Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Love a Good Disaster.

Again I find that writing is backseat to playing. First it was lousy weather, then great weather and now the Tour de France is on. As I write the Tour is on and I'm going to be distracted but I have to update the blog or I'll lose the story from 2 weeks ago.

A few weeks back Deathrider and I had the day to kill and planned an assault on the river's water and low lands. I looked over the charts and maps with little attention to the details of transition from water to land and back. I figured on some fast currents to move us along and we could jump the river bank, portage any obstacle, ride any trail and splash back in whenever. My only limit was time and distance but we had all day and this time of year, day goes all they way to 9:30 pm!

We start late but fast and in no time we are about to rap onto our boat launch. Death goes first. I lower the bikes and then jump on the ropes. 

Once we get all the gear rigged we launch into a fast current from all of the rain. First thing is to check all the safety gear and don the life vest. This is a good time to talk about hauling a bike on a packraft. Look at my raft, below, at how the wheels stack on the frame and make a huge mess of crap to look over or around.

The backpack has the remaining gear like harness, rope and small scuba fins. I place the pack in the boat so that it's under my knees. This makes it stable but cramped and hard to see logs and other hazards. This is the normal 'stacking' method. The other is leaving the rear wheel and stacking just the front wheel but the last method is Disaster style. We'll get to that.

It isn't long before we cut between some log jams and enter the backwaters. They are narrow and heavily forested with rock walls.

Deathrider finds a waterfall. It's a natural source from the ravine above. This is a river so that is not always the case, yuck!

Below you can see my foot. That's because the bike and backpack take up too much room. Death gives me the frenetic "HI" we discovered was so funny during Water - Water

Out of the narrows we move into the main channel and down into a small bay. We had hoped to pass through a tunnel but it wasn't to be so we portage to find some nasty stale river water. 

Stale water is smelly, buggy and slow. Three things we'd rather avoid and avoid we did.  A road side transition from rafts to bikes also gets a frenetic set of expressions from drivers as they pass.

Packing everything on the bike moves the weight off me and that's good. Sure it's still heavy and makes the bike squirm as the frame and tires flex under the load but not having it on your back improves comfort so much that's it's a better trade. Death doesn't have the rack so he has no choice but to wear most of the gear. Yes, it kind of makes my bike look like Pee-Wee Herman's.

A few roads, a trail, and a bushwhack and we are at the put in. We need to cross the river and this is the closest point to point crossing.

We don't have a beach and shore is heavily wooded and thick with skeeters so I throw the bike in and wade out into the open water to gear up, in situ. I expect it could be a mess but bugs and no other option, I accept my fate.

It turns out to be the best way to launch. Once the boat is loaded it's easy to get in. I also expect the crossing to be easy and throw the bike on without taking off the wheels. This is called 'Disaster' style and from it's name, I've resisted trying it but it's awesome. Fast, low profile, and even weighting. Also for the first time I tie the backpack to the stern of the boat and that weight off-sets the bike weight improving overall stability even more. I love a good disaster.

Death is about to air up his raft.

Full Disaster with stern mounted pack and it floats perfectly level!

The only disaster left is the crossing. We paddle hard but the currents are against us. We make slow progress and empty the tanks on a crossing that takes over an hour.

Early on we take a lot of photos and have a few laughs but the day is getting away from us. We got a late start and then a few slow transitions and now we are about to get hammered by currents.

I resort to walking when it's shallow with a hard bottom but I don't find much of it. Most of the time it gets deep and I'd have to swim but with the currents that's another disaster that I'd rather not experience. Even with the scuba fins it would be extremely dangerous to swim in these conditions.

Deathrider and I lose contact with each other from time to time. The current is brutal and his Disaster style isn't working as well as mine and was getting in the way of a full paddle stroke.

I hold up at a dock and wait to see if he is still with me but he got pushed off line and had to navigate around the back of some islands.

I walk 300 feet and find him just in time for the take out. I point it out to him and we both cut our own route to the exit.

Death is in the upper left.

This is the exit repack. The original plan was to head farther south and run one more long stretch of river but the day is almost gone and we really need some dinner.

We ride to the nearest town while working out if we still have time  to continue but it's far too late to start an unknown river. If we did it too would likely be a disaster.

We NEED to sit outside to eat. Mostly because we've been in the river and smell like hoofed animals but also because we don't want to be inside. It's hot and muggy but it's still better then being inside some stuffy building. It takes quite a bit of time to find a place with outside seating and when we do, they have to unlock the door so staff can get to us.

After about a gallon of ice tea and some food we ride 20 miles back to our start, arriving just before sundown. The day was good and we avoided all the bad disasters and found a really good Disaster. We only completed one half our route but that means we still have half left to use another day and on that note, I'll see you another day.

1 comment:

  1. great write up, I'm still wondering if they have microphones at the restaurant :)