Tohickon Creek Revisited再訪Tohickon Creek

While I was indulging in the thought that the Tohickon trip on the release weekend was my last river trip of this year, I received a phone call from Allen which was an invitation to paddle the Tohickon Creek again on Friday, November 10th. I was surprised but most pleased to receive the kind offer. I thanked the weather God for the rain and the warming up temperature.

Before the trip, I thought, after the lengthy trip report I wrote for the release weekend, I would be out of talent to compose another one. However, it turned out that this trip won the title of the most exciting trip of LittlePo’s paddling year 2006.

Let’s hit the punch line now and make the long story short. The exciting scenario took place about the rapid called Second Ledge. Please allow me to remind you that you can either pass the spot from river right through a narrow pathway or from river left and drop into a pool. No matter which option you take, the margin of error is slim. The first time I did it, I took the river right and was sucked in a hole and capsized. The second time I chose the river left and drop into a calm pool and felt that I was dropping like a free falling object.

This time, we paddled along the river left. Herman demonstrated the line and disappeared beyond the horizon. Allen followed the line at the very beginning and while he was getting closer to the dropping spot, I noticed that his boat actually was deviated from the course and was a bit right to Herman’s line. A small part of his stern was engaged by the pulling current, and Allen’s boat drove to the right which was the opposite direction Herman headed to.

I wondered what exactly happened to Allen’s boat, but before I came to a conclusion, I started to paddle forward. My boat was another bit right to Allen’s line but I naively thought that I would be alright. My boat therefore started to drift down, and I noticed that it didn’t drop into the pool but a more dangerous place. Before my mind finished thinking I was going to tip over, my boat had already finished the action and turned up side down. I capsized in a hole again, not the same one which got me at the first trip but a similar hard-dealing one.

I wanted to roll since for the whole trip I had been telling myself “do not panic; you know you can roll.” I started to count, “one, two, three, four, five,” surprisingly not in Chinese, my native tongue (well, counting in English gave me more time to prepare my mind). And I set up the roll, and guess what? I rolled up! Oh, my goodness! My pride started to occupy my mind and extended to my body, “this is my best combat roll ever.” “Wait a minute. Something is not right.” I was not out of the danger zone yet, my stern was still in the hole. The force of the current turned my boat vertical, I didn’t have a choice but to appreciate how blue the sky was, “what a nice day, there is not a cloud up there.” And then all I could see was water again. The scene down there wasn’t pretty – fast moving water, white foam, some ugly rocks.

Without motivation to roll again, I leaned forward to pull my grab loop. I pushed the boat but I didn’t fall off the boat clean. Maybe the circulating water cancelled part of my push and my right leg was still caught in the boat. I struggled for a while and finally I was able to swim, but the swim wasn’t easy. In addition to swimming away from the hole, another ledge soon came to me. Luckily I managed to catch a short breath before the river water covered my face. I knew that I didn’t have much time before the next rapid Race Course so I swam as hard as I could. When I reached the shore, my energy was almost drained.

Allen asked me whether I heard Herman yell, “Get out!” so that I swam. I heard nothing; I swam because I didn’t think I could roll. Herman explained to me that if the first time I rolled up I immediately lean super forward and paddle like crazy I had a good chance to get out. The second time my boat rolled over, the current had turned my boat sideways and Herman said, “even if you roll up, the current will turn you over right away. In that situation, it’s much easier for you to swim than roll.”

Herman also taught me other possible ways to get out of a hole when capsized, for example, extend both of my arms and use my paddle to engage with down-flowing water deeper in the river, and once I feel my boat is out of the hole, set up the roll and get back up. “Does this mean next time I should count from one to ten instead of to five?” I wondered.

We finished running the creek without any other drama. Although I had a tiring swim time, I actually loved this experience very much. I gained more confidence on my roll and I almost did a stern stall, although not intentionally. And I know if I keep paddling, the day I’ll be able to initiate cool moves will come.

我以為該個水庫洩洪的週末,泛舟於Tohickon Creek是我今年最後一次的泛舟行了。沒想到,數天後,接到Allen的電話,問我隔天星期五要不要再泛一次Tohickon?意外歸意外,驚喜卻是更驚喜,馬上二話不說開始準備,心裡頭對老天天降甘霖,以及逐漸回升的溫度心存感激。


好,廢話不多說,究竟發生了什麼事呢?事情是這樣發生的,地點在接近一個名叫Second Ledge的激流處,如果讀者的記心好,我在前文曾經提及,通過此段河流處,可以往右走,也可以往左走。沿著河右岸,是九拐十八彎的細小通道;沿著河左岸,則是赫然掉進平靜的小河面。上次泛這河段,一次走右,小船被捲進水洞裡,翻了,可憐兮兮地游泳;一次走左,像是自由落體掉出水平面,虛驚一場。



我想著,我可以把船翻回來的,這一路上,我不是已經不停地告訴自己「有能力,只是要冷靜」嗎?我可以的。於是我開始默數「one、two、three、four、five」,神奇的是,我居然是用英文默數,大概這樣更有充分的時間,在水底回復平靜的心情吧。數完數兒,開始準備動作,嘿咻,船被我翻正了,這真是太令人得意了,這是我有史以來,最完美的一次在非常情況下做成功的Eskimo roll了。哈哈哈,正當我的驕傲從腦海逐漸蔓延全身的當兒,我發現事情有些不對頭,小船的尾巴還滯留在水洞區域呢。說時遲那時快,憤怒的水流已經用力地吃下我的船尾,下一秒鐘,我的小船垂直地站立在河水中,我也只好乖乖地欣賞萬里無雲的晴空,「真是天涼好個秋啊!」下一刻,可以看到就只是快速流動的水,被水流激起的白色泡泡,和河流中的醜陋岩石了。船就這樣,又翻了,真是可怕又可惡的水洞啊。

實在是沒有動力再把船翻正了,身體往前傾,把套在船上的spray skirt拉開來,做著wet exit的標準動作,用力推船,等著下一秒身體掉出船身。沒想到強力的水流抵銷我部分推船的力量,我的右腿竟有一半還卡在船裡。我掙扎好一會才脫了身,船是船,我是我。但那游泳也不是好相與的,一邊游遠水洞區域,一邊還要面對河面下落的地形,幸好在河水掩蓋住滿頭滿臉之前,還換了一口氣,不過在下一個激流之前,我也沒有多少時間了,必須使出吃奶的力量划到岸邊才行啊,到了岸邊,也幾乎要精疲力盡了。


Herman還教了我一些在頭下腳上的時候,因應水洞的方法。一個方法是伸直雙手臂,讓划槳有機會接觸到水洞下方、河流更深處,往下游流去的水流,讓水流拖著槳,間接拖著船離開水洞。待身體感覺已經脫離危險地帶之後,再準備Eskimo roll的動作,把船翻正。我連連點頭,一邊想著,「這是說數到五是不夠的,要從一數到十才行麼?」

接下來,倒是平平順順地泛完舟了。累歸累,這次的經驗讓我非常興奮,一方面我對於我的Eskimo roll更有信心,另一方面,雖說不是有意安排,我的小船還是做了一個相當cool的花式。只要我繼續泛舟,持續練習,下次做出的花式可就不是意外了。

3 thoughts on “<lang_en>Tohickon Creek Revisited</lang_en><lang_zh>再訪Tohickon Creek</lang_zh>”

  1. 現在不是冬天了嗎!光用想的就覺得冷!
    不過那個 Eskimo roll 感覺挺帥氣的,

  2. Thank you, both.
    I really loved the experience, right after I came back from the creek, I talked with so many people about my story. 🙂
    This trip is definitely my last trip of the year, next river trip should be in March. Waiting for the snow now!

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