Early Bird Special (a quick trip down the Upper Lehigh) Aug 4, 2007
Flow was 800cfs under Clear blue skies with Air temps in the high 80’s and Water temps in the low 70’s.
The plan….. meet early, run the shuttle and get on the water to hopefully beat the washed(private boaters) and unwashed( rafters) masses and make a quick and enjoyable trip down the Upper Lehigh.
Three of us, Mike Carter, Jill Wiest(my wife) and myself (Rick Brown) planned to meet at 8:30 at the putin at White Haven. The fact that all three of us are habitual early arrivers put us en route heading towards White Haven with time to spare. We were in sync with Mike Carter as we spotted his truck on route 80 as he passed us about 15 miles out, and we followed each other to the putin.
We found less than a dozen other vehicles upon arrival (around 8:20). We unloaded, carried boats to the river and got on our way to Rockport by 8:30. An equally sparse parking lot at Rockport allowed us a prime parking spot in the closest lot. We were back at White Haven and ready to put on by 9am. So far things were going as planned.
The only fly in the ointment was the large group of rafters that were also about ready to put on. Not too happy about that at first, however we later decided that without the rafter, who would provide the free entertainment!!!! More on that to follow.
We made it through “Initiation” with no problems and managed to stay ahead of the large group of rafters that put on close behind us, but they were closing ground. We decided to hold up at the bottom of Initiation and let them go by so we could have the river to ourselves.
As we made our way down through “Tannery” we came upon a raft hung up on a rock mid current. The occupants had only a rudimentary grasp of the English language and had a hard time understanding Mike Carter telling them to shift people forward in the raft to allow it to free itself from the rock. We gave up as a guide paddled upstream to get out and help pull them off and get underway. As we continued on another 100 yards we realized that there was a missing occupant waiting on the bank lower down. They must have fallen out and took a little swim. Mike overheard the guide asking where their shoes were, obvously not on their feet they were apparently lost to the river during the swim.
We saw this raft again far down the river. The actual location eludes me but we all got a laugh when we saw that the guide, seemingly fed up with the paddling prowess of this particular group of rafters, had tied his sit-on-top to the raft and was now in the raft providing the much needed experienced paddler to the mix.
We made it to “Triple Drop” and had it to ourselves for a short time until more rafts were upon us. More excitment ensued as one rafter fell out of the front of the raft as they came over the middle of the first drop. They disappeared as the raft over ran them.!!!! Then no sign of them. Time ticked by. 5 seconds, 10, 15
I started to think we were going to have to jump out of our boats and dive in to help. Then after what seemed about 20 seconds he finally popped up !!!! Whew….. bit of a tense moment as I was thinking we might be required to turn from kayakers into rescue personnel on the spot.
Through “Z” no problems. Hit the eddy on the left and ferried across the flow (without flipping this time) and on our way. On past “Lunch Rock” filled with rafters taking a break. No stopping there for us. Then on to “No Way”.
The plan at “No Way” was to eddy hop our way down. Rather than just blow down through, following the main flow, as we’ve done most times we wanted to work the eddies, and finesse our way down the rapid instead of using the 'Bull in a China Shop' approach.
It went pretty well as I hit a river right eddy up high, ferried across the flow to the left and dropped down a bit further. Back again to the right and hit another eddy about half way down. Peel out and on down to pull up in a final eddy and eyeball a small slot to the right. Hit that and scraped through over a few barely covered rocks. That put us pretty much down through the most of it and we made our way through easy stuff to the bottom.
It was much more fun to work it and take a little more time to get down this rapid. And it gave us time to get a better look at what was there so next time we can work it a bit more !!
Through “Staircase” and on to “Ledges” where we pulled up midway to take a look at the two lines of waves mid rapid and then on to the surfing wave at the bottom. There we took a short break to grab a couple of Clif bars. Then on the move again.
At “Mud Run” we were treated to more entertainment courtesy of the rafters as the same scene unfolded before us as happened a month ago. There where Mud Run joins the Lehigh was a raft planted on the big rock in the middle of the current. Rafters were out on the rock trying to free their raft. Unlike last time when a few rafters got stranded on the rock, these were able to jump back into the raft in the nick of time as it came loose and started off down stream.
The rest of the trip flew by. On by “Second Chance”. Through “Larry, Curly and Moe”. Past “Wilhoyts” and “Scott’s Hole” to the take out.
The takeout was unusually absent of most boaters and rafters and we got to pull right up to the bottom of the takeout steps. Nice. Take out time was right around 12:30pm.
Mike walked up to get his truck and had no wait to come on down to get the boats and gear. We loaded up and got on our way. Trip time on the water was 3 ½ hours. It was a pretty quick trip, enough time to play alittle but we kept the pace moving along. This is probably about as short a time as you could take to do this run and still have fun with it. If you just kept it moving all the way and didn't stop at all you might be able to do it in 3 hours flat.
All together an enjoyable trip with decent flow, in near perfect air and water temps under clear blue skies with few rafts and other boaters to slow our pace. Very nice day on the water.