Smack: Fritos are better the second time around, or One good swim deserves another. By Martin Wick
Participants, Brian Joly(the Brain), Kia Jacobson(the Brain’s former sweety), Sam Baudoux(Swam), George the Mechanic(he is sometimes a funny guy but his sidesplitting antics aren’t appreciated by everyone) and myself, Martin.
Disclaimer, The names of the characters in this smack are completely non-fictional and any resemblance in name, paddling skills or personality or lack thereof is completely non-coincidental. All of the events expressed here are COMPLETELY true, FULLY disclosed, approved by the participants, in accordance with the actual state of affairs or exaggerated and without foundation.
It was the beginning of April 2005. I was looking forward to this. I was going to paddle with Brain and Kia. I hadn't seen either one of them on or near water for months, liquid water anyway. Brian had been spending his winter sliding down hills covered in frozen water with plank-like things strapped to his toes. Kia had taken up similar "sport" but with both ends of her feet strapped on. I knew that they would be rusty and I was hoping that we weren’t going to end up on the Casselman or Middle Yough.
Swam and I were to meet them at Nemi-West at nine on Saturday. I got there a little early and minus some sleep. Kia told me that her truck’s cylinder-head gasket blew on the way over. She did manage to get it to her mechanic friend George’s garage though. We learned later that George said that he would knock off a couple hundred in labor if he got to paddle with video legend Brian Joly. Swam and I sat around for two hours mourning the sleep that we didn’t get while Brain and Kia made calls to figure out creek levels and made goo-goo eyes at each other until eleven.
I left my car at Nemi-West and rode with Swam. We followed the Brain and Kia in the Brain’s minivan. Apparently neither one of them knows how to get from Kurt’s to George’s because we took every 4wd road between route forty and route sixty-eight. I kept waiting for the Brain to get stuck up to his axles in a mud puddle or break something on the bottom of his van. We did eventually make it to George’s. We stood around some more and admired George’s trained fancy jumping chicken. I think that the chicken thinks it is a person, it keeps trying to run into the house. George led us to the Top Yough via the back way. No 4wd roads though. I had been up since six thirty and I was wondering if I would ever get on the water.
We put on at one. The highest that I’ve run the Top was 750 cfs. We scouted Swallow Falls and I guessed that it was a little higher than that. Swam took the first run. He ran the normal middle right line. He got stopped hard at the hole at the bottom. I thought that it was Hammer-Time. After a few seconds, he surfed out. George started out up top about five feet farther right and just missed the hole to the left at the bottom. Brain ran it while I was getting in my boat. I took a line that I thought would give me a good chance at doing a rock-360 on top of the elbow smashing rock on the far right. I got up on the rock, but I was going way too fast to consider putting in the stroke to spin the boat. Kia’s line down the middle and to the left of the hole at the bottom looked nice.
George and Brain caught the eddy on the left above Swallow Tail. The normal line down the middle left gets sticky at higher levels. Kia and Swam sat in an eddy on the right while I hoofed it down to see what the cool move of the day might be. I thought that I might be able to catch a trashy rock-360 on the far right. When I got back to my boat Swam had ferried left and Kia did likewise after I described my intended line. I attempted my rock-360, but Whah-Thunk! It quickly turned into a rock-90 as my stern caught on some unfriendly place on the ledge. I penciled backwards, flipped and washed down. I saw Kia’s line, on the left. It looked smooth. Swam didn’t see George’s flawless left line and ran too far right and stern pinned. He then got turned sideways and had to surf/fight his way out the hole with rocks sticking out of it. .
At the rapid beside Muddy Creek Falls, Brain did a boof in the middle. Kia followed. Swam followed but no speed and no boof. He went big hole surfing. He was stuck like kindergardner’s tongue to a frozen flag-pole. I looked for a place to get out of my boat on the right. Swam surfed for about one and a half minutes. He looked worn out. He went for the Mark Spitz. Quickly he was in an eddy with Kia. Brain, George and I went chasing after his boat. Swam’s Blunt got caught on a rock two hundred yards downstream. I jumped out and pulled it ashore. George jumped out to help. We drained it and then waited. Swam walked down. He’d got some water in him and had a second chance to taste the fancy snack that he had for lunch. Yep, he puked. His liquid Fridos fountain was not big enough to get him into the Guinness Book of World records. No, I’m not still laughing. . . . much. He was wearing some Fritos on his cheek and thinking of walking off. I asked if anyone was carrying their cel so that we could call 1800-excuses(This service sells a multitude of excuses in a variety of categories for a minimal charge). I think Kia offered up the idea that maybe we needed to call a Waaaaaahhmbulance. Vultures started to gather in the sky overhead.
After an hour of contemplation and writing little messages to himself with a magic marker and duct tape and then sticking them to his boat, Swam got back in his boat. The messages said things like "PADDLE!", "BRACE!", "PRAY!", NO SURFING!", DON'T FOLLOW BRAIN!", "DON'T FOLLOW KIA!", "DON'T FOLLOW MARTIN!" and a few possible names of his boat, "VOMITORIUM", "THE HURLMASTER", "SAM'S SUBMARINE" and "WHERE'S NEMO?". I think he is going to peel most of those names off when he settles on the best one. After a few minutes of paddling and reading his self-prescribed advice he said that he was feeling better.
Brain tried to boof a couple rapids above Suckhole. He found a hole. He threw a bunch of ends and flipped a few times. He got worked. Brain fought his way out after about one minute. His face was the color of a beet. I thought that his head might explode. There were about fifty vultures in the sky over head now.
At Suckhole Swam walked. Then, almost all of the vultures went away. Everyone managed to get down the run the straight left line OK. I made the ferries into and out of the eddy above Suckhole.
Down below, Kia felt that she needed some more excitement. The vultures knew it. Twenty were back overhead. She tried to boof a friendly looking rock in the middle of the river. She caught waaaaaaay too much rock. She ended up doing upside down flat spins on the recirculating eddy line below. She was out of her boat before I could give her a bow rescue. I suspect that this was a sympathy swim so that Swam wouldn’t feel so bad.
The rest of the trip went well. Swam split to tend to the whims of his girlfriend/master. George took off as well.
We three headed back to Kurt’s, Nemi-West hybrid(half trailer, half shed). We found out that the Top Yough had gone up to 1200 cfs. Kia and Brain whipped up some good grub. We took dip in the outdoor hot tub, while it snowed. Why does beer taste so good after paddling, when sitting in a hot tub, while eating corn chips, when its snowing?