SHENANDOAH STAIRCASE 5\21\05
By Mike Betts
What a stellar crew again this year. Seventeen White Water
Warriors rar'n to go! Now.....there are certainly more challenging
rivers to run, but the annual trip to this area never fails to
be a very well attended event, and a great time for those involved.
This is a very and I mean VERY fun class II-III river for any
play boater. At this day's level 4.5 feet, myriads of holes and
waves are to be found, one cannot possibly hit them all on a single
outing. We always seem to be blessed with sunshine and a good
water level when hitting the "Staircase". This day was
no exception. This is a river NOT to be missed by intermediates
and practices novices ( the latter being accompanied by experienced
I was skeptical through the previous several days' weather forecasts that we would have little better than minimum flow for our Saturday run. But someone must have been rain dancing Friday night. My last gauge check Friday saw 2.4 and dropping....and I was pleasantly surprised to see Saturday morning the gauge had shot up to 3.8 and rising. We would have a level of 4.5 by the time we put on. Gotta love that!! Add to the mix a day full of sunshine and temps in the 70's and look out! Here comes the CCC! We had 17 paddlers representing our club on the Shenandoah. Some veterans, some new to this river, all ready to have a blast. I had some fun with my young protégé Brenton "birthday boy" Petrillo while unloading our gear at the put-in by with Pat "Wildman" Montagne's help, having Pat direct Brenton's attention elsewhere as I stuffed his b-day present ( a brand spankin new ,shiny glittery, Grateful Heads kevlar helmet ) up inside his boat, having hidden the old one. Then asking him to check his gear before the shuttle. Fun practical joke as we watched him puzzling and scratching his head saying "I KNOW I brought my helmet'! But the look on his face said it all when he discovered a bag in his boat, and the new lid stuffed with b-day emails from fellow club members. Thank you all for participating! You'll have to ask "the girls" about his other surprise for the day!
Ok, back to the river at hand. There were holes galore, and our favorite drop near the take-out, a 6-7 foot Snap Falls like chute successfully run by all. We also were able to practice some rescue techniques at Bull's Falls as a troop of under-equipped, non-trained, and extremely non-tended to boy scouts were running the falls and being scattered all over the rocks, boats and paddles adrift, the only two adults not bothering to give chase, or seemingly even having a clue as to the potential dangers. None had helmets, but did have pfd's. I couldn't help but thinking "if their parents had any idea......" you get the drift.
Not a ton more to say about the "Doah" other than we're blessed to have it so close to us, as we are to a lot of other rivers and streams. It's in rich in history, one of these days I'm going to have to actually step foot into Harper's! Makes for a good pick-up trip location. Thanks to all who attended and helped with the rescues too.
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