Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 9 - Hance to Clear Creek

Big plans for today. The plan calls out for nearly 16 miles and 10 rapids including Hance, Sockdolager, Grapevine, and Horn Creek which are all rated class 7 or class 8 plus a stop at Phantom Ranch.

Robb commented that no one was riding with him so I'm riding with him today. He's clearly one of the very best boatmen on this trip.

Boats were finally loaded so that we could begin running Hance rapid (class 8) at 9:40 a.m. Robb & I ran first to set up safety at the bottom. Our run was pretty clean & pretty dry.

Cece had scouted the rapid from river right yesterday afternoon. She rowed Susie Too with Helen in the back seat and chose a line well right of the line Robb took with the raft. Before she got to the bottom, Susie and a rock got in an argument. Susie stayed right side up but the rock won the argument.

After an hour of running and filming Hance, we're ready to move on as soon as the photographers hike back and bring their rafts down.

We all ran Sockdolager (class 7) cleanly without scouting. About the time we were running Sockdolager, the group of kayaks that camped below Unkar yesterday passed us. Later in the trip, we heard that one of the nine kayakers died somewhere around Whitmore Wash just before the end of their trip.

Robb and I ran Grapevine (class 7) and were waiting in an eddy on river left for the rest of the boats when whistles started to blow upriver indicating someone was in trouble. Turns out that Greg with Dave in the Portola were caught in the big hole. Eventually they swam and the Portola flushed out inverted. Everyone worked to get the guys out of the water, catch the Portola, and get it flipped and drained. Helen tells the story best.

Once we got the guys into dry clothes and the Portola drained (thanks to a wonderful 12 volt pump that Tony had in his stash of gear) we continued downstream to the next feasible camp.

Home for the night would be the Clear Creek camp at river mile 84.6. The team went to work leveraging the remaining daylight.

Izzy started cleaning out and drying out the Portola

while others laid Greg's wet gear out to dry. I was amazed how quickly the Pendleton blankets dried in the desert air.

Craig and Leif started assembling the other hydro generator in hopes of charging the IT and video batteries.

Once the rig was assembled, they moved the raft out into the current to get the best possible performance, but once again, the system would barely produce a trickle charge to the battery.

Meanwhile, Tony and I checked over the Susie Too and the Portola, deciding that repairs could wait until the boats were off the river.

In the case of the Susie Too, damage was confined to the wood of the inner and outer chines, but the three layers of heavy fiberglass on the outside of the hull were not compromised.

Izzy and I fixed dinner for the group and then we all headed to bed early, thankful for the quick work of everyone when faced with an emergency today.

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