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Grays Anatomy

Grays River
Class: IV+      GMap
S. Fork Grays to Hwy. 4
Trip Date: 11/7/2009
Written on: 3/3/2010
Written by:

The Grays was swollen within the bedrock canyon walls when we drove over the bridge near the Put-In. We put on around 1:00pm. Kinda late, but here we were: Myself, Brian, Jed were all in our hardshells, and Franz  had his catboat. I believe the Nassells gauge read 1000-1300 going straight up.

We paddled under the bridge through the narrow canyon down to the first significant drop and scouted it. It was a riverwide broken ledge, about 6 or 7' high. A class IV drop or so with a knobby boof on the left half of the river.
  There were about 4 or 5 other Big drops in this 1st canyon: There was a big broken ledge/slide that we ran hard right across a powerful eddyline. Immediatley below this was a twisting, steep rapid, flowing left back to center. We scouted both. Other drops were squeexing a lot of water through this narrow canyon today. The water was muddy and pushy, really quite high. Many of the rapids were boat scoutable though in this 1st canyon.
We paddled through a brief intermission of class II for a mile or so before coming to a fakeout rapid that we thought might be Superbowl. It was steep enough to get out and scout: Midstream boulders split the flow. I opted for an S-turn maneuver close to a turbulent hole, hooking around the midstream boulder on my way to the run out on the left. Jed got a little too close to the hole and got chundered quickly before being endered out and rolling up.
We scouted Superbowl on R. Right, and I didn't see a line for myself at this flow. Maybe at lower water. There were some slides leading into a checkboard of at least 5 nasty looking, BIG holes, effectively blockading the whole rapid. We ferried over to R. Left and portaged.Below Superbowl looking upstream we saw a strange looking lanslide on R. Right.
Franz had run this river a time or two, and had some cautionary tales that hinted of an Epic of some sort, but I was charging ahead and may not have listened as intently as I should have. "Picnic is just downstream!" he warned us all...
I think I had too much of a "charge-it!" mentallity that day. I can't otherwise explain how Picnic managed to sneak up on me, but it did. I don't think in all of my years of paddling, a rapid has ever snuck up on me like this! Before I knew it, powerfull class IV whitewater was whipping up against my boat as entered a wide boulder strewn mess to an obviously big rapid. There probably were some eddies to get out and scout from but I must've blown right by them.  
   I started to seek shelter amid the mid stream boulders that stretched of towards the R. Right side of the entrance, headed towards the "shoal" away from the main flow which roared down the left half of the riverbed. Brian was right on my tail, and I was feeling a tinge of regret that I had lead the group astray. As Brian and I feverishly scrambled to get purchase in the weak eddies behind these boulders, Jed had dropped to the left with the main current. He tenuously gained purchase in an eddy behind a large boulder at the bottom of the entrance boulderfield. Since I couldn't stop and felt responsible to at least provide some kind of line for Brian, I gave into the current knowing that following the water is almost always the best thing to do in these sorts of rapids. I wrapped around to the right side of Jed's eddy, passing him there as Franz descended around towards me from the left.
  It was clear now that Franz and I were at the mercy of the steepening current as we headed towards a broken ledge that stretched across most of the channel. He was slightly to my left as we both got stuck surfing in a HUGE hole. Franz popped an oar that was close enough to nearly take me out. I surfed there long enough to contemplate grabbing onto one of those pretty red tassles

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