My First Time

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My first trip down the Miracle Mile was probably like every first trip down- it was big, fast, and steep (250 fpm) and the most fun I have ever had in a boat! The river was running about 800 cfs ( a foot foot on the bridge piling ) when we went with our friend Dave, a local expert who has run the section many times. At the put in he told us about running it at three feet, or triple the current flow.

"One guy swam under two logjams that day." Dave reminiced. "It was ugly! Death holes everywhere!"

I started to sweat.

Then Dave gave us some pointers.. "Don't swim" he said unnecessarily. "If you swim your boat will pin and you will probably get hurt."

We were planning on doing the mile in sections, breaking it down into four or five parts, eddying out between and then getting verbal instructions from Dave on how to run the next section. None of us felt the need to physically scout any of the rapids because we were pretty confident about reading and running so long as we had a general idea where the lines were.

We spent a lot of time warming up and then put on. I got bounced off a rock in the first easy rapid above the bridge and noticed Mike, a MM veteran, looking at me skeptically. "I'm going to have to do better than that." I said sheepishly.

The logjam above the bridge is a little tricky- you run under it but there is a log inches under the water that will flip you if you aren't careful. Dave went first and got flipped, but after watching him we all knew where it was and were ready for it. Below the bridge we ran a short rapid and eddied out.

"Warm ups over." Dave said, grinning. "I'm not warmed up." somebody said.

Below us the river dropped out of sight at an alarming rate into a seemingly bottomless boulder garden. "Ok," Dave said, snapping us back to reality. "There is an island downstream around the corner to the right. The right side channel ends in a logjam. The left side channel has a bad pin spot center. Run the left side of the island on the right side of the channel. There is a steep drop after that into a moving pool. Eddy out on the right. Got it?"

Of course not! "Um, the right side of the left channel?" someone asked.

"No," Dave said patiently. "Run the left side of the island, right side of the channel."

"Where is the log jam?" somebody else asked.

"On the right side of the island. Don't go down the right side of the island because the river ends in a logjam there." Dave replied.

We were silent, ready. Dave peeled out with a flurry of strokes and I followed, determined not to lose sight of him. It wasn't easy! I stuck so close to the island that I ran out of water and bashed my way down and flipped in the hole at the bottom. I rolled up paddling and barely got in the eddy next to Dave. Just downstream was an even bigger section ( which I later learned was Confusion ).

"See that rock with the little bush on it?" Dave said, pointing downstream. "No, not that one- that one to the left. Run right then ferry to the center and then go right, then left if you want, then generally stay center. There is an eddy about two hundred yards downstream on the left." Then he was gone and we gave chase. This section was big, pushy, and long. I kept thinking: 'eddy out on the left, eddy out on the left, where in the hell is the eddy on the left??!?!'

Finally I saw Dave sitting calmly in a small eddy on the left and one by one we joined him. After that section either the river calmed down a bit or I got into a rhythm. There were many fun rapids, with the rapid below Whoop-de-doo being especially memorable.

It was a wild ride- Dave would suddenly drop out of sight and then I would be airborne over a hydraulic- great fun! The last section ( the one that had looked so impressive from the take out bridge ) was a mellow cool down after the upstream section, and I eddied out under the bridge, exhilarated. After a short break we paddled down to do the lower gorge, and Dave hooked up with some guys to run the Miracle Mile again. Since this trip I have run this section many times, but I have never forgotten my first trip down- it was truly unforgettable!