Lehigh River Upper Gorge Experience – Part IIILehigh River Upper Gorge體驗—第三話


Part III: A Popular Play Spot at the Ledges Rapid

After traversing through the rapids No Way, and Staircase, boaters will arrive at the rapid called Ledges. Here is a highlight of the Lehigh River – on the river right, and not too far away from a big boulder, there is a popular play spot. It’s popular because it’s a perfect place for boaters to practice literally every move – surfing, 360 spins, flip turns etc – and if you get washed out, you can easily return to the eddy behind the big rock and try again. Even if the worst thing happens, say you tip over, what follows is a wide and calm river section where you are free to take your time performing an Eskimo roll. There is one drawback about this play spot though: it’s so popular that, on weekends, there is always a long wait.

Last winter, after numerous practices in a pool, I got my rolls going. I told myself, “When the river season starts, I will go in that hole and surf,” as if playing in the hole should be a ritual for an upper gorge boater and I finally had my sacrifice ready.

One weekend in May, I paddled the upper gorge on both Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t make any move; I simply sat in the nearby eddy and observed. Boaters in, boaters out; boaters played; boaters rolled. I was awed by the wave but my body was experiencing an internal monthly ritual which stopped me from executing the river ritual. I didn’t want to get wet – well, call it an excuse. I admit that I chickened out.

The next time on the upper gorge, I had a cold, blowing my nose in a bandanna along the stream. I didn’t want to get wet. I sat in the same eddy and observed. Boaters in, boaters out; boaters played; boaters rolled. “This is your fifth time paddling the upper gorge, and you haven’t played the wave. If you have an excuse this time, you will have another excuse next time, and you will never play the wave.” I didn’t know who was the spokesperson, my little angel or my little demon? Maybe this time they were in sync, so what was I waiting for?

I took a deep breath, got in the line, and I ferried towards the wave. I didn’t surf because I couldn’t find the sweet spot to settle my boat. The wave was beyond my ability and all I could do was to survive through the turbulence.

The last attempt, I tipped over. The water was a bit chilly and it sealed my irritations. I felt that I brought all the noise with me underwater and it soon sank to the river bed and blended into the sand. It was quiet, even peaceful, but my limited lung capacity reminded me it was time to embrace the spring air. I set up and I rolled. Allen was right beside me, “good combat roll,” he said. Oh, that was right. It was my first combat roll – a real one. Allen and I noticed that we had to catch up with our group; I looked back, muttering, “I’ll be back.”


順著Lehigh River而下,穿過激流No Way以及Staircase之後,等待在不遠處的是激流Ledges。這裡是Lehigh River上相當有名的一處景點:河右岸,距離一巨石的不遠處,有一立體的迴流浪潮,是相當受船家歡迎的玩點。這浪潮之所以熱門,關鍵在於:小船玩家幾乎可以在這裡嘗試各種花式,諸如衝浪、360迴轉、小船翻跟斗等等。如果小船被激流衝往下游,船家也可以輕易地回到巨石後面的安靜水域,往上游划去,重新嘗試一遍。最壞的情況也不過就是翻了船,而浪潮之後的河區不單安靜、而且寬敞,容許船家從容地做出eskimo roll的動作,將小船再翻轉回來。真要針對這個玩點挑出一個毛病,就是,它實在太受歡迎了,星期假日等待的人潮總是大排長龍。

去年冬季,很努力地在游泳池裡練習,終於算是學會了eskimo roll。當時,跟自己說:「等船季開始,一定要到那兒玩玩,讓小船衝衝浪。」似乎,進入該玩點嬉戲是到Lehigh River upper gorge必須從事的儀式,而我已經將祭品虔誠地準備妥當,只等神明採納。

今年五月份的一個週末,星期六和星期天,我都帶著小船前往upper gorge。結果我什麼也沒做,呆呆地(或者說是恨恨地)將小船停泊在巨石後的安靜水域,觀察著他人的享樂過程。船進、船出;玩家玩著、玩家翻船、玩家把船翻正。啊,心中對該個玩點可是懷著莫名的景仰啊,就想接近它一點,偏偏身體正歷經著每月一次的內在儀式。我可不想把身體弄得濕淋淋的,呃,唉,那不過是藉口罷了,我承認我是臨陣退卻了。

下一次再到upper gorge,是帶著感冒的身軀。一邊順流而下,一邊在河流平緩的區段,從救生衣口袋拿出手帕來猛擤鼻涕。我可不想把身體弄得濕淋淋的。我泊好小船,看著。船進、船出;玩家玩著、玩家翻船、玩家把船翻正。「這是妳第五次來泛upper gorge了,結果妳還是沒試過該玩點。上次有藉口,這次又有藉口,這樣妳永遠都會有藉口的,怎麼樣都玩不成的。」我不知道是誰在跟我說話,是左肩的小天使,還是右肩的小惡魔,還是,這次,他們是異口同聲?那我還在猶豫什麼?

我深深地吸進一口氣,划進等待的隊伍,向右側朝著該浪潮平平划去。沒有能夠停在那裡,讓小船衝浪,我的經驗還不是很夠,抓不到前輩說的「就是那裡水流會把小船抓住」的sweet spot,我能夠做的僅只在翻騰的水流中,猛力抓住一己的平衡。

最後的一次嘗試,小船翻了。河水沁涼,封印住我悸動不安的焦慮心情。而所有因滾滾水流而造成的巨大聲響,也隨著我埋進河水中,沈到河底,融入河床的泥沙中。真是安靜,一切是那麼和諧,可惜我有限的肺容量容不得我在水底逍遙。我推槳、翻船而起。印入眼簾的是同伴Allen,讚賞一聲:「好一個combat roll。」啊,是啊,這是我第一個貨真價實的eskimo roll。我和Allen奮起槳來追近已經順流而下的同伴,我回過頭,喃喃自語:「我會再回來的。」

3 thoughts on “<lang_en>Lehigh River Upper Gorge Experience – Part III</lang_en><lang_zh>Lehigh River Upper Gorge體驗—第三話</lang_zh>”

  1. 看了你的敘述

  2. 在台灣,遡溪似乎蠻多人從事的,連我的 NOLS instructors 都知道呢

  3. Pingback: Final Frontier: An Outdoor Blog » Blog Archive » Paddle, Paddle, Paddle划、划、划

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