I had an interesting happening in the Little River Canyon January 12.

I was on some small wave about 1/2 or 1 mile down below Bottleneck. I let my guard down as it was nothing big, less than a lot of stuff on the Nanty. Next thing I know, I am being flipped to the right.

I immediately start to tuck forward only to watch my face violently smash into a rock edge underwater. Thank God I was wearing my helmet with a face mask (made by Cascade and looks like a lacrosse helmet).

It shook me up really good and I ended up swimming out of my kayak. I came up to the surface and people getting my boat and I think were surprised I did not roll right up as I was in an eddy at that point. Martina pushed my boat over to me and I got it emptied.

I could tell I had bit both my tongue and lower lip with a very small amount of blood coming down. I took off my helmet to then discover some very deep scratches and chunks missing from the steel face mask. There is no doubt that that impact was not one to have just broke a tooth or two, but rather would have been very serious and the type to break my jaw, cheek and nose.

I then paddled over where some other people were, such as Chad, Gavin and Mark, to show the battle scars and I believe they were also very surprised. I paddled away with only a bloody lip and mild concussion to have left some steel on the river bed.

I don’t know that the facemask saved my life, but it sure did save me from some very extensive facial surgery and the rest of the group being in a serious river rescue situation. I know I will never get on the river without a full face mask. There was only about 0.02 seconds of time from flipping to impact. People may say its one thing to hang up on the river, but it happened so fast it would have been impossible to have fully tucked up and I have the proof to show they work.

by Garth Brown
From The Eddy Line, March 2008