My wettest TOSRV – by Keith Finn
TOSRV Sunday was really wet – I was up to my armpits in rushing water, holding on to a tree branch and trying not to get flushed downstream. Thank God I wasn’t riding a bike that day.
HAHA! You thought I managed to ride my bike into a creek, didn’t you. And only an idiot could accomplish that! Well, you are wrong. I was in Rocky Fork Creek on purpose!
We were holding a Kayaking class on Rocky Fork Creek (20 miles west of Chillicothe) the following weekend, so 3 idiots (dedicated service oriented volunteers) decided to clear out the fallen trees so as to spare our students the trauma of drowning while trapped under a tree. Dave Seslar, Mike Stocarrdo and Keith Finn bravely set forth into a gusty torrential rain to drive down to the Rocky Fork. We went thru Chillicothe and saw some early riders, and comments were of the ‘drowned rat’ and ‘utterly wretched wretches’ variety as we saw the TOSRV riders. Prophetic words indeed!
Armed solely with clippers and a bow saw, armored in the peculiar attitude of (male) boaters (after all, it wasn’t like there was ICE in the creek), we put in at the Browning Road bridge. The creek was ‘runnable’, but not high. We spent a dreary 2 hours cutting smaller branches in knee-deep water, clipping thorny vines and otherwise tidying up the place. All the while the rain poured down, pretty much without notice by our 3 heros.
We got the gorge portion of Rocky Fork at about 1:00 pm. Now we had an idea of just how much rain was falling. Water was literally shooting out of the cracks of the high stone walls of the gorge. The creek has risen over 2 feet in this area. The kicker here is that the gorge is where we really needed to clear out some trees.
Mike and Dave were not heavy enough to stand on the bottom and cut limbs – anything over knee deep water would flush them downstream. Largeness is something I have plenty of, so I was often chest deep in the gorge, sawing branches while trying to attain hydrodynamic stability. You can simulate this at home. Turn the thermostat down to 50 degrees, and your tap water needs to be 45-50 degrees. Now squat down in your toilet and let it flush on you for several hours, remembering to fall down every 20 minutes or so. Oh yeah, while all this going on, saw on some moving object.
Important safety tip! – I found a patch of quicksand in the gorge. If you are going to fall into quicksand, have some good friends around to haul you out.
We finally staggered (can boats stagger?) out of the gorge at around 5 pm. This is a long time to be immersed in cold, moving water. We were pruney, smelly, chilled, and exhausted. By the time we ran shuttle, got changed (warm clothes!!!) and loaded boats, it was around 7 pm when we approched Columbus. As we passed some of the last TOSRV stragglers, we thought ‘drowned rat’ and ‘poor wretches’.