Whitewater Kayaking: My First Swim of the Year

This past weekend at the Golden Games in Golden, CO was an adrenaline charged weekend.

I was entering all the whitewater kayaking events but was unsure about the Screaming ¼ Mile Creek Race on Clear Creek.

I had never run this rapid on the river before. My brother, Grady, Max Haworth and I went to go check the river out and take a few laps.

The Screaming ¼ Mile is a class 4 and the whole river is road side and very easy to scout and/or portage.

We weren’t there to take the race lines but just to have fun and learn the race section and take harder lines. There is only one hole that you need to be careful on called Cripps Hole.

I boofed Cripps Hole on my first run far left. When I landed I could feel the hole pulling me back in so I paddled as hard as I could. I made it into the eddy and waited for Grady and Max.  They did the eddy ferry above the hole and also made it.

We felt confident and wanted to do another lap. While Grady ran shuttle Hojo approached me and Max. He told us about his swim on Cripps Hole. He said it is a body holder and that there’s no easy way out especially in a kayak. He added that he would rather get stuck in the low head dam, which is below Screaming ¼ Mile rapid,  than Cripps Hole.

This made me a little nervous but I still wanted to go.

On my second lap I eddied out in the river right eddy right above the hole. Grady asked if I wanted to do the ferry. I didn’t feel confident that I would make it and decided to peel out and hit the right of Cripps Hole.

Of course I had no speed and I was angled left towards the nasty part. I hit the hole and my bow went flying in the air. I caught myself before I flipped and started paddling. I was being sucked back in, into a side surf. I instantly window shaded.

My boat hit bottom and I tucked and pulled my skirt. I stayed in a ball hoping and praying the green water would push me down and out. I was terrified, but was staying calm for the most part.

I wasn’t under for more than 7 seconds when I popped up and took as big a breath I could before it pulled me back under. I couldn’t tell where I was and was under for about another 5-7 seconds. When I came up the second time my arms where in the air trying to grab a boat. I just barely missed the handle. This time I didn’t get a big breath and started to go back under. That’s when suddenly another boat hit my back and scooped me right out of the hole.

Grady was right there as I came out and I grabbed his boat. He pulled me to the side immediately. He asked if I was okay. I was so out of breath, but I was fine and told him so.  When I was safe on solid ground Grady went to get my boat.

I was so thankful!!

While I was stuck in the hole Grady and Max couldn’t see me. Grady said he saw my boat go flying out of Cripps Hole. Grady’s boat was the one I was trying to grab onto when I came up the second time and Max was the one that knocked me out of Cripps Hole. Grady was getting ready to get his throw rope and throw it to me.

This was one of my most terrifying experiences I had ever had. I had never been body recirculated until now. I wasn’t set up right for Cripps Hole and would have been better off doing the ferry. I don’t know how long I was actually in Cripps Hole. It felt like a while but at the same time it all went so quick.

All I lost was a throw rope which was carabinered to a bungy and the bungy had snapped. But later at the awards I won the exact same green NRS throw rope for second place in freestyle kayaking.

Leave a Comment