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Yet another whitewater lesson

2007-05-23 15:24:01.192545+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

As a whitewater guide, the primary safety related thing I tried to relate to my customers was "if you end up in the water, don't try to stand up." If you try to stand up, you risk getting your feet caught in the rocks at the bottom, and the river can very easily push you over and, suspended from that foot caught on the bottom upstream, you can die in an arm's depth of current.

One day a fellow guide missed the ferry at the put in rapid and wrapped a boat on Whiteface, I was running safety on the right, so I ran up the bank to go help pull the raft off. As I got into the water and started moving out through the current to the site of the pin, I had this weird internal dialog:

"I can walk out through this because I'm a guide, not a customer."

"What makes you different from a customer?"

"I know better than to walk across this."

I promptly slipped into the current and swam it and worked my way back up through the eddy below, but... well... any parallels you might want to draw between that lesson and, say, foreign policy, are your own.

[ related topics: Dan's Life Whitewater ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-23 18:04:57.140665+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

The one and only time I went down that river, we turned over of course. It was called Satan's rock or some similarly river guide named creatve term.

And the water was high, and roaring.

There was a girl next to me in the boat and I wondered how that was going to go down. It appeared to me she was better suited to shopping in the mall - or whatever - but I have learned I'm not able to tell these things in advance. Or so I thought.

So over we went. And I spun around, in water that you could not see through. Now, I grew up around the water so I swim well and felt calm and knew there was a sufficient time to find the air - thinking a full minute is a long time actually.

So I started swimming up, toward the air. I knew it was up because I could tell gravity was down. So I swam and after about two strokes I hit - dirt - and that confused me. I was swimming down! So against my intuition I turned and swam 'down' and shortly broke out into the air. Ahhh - sweet breath of air.

And I found a whole lot going on out there - there was yelling and roaring water and all kinds of noise. I looked and next to me was the girl - the one that should have been at the mall shopping - she was screaming and thrashing around wildly.

I swam over next to her to help her get to the shore but she proceeded to beat me and hit me with her swinging arms and I, knowing when to retreat - then swam to shore alone. She soon discovered she could stand up and walked to the shore.

I learned that people will help themselves if they decide to. But any parallels to foreign policy I will leave up to the reader.

Never did find out if they named that rock after people who should really be shopping in the mall.

On a slightly different topic, later on I was told there is a way to tell if a female is a river boat guide - does any one remember how?


#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-23 18:16:37.875981+00 by: Dan Lyke

I can tell ya the difference between a parrot and a female river guide, and a bowling bowl and a ... and, no, it has nothing to do with number of fingers... you can eat a bowling ball if you really have to.

As for telling them... it's kinda strange, I've met a number of former whitewater guides, and some I've thought "oh, yeah, of course", but others, some who've been super hardcore, I wouldn't have known but for conversation.

And swimming down is how you get out of the holes, 'cause down is where the water's flowing downstream, up is where it may be flowing upstream (which is what creates an eddy or a hole).

My favorite spot for swimming on the Ocoee is (or at least was last time I swam there, floods may have changed things) the top of an eddy just above Hell Hole, where the current looks minimal and the water seems totally calm, but even with a full Hi-Float PFD it'll suck you under, and if you soar the currents just right, you can stay under for quite a while.

Scares the hell out of the customers when their guide disappears completely.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-23 19:07:42.254957+00 by: Nancy

Ben (or I should say "Toast") is having fun guiding again for OAR this summer. What was your nickname, Dan?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-23 19:18:57.981889+00 by: Dan Lyke

Didn't use a stage name, just "Dan". Not a whole lot of "Dan"s up there, and it wasn't like I was one of those folks where, when strangers came around asking for me, everyone wanted plausible deniability when they said "Oh, no, we don't know anyone by that name".

Ben should say "Hi" to Doug for me!