Roger, regardless of your skills and experience, and how safe you feel in that big inflatable, I think that you should know that paddling solo in any conditions is pretty-much a bad idea, and after heavy rains with water rising, should be avoided unless you have a buddy. Regardless of how well you know any river, things change and tihs happens.
What if you missed that eddy? What if you attempted the low-head dam and missed?
I don't paddle anymore because my local paddling pals have either moved away or are spawning and no longer do the fun things they used to do. Paddling alone is a bad idea. I never do it. The choice is to drive hours to meet up with people to paddle with, paddle alone, or not paddle. So, I don't paddle. Even windsurfing on a windy day, while a solitary experience, I don't like to go alone. I will usually wait until someone I know shows up, and I never leave if there is just one person left out on the lake.
I am surprised that someone who had been shaken by the loss of fellow paddlers and quit whitewater for a number of years has such a cavalier attitude. Strainers, as you know, can appear at any time in the worst places. That has always been my biggest fear on the easiest rivers. It doesn't matter what the gradient is, or even how high the water is...a strainer can kill you, especially if you don't have a buddy who can throw you a rope nearby. This is primarily why you should ALWAYS paddle with a partner.
You have a baby should think about these things a little harder.

On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 5:07 PM, roger Klinger <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 12:48 PM, Marc Chrusch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

What I do find concerning is that in both instances, our protagonists didn't quite realize or recognize what they were getting into. This suggests that perhaps more in-depth experience should be gained before deciding to solo in what most consider sketchy conditions.

I  agree with you, but in reading my tale there are  two very important points  that you missed(or maybe I didn't communicate).  First,I was already very familiar with this river and had soloed it previously, albeit at lower levels.  Second, I deliberately chose a river that I consider very easy under normal conditions.  This gave a built in slack, so that if things went wrong, I'd still be able to perform the necessary moves.  The greatly diminished eddy right above the dam is an example of that.  If I didn't know that eddy well, or if the rapid around it was more difficult, I might not have made it into the eddy. Instead, I had myself a day on the river.

>Or go through a more specific mental check list of factors and rating each then combining >into an overall go/no go decision (think of the green/yellow/red avi danger assessment >matrix).

This is exactly what I did, and why I walked around a rapid that I know intimately and am very comfortable running

Paul wrote:
>Isn't the point of the green/yellow/red type of matrix to add objectivity & rules to what >otherwise is a "things aren't feeling right" subjective decision?

Immediately after the first drop and feeling the force of the eddy's pull, I was in yellow mode.  That is why I scouted every drop, and walked the dam and the final drop.  It's kind of like skiing the ridgeline instead of the avy prone bowl. 

That said, I don't see how you can totally get rid of the subjective.  When I made the decision to run a rapid, it was because I was almost certain that I'd be successful.  That doesn't mean that something can't go wrong.

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