August 1st, 2008
On July 31st, the five year anniversary of the death of Matt Sheridan aka New School. Evan Garcia, Ian McClarren and myself, decided to drive over to the Cispus, camp and wakeup and run Silver Falls on the Ohanepecosh. Levels looked like they'd be low but good, and we loaded up Ev's Subaru and headed for the Cispus.
Arriving at around 9 at night, we quickly built a fire and started grilling a feast fit for kings. Hamburgers, Pork Chops and the ever-famous Juanita's chips and cheese dip filled our stomachs and sent us all to our sleeping bags to dream of the next day's stouts.
Rain. All night long it rained. Not hard rain. Just soft, pitter patter rain. Enough to make all of us regret not having brought a tent, tarp, bivy bag or any other form of rain-shelter.
By 8 A.M. we'd had enough and loaded up the car and drove straight to Packwood and the Peter's Inn for a greasy breakfeast. Satiated and fired up we drove straight to Silver Fall's, and that's where it all got interesting.
The previous night's rain had brought the river up from a low flow, to a medium flow. This made the lead-in rapid to Silver Falls a little more interesting. Basically, the put-in was a small eddy directly above a sliding 20ftr. Directly below the sliding 20ftr is a short pool ending in a boily hole directly above the lip of a crazy 40ftr. The 40ftr's lip was accented by a seam in the middle where currents from both sides of the rivers collided forming an interesting looking spout. No matter, it looked good to go and we all geared up to give er a go.
I hiked my boat up to the falls and gave it one last look-over. Feeling fired up and inspired to run some shit for New School, I walked back to my boat and gave everyone the thumbs up.
I sat in the eddy above the drop breathing heavily. Nervous. I could feel my heart beating through my chest. I took several deep breaths. Went over the line in my head one last time, And peeled out and off the 20 ftr. I boofed onto the transition and went through the hole at the bottom no problem. I took a few strokes to line up for the second, boily hole and charged in. A little too much speed, sent me further right than I anticipated and I lost all my speed heading towards the lip of the vertical drop. I pulled a hard right stroke and ended up boofing the waterfall. In a mad attempt to get my bow to drop, I threw my wait forward and braced for impact. Nothing. It was soft, barely felt myself hit the water, until my boat did a backloop in the boil and sent me sailing toward the river-right wall upside down. I tried to roll and failed. My boat and body hit the slightly undercut cliff and a large log, and I had to reposition my paddle to push off the log and rock. Successful, I tried to roll and fell back over. Determined, I rolled again and made it to the surface. As I rolled up I looked in the water and saw my helmet floating nearby. Puzzled, I felt my head and sure-enough my helmet had been sucked off my head. Unable to retrieve the helmet, I paddled into the safety below the falls and gave out a loud exuberant shout of success! I was stoked to have paddled away from the drop, even if my line may not have been picture perfect. I got to see what perfect looked like moments later.
Evan went second. I couldn't see his entrance, but as he came over the lip he was in perfect position. He hesitated to take the stroke that had caused me to boof, and this allowed him to pencil into the fluffy boil below and roll up moving away from the wall. Perfect.
Ian the "Cheese" McClarren went next. His entrance went well, only getting stalled for a short moment above the boily hole. He came off the lip and pulled the same fateful right-stroke I did. He boofed. He broke his nose. He was ok. Ian again tried to grab my helmet but had to give-up and paddle himself to safety below the falls.
Three boys fired up to have run a super fun, stout waterfall, all for the fallen bros out there!