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Ingalls/Peshastin: Too Much Action! (part 2)

Peshastin Creek
Class: III+ (IV)      GMap
Highway 97 culvert to Wenatchee River
Trip Date: 6/10/2006
Written on: 2/27/2010
Written by:

Trip #44 of 2006: Ingalls/Peshastin "Too Much Action!" (part 2)
To read about the pinned boat we encountered on Ingalls Creek and how it was rescued, read Part 1.

Once we were all regrouped at the confluence of Ingalls and Peshastin, my friend cris joined us, and we continued downstream. In addition to Cris were "Earl" and "Joe Chronic" (the chronic swimmer, that is), Will from Oregon (a solid boater), and a few others. Maybe that group whose boat we rescued ran with us for awhile, I can't remember.

At any rate we bombed the continuous class III+ run the way you always do, and it was fairly uneventful in a good way for a while till we got to "Fresh Squeezed". This is usually where the bag of carnage rips open, so it's worth anticipating this if you are ever on a trip here comprised of mixed skill levels...

Somehow I had been running sweep here, but everyone ahead of me eddied out tenuously along the righthand bank where the eddies are weak and vaguely defined. Everyone except "Joe", who was floating into the entrance of Fresh Squeezed, driftwood style. The Diablo was bearing down on him fast, and I decided it was in both our best interests to pass him as early as possible before the rapid focused itself. I took an opportunity where a boulder or two split the current into two channels. I easily passed him so as to not foul up his line (a genuine concern I had at the time, and commonly consider). I got off line above "The Squeeze", and stuffed my bow into the foam against the right wall. Still I eddied out behind the boulder in the center because it's the best place to set safety from a boat. The strong paddlers on any trip through here should always set safety here on R. Left, because swims are common here, and the current below here is so swift and continuous that any loose gear will likely go a long way without an adequate safety net...

"Joe the Chronic Swimmer" came through The Squeeze and flipped in the final hole there. His capsized boat was hung up in the boily  seam between the boulder's eddy line and the pillow coming off of the right wall. He was trying to roll but wasn't. Then Cris came bombing down and landed on Joe's boat! This seems to happen a lot here - people follow too close. This is the kind of rapid where greater spacing is a good idea. Joe's boat stopped Cris and now he was stuck upright, entangled with it. I was hoping Cris would get the fuck out of there, and eventually he did, but not before Joe swam. Will came through at some point. Joe did an impressive Spiderman move up the boulder in the center of the creek, while his boat continued to rodeo without him, seemingly content to be on its own in the hole.

Eventually Cris, Will and I gave chase to Joe's boat. I don't remember what "Earl" was doing. Most likely he had continued downstream and never stopped to look back. He did that a lot that day. This is bad form. Good paddlers are always turning around to look behind them at those who follow. At the crux spots along any given run, paddlers should be stopping to anticipate trouble and lend a hand if its needed.

It took awhile to get Joe's boat in to shore. There are few eddies the whole length of Peshastin Creek at all but the lowest flows. It took all three of us to get the boat out of the water. Then It took for-fucking-ever to get Joe back to his boat. Joe was running around up in the woods along the right side of the creek where the road runs parrallel. We sent Cris up into the woods to flush him out. Sometimes it is difficult to reunite a swimmer with their boat if the boat travels a long way downstream. That's why it's important to have some sort of strategy in place on these continuous creeks to prevent separation, and why it is important to keep group structures tight. When Joe finally showed up, Cris was apparently "lost in the woods", M.I.A. Whistles were blowing and everyone was spread out to make communication even more difficult. What a circus. Remember: Line of sight. Preferably keep all of your group mebers close enough to facilitate communication verbally, or through signing. Whatever you can do. Yes, sometimes its easier said than done. It seemed like we were sititng there an hour or more.

Later Cris and Jon neglected to follow a perfectly good, conservative line I was taking. This resulted in them both diverting to the wrong side of an island where they got dead ended by a spanning log. It took them considerable time to portage back over to the main channel.
  Then Cris swam in some seemingly innocuous rapid. Once your trip has enough strain applied to it, it doesn't take much for the weaker links to come unraveled. That's why basic concepts of river running are important and can go a long way towards keeping all the ducks in a row. I write these TR's to try to convey some of them and to illustrate how and where things go wrong. Hopefully I'm not the only one who learns from these incidents.

After another long pause on an otherwise very swift creek, the day was getting very long and tiresome. We passed below the log bridge which should have been our take out. This was  my first time down the run or I would have made sure it was. The guys form the other group were there, but now somehow I was informed that my throwbag (see Part 1, Ingalls Creek) was in Cashmere... WTF?! Meanwhile Earl was nowhere to be seen- he had gone on down, apparently "on his own trip". Novice paddlers need to understand that there are two kinds of Trip Leaders: The TL with the most experience (in this case it was me) usually does the bulk of the rescue work, with assistance from everyone else. But The other type of TL is the guy most familiar with the run. In this case, Earl. He is the guy who knows where the Take Out is, and has a responsibility to not leave the group in the dust. He was absent during all of the rescues, if memory serves me correctly.

I'm really itching to get off the water at this point, and I'm not alone. Earl is no where to be seen and none of us know where the take out is. Joe meanwhile is about 1/2 mile upstream of us, drifting down as if he is sitting in an inner tube on the Yakima or something. Just as it is the lead boat's responsibility to wait up for the group, it is the sweep boat's responsibility to make a reasonable effort to keep up. Tha way the middle of the group can more easily serve to bind together the lead and sweep, and communicate between the two if needed. To the extent possible, line of sight should always be maintained among as many helmets as possible.

Hwy 2 is on R/ Right, and Will and I intuit that we need to get off of the river. We cross under the bridge and now Hwy 2 is on our left. We get out. Earl is 1/4 mile upstream at his car in dry clothes. The trip ends with me cussing up a storm at Earl for leaving us behind when we didn't know where the t.o. was (we passed it, but fortunately got out before we went too far).

Things cheer up a bit when the other group whose boat I rescues showed up with a case of PBR for my efforts, and a nice new throwbag! Apparently mine was lost in the shuffle so the traded me up! That was mighty nice of those guys! I was ready to drink to that ;)


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