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The Big Drops

Posted Nov 19 2012 2:54am
Our river guides successfully negotiate the first five rapids before making camp on a wide sandy north face jackets for men beach. These are the least intimidating of the rapids. They get more exciting. It's late afternoon, and our hike to The Doll's House is postponed until the next morning. We leave camp at 7 a.m. planning to raft The Big Drops after our return, a plan that never comes to pass. When O.A.R.S. advertises an in-depth exploration of remote canyons, they're serious. The seven hour roller-coaster hike to The Doll's House requires ascending steep talus slopes, crossing a valley and traversing a dark narrow joint in a canyon wall. This is my Waterloo. Eric tells me that the drop into the joint is only five feet; it's really twice that distance. Leonard McIntyre, a former boy scout leader, helps each hiker by using his walking stick like the rung of a ladder. When my turn comes, he tells me to step on his wrist for additional support. I hesitate, then reconsider. What the heck. Another hour passes before we're resting beneath the towering twisted red and white sandstone spires. The views are great. That evening Dave reviews safety procedures for the second time. If you are ejected, float on your back and point your feet downstream. If you're too far from the boat for anyone to pull you in, swim for shore. If you wind up under the boat, reach up and read the instructions in Braille. Just kidding. Cataract's running at 18,000 CFS, rough enough for a wild ride, but far below the 1982 record levels of 118,000 CFS when no one rafted the river. Everything is lashed down in the boats except ourselves. Mile Long Canyon's eight rapids are run through in quick succession, leaving everyone drenched and shivering. Three times the boats are beached so river guides can reconnoiter Cataract's finale, The Big Drops, which descend 30 feet in less than a mile. Trouble comes at Big Drop II when an oar pops out of the dory's oarlock. Unable to see what's going on behind us as Dave tries to regain control, we're suddenly broadsided and swamped by a mountain of frigid water north face clearance. Bail, shouts Dave. I'm bailing north face sale. Bail faster! Seconds later everything is back to normal.


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