Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

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Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

Postby bdk » Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:24 pm

Lava Falls rambling from our recent trip to the ditch.

August 26, 2015

17 seconds. 17. They say that if you run Lava Falls correctly, it only takes 17 seconds from top to bottom. Today is Lava day. For the past 13 days we have been learning how to row our rigs and read the crazy water of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Today is the day we put those lessons to the test.

Our group could not have asked for a better night at camp. Most of the group retreats to the sandy shores of the river to bed down for the night. Some of us choose to sleep on the boat. The Hudson is my home on this 16 day journey through the Canyon. It is where I lay my head every night. I feel as though I am able to become one with the boat which will eventually lead to helping gain safe passage through this beautiful stretch of river. Is this even capable or is it just crazy thoughts in my head? Maybe, but I like to think that it helps.

Rain all night. Steady for the most part, but would come down hard several times throughout the night. The desert does not get a large amount of rain annually. Pretty sure the annual rainfall for this area, all came last night. Point is that for those of us who were to lazy to abandon the boat and head for a dry tent, got very wet and very little sleep last night.

Camp was hectic this morning. Most of our beach had disappeared overnight do to the rising waters of the Colorado River. The tone of the group was different. Instead of the normal loud, boisterous laughs and joking around we have become accustomed to, the camp seemed to have taken on a more serious tone. If there was any conversations going on, it was all centered around Lava Falls. A mere 2 miles downstream. Nervousness was in the air. You could tell by the way the group was rigging their boats. Doubling down on the straps where just yesterday one strap was good enough. But today, we are going to use two. Just incase. Rig to flip…

We pulled off the beach and began the 2 mile float to Lava Falls. The Upper Gauley has a monster rapid known as Lost Paddle. Lost Paddle is the biggest and baddest rapid on the Gauley. It is the Gauley’s Lava Falls. It sits on the mind heavy until you pass through the gates of Tumblehome at the bottom of Lost Paddle. Squirt boaters fear this rapid. There is a large rock near the top of the rapid that every squirt boater stops to stretch his/her legs and empty every bit of water out of their boat before entering into this monster of a rapid. This rock is affectionately known as “The rock where no one speaks”. Nervousness of what awaits below keeps everyone quite. This is how I see this flat stretch of water leading into Lava. I like to refer to it as “The pool where no one speaks”. In the quietness, we pulled up to the beach to go for a quick scout.

First in. AK-47, Christal and I hustled up the trail for a quick look. Cresting the hill we laid eyes on the beast. It looked very similar to the way it looked almost a year ago, BIG. Scanning the rapid, I picked out the line that the Hudson and I were going to dance to. Right of the ledge hole, push left through the V-wave, move left and then square up to the two big waves near the cheese grater rock. Game time.

We move back down the trail towards the Hudson. Passing the rest of the team, you can see the nervousness and excitement building up in them as they move up the trail to take a glimpse. Few words are shared between us as we pass by. The main one being, “Good luck”. Even managed to get a few high fives and fist bumps.

The Hudson and I have a good relationship. Every morning with the help of my boat mates I treat her to 600 pumps to get her ready for the day. I have to make sure she is looking her best and not half deflated. The Hudson has carried my boat mates and I 180 miles of safe passage down the Colorado so far. All we ask for is 17 seconds more.

Pulling into Tequila Beach was a totally different scene from the Honga Springs beach a mere two hours earlier. Beers were being crushed, shots of Fireball were being taken and Cactus Cooler’s were being shot gunned. Might have been a few #groupies taken as well. All the sense of nervousness washed away. Glorious tales were being passed around about each boat’s run of Lava Falls. It is super exciting to see everyone pumped up after tackling this huge rapid. For some, it is the biggest rapid they have ever run. For others, it was another dance with the lady that runs our lives. Our group shot that day was taken on Tequila beach. The smiles on the faces of the crew just makes you want to come back for more. Here is to the next 17 second ride.


The Hudson dropping into Lava Falls


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Re: Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

Postby Gnome » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:47 am


"Your spirit is the true shield"

--The Art of Peace
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Re: Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

Postby blokhead » Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:35 am

Noice! Any video?
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Re: Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

Postby bdk » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:11 am

I only took pics on this trip. A few others had some go pros going at the big rapids though.
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Re: Tuesday stoke: Lava Day

Postby bottomzup » Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:27 pm

You are bringing back happy memories for me! I think it was 4 years ago we were running Lava. I was on a Team River Runner trip with 15 other vets, trip leaders and guides.
I remember the lack of conversation as we approached Lava. You could hear her roar from a mile upstream. We passed Vulcan Rock and she got louder. We pulled over and scouted. My butt puckered. She is huge.
We were in a 6 man paddle raft. We also had 3 21 foot supply rafts powered by oars, and 5 or 6 kayakers.
One of the supply rafts ran through as we were watching. Too close to cheesegrater rock and she flipped. Yes, a 21 foot, 1500 pound raft with 24 inch tubes flipped.
One of my paddle mates says "we are doomed".
The same paddle mate was stroking on the right front corner of the raft as we followed your same line. I watched him stab his paddle into the vertical wall of water at the bottom of the vee wave... you could see the paddle shaft bend... and then we disappeared.
2 seconds later (2 hours later if you were in the raft), we popped back to the surface. As we were slapping paddles and high fiving, the guide says "not yet! NOT YET!!!"
We missed cheese grater. We BARELY missed airplane. Too close! the raft stood up sideways, I swear it was totally on edge. I was on the bottom all the way in the water, I was watching Joe on the other tube scrambling to stay on top.
She shuddered for a long, very long second or two, then laid flat again.
I drank my first beer in many many years on Tequila Beach.
Nothing to compare. Yes, the biggest rapid I've ever run. I WANNA DO IT AGAIN!!!

Thanks for the good read.
You can put steak sauce on a hot dog, but it's still just a weiner.

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