I’ve been kayaking for a few years now. I had never come out of my boat until yesterday, but what a thrill! My ass and lower back are a bit bruised, but the rest of me is fine. I made it through the top of the rapid and swam at the bottom. Later in the day I was thinking about how I had gone over what to do in my head a million times, but had never once practiced it. The only thing I lost was a lipgloss. My lips were dry for the rest of the trip which was just a minor inconvenience. I call that winning!
Amazingly, my head never went under water. As I got to the bottom of the rapid, my boat turned slightly and started to lean, I tried to dig in with my paddle, but it was all she wrote. When going through rapids, you are supposed to keep paddling. While I am pretty sure I continued to paddle until I flipped, that moment went in slow motion! Once I flipped, I held on to my paddle and my boat, lifted my feet and bounced on the rocks. My boat got turned around a few times and I worked like hell to get on the other side of my boat again so I wouldn’t get pinned between a rock and my boat.
Something I didn’t think about until a guy got his leg pinned between a rock and my boat in an attempt to help me out of the water. My boat was filled with at least 500 pounds of water and it was being pushed with the force of the river downstream. Don’t get between a capsized boat and anything– stay behind it! Better to watch your boat float downstream than to be crushed by 500 pounds of water. I had never done the math to figure out how much my boat would weigh filled with water until his leg got pinned yesterday.
I only have minor scratching and bruising on my butt and back, which tells me that I did something right. He got his leg pinned because he got to a rock and wanted to help me out of the water. I just stayed there with my feet up as there was no way I could stand with the water still rushing over the rocks. I waited until a friend who has taken classes on water rescues threw me a rope. I handed my paddle to someone in a nearby boat and grabbed the rope. Holding the rope allowed me to stand without falling in the rushing water.
This all makes me want to get one of the crossover kayaks I have been looking at. I have sat in a few of them and really want to get one on the water! My kayak isn’t a crossover or a whitewater kayak. It is rated to run up to class II rapids. It made it through the Molly Shoals rapid (class II) on the New River just fine. I came out of my boat at Penitentiary (we ran river left) which is rated a class II by most, and a class III by some. I really think with a different boat, it would have been easier to navigate. We paddled 10.5 miles in Virginia, crossed into NC and back into Virginia. It was a beautiful run!
For once split second in the water as I bounced along on the rocks I thought, “I’m too old for this!” No, I am not! Like a friend commented on one of my earlier posts, “It’s better to wear out than to rust out!” I’m definitely going to run this section of the New River again. I might do it in a different boat, but I’m definitely going to do it and a little more whitewater paddling. What a thrill! Life is a beautiful river run.