Back-to-back BIG rapid day three of three.
Our last big rapid day for a little while, but it’s a doozy.
Today we enter the “Gem Series”. Similar to the “Roaring 20s” but a bit bigger with a lot of rapids to run– ranging from class 3 to 8.
Crystal Rapid is considered one of the “big three” along with Lava Falls and Granite Rapids. It’s a big rapid with a nasty hole you do not want to find yourself in. But what makes Crystal Rapid especially “high consequence” is the rock garden in the tail waves of the rapid. A boat can easily get wrapped in the rock garden, and due to the location, a rescue can be very challenging.
We first scouted Crystal Rapid from the high vantage point– and wow, did it look big. We had much higher water levels than GC2015. I felt a pit in my stomach just looking at it.
With the higher flows, the conversation at the scout turned into contemplating the “right line”. Typically you would run Crystal Rapid to the left of the big hole, paralleling the canyon wall. But high flows opened up the right line, so a right-of-the-hole run looked possible.
To double check that there weren’t any hidden obstacles that we couldn’t see from the high vantage point, we hiked down to scout along the river. The rapid looked big from the high spot– imagine what it was like starting straight at the hole from river level!
Nick and I spent a lot of time discussing our line and how I could help him find his markers in the river once we pushed off.
I was nervous as I made sure we were “rigged to flip” one final time before pushing off– but as soon as I saw that Nick hit his setup perfectly, I was at total peace and enjoyed the ride.
We stayed far right of all the icky-ness of Crystal Rapid. The front of our boat just barely nicked the edge of the second hole, but the surge of the river was perfectly timed that we just sailed past.
Getting all five boats safely through Crystal Rapid, I couldn’t help but think back to GC2015 and Charlie– floating past us in his kayak, shaking his paddle in the air with enthusiasm, shouting “Fuck yeah newbs!!”.
I never thought I would say this about Crystal Rapid, but it was my favorite rapid of GC2017. I’m sure that it’s completely attributed to the fact that we had a kick ass [almost dry] line.
The only other major thing to note was I rowed my first class 5! Yep, you read that right, a class 5. Emerald Rapid. We had lunch right above Emerald Rapid. I watched the rapid as I ate. Since I was feeling pretty darn good after getting through Crystal Rapid, I thought– “Why not??”.
“A great river day overall. Felt so good to get all five boats safely through Crystal Rapid.”
– AK’s River Journal
River Miles: 11.8 miles
Camp: Bass [mile 109.0]
Crystal [class 8] – SCOUTED
Tuna Creek [class 6]
Lower Tuna [class 4]
Nixon Rock [class 3]
Agate [class 3]
Sapphire [class 6]
Turquoise [class 3]
Emerald [class 5]
Ruby [class 5]
Serpentine [class 7]
Base [class 4]
Water Flow: 11,000 – 18,000 cfs
Temperature: 37 – 55 deg F
Precipitation: 0.06 in
Wind: 5 – 13 mph, gusting to 23 mph
Weather Event: Light Rain, Overcast