On
the Tuesday before Labor Day week we were still getting rain and the
Cartecay was rising again. At the last minute I decided to take a
conference call on the road and go boat the Cartecay with Garth
Brown, Barry White (the boater not the singer) and Joel.

At
4:00 I ran to the garage to pick a boat: would it be the Allstar or
the Mamba? About 5 minutes before the boat selection I had checked
the gauge and it said 3.5 feet and the gauge is always lower than
reality. I had paddled it at 3.5 before in a playboat so that was a
viable option but the voice in my head kept saying “Mamba.”

I
have learned not to argue with the voices and loaded the
Mamba and gear and took off. When I got to the river there was
a local sitting at the put in with a mixed expression on his face
– he looked as though something challenging had just occurred
in his life.

This
fine young chap just experienced the hole that reveals
itself at the bottom of Whirlpool. Mind you, at 3.5 feet it
kept a canoe one time for upwards of 40 minutes (sans boater),
and that day upon arrival the Cartecay seemed much, much
higher than 3.5 feet.

The
guy, who was not small, proceeded to tell me that it worked
him over and over and when he thought he was out it took
him back for some more. I expected that hole to be there so
I already considered the right line would be the right line that day.

Okay,
back to boat selection. I choose wisely that day as the river was
between 4.5 feet and 5.5 feet. The locals said it was 6 feet. Who
knows, but it was big.

Rapid
Breakdown
Surf Rapid was gone. The only noticeable feature was the
porch, which by the way had water up to its bottom.

S-Turn
had standing waves higher than the ledge (minimum 6 foot standing
waves). I ran those through the clean, easy center line. A couple
other boaters opted for the far left line which was a safe Class 2
slide. Next up was Whirlpool.

At
Whirlpool we took the eddy and got out and scouted. It was the river
right run and you wanted to keep a safe distance from the keeper hole
and lean forward and paddle. One
thing to notice was that the river right side was a recirculation
feature with logs, trees and other such debris.

Well,
even the right line wanted the paddler to at least think they were
going to make close and intimate friends with the hole, but luckily
with the right line it just teased us. I went first and took the eddy
below and waited for the others to follow.

The
next paddler was Garth. He lined up for the right line and then
backed off and went back to the eddy. It was curious why he made that
move. Then, shortly thereafter, it became evident why: about a 6 foot
section of someone’s porch made its way through the rapid and
proceeded downriver. Garth went forward and then Barry and Joel.

At
Blackberry we picked up two boaters. The regular center line was a
wall of water and the rapids immediately

below
were full-on Class 2’s. The center line had about an 8 foot wall of
water. The left line was no longer the only left line as it
disappeared and a new left line opened far river left and followed
the bank. That was the easiest route down the rapid. The other
options were to take the center line and contend with the wall of
water and hope it did not kill your momentum or hope you did not find
that section of porch that floated by. The final

option
was to take the path that used to be the left line chute and take the
meat at an angle.

Most
of us choose the old left line and smacked the flow at an angle and
had an adrenalin rush as it blinded us for the moment and we trusted
our balance and paddle skills. All came through Blackberry in fine
shape. At the take-out we left two pickup paddlers behind and the
four of us proceeded to DNR.

The
high levels introduced us to some fun standing wave/boogie water
sections. Mr. Twister was beefy and fun. I ran it right took the eddy
behind the first rock and then took the second drop have hugging the
second rock. Barry got one hell of a squirt and challenged EJ for
skill and grace. I know that was his intent: sweet move Barry.

Narrows
was uneventful, but Clear Creek Falls was nothing less than great.
The regular line was there. If you miss the line on a normal flow
line you might hit some rocks, but on this day no telling what you
might hit. It was late and we were running short on daylight, so we
opted for the center line. The center line is the one that does not
exist at normal flows.

Everyone
ran it nicely and then we made our way to the takeout. With daylight
dwindling, our group searched intensely and finally found the DNR
take-out. The next challenge was the hill of mud: we all got out and
it was great fun.

Five
foot and above is an awesome run but takes some additional skill the
usual Cartecay river runner does not practice
on this river:

1
– Ability to eddy out when you must to scout;

2
– Keen river scouting skills;

3
– Seal launches from 3— 6 feet above the water line;

4
– A strong roll.

I
ran the Cartecay again at 1.4 three days later and it was a different
river all together. All the low water lines that allow kayaks were
clogged with debris and it appears this is a river that needs to be
run now at a minimum level of 2 feet unless the river gets cleaned
up.

by
Todd McGinnis
From
The Eddy Line, October 2008