Monday, June 05, 2006

First Descent!! Part 2. (Part 1. Here)

Water that's just two feet deep can move with enough thrust to carry away an average-sized vehicle.
-Warning in AAA brochure.

Water over fifty feet across and ten feet deep moving at 600 cubic feet per second can produce, uh let's, multiple the mass of water by its approximately 8 pounds per gallon...convert the area...carry the six...well, I don't know except that it's somewhere in the Dante-newtons level of force (in otherwords, a whole hell of a lot of force!)

Clark and I were still celebrating our success when the pipeline came into view. The last time we had been here the water was low enough to let us pass under the pipline. Not this time.

This time the pipeline was half-submerged and the water was boiling over it in a roaring froth. We weren't too worried though. After successfully getting Seeker's Fate over fifteen deadfalls a little pipeline didn't seem a threat. We aimed for the middle and hit it square on. In the past Clark usually would jumped onto the deadfall then I would swing the canoe parallel to it and join him. Then it be a few seconds work of heavy lifting to get her up and over. No problem!

We pulled up to the pipeline but before Clark could get onto it the current swung us around and slammed us against the steel pipe. My innate sense of physics warned me this was not a normal situation and I yelled at Clark to start heading the canoe to shore! The force of the water had begun to shove the starboard side of Seeker's Fate down. Water started pouring in! I threw myself to port to try and raise the starboard side up! That worked for a moment but the water would not be denied! The next thing I knew I was tossed from the canoe as it and Clark were flipped over and disappeared UNDER the pipeline!

I'd like to stop her a minute to thank God and that poor, unlucky Guardian Angel he assigned to watch over me. That G.A. has hardly had a moment's rest ever since I discovered gasoline at the tender age of seven. It was so cool! I had poured gas through a small hole into a hollowed out, 5-gallon block of ice because I wanted to see fire burn inside of ice. Who wouldn't?! Anyway, I started to drop a lighted match through the small hole into the puddle of gas. The next thing I knew I couldn't see, my ears were ringing, and large chunks of ice were crashing down onto me, dad's car, our neighbor's car, the roof of our house, etc...

Actually, now that I think of it the G.A. was already working overtime well be before that. When I was five I decided to leave kindergarten and walk in a hailstorm two miles out of town to my grampa's farm.

Uh, but I digress.

I surfaced just in time to be slammed into the pipeline. Instinctively I grabbed on and tried to figure out what to do. Downstream I saw the canoe bobbing upside down followed a few yards back by Clark's head. I had a brief moment of relief when I saw his head was still attached to his body, then I was sucked under.

Tumbling, choking, slammed, tangled.

Then, the SURFACE!! Air, and light. The canoe ahead of me. Clark hanging from it. Me catching it. Sputtering. Swimming it to shore.


My seat cushion bumped into my leg and I grabbed it. We flipped Seeker's Fate over and discovered nothing was lost but Clark's bag of snacks. I make it a policy that everything in the canoe is tied to it somehow. Davy Jones is a greedy, greedy bastard and will take anything not tied to your ship. Everything was tethered to Seeker's Fate. Earlier in the trip I had been questioning this habit as it made using certian things more difficult. After this swamping I no longer question the practice.

We sat on shore for a bit catching our breath. Seeker's Fate was filled to the brim with water, but on the plus side all the twigs, leaves and spiders had been washed away. In fact, the canoe was looking cleaner than ever. I'm going to have to remember that trick...

We bailed out the canoe, reattatched our gear (yea, tethers!) and set off once more down Spring Creek. By this time it was well past 1pm. We were battered, bruised, waterlogged and tired. As we shot the mini-rapids under I-45 we decided to cut the trip short and pull out at Riley-Fuzzel (is that a great name for a road or what?!). It's only an hour from I-45 to Riley-Fuzzel through peaceful, deadfall-free, pipeline-free waters. Halfway through it we caught up to some fellow paddlers and swapped stories until reaching the takeout point. We dragged our canoe up the hill then went back and helped the other canoeists. Clark called his wife, she came and got us, we loaded up and went home.

Well, we didn't make the whole journey. But we did succeed in going where no one else had and that was the whole point.

Yesterday we discovered that The Woodlands is going to build a new neighborhood along Spring Creek in the area between Kuykendahl and Gosling roads. They will be putting in a 1,700-acre park along Spring Creek with all sorts of ammenities including several canoe/kayak landings. They'll trim back the brambles, remove the deadfalls and lay down concrete paths. The alligator will probably be driven out. Weekend paddlers in $1,500 kayaks will coast sweat-free past beautifully maintained flowerbeds and think they found heaven...

But Clark and I did it first with blood and pain in a battered, forty year old canoe named Seeker's Fate.

Ready to launch at Kuykendahl.

Behind me, the Kuykendahl bridge.

We tried sawing through the first deadfall, but that didn't work.

Brute force saves the day.
(Note to readers, my ass isn't really that large, it's just a bad picture!)

Oh, another one.


More beauty.

Followed by another deadfall...

And another...

And the biggest deadfall of all...
(Note: The banks of Spring Creek through here were spotless, though mainly bacause the floodwaters washed everything up into the deadfall dams.)

Oh bouy!
It's hard to make out, but I'm holding a 2.5-foot diameter fiberglass bouy. We haven't the foggiest idea as to how it ended up here!

Gosling Road Bridge.

More beauty


Behind me is the pipeline which flipped us.

I-45 Bridge.

If you bleed on it, it is yours...

Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!

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