Eager to use it for the first time, I packed both drybags full, Kirk and I loaded up the car, met some friends and headed to the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Wilamette. (not the Class V Miracle Mile, but the Class III run below the gorge)
You may remember our trip here two years ago; it was the site of my first swim in my packraft. Well, two solid years of packrafting had me hoping I would have a different encounter with the river. I was nervous, but I knew my skill had progressed. The water flows would be about the same (approx 1,000 cfs); the first rapid at the put-in where I dumped two years ago would be a good indicator!
When Kirk realized he left his PFD at home and wouldn't be boating at all, instead of second guessing my first packrafting run without him by my side, I became even more convinced I could do this.
With adrenalin rushing, we set off. I followed our friend John through the wave train and deftly avoided the larger holes at the bottom...success!
Jazzed at already doing better than my other trip, I finally relaxed a bit, loosened my death grip on the paddle and began to enjoy the mossy rock bluffs and deep blue color of the water.
|The four others on the trip were in hardshells, the packraft still attracts a lot of attention!|
Since Kirk was roadside now, he met us at two of the bigger drops.
|Here John and I scout the first significant drop|
We floated down to the next spot. Since this stretch is roadside, we had stopped on our way up to scout this one from the road. A log river left made that channel un-runnable, but right in the center looked like a good option.
|Joe goes through with success|
A bit of confustion insued on our take-out spot, but not too much later we were all in our dry clothes and sipping on a few beers while dodging rain drops.
I was thrilled to have successfully boated this section, elated that I felt comfortable even in the rapids, and without Kirk in the river.
Not bad for the first time in my boat since last summer!