preparation was unusually thorough because of the remarkably inhospitable
conditions surrounding the creek. Just getting in to scout the run was a major obstacle that had to be overcome before we even thought about running it...
Protecting the creek.
Fortunately, Pete and I like challenges, and horrible access is always a plus when considering an exploratory descent. Of course, being thrown in jail or getting sodomized and shot (not necessarily in that order) by hostile, inbred locals was a new facet we hadn't encountered before, but we were determined to run this creek, no matter WHAT.
First we had to scout the creek to determine if it was even runnable, so we left early that morning. It was a very long drive, so it took most of the day to reach a spot in the mountains on a road that looked like a good access point on the map. Soon enough we encountered a gate, a camera, and a suspicious guard, in that order.
"Howya doin?" I asked, getting out of my car as the guard approached.
While Pete sat very still and tried to look innocent,
to tell every one of the 459,689 lies I had dreamed up (I can talk reeeal
fast when necessary) about why we just had to get in there, past the gate,
up the creek, so to speak, did I mention past the gate??... After a minute
or two my verbal assault the guard started to look a little bewildered, so
I eased off a little. "All righty." he said after thinking for a minute,
or maybe he said something just to make me shut up. "But if the gates
you come out yer gonna be stuck up there.. heh, heh, heh..."
He seemed to like the idea.
"Hey, no worries.." I said, grinning at the camera as I walk back to my car. "Sweet, we're IN.." I gloated under my breath as I fired up the engine. "Hurry up before he changes his mind and shoots us.." Pete muttered as I eased the car into enemy territory.
After wandering around for awhile sort of aimlessly (we had left the maps at home, not wanting to have any kind of documentation in case of capture, and there were new roads all over the place). We found the creek and started poking around, trying not to look too suspicious to the second, roving guard (Brute #2), who was lurking about in a four wheel drive truck, waiting to pounce on miscreant kayakers and other unauthorized riffraff who had managed to slip past the first guard.
What we found on the creek is still highly classified, but suffice it to say we knew we would be back, because the creek looked GOOD.
Everything was going well, and then we got a flat, on top of a ridge, a long way from anywhere, maybe we were a little lost but not too bad. It was getting late, and I had kind of a crappy spare, so we decided to bail out while we still could. The road was pretty bad in a few spots on the way out, and we were a little nervous about a second flat, but we made it and breezed through the gate with an hour to spare.
"We did it.." I said, not quite believing it.
"That actually wasn't too bad." Pete said. "Of course, now we gotta figure out THE PLAN."
"Yeah." I replied thoughtfully. "I wonder if anyone else has ever been dumb enough to try this before..."
After a couple of weeks of mulling things over, we had a talk.
"It's gotta be on a vacation day, like Christmas or something." Pete said. "Bad weather too, low visibility, quiet, easy to move undetected."
We needed a lot of water too, and no snow, so it looked like it might be tough for all of the elements to come together. "Maybe we should camouflage our boats for the hike in." I said. Parts of the ridge we would be traversing had wide open spaces. "We could tape black plastic to our boats, and then paddle out with it.."
"And what if we get caught? We have to have a GOOD STORY..."
"Does this seem like a bad idea to you?"
"Oh, yeah, versus all of those GOOD ideas we've had over the years.."
And on, and on...
Four in the morning... driving through the pouring rain on New Year's Day,
nervous, determined, too much time to think about what might go wrong.
"Jesus it's early." Pete reminds me for the 427th time. (I had only mentioned it 238 times to him..)
We both wonder: "Whose idea was this, anyway?!?"
We couldn't leave a car anywhere near the creek, so we had to hide a bike in the woods near the take out and endure a long bike shuttle at the end of the day. It's dark, the rain is falling even heavier now, and as we are unloading the bike a car appears abruptly on the narrow road, pinning us to the truck with its lights. "Oh, you gotta be @#$ing kidding me." I mutter as the car blows by without slowing, not the guard, I hope?
"Who the hell would be up this early on New Years Day?" I mutter as we pull away. "What a loser."
Another gate, stashing the truck in the woods, getting ready in the dark as the rain begins to come down at an astonishing rate, water pouring down my face, so much one of my contacts almost washes out. "This thing is gonna flood." I said to myself. "If the brute squad doesn't get us the hydraulics probably will. Oh well..." Somehow we manage to get our packs onto the boats in the dark, in spite of the rain and cold, thick fingers.
Hiking in the rain, navigating by dead reckoning.. very dark, cold, keeping our heads down to keep the driving rain out of our eyes. We reach an exposed area, with buildings nearby, and the rain abruptly eases off. "Sure, now the #@$ing rain stops." Hope there aren't any dogs.. Climbing a steep hill, struggling to move quickly but quietly, gasping for breath but still going, can't stop now, can't be seen, Pete is really moving fast, and I thought I was in shape..
Past the buildings. Now we have to cross the ridge, but Pete's packstrap breaks and as he tries to fix it the rain resumes with a vengeance, thundering down even harder than before, chilling us to the bone now that we aren't moving.
"This reminds me of my days in the Infantry." I say with a grin as Pete works on his pack. I don't miss it that much.
Finally Pete gets his rig fixed and we start moving again. The miles go by, but we are moving much more slowly than expected and as we crest the ridge you can see for miles as the sun eases over the horizon. Totally exposed, no time to rest. Gotta keep movin.. gotta get outta sight... finally we descend the other side, and we hear the roar of the creek far below, surprisingly loud, it sounds like it's flooding...
We hide in the woods near our chosen put-in. There is a road nearby, and the Brute Squad is out there, can't get caught now that we are so close.. worked too hard to get here to go down now.
We put on without incident, and the rest, as they say, is highly classified, I'd-tell-ya-but-then-I'd-haveta-let-the-Brute-Squad-have-ya, and lemme tell you brother no one deserves to go out like that...
Halfway through the trip, Pete works on his pack straps as the rain thunders down.