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Ingalls/Peshastin: Too Much Action! (part 1)

Ingalls Creek
Class: IV      GMap
Ingalls Creek Rd. to Peshastin Creek
Trip Date: 6/10/2006
Written on: 2/27/2010
Written by:

Trip #44 of 2006: Ingalls/Peshastin "Too Much Action!" (part 1)
I'll apologize upfront for some of the arrogant tones in the account that follows, but if you can stomache it, you may find this T.R. amusing and maybe a tiny bit informative...

It was about 3pm on the Saturday afternoon of the Wenatchee Riverfest. My friend Cris and I joined up with Earl (name changed to protect the ignorant) and Will: a solid enough boater from Oregon who was up here and wanted to do some new runs. Then I found out that Joe Chronic (name also changed: Chronic not because he carries "The Chronic", but because he's a chronic swimmer) was also coming along. I was just getting to know "Joe", and had yet to catch on to just how chronic his condition was, but as we rode up to the put-in his stories of shoulder dislocations should have warned me that he's one of those paddlers who routinely boats above his skill level. The only other time I'd met up with "Earl" to do a run he forgot ALL of his gear and I ended up running solo. My friend Cris would put-in at the confluence of Ingalls and Peshastin, and paddle down with us from there. The rest of us went up to the bridge over Ingalls Creek. It was a big enough group (maybe 8 people- arguably too big for such a small continuous creek).
I'd never run Ingalls before, but I knew it was a fast, bouldery, non-stop sort of run. That meant that I probably wanted to be out in front of the pack because the Daiblo doesn't like being stuck behind floaters. Neither do I. Soon after putting on I had blasted in front of "Earl", "Joe", Will and the others, smashing through countless tiny boofs and holes.
  Coming around a corner some kayaker was on the R. Left bank yelling at me. I was annoyed by this distraction, but a second later around the bend I saw some orange plastic in the middle of the creek: "Oh. His boat." I tried to eddy out but missed the faint eddy in the fast current. So next I tried to pin myself and park. I was unstable and to my disappointment there was enough current to wash me free. I scraped over the rocks and went over a ledge sideways, getting stuck in the hole right above a downed tree. I dug my way out of the hole towards the center of the river where the current was pooled up weakly (there was still a lot of swiftwater here, and most of the rocks were covered). Here in the center of the creek the water was shallow and slower than the deeper current on either side. I popped my skirt and got out on this spine of gravel, shouldered my boat, and proceeded to walk with it upstream, eddy by eddy. The water was ankle to knee deep.
   50' feet or so and I was up to the pinned kayak. The rock it was pinned on was small, but one of the biggest in the vicinity. It was big enough to stand behind comfortably, but not big enough to set my boat on."Let's see..." I thought,"how to get to work with nowhere to put my boat and paddle?". I rested my boat on the pinned kayak, part of the rock, and also cradled it against my thighs.Now it was like a little work bench with my cockpit in front of me where I could reach my rope, biners and pully.
   At some point throughout all of this, Earl, Joe and the others blew past me and never even tried to stop. This is bad practice, but all too common. Chock it up to lack of awareness or inexperience, but now I have no one to spot me if my gear gets loose from this precarious position. I'm on my own now. Paddlers need to cultivate good river running practices for just such an occasion as these: Looking behind them and stopping if something like this is going on. If they passed me, they should have eddied out within sight of me, to monitor the situation and assist if needed. This is part of the game, folks, and people should learn to enjoy it and sincerely engage in it. Your skills and experience will benefit richly, and you may save some gear or someone's life if you cultivate skill. But they just kept on going like it was no big deal. That's why people like that don't progress as paddlers. Sounds callous, but its true. To be fair, it isn't easy to eddy out on a tiny creek like this, but that's why class III boaters should practice eddy turns and PRECISE BOAT HANDLING before "stepping it up" to class IV.
   By now one of the boaters from the group with the pinned kayak (they weren't with us) was on the R. Left bank, maybe 20' away. Immediately he starts yelling at me, giving me orders about how to affect the rescue. Clearly, however, it was I who was Jonny On The Spot, and in the most effective position to do anything. Nevermind the fact that I'd been paddling whitewater since before he was born. I had to keep telling him to be wait and be patient. Just this distraction alone was prolonging progress.
  He wanted to throw me his rope- WRONG. I already had mine out,first of all. Second, it would be really hard to clip a deployed rope to the pinned craft with all of that rope dragging in the fast current. Also, he was between me and my boat and paddle. His rope would have likely snared my gear from its stable but precarious position. "Be Patient, Son!"
  It was difficult to reach the grab loop of the pinned boat (and this is often the case), especially with my boat balanced on my lap. When I did it was hard to clip the rope to it due to this boat's poor design (I forget what model it was). When I got it on the rope, with the bag ready to throw to shore, I yelled to the guy on the bank, " When I throw you the rope, DO NOT pull on it UNTIL I TELL YOU!!" I paid out extra rope for myself so I'd have the right amount of slack on my end. Then I had to reposition my body carefully. My boat and paddle would remain delicately balanced on the pinned boat, the rock, and me during the throw, and there was no one downstream to catch my gear if I lost it.
  When I was ready I threw the bag to him. I missed by about 5 feet, but that's why I threw it slightly upstream of him. It tangled in some brush where he could easily reach it. Next I grabbed my boat and stick, and held them out of the way. "Pull on the rope!" I yelled. He started yanking on the pinned boat. The whole while, some bystanders wearing jeans had gathered. I think we were in their backyard. I pointed at them and yelled "YOU!! HELP HIM OUT! Pull On The Rope!"Startled, they leaped to his assistance, and the boat came right off.
  With  my boat and paddle I walked back down to where I could get back into my boat. At the site of the pin, the current was too fast. I continued on down, but now the group whose boat I rescued had my throwbag. I didn't like that, but decided it could get sorted out later somehow.
I boogied the rest of the way down to the confluence of Peshastin Creek where my "group" was waiting.
  It's true that I prolonged our trip by stopping to rescue the guy's boat, but I saved the other group time by getting to the boat the most efficient way: by boat.

To read how this trip down Peshastin continued to spiral into a long day on the river, read Part 2...

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