Tuolumne/Stanislaus Rivers trip report, October 23-24


October 23-24, 2010


Joan and Bob decided to reschedule the trip to an earlier date so that the weather would be better and there would be more light and to avoid daylight savings issues. So the trip went forward on October 23rd and 24th.

It was a small group of 14 and the weather was threatening but those 14 are the diehards of POST, Don and Karen, Kit and Charlie, Jan L. Eric R. Vince and Shauna, Pat and Eileen, and just to round things off our friends from Australia, Sherman and Tallulah. Then Bob and Joan made 14.

Another change to the plan was the campground. Turlock Lake SRA has changed its fee structure to $30 per campsite including 1 car. An extra Car is an additional $10 (1 extra per site) and then all other cars are $20. Since this is usually a car intensive trip, the cost of the campsites and parking was going to cruise past the $200 mark and Joan and Bob thought that was outrageous and shopped around for another campground. They found McHenry campground near Oakdale. Don’t bother to Google it, you won’t find it. It is part of a string of campgrounds along the Stanislaus called the String of Pearls. They are boat access only and even though we weren’t actually boating into the campground we were boating on the Stan so we qualified for a big site not too far from the parking lot. When Bob registered for the site they told him that it had been used for camping less than five times in the last season!!! Note: I would guess that the lack of advertising and Google presence might be a significant contributor to this becoming an underused resource.

There was lots of space in an area that had once been a walnut grove and there were also giant eucalyptus trees. We had the campground to ourselves. On the way to camp in the POST van we experienced a little bit of rain but by the time we got to McHenry it had stopped. We set up our tents and the kitchen tarps and headed off to the put in at Knight’s Ferry. I guess the worst thing I could say about the site was the ground was covered in walnuts and undermined with gopher holes and tunnels. Which isn’t a real complaint, trust me on that. It was easy enough to clear the nuts from where I wanted to put my tent. I also set up a square tarp overlapping my vestibule so we would have a dry place to  put our boating gear and wet clothes when we got back to camp in the evening.

There weren’t any showers (unless you count an outdoor cold water rinse near the parking lot) but in the bathrooms there was a little treat: Hot air blowers. I don’t know if you have come across the new generation of hot air hand driers but they blow with enough force to knock down small children. The water blows off instead of evaporating. Hummm, I thought, Interesting. Never one to limit my use of a thing if I can find another unintended use for it, I opened my rain coveralls and blew the interior dry and warm, the hot air billowed out the pants all the way to the floor. Later Eric mentioned that he used it to dry his tooth brush.

Obedient Rain

Weather was an interesting subject for all concerned. The weather reports gave us a 40% chance of rain during the day and a 75% chance on Saturday night, but the temperatures were comfortably high all through the weekend. Every time we got in the van there was a brief sprinkle but when we were on the river it was dry. On Saturday night when we got to camp it started to rain pretty hard but there was plenty of room under the various rain tarps so the kitchen crew was able to fix dinner (excellent, excellent food, Bob and Joan!) and the rest of us either sat at a dry picnic table or in the ring of chairs set up under a third tarp. After dinner and clean up, we had dry clothes and water-proof tents to snuggle up in when the sky fell in torrents.

During the night there was a crash of pots from the kitchen. I suspected raccoons. I am the kind of person who will lay in bed waiting for the next crash for hours. Each little thump or whisper will announce destruction in camp so I surrendered early and pulled on my rain gear (second set) and went out to investigate. The kitchen tarp had filled with water and collapsed under the weight. I pulled the tarp over the stove and other equipment and went to our tent. I took off my wet gear under the “vestibule” of my tent but it was quite a struggle, especially the rain pants because I couldn’t straighten my legs. I settled on pulling them down around my knees, opening the door so I could sit on my mattress and leaving my legs and sandals in the vestibule. To keep my sleeping bag and jammies dry I left all the wet stuff in the vestibule. All the while I was imagining what I would be doing on a wilderness trip with only one set of dry fleece jammies and rain gear. In the morning the rain had stopped and we had pancakes and sausage and other goodies before we broke camp.

The wind on the other hand never let up. It was roaring through the walnut and eucalyptus trees sounding like a runaway train on a long down hill grade.

After the constant rain Saturday night and the even louder wind in camp Sunday morning the thought of driving to the Tuolumne which had lower flows and a wider flood plain and an unpracticed take-out further downstream from the usual spot, I suggested to Joan that I wouldn’t object to doing the Stan again. She took it to the rest of the breakfast eaters and it was voted down but later re-emerged as a done deal.

On the river it was howling high above the water in the tops of the trees but it didn’t seem to reach the boats! There were occasional gusts that you could see ruffling the water as they rushed at you, but they always seemed to dissipate before they knocked you over. It was noisy but didn’t slow us down one iota and the sky was dry except for occasional individual drops of rain. I mean you could probably count how many drops came down while we were on the water.

So Sunday, we went back to the Stan so that Sherman and Charlie could flip their boat in Russian rapid.

Going back to Saturday at the put in; we were pleased to see that the Stan was running about 3 feet higher than what we are used to.

According to the gauge at Orange Blossom it was running at 1150 cfs on Saturday, spiked up to 1175 at midnight and then took a plunge to 1100 by noon on Sunday. Normal flow is about 350 cfs. That meant Russian Rapid was likely to be washed out into a long wave train and not too difficult.

My partner was Tallulah, our friend from Australia, and Charlie was paddling with Sherman, her father. The last time Tallulah had paddled was when she and I paddled the Smith River in July of 2006, I don’t remember when Sherman paddled last, but I am pretty sure it was before that. Tallulah and I did a few practice ferries and peel outs and it all came back to her, her strokes were strong and effective. I chortled at her that we were going to have lots of fun. We headed downstream. The original plan was to meet Bob at the ledge at the top of Russian Rapid, where he would help pull the boats out of the way so everyone could scout the rapid. But, as the ledge at the top of the rapid was under water, Bob struggled back upstream to meet us at the top of the portage trail which was running at about 100 cfs. Yep, the river was flowing down the path deep enough to paddle the boats except when the brush got too catchy.

Charlie and Sherman took the portage and Tallulah and I took the rapid. It was so much larger than I have ever seen it. Whoopee! We paddled down the left, through a nice chute, back paddled to the right to line up another chute, then aimed very close to an overhanging willow branch on the left, and then hit the big wave at enough angle to test my brace and lean, but not so much as to flip us. Then we plowed through the wave train which was surprisingly powerful with up and down as well as lots of swirlies that threatened our balance. Bob had suggested taking a shot at the eddy on the left, where the portage trail ended, but we were long past it by the time we stopped struggling with the wave train so we pulled out on the right, next to Don and Karen. Then we watched the other boats come down. No one flipped. Some people were able to catch the left side eddy others came to our side, the voyageurs straggled to the end of the portage, their boats full of small brush and leaves.

It took a while to regroup on the shore for lunch because the wave train pretty effectively separated the two beaches. Jon D. had elected to paddle his IK solo so his partner could walk the portage (I swear he was almost airborne when he hit the wave train) but he ended up on the wrong side of the river from his partner and lost a lot of ground ferrying over to join her. There was lots of hand waving and shouting over the roar of the water but eventually we were all on the same side where we ate lunch and watched the river. No one elected to carry their boat back up the right-hand shore to run it again. Perhaps people were thinking that they didn’t want to risk a swim when the weather was so threatening.

After lunch we toddled off down the river at a fast clip. Tallulah and I were near the front so we got to see a giant Blue Heron taking off like a B-52 and a quick view of an otter in a pool. We collected some trash from the shore and coasted at what seemed like 20 mph compared to our normal 3 mph. We arrived at the Horseshoe Bend stretch break at about 1:20 PM so Bob volunteered to take the shuttle vehicle to Orange Blossom Bridge so we could go the extra 3 miles past Horseshoe Bend.

Then we returned to camp via some interesting wanderings in Oakdale, where the street signs leading back to camp didn’t match what they said when we left in the morning.(IE Santa Fe turned into First Street without our noticing it on the way out, when we came to First St on the way back, it was new territory to us. We drove another two blocks and came to turn left on Santa Fe, which dead-ended about three blocks off the main drag. We circled around the block, passed another car from our group which was headed in the opposite direction and indulged in a bit of Keystone Kops until we figured out the First Street/Santa Fe kafuffle.)

On Sunday we arrived at Knight’s Ferry, loaded the boats and paddled down to Russian Rapid. The flow was ever so slightly lower than Saturday so that when Tallulah and I hit the diagonal wave it was steeper and thinner. We shipped a lot of water  from the bow, then took on more water as we wobbled through the rest of the wave train. Just as we cleared the wave train, whistles went up and we looked back to see Charlie and Sherman swimming through the big wave and get doused a few times as they swam the wave train. Sherman did not look happy. We were so full of water that we were unable to help with the rescue. Multiple small boats rushed to the rescue and Sherman and Charlie got pushed into a beachless eddy below the lunch spot, the flipped boat had cracked into something hard on the way down and above the water line the stern was crunched. We will need a work party to fix that one.

We regrouped on a gravel bar downstream of Russian Rapid and everyone clustered around Sherman, handing him dry clothes and fussing and pretty much forcing him  to strip off his wet top layer and put on some dry clothes. He protested that he wasn’t cold but more cautious heads prevailed and he looked a lot more comfortable after he changed. Charlie did his own striptease without so much attention.

We motored down the river at what seemed like a faster pace than Saturday’s run. Saw some goats who had denuded the shore near their yard.

We arrived at Orange Blossom just in time for the rain to start as we finished loading the van and trailer. Unfortunately I missed some of the goodbye hugs because I was in the bathroom changing into dry clothes when the other vehicles left.

I wanted to give Bob an especially big hug for providing such a great feast for us all and all his trip preparations, finding such a great campground and organizing the herd of cats called POST.

The drive home in the heavy rain was quite a thrill. It was pretty dry by the time we arrived at the POST storage facility in Oakland, where we unloaded some gear and the trailer. We returned to El Cerrito to pick up our cars and that was that!

Swimming Another Rapid, Trinity River 8/10

our routes
cable car rapid, trinity river 2010

Cable Car Rapid, Trinity River, CA

(3800 words)

Eric, our trip leader, asked, “How far do you want to go? We can take out at French Bar or Del Loma.”

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

“For a start, Del Loma is further downstream.”

“Ha, ha. — How far?”

“Not too far, but there is a Class III just below French Creek.”

The rapid I was really worried about was Cable Car Rapid, roaring a scant 200 yards downstream of our put in.

This year the water was low and the chicken route was obstructed by barely submerged rocks. We were going to have to take the more complicated and daring way, a way I wasn’t at all sure of for many reasons, the most obvious being that I knew I could pick my way down the chicken route, having done that many times, but I have ignored the harder route because I never needed to know it. I answered Eric’s question with a tilt of my head in the rapid’s direction.

“Cable Car’s enough, I think. Let’s take out at French Bar. Do we have time to inflate our flotation before the shuttle?” Once the shuttle was done things tended to happen quickly.

“No there’s no rush, you guys get your boat ready and then we’ll go.”

I started pulling things out of the back of the car; my mesh bag, my husband Charlie’s mesh bag, the bright purple bag with our flotation and thigh straps, our water bottles and bailers. They all got dumped near the front of the car. By the time I was done Charlie had lifted the hood and hooked up the air pump to the battery. Eric and Pam and Olson were standing on the shore looking at the river. They live in the neighborhood; they don’t have to break down their outfitting every time they go boating. Feeling behind already, I rushed to tie our air bags into the web of lines in the bow and stern of our boat, and bent awkwardly over them with the pump. When the bags were full of air I tested the lines, they made a nice deep thump as I plucked them. I remembered Bill, my boating papa saying to me, “Tie everything in as if the boat was going through a washing machine.”

The guys took off to run the shuttle, which was going to take about half an hour. Then I had time to get really nervous. Any time a married couple gets into a tandem canoe, people start teasing them, calling their boat, “The Divorce Boat.” Couples who live together really KNOW how to let ‘er rip when it comes to recriminations. Imagine a car with two sets of brakes and gas pedals and two steering wheels and both drivers have to work together to merge onto the busy freeway or zigzag into a parking space. It doesn’t take long for most couples to decide to get solo craft.

But, on a good day, I love the tango of tandem canoeing and the option of going solo has never been attractive to me even though my dread of blowing it with my husband has left me seriously considering duck taping my mouth shut. The only reason I don’t is because I am afraid of suffocating. At the beginning of every trip there is a grinding worry in my chest that my husband will stop forgiving me for my rages. That he will snap back and one of us will say something unforgivable. Some days we are better people than others. Adding to my angst was the not-so-distant roaring of the rapid downstream. I was getting queasy. I tried to stop thinking but still had vivid flashbacks of times when I wanted to smack him in the head with my paddle. There are more than the usual safety reasons we wear helmets in a tandem.

I started polishing off the details of outfitting our boat. I put my life jacket and helmet on the seat with my paddle so I would remember to put them on. I tied our spare paddle under the thwarts. I checked the knee pads. I tied my dry bag to a D-ring glued to the bottom of the boat and added a little rope leash with carabiners to the D-ring to hold my water bottle and bailer handy and out of the way.  My drybag carried a spare set of warm clothes, a first aid kit and a large roll of duck tape for boat repairs. I started to tie in Charlie’s gear then stopped. Ongoing issue: he doesn’t like me messing with his stuff. Then I saw that both of the other paddlers were bored, staring across the river, waiting for the cars, while I was still frantically putting things in, snapping carabiners, tying gear down, untying it to put it in a better spot. I was starting to drip sweat from the tip of my nose. I forgot my spare set of keys and had to trot back to the campsite to find them and when I got back the car was back with the drivers. A family of teenage boys was hauling a bubblegum-pink raft down the boat ramp and our boats were in the way. We started rushing to get onto the water. As we drifted into the current I was unstrapping my dry bag, unrolling the opening, wrapping my keys in my sweater, rolling the bag back up and tying it back into the bottom of the boat. I was done even if I wasn’t done. I had to stop fiddling sometime. I took a deep breath.

Our boat, a Caper, is shaped like a light blue 15 foot long banana with the inner curve peeled away and scooped out from bow to stern. Like a banana it is also curved from side to side. This makes it an excellent whitewater play boat, quick and maneuverable, it will turn on a dime. It will do exactly what you tell it to do unless it is already doing exactly what the river has told it to do. Being in the right place is essential with this boat. All this curviness also makes it less stable than a traditional flat-bottomed lake boat. Another thing about the Caper is that the seats are very close to each other in the middle of the boat. I sit about 4 feet from the bow of the boat. Behind me there is room for a waterproof lunch box between us and then Charlie’s knees on kneepads with a low-slung thigh strap. After 18 years of teaching canoeing and taking beginners down the river, I have gotten habituated to paddling stern but in the Caper, Charlie is so close that I can’t see over him, so I sit in front where I feel I don’t belong.

Within seconds of getting into the boat, my heart was thumping. We paddled out into the pool by the boat ramp and tried a forward ferry across the river. I could feel that Charlie was having trouble balancing himself in the boat. I am tuned to feeling the boat tremble and lean as he shifts and tries to keep his balance. He usually settles down after a half hour or so, but the Big Bad Rapid was coming at the start and he wasn’t going to have time to wiggle around, relax and get comfortable before we were challenged.

After a few clumsy maneuvers, we pushed into the current, following Eric and Pam in their tandem and Olson in his solo.

As we approached the rapid, Eric signaled that we should catch up with him. He pointed to the left, “We’ll pull over in that eddy on the left while you scout on the right. You go up there,” he pointed to a rocky slope on the right hand shoreline. “When you get into position, we’ll go down so you can see what route we take.” He paddled off to the left and Olson and Charlie and I went right and pulled into a small eddy, tied up the boats and started climbing through the rocks and dry stickers to get to a spot clear of willows and brush so we could see the water.

I followed Charlie on the shore, while Eric and Pam waited for us on the opposite shore. When we looked like we were settled and ready to watch they started down, back-paddling and side-slipping to get into proper position.

Cable Car rapid drops down 3 ledges like a staircase that has been broken up in random places. The first step or ledge is made of large rocks, the parts above water being about the size of a couple of easy chairs and a loveseat. There is a gap on the left that collects most of the water which dumps over a 12 to 18 inch drop. Near the rock is a nice green chute leading past a small hole foaming with air. The farther the water falls and with more force, the bigger the hole. Because of the airiness, you don’t float, even when you have on a life jacket. You can also lose control of your boat in a hole because the current is whipping around in a gazillion directions and can wrench the boat off course, fill it with water and flip it over. It was a bit disconcerting to have a hole at the top of this rapid but this first little chute was the route of choice because it was the only place with enough water, the rest of the approach and the ledge being a tangle of obstructions.

Eric and Pam floated between some rocks at the top before we were really focused on them but we watched them slide into a place where the water temporarily smoothed out below the first ledge. They took the slow water to a chute on the right, neatly skirting a big boulder a bit left of the center. We kept staring at the noisy, rock-filled drop and its attendant holes. The last ledge has the biggest drop and most of the water on the right side funnels through two narrow slots between car-sized boulders and their holes. They slipped to the left again and passed between an exposed boulder and a submerged one, right of center.  They made it look simple. They ferried over to a small beach on river left to watch us. Olson turned and headed back to his boat and started down before we got into ours so we missed his run.

Neither of us had paddled Class III for months. We stared at the noisy holes and pointed at the green tongues we should aim for and we discussed and pointed and debated and made ourselves very nervous. It all felt hypothetical since we knew that once we were at the top of the rapid we would be seeing a totally different river. Imagine trying to read a book looking at the pages from the edge instead of laid flat out in front of you. When you get involved with a drop, you are on your own and there is no time to stop and say, “Were we going to take this chute or the one next to it?” It all looks like a brand new world.

I tend to paddle towards whatever I am looking at. On a good day that means I am looking at the safe chute that is clear of rocks, on a bad day that means I am staring and thereby heading straight towards, the big noisy foaming pile of water and rocks that I should be avoiding. So, maybe that is why, by the time Charlie and I had climbed into the Caper and approached the top of the rapid, we were in the wrong place. We were drifting slowly into a slot that had no exit. I heard my voice yelling at Charlie, “No, we can’t go this way! Back paddle!” Unfortunately we were committed; the current was too strong to fight. The bow suddenly swept right and the stern left and the boat hung sideways for an agonizing moment and then slid into a rock broadside. My inner voice was yelling at the already doomed boat, “OH NO don’t’ wrap canoe, please don’t wrap around the rock, we’ll never get you off!” My imagination flashed the image of the distant shore and tried to imagine a throw rope reaching the boat, wrapped on the rock in mid-stream, nope that wasn’t going to happen.  This flash doesn’t take any time and I am back in the boat while I am flung to the side as we slide backwards off the rock into the hole behind it. We’re still upright! Maybe we can do the rapid backwards! I twist to my right to see where we are heading, but hope turns to dismay as the edge of the boat catches on the rock and water begins pouring over the side. I lean as hard as I can to the downstream side but the river outweighs me and I can’t even reach the water with my paddle to brace the boat. Then my face is heading for the foaming water and I better take a breath ‘cause I am going under.

All is water, movement and wet and cold and feeling myself pulling out of the thigh straps. My hand meets something hard and I instinctively shove at it, hoping to thrust myself away from it. It gives disconcertingly, then I feel that it is Charlie’s helmeted head. I float free of the boat and my head comes up almost immediately. Oh I hope I don’t ram into any rocks! I hope I don’t get squished between the boat and a rock. I look around to see a large eddy on river left. I wonder abstractly why it feels like I have cramps in both calves but I am still able to kick and so I forget about them. For the moment the water is deep and free of rocks. I hear Charlie asking, “Are you all right?” and I gasp out, “Yes! You?”  We are on opposite sides of the boat, we always end up on opposite sides of the boat, I don’t know why.

He answers, “I’m OK, I lost my paddle. I’ve got the boat.”

I see the boat’s bow rope floating nearby and I grab it. “I have the boat and my paddle.” This feels like a significant accomplishment. Charlie just repeats, “Yes. I lost my paddle.” And then, “Go for the eddy! River left!”  This turns out to be a futile effort as the current is sucking us down into the two bigger drops downstream and we are not able to fight the current. We speed up. It feels like we are in a flushing toilet as the river constricts between the rocks.

I hear someone downstream yelling, “Get your feet downstream!” The eddy is a lost cause. We have to get ready to swim the next drop. I have completely lost track of Charlie again and the boat is bumping up against a big rock, heading through a chute on the opposite side of the rock from me. As I accelerate I hang onto the rope, hoping I might drag the boat off the rock if it starts to wrap itself around the rock. The current is too strong and the rope slips out of my hands. It doesn’t even slow me down. I hear that voice yelling at me to keep my feet downstream. My body is in the right position but I have been spun so I am heading sideways over the ledge, I struggle around and just as I get my butt up and feet heading down I am sucked through and dropped into a hole. I am barely underwater long enough to experience a moment of dread that my feet might get caught between some rocks but I pop up, then enter another short period of calm water. Again, I have lost track of the boat and Charlie, and I am fearful that I will be battered by it and see that it is heading away from me, off to the right. Something good is happening but when I look to see where I am going, it does not look so good. I have been swept along on the far left and am heading for the worst hole of the rapid. The water is disappearing over a ledge. I can hear it roaring and see the foaming water flushing out the bottom and ramming into a truck sized boulder. In a fraction of a second I am going over the drop into the hole and I say to myself in an oddly distant way, “This is a good time to take a deep breath.” I suck air as deeply as I can just before my face is buried in the roaring, foaming water and I am upside down doing a back flip in the foam. Then I am up, blowing water out of my nose. There is a part of me that wants to curl up like a pillbug so none of my limbs can get caught in a rocky trap; I force myself to face what is coming and paddle with my hands to line up for the next thing, still trying to keep my feet and butt up. I have no idea what is going on. Charlie is 20 feet away, still in fast current but I can see Eric and Pam ferrying across the river to help him, he is still holding onto the Caper, yelling. “I lost my paddle.” He is angry with himself, wanting Eric and Pam to find his paddle more than help him get the boat out of the current.

I hear, “Rope!” and see Olson’s bright red and yellow throw-rope rattle out in front of me and I grab onto it and hold on as it swings me away from the big rock and into the shore. I know I should stay on my back with the rope over my shoulder but passively letting Olson reel me in is not an option; I absolutely have to see where I am going. He is braced against my weight and the pull of the river and I swing like a pendulum towards the shore until I can see the bottom as it comes up, full of sharp, dark-green rocks. I protect my knees while trying to get a hand on something stationary and still hold onto my paddle and the rescue rope. I roll into the shallow water and finally get a grip on something that stops my motion. Its an awkward business but I am finally landed, a superfish flopping on the bank. I am numb, so full of adrenaline that I can’t even feel my face or the cold water. I can barely hear anything but at the same time I can hear minute scraping sounds as Olson, standing quietly by, is stuffing his throw rope back into the rescue bag. He’s saying something, “You OK?”

I am breathless and start coughing up some water. I pat the top of my helmet although the coughing is threatening to turn into dry heaves. I really do not want to go there; I remember other swims that were made hugely more dramatic by sucking in a bit of water. The swim and rescue were easy but the coughing left me exhausted and weeping helplessly on the shore. This time the coughing is just a reminder and is over quickly.

Eric and Pam had retrieved Charlie’s paddle and pushed our upside-down boat into the eddy. Charlie is hidden on the other side of the boat, I hear him call out, “Are you OK?”

“Yes! You?” I yell and pat my head again even though he can’t see me. His paddle flies out from his side of the boat and lands with a clatter on the rocks.

“Yeah, I’m OK.” His voice is disgusted.

Then we get to work sorting things out. I am on the wrong side of the river from my boat, so Eric and Pam leave Charlie to deal with the over-turned boat and ferry over to pick me up. I am wary of sitting with my feet tangled in the rope that binds in their flotation so I sit on a thwart in the bow of their boat as they take me across the river. I don’t like being up so high, it makes the boat incredibly unstable and I have a quick fantasy of asking them to tow me across, but the current is strong and my body would drag them too far downstream to get back to the eddy. I examine Eric’s knees on the floor of the boat so that I can keep my balance. By the time we get to Charlie, he has flipped the canoe upright and is looking for damage; it had bumped hard three times on the way down but there was no damage. The flotation bags had done their job. I check for my dry bag and water bottle, they are still tied to the bottom of the boat. “Did we lose anything?” I ask.

Charlie replied, “Yes, my water bottle and bailer, did you tie them in?”

”I think so, I tied them to that bag.” I point to my TP bag which is still tied to the gunwale. “Oh, well. Maybe I didn’t tie it in. I have enough water for us both. I thought I tied it in??? Didn’t I tie it in?” The bag remains a silent witness to whether or not I tied anything to it. I am rattled and starting to crash off the adrenalin. Is he going to be mad at me?

“Its OK. I don’t drink a lot on the river.”         Then Charlie says, “What happened? I know you are going to say something.”

The way he says it is the red flag for the start of the usual recriminations and arguments after an accident. I don’t know why but for me the near-misses, where we narrowly escape trouble by skill or by accident, fill me with rage, but the complete loss of control in a flip just makes me grateful I am unhurt and not inclined to give into my lower self. “I don’t know. We went the wrong way and we couldn’t get us out of it. I’m sorry I pushed your head while you were under water.”

He laughed, “When did that happen? I didn’t even notice.”

After more mumbling and discussion we agree that we just got lost and it was no one’s fault.        I said, “Well, at least we got that out of the way.”

As we settled into the boat, adjusting our thigh straps and getting our balance Eric and Pam floated up. I said with a big smile, “That was refreshing.” There was still a bit of quaver in my throat but Eric, Pam and Olson all laughed. It was such a hot day we didn’t even bother changing into our dry clothes.