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Carbon – the chemical element.

Posted Aug 14 2012 1:24pm

From Latin carbo, “coal”. It is the chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6.  Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Relationships, our interactions with other persons and things have also existed over time.  If utilizing the aforementioned scale, this is the atomic element 1 when running rivers.

The put in. 200 meters of bushwackage, steep and unstable.

 Acceptance is the key to any relationship, a part of the chemistry.  Dan McCain has gone on to do remarkable things since acquiring basic whitewater skill sets with ORT.  His call and invitation to run the Carbon River were accepted.

Rick’s Slide, just upstream from this spot, our put in, is an unscoutable V+ that Dan and Jeff Compton have run that has a strong likelihood of having dire consequences. David and I would have to at least scout it before committing. Dan’s threshold for things like this are well known.

Trust.  The second primary element of a relationship.

Dan rigs Jeff’s harness in preparation for the 120 foot rappel into the gorge.

 I wanted to take pictures of this remarkable put in so I elected to go next with the camera.  Dan and Jeff lowered me in.  Trust.  I made it down, then things went wrong-

The boat was impaled on a branch protruding from this tree for 45 minutes. From below we did not know what the hold up was.

 The insertion process came to a strange halt.  Jeff and I were now down in a gorge with no way out other than the river.  Ben and Willy Dinsdale were reportedly supposed to meet us at this spot.  With nothing to do and no way to clearly communicate, I took some pictures.

Looking upstream you can see the exit of Risk’s, I mean Rick’s Slide, and the top of a set of class V drops.


It has now been an hour. The sweat has dried off, the adrenaline died down. Were stranded in a gorge and getting cold.

Gear starts coming down. Big relief.

A boat and all the fixins were finally lowered down to us.  We were almost rigged when Ben and Willy came into view.  Let’s go boatin!  Around the first corner we were rewarded with a huge log jam.  We were told the run was clear.  Around the next corner was the 14 footer, a quick scout determined that now to be a 7 footer.  Jeff and I were clean off that drop but had to high side off an exit drop.  The perimeter line ripped some skin off my hand causing some bleeding.  It was on.  Another huge log jam, it’s now 4pm.

After banging through some III-IV drops we entered the canyon which was narrower than our D Series Aire.

Family resemblance in running V+, and relaxing.


Expression is quite a bit different from an hour prior.

Jeff and I attempted to boof a shallow slow and got pinned.  Ben and Willy jumped on board and started reefing on the boat.  Willy did the same thing for me on Roaring River this past winter.  He’s a good dude, smiling the whole time.  He then crawled down in the boat to affix a line while Jeff and held down one end.  A slip here meant any of us, likely Willy, would be swept right into a sieve.

Jeff, “We gotta get him out of there”.

“I’m watchin him, one more minute”.

Unselfishly, Willy secured the line and we were able to free the boat.  Willy if your reading this I have a brand new Whitewater Designs throw bag for ya to show our appreciation!

The Dinsdales seal launched this rock after running the tight slot on river left. The raft of course had to be portaged here.

We rallied through more class IVs and then saw a gentleman standing up on a ridge river right.  His name is Alonso.  Alonso is a gracious man who drove his truck down to the bottom of his property to give us a ride out so we didn’t have to paddle out the last 3 miles of shallow gravelly class II.  A direct contrast to the angry lady we encountered at the normal take out.  Her fear and malicious nature prompted her to; walk down from her house to tell us we couldn’t take out on what was actually a section of public property, warn us of walking on willow trees, advise us that we could not take out anywhere as it was all private property, scold me for bringing my dog, and to top it all off she had the sheriff looking for us after we put on!

Alonso would not accept any money for his efforts and only wished to engage in conversation with men he respected as in his opinion “I like folks who can take care of themselves”.  I told him I was thankful that there were still good people in this world.

David and Dan had wrestled the punctured boat all the way back up the put in ridge and appeared physically exhausted and mentally detached.  What a let down for them.  Selflessness.  After acceptance and trust, the last chemical element in this Carbon River experience.

I was honored to boat with these men on this great day.


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