Friends sleeping bag.
These are expensive, hand made in the US sleeping bags that are honest
to their ratings, I'd had my 30 down to below freezing before and was
okay. I am slightly cool in my ten degree bag, and wearing a wool
bottom layer too. In the morning I get up and quickly relieve myself
around camp. The first thing I notice is that once out of my sleeping
bag it's really cold, and everything is frozen.
just frosted, but
true, cold, ice. Solid ice shoes.
the evening we'd talked about
getting an early start, so soon enough
everyone is up and thawing gear. Charlie Center having a great attitude
even though he has no footwear and his elbow pad is frozen to his skirt.
least I have pogies...one with the
ice in my kayak.
Everything needs to be thawed so we begin the slow
thawing my drysuit to a tactile state, I pack up my sleeping gear. Gear
in the boat I return to my drysuit. It's solid again. At nine in the
morning. It's not an early start and it's not inspiring us to start any
sooner. On the other hand the Site Zed portage should be better in the
cold. The only mandatory portage of the run, walking Site Zed has two
and takes around an hour give or take. The high route is faster, less
work and more dangerous because much of it is on an exposed scree
field. Rush and I head for the river level route, which is over rocks
but less exposed. We're hoping to run some of the bottom of Site Zed.
Grunwald, typical Site Zed
lower water the bottom move of Site
Zed is closed out. There is also
a better eddy to put in for the "hairy ferry". Win some lose some. Rush
Sturges finishes the walk at river level.
Hairy Ferry is exactly what it sounds like, a tough ferry
out of the
bottom right eddy of Site Zed. The ferry is away from both the right
wall, and a large pocket hole that forms off its furthest edge. I
consider it to be one of the crux moves of the Grand Canyon. In and of
itself the ferry is tough, but below is one of the most continuous and
walled in sections of the river. Good fun if you are in your boat and
bad news without it.
Grunwald has no problems
avoiding the pocket hole.
Rush Sturges starts the ferry out.
Many rapids are contained in the next few miles, but none
to scout and we made quick time to a break in the gorge and nice but of
sunlight that helped us stay warm.
Boux in some typical Stikine
walls rise again as the team
gets ready for some whitewater
The inescapable. Somewhere in here is a AFP. Always a fucking problem
is just that. At all levels there are big holes, so we maintained
vigilance and scouted.
Sturges taking it down the gut.
I'm rather fond of overcast days for taking pictures of kayaking. The
cloud cover helps the light spread out nice and evenly. I took it for
granted that would be the conditions for us, but it was sunny and very
tough in the deep gorge. Either dark shadow or blaring sunlight,
typically half and half.
Deep in the canyon we got out to scout The Wall. One of
"un-un" rapids of the Stikine. Un-portageable and un-scoutable. Groups
have tried to hake out here with no success. We scouted the lead in and
ate lunch while contemplating how much the rapid might have changed
with lower water. Even
in the sun it was colder just sitting around, so we downed our
meals. Charlie and Corey went first, and from above it looked a bit
rough...like there was a big hole on the left in the normal line. Not
that we could really tell, since all we could see was paddle blades
after they dropped in.
Center: The Wall.
Jonas and I ran the wall together. We tried to
slightly more to the
right of the previous line but still caught the very edge of the hole,
flushing out wide eyed downstream after getting typewritered but
avoiding the backwash.Downstream
of The Wall the canyon widened out again, and we gave Garden
of the Gods a quick scout. Garden of the Gods is unique to the Stikine,
it's one of a few true boulder gardens on the run. For some reason it
is often sunny too.
key is a move Rush
makes to the left
around a hydraulic.
Only a short ways below Garden of the Gods is campsite two. A large
beach greets tired paddlers, and up above an overhang provides extra
protection and warmth. They day had only taken us four hours on the
water, so we had time to stretch out and relax.