If you haven’t read the first few days, check them out here.
Not a ton to say about day 4. We woke up to find wolf tracks throughout the camp all our sleeping areas…glad I didn’t wake up during the night.
We geared up and paddled 31 miles of flatwater in the rain with a headwind (as per usual) to our next campsite, an island in the middle of the river with lots of wet wood and black flies. At camp, we could hear blasting sounds and saw construction lights ahead of us on the river.
20 minutes of flatwater into the last day, we rounded a corner and were confronted with a huge construction site. A busy road (complete with a guard rail) lead trucks and other vehicles down to a massive bridge across the river and a granite dome with a huge chunk blown out of it that is to become the diversion channel for Romaine 2. We paddled under the bridge through a small rapid filled with road blast…not something you expect on a wilderness run. A few of the construction workers came out in a boat and spoke to us. They said they’ve been working really hard for the last five months (which was obvious, since there was almost nothing at the Romaine 2 site a year earlier when Boyce and Greg had done the trip). Oh well.
Day 5 only had a few rapids, but they were definitely the biggest of the trip. Shortly after the construction, we got to Finger of Fate (aka Spike Rapid) which we all snuck river right through some sievy low volume bouldery stuff. Isaac hiked up and ran the Finger itself disappearing even earlier above the lip than I thought he would, resurfacing a couple seconds later backwards at the bottom of the drop and paddling away.
Stuntman (aka Freebird Falls) was next, another huge rapid. A relatively easy leadin led off this broken 15′ ledge with a horrendous looking landing zone that went perfectly fine if you rode it out to near the point of the ledge and then dropped off. Unfortunately, I didn’t scout the leadin carefully enough, so I came in just a little too far right. Just above the point of the ledge, there are two humps. Boyce and Greg both had good lines going between the two humps and dropping off a little earlier than the point. It also looked like you could go over the river right hump and off the very point of the drop for a better boof (Jonathan in fact managed to hit this line). I hit the river right hump and then fell right. I realized it was happening, looked down, spotted my landing and braced into the pillow I was landing on. I hit a rock but was upright and thought I was fine…then disappeared underwater. All the water from the river right side of the falls, it turned out, pounded into this huge boulder. I got smashed into a bow-down pin with my chest against a rock ledge, probably on this boulder. After a few seconds, I was flushed off violently and felt rock just about everywhere. My boat also filled up with water. Eventually I rolled up and paddled over to the island everyone else was on. I wasn’t sure if I was ok, and I thought I’d broken my boat because it was filled with water and my skirt appeared to still be on. All told, I came out with a gaping hole in my chin (that Greg wanted to sow up with fishing line, though I decided we didn’t have enough whiskey left for that), several gaping holes in my skirt, and a badly bruised chest. All things considered, a pretty good outcome. I wish I’d scouted the leadin a little more carefully.
The next rapid we scouted was called Triple Threat, a pretty huge, long rapid that involved punching two holes on the right then quickly turning around, ferrying across to river left to avoid a massive ledge hole, and then busting back right through the runout. Apparently Eric Boomer came into this one their first year and said, “Looks good,” and they ran it blind…I’m glad we scouted. Immediately following is the leadin to what I suspect is one of the largest rapids ever run, Land of the Giants. Boomer ran the bottom two holes (of probably seven) on one of the earlier trips and swam out of the bottom hole. Isaac fired it up from the top, styling everything until the bottom hole where he get worked briefly but flushed. Pretty impressive paddling.
After the rest of us portaged, ate, and lounged on the rocks in the brief period of sunshine, we paddled another twelve miles of flatwater to the last rapid before camp. Shortly after LotG, we saw a pipe in the river and wondered briefly what it might be…within a few hundred yards we realized. They were pumping raw human sewage into the river. For the rest of the trip we were paddling in shit. It was at least as gross as it sounds. After twelve miles of shit paddling, we encountered another horizon line that Boyce told us to follow him off. It turned out to be a busy lead-in to an awesome six foot boof over a big hole through one of the narrowest spots on the river called Zero to Hero or Boof to Camp. Camp was a couple hundred yards downstream on a rock outcropping.