Professor Paddle: getting stuck in holes
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commander fun
Tricky Woo
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  Quote commander fun Replybullet Topic: getting stuck in holes
    Posted: 11 Jul 2013 at 9:22pm
i had an eye opening experience on the sky this week.  i got stuck in my first hole.  right side of lunch hole to be exact.  i know its there, but yet i paddled right into it.  the whole time i was in it i knept thinking to myself, "this is is not happening, im not really in a hole, its going to release me any second now, and im going to roll up and be fine".  when that didnt happen, i pulled my skirt while simultaneously being thrashed around and scraping my leg on the cockpit rim while exiting.  once out of the boat, i did not immediatley flush.  i started swimming frantically in whatever direction seemed right, and then i remembered the "balling up" tactic.  before i was even fully balled up, i popped out on the right next to my boat and was able to pull the boat to shore. 
this leads me to two conclusions:

1. i should not be boating on the sky( or any river)  with just one other person.

2. i dont know how to get out of a hole while im still in my boat

so i know if you are swimming you can ball up, go limp, or combine these with swimming toward the pourover to try to push youreself deeper to flush out, but what tactics can you use while your still in your boat?
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FLUID
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  Quote FLUID Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2013 at 9:35pm
Freestyle/combat tactics.....don't feel bad I've swam out that one once...good luck next time
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  Quote up4air Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2013 at 10:06pm
that is a very sticky spot- I was separated from my riverboard there once. I have seen guys get worked and trashed in kayaks there, I think they just keep rolling up, getting a breath, scratching their way out, would never ever want to be in that position...
More water, please.
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water wacko
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2013 at 10:54pm
My friend had a bad time in there once. Between 3-4000 that hole gets really bad/ low head-ish even.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote mokelumnekid Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 12:07am
Isn't anybody going to comment on item (1)? You know, the usual Darwin Award trash talk?
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  Quote Dale Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 5:40am
As for number 1, if they got video, then is OK. If not, you should paddle with more people.

Number 2 is a complicated 37 part answer and the first thirty 36 parts involve not getting caught in really sticky holes in the 1rst place. Part number 37 involves the concept of double pumping. Look it up.

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  Quote tiziak Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 7:14am

Unless your buddy was on the shore with a throw bag, and he/she really knows how to aim it, how were they going to help you?

 

We play a very loose game on the water. I've noticed that we carry an air of safety in numbers, that isn't really present in a lot of cases.

 
In that kind of a situation, you're on your own. I don't know you and I've never boated with you, but I wouldn't automatically assume you shouldn't be on the sky. Actually, if you knew the risks inherent, and you still boofed into lunch hole at that level, I think you're probably a pretty fun boater.

 

I wouldn't worry about the swim. Just try to stay calm. Thatís a pretty asinine comment but it's true. I swim all the time, and I don't think I can honestly point to one method that has gotten me out of a sticky hole more than any other method. The balling up and going deep seems to work.  But I've been body surfing holes where I can't even get both my arms around my knees. It's also a moot point when you're pasted up against a rock

  

As far as in your boat; some holes are just gonna win. You could be lucky and get a surge that changes the current and pushes you out. Or not. Your best bet is to always keep and edge up, aggressively, and fight towards the downstream edge of the hole. Or any edge of the hole. You're going to get tired, so push hard while you have the energy and oxygen. Even if the hole has a large fence, the act of slamming your bow or stern into that current can ender or flip you into a greener trough of water that might pull you out.

 

Just keep fighting.

 

And always, ALWAYS... drink your booties.

 

 

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

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  Quote chipmaney Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 7:36am
It's not the swim, but a kayakers response to it. The kayaker can realize swimming is part of paddling and get back in the boat. Or the kayaker may limit progression because he is intimidated.

Mental strength and visualization is an important component of kayaking skill.
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 7:55am
Understanding hydrology is an important part of surfing out of a hole, being able to identify the weak side and working your boat to the weak side and using that to help you spin out of it. There are some holes that don't have a weak side and in those cases you hold on or do the flip over upstream and grab for the green water technique.

When I catch a surf, I usually spend the first few seconds trying to get stable and see if it's going to flush me on it's own or not. once I've realized that I'm in for the long haul I look for the weak side and try and work my boat towards it using a braceing sweep in the foam pile. If your pointed towards the weak side it's a lot easier to paddle towards it and get your bow into downstream current.

In the case of having the weak side on your stern I usually try to back my stern into the current get spun and then try and ender my boat out of the hole.

Keep in mind these techniques will work in easy to moderate holes, but there are some holes that all you can do is hold on and go for the ride, take you thrashing and maybe your swim, drink you booty and get on with it.

There is also a point when you've bee surfing that you need to commit to swimming. If your surfing a hole that is upstream of some significant whitewater you might want to swim early and save some energy for your swim. If you know it's really sticky and that it's unlikey that you'll surf out of it and you have a long swim down to the next viable eddy though some heavy WW, pull early. Swimming suck when your fresh, sucks worse when your tired out from taking a 2+ minute hole thrashing.

Like Chipmaney says, don't let a swim zap your mental game, I'm notoriously guilty of having a swim mess with my confidence, and if your on a committing run that you still need to get some work done on that's not the most productive.

Also if you see some moderate hole that will hand out a good sidesurf drop in and try and work yourself out of it, it's good practice to build the muscle memory.

Good luck with the learning process.
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water wacko
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 8:42am
IK's are notorious hole bait too.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote not-very-clever Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 2:24pm





jed, you're the man bro, love that.... getting thrashed in a hole and thinking to yourself about the pros and cons of swimming now or later...ha ha. its a huge mental game for sure!

im no expert here, i paddle for the Junior Varsity team, but i have had many memorable hole rides and plenty of swims out of them for sure.† but i tell you what,† working my way out of any retentive hole always feels like a huge accomplishment!

†i think staying cool as a cucumber is the key.... and kayaking in the NW can be challenging because of the cold water temps. and in the winter its dark, rainy out,† instant head-freeze, and you got poogies on. the water is so cold it kind of shocks you and that feels like it zaps your air supply, and your head hurts.

playboating in holes and spending time upside down is good skill building.

! i think having an offside roll and back deck roll are good tools to have. and a good offside brace too...

cheers




Edited by not-very-clever - 12 Jul 2013 at 7:21pm
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  Quote septimus prime Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 2:56pm
Agree with Hawkes,

1. Spend a moment stabilizing if possible.
2. Get your speed up and surf hard for one shoulder and you usually will clear into the downstream current
or
3. Throw yourself onto the pile and dig in with your paddle. If you get lucky you will slowly creak out the back as your paddle engages more green water or you get surfed back into the trough with enough speed from starting at the top of the pile to try option 2 again.

Peace.
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 6:41pm
@Commander Fun:
I feel like your experience has brought you to the launching point in your kayaking career. From here, you can become deathly afraid of holes, avoid them altogether, and end up portaging a bunch of really good rapids and missing out on killer whitewater, or you can dive into conclusion number two and make it a point to understanding hydraulics. By-the-way, ditch conclusion number one.
I agree with what everyone has posted, so go through and try to understand what they are saying.
As a Class IV boater that is stepping into Class V, I find myself landing in a lot of holes, so knowing how to deal with holes is essential. Some holes I actually want to be in. Some holes I surf and I'm glad that they are good and sticky so I don't get kicked out of them before I can throw down a few tricks. Other holes I avoid and usually can spot them during a read-and-run. Some holes you have to go through and I love aiming for them, gritting my teeth, maybe even growl a little bit, and drop into them digging my paddle into the top of the hole and breaking through it. Those kinda holes you want to throw your whole body weight into it. Next time you're next to Lunch Hole don't avoid it altogether. Instead, drop into the tail end of it just to get a good feel for it and practice punching through it. When I first run a river I usually pass up a bunch of holes, but as I'm going by them I take a good look at them and try to decide if I want a piece of them next time I run that stretch. A lot of holes you boof over and it's a great feeling when you land a sweet boof! Hopefully you're not too freaked out by your experience. Now that you've had your first hole ride, it gets better from here. Just think if you could have styled it and worked your way out of it. When you weasel your way out of a sticky situation you usually end up with a big 'ol smile on your face. It typically means you're getting better. So shake it off buddy and go do some hole riding.
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  Quote mokelumnekid Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 8:43pm
@Osmelendez- I agree completely with your take on holes, they are a fundamental feature and need to be understood through a plan of progression just like anything else.

But "ditch conclusion number one"? Please explain. I appreciate that in the context of getting someone out of holes, having a partner is not much help in the moment as tiziak suggests. But all forms of s-t happens in those moments, from getting an exhausted boater out of the water after swimming out of a hole, to getting gear, etc.   

Obviously everyone parses these things differently. But teh benefits from having at least one and better two other team members are so obvious they almost don't need repetition. If nothing else for support and useful feedback. IF the point of this post is "help me work on my technique in holes" then having a crew to go work on that is prudent. IF the point was simply, "I'm kinda new to all this and can't find anybody to boat with" the same logic and caution applies. Dude needs to find a crew. To suggest that he can somehow make safe progress by going out and working holes without back-up seems well...
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 8:58pm
Well, keep in mind that Lunch Hole is a uniquely gnarly hole between 3-4 k, as I think Wacko pointed out. In fact, I know a few boaters who've had scary recircs there. It is important to know why Lunch Hole is so sticky at that flow range: if you examine the backside of the rock at much lower flows (under 1200cfs) you will note the concave sphere-like shape hollowed out of it. So, not exactly "low head-ish", but essentially there is a pocket that is uniformly sticky at those flows. I would caution all kayakers to be watchful and ready to mobilize w/ a throwbag if someone is getting worked in Lunch Hole between 3-4 k. I wouldn't wait around while they continue gettin trashed. I might not immediately get out w/ a bag, but I would at least paddle to as close as I can to where I'd want to bag the swimmer (downstream of the hole on R. Left). Its worth taking seriously - I had a freind swim in there who got chundered long after he exited his cockpit. No one did anything to help him, just watched. I wasn't there but he said he inhaled a lot of water and thought he was in danger of drowning.

PPeeps should be aware of this mean streak in Lunch Hole and spread the knowledge to the peeps they lead down the Sky. Make sure the novices know so they stay away. And if you go probing there be ready for some beat down.

You can still flirt w/ it though if you can boof strong or have hole riding/playboat skillz. Personally, in that flow range I prefer to stay "off the menu"

Edited by jP - 12 Jul 2013 at 9:01pm
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:06pm
Regarding how many people you boat w/, I'd say it matters more who it is, how sincere they are about looking out for you, and how earnest they are when sh*t hits the fan- will they see you get into trouble? Everyone's heads should ALWAYS be on swivels, and the flock should stay close where they can help each other and communicate. Will they mobilize quickly and take action when you are in trouble? Remember that any rescue going down on the Sky is great practice for when something gnarlier unfolds in some dark gloomy canyon in your future. Take Action!

Oh, and I pretty much agree w/ MokelumneMan's above post. Having someone better than you whom you trust (and whom is truthfully deserving of that trust, let's not forget) is always a good way to pave one's path of progression. If you are that boater, take it seriously and shoulder a little responsibility to look out for those following you.

Edited by jP - 12 Jul 2013 at 9:37pm
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:32pm
My last post, and we'll call this a trilogy.
Dealing w/ being stuck in holes...

Well, I certainly get stuck pretty bad every so often. Going back as far as I can remember, it is the outcome in kayaking that I may fear the most. Jed summed it up good. I like to get stable, try to relax my body enough to assess my situation. Stay relaxed, focus on breathing, and expend the least amount of energy.

While I try to problem solve my way out, I like to look downstream (if possible) and try to formulate plans and backup plans, including a possible swim. I will usually only roll up once if I know I can't seem to boat out. But during this first flip, I try to grab out-flow with my paddle. This "sea anchor" effect often will flush you out. If not, after rolling up, I ussually decide that if I flip in the hole a second time, I'm gonna swim while I got energy. I might try to throw some ends, or rock back n forth, ect, but I'm not a rodeo star, so that's why I'd rather just get rid of the boat. It is what is keeping me trapped in the hole, after all.

Once swimming, my favorite thing to do when I can pull it off goes as follows:
1) pull skirt loop while consciously gripping paddle w/ other hand
2) take hand from skirt loop and grab pin loop behind cockpit while gripping paddle w/ other hand.
3) emerge from cockpit w/ paddle in one hand and boat in the other!!
At this point you can assess you situation. Yeah, you may just get pummeled by you boat. Or you can decide you need to let go of one piece of gear in favor of the other, or both. Often the boat will fill up and drag you out of a hole.

i've successfully done this on at least two occassions. Once I let go of the paddle in order to boogie-board out of the hole holding onto the swamped boat.

You can practice that three step process in a pool and train yourself to execute it. You can always let go of it later if you decide thats what you need to do.


oh yeah: ya gotta appease the river gods. Ya just gotta. Booty Beers are Good For You! To refuse is not only unsportsman like, but potentially down right bad river karma!! I wouldn't tempt the fates!
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:34pm
@mokelumnekid
You may have read into my comment a bit too much. I agree with what you are saying. He definitely needs to find a crew. Yes, yes, and yes to your response mokelumnekid. You're right.
I guess I mean to say that he should not let that hold him back from kayaking. Maybe he is at a point in his progression that he would feel more comfortable with more than one other person. If that's the case, then he should do what he feels comfortable with. Sometimes it's hard to round up even one person to boat with though. Maybe he could boat with the one right person with the right experience that could show him how to read and run, stand on the bank and dissect holes, maybe even show him how to surf a mild hole. I don't know.
If it's the one person he's boating with first time on the river, well then maybe more people would be wise.
Do what you feel comfortable with Commander Fun
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  Quote osmelendez Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:41pm
jP, your 1,2,3 step is actually pretty helpful. My last two swims I let go of everything. Then I ended up get recirculated in the holes. Not fun. Sometime I think that if I would have at least held onto my paddle that I could have used it to reach deep and catch some green water that would draw me out of the hole.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:47pm
I spent a little time visualizing it before I started pulling it off. The Salto had really good handles behind the seat that were easy to grab. Gotta say its one of the few tjings I'm not found of about Pyranha boats: the pin loops behind the seat aren't good for grabbing my boat.

Take the approach that makes ya comfortable, and change and adapt that approach as you grow. But also we gotta remind ourselves and each other that we are all out there taking our own approach to this sport and defining our own experience somewhat. It requires sensitivity and respect. To some of you that may sound funny coming from me. But it is undeniable that there is no one size fits all template for us all to follow.

Hell, I can't tell you how often I've seen D1 drop into Lunch at exactly those sticky-deep-pocket flows. I seen him get worked in there like Raggedy Ann on Acid at the Laundromat, come out exhausted, comment in a comatose slur about how scary it was, and then just intentionally drift into it again next time like he just polished off a gallon of ice cream on the couch while watching tv...

METAL!!!!!!

Edited by jP - 12 Jul 2013 at 9:50pm
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  Quote commander fun Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:47pm
@ tiziak-
your right.  even if someone was there with a throwbag,  i probably would have never know they were throwing it to me.

i appreciate all the feedback and i understand the techiques being described.  someone had also mentioned to  me the idea of reaching down as deep as you can (whie still in your boat) to try to grab some of the water flowing out.  they also mentioned that while you are barcing/sculling you can generate som forward progress by leaning back with your scull/brace, hopefully enough to catch some water moving out.  i beleive this is what you guys were describing. 

i would love to say that i tried to boof the sh*t out of this hole, but i actually paddled obliviously into it from the side, and it actually wasnt "lunch hole", but the hole on the inside of the turn.  that whole rapid wants to push you right into lunch hole,  and so i usually cut it inside.  this time i cut it too far inside,  partially because i was keeping an eye on the person behind me, and not paying enough attention to my own paddling.

i look forward to intentionally trying these techniques out an a safer hole.  im not really bummed out or scared, im actually  glad that it happened because it highlighted a skill that i was lacking.

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  Quote commander fun Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:56pm
as far as the finding a crew thing goes, i kind of have a circle of crews that changes every weekend, and im always joining new crews.  actually im kind of a crew-whore. i just jump from crew to crew, and leave once that crew is tired of boating.  although, i am looking for that one  special super-crew to settle down with.  i know theyre out there, and theyre probably stoked.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 9:59pm
That's the healthy attitude, I think. A raft guide who has never flipped a raft has nothing but fear and dread of its inevitable potential. The raft guide who has flipped many rafts has the experience to slow the events down as they unfold, and this control the outcome better.

Dealing w/ being stuck in holes is another skill to cultivate, and no doubt playboaters are best equiped provided they sincerely cultivated those moves. Me, I got trashed in too many holes as a kid before I had a clue about what I was doing. I'm more comfortable in them now, but I still don't like playboating. I'd just rather avoid them or bust through them.

Swimming is actually a fun skill to cultivate if you continue to embrace the experience as if it were still part of the game (because it is, so you may as well freestyle that sh*t, too).
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 10:04pm
It takes time to really "settle in" with river peeps. Not always, of course. The river has a way of forging fast friends. But as years go by the depth of those relationships broaden and become even more functional. True teamwork emerges. That is a satisfying and rewarding thing about these river adventures.

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  Quote up4air Replybullet Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 11:37pm
I had the fortune of joining some expert river peeps after Boulder Drop last Sunday and they showed me the eddy just before lunch hole on the left that I hadn't noticed before. It was nice to sit there for a minute and get psyched up for the extra effort. Of course if you go over there you've pretty much committed to running it, but so much better than getting blindsided as it's not an obvious hole from above, at least from my level (no protruding rock or wave in front)...These guys went into it purposefully backwards and upside-down and just kinda hung out there... respect.
More water, please.
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