Sunday, May 18, 2008
Pabst-A-Palooza was an awesome time! Nora, Graeme, and I headed out to Pier's Gorge on the Menominee River to meet up with 20 or so other paddlers from WI, MI, IL, and IN. The water level was pretty sweet at about 2500cfs. There wasn't much play, but if you wanted Big, Fast, downriver fun, it was the place to be. Friday night included Paddling movies and socializing, Saturday had a boatercross downriver race and inflatable race followed by 2 live bands, and then Sunday Nora and I headed back, but Graeme joined some of the WI folks at Peminee (spelling?) Falls for some wave action.
The river was intimidating, but fun. Running Misicott Falls was like being on a roller coaster in a tornado - fast with huge rollers and spray all around you. Volkswagen was getting poured-over, but was reasonably easy to dodge. Chicken Ender was big and transitioned from wave to sticky hole. Nasty to play in, but you could punch it by running either hard river right or hard river left. First Sister was big and nasty. Those who didn't make the line on hard river right were punished heavily for their mistake. Second sister was big and dynamic, but not retentive. Terminal Surfer lived up to its name, recycling paddlers and boats alike.
The events were loads of fun. There were two different boatercross heats: The beginner/intermediate class and the expert class. The b/i class started in the pool below the falls and ran the rest of Piers Gorge down to Terminal Surfer. 3 of the 5 people in that race flipped and swam before Chicken Ender. The 4th swam in 1st Sister, and only one made it to the finish. It was great fun for those of us watching, but I'm sure the people that had to swim a big, meaty rapid would have a different opinion.
The Expert Class started above the falls and ran all the way down. There were many flips, but no swimmers. This is doubly impressive because one guy missed the tongue on the falls and wound up in surf-for-your-life kind of situation, but made it out eventually. I think Craig E. won it.
The inflatable race was probably the best part of the day. The only rules were that 1) your team didn't finish until all members reunited with your craft below Terminal (notice below terminal, not just in it) and 2) no boats allowed. There were blow up dolls, kiddy pools, air mattresses, and more going down. Nora, Graeme, and I crammed onto her air matress and headed down expecting a long and painful swim once we hit the big waves. As it turned out, our airmattress made quite the vehicle, somehow finding all the right lines through the river and keeping us (mostly) onboard. In the final stretch we were in 3rd place, but the team in front of us couldn't avoid Terminal Surfer and wound up in there recirculating for a couple of minutes. That gave us the chance to sneak by and take 2nd. Great time.
There were loads of people with both still and video cameras, so stay tuned because some of it's gonna be really funny. Huge thanks to Chevy and Andi for taking pics during the Expert race and the Inflatable race. Nora also has some great ones on her blog, so check those out.