Sunday, July 23, 2006 (Day 10) - continued:
I ashamed to admit it, but I managed to dump in the rapids immediately preceding the one in which Wallace and Easton dumped.
It was the usual story, no place to line and it looked like I could sneak through on my right side:
I ended up in an eddy where I was able to bail out my canoe and decide what to do next:
This is the area I needed to get past. If I could get far enough out from the eddy to get past the hay stack closest to me here, I was sure that I could get down the rest of the rapid. I had a first go at it and the eddy recaptured me, my canoe half filling with water pouring in where my spray deck was not in place.
I strapped down the rest of my spray deck, took a big run inside the eddy and got around the hay stack and down to the rapid to where Wallace and Easton dumped.
This is me at Wallace and Easton’s rapid, my full spray deck now in place for the first time:
It turned out that there was a great route for lining past their rapid:
I paddled the remaining kilometres to the Three Gorges and the start of the portage past it, thinking my adventures were over for the day.
To add injury to insult, I nearly ended up losing my canoe and gear down the worst of the three channels comprising the Three Gorges. I was looking for the precise landing point for the 800-metre portage around the Three Gorges, per Wayne’s GPS reading. I finally decided that it must be in a small cove just before the entrance to the rapid. Once in the cove, I realized I was 150 metres too far north and that the landing point must not be in the cove. It didn’t look like it would be easy to unload the canoe anywhere in the cove, so I paddled out of the cove, confident that I could easily canoe back upstream against the current running into the rapid.
My canoe entered an area where there was a strong transition between the current and an eddy, with me focussing on finding the portage landing. In a twinkling of an eye, my canoe was rolled over. I felt like a fish caught on a hook, as I was sure my canoe would inexorably be pulled into the rapid and down the Three Gorges. I was not worried for myself as I had my emergency backpack on me with my satellite phone and key survival stuff, and my GPS strapped to me which had proven itself to be waterproof, no matter how many times it got wet. If I could not save my canoe, I would let it go to its fate and save myself.
As we slowly floated along, I unfurled the rope from one end of the canoe in order to swim in the direction of the shore and try and pull my canoe to safety. I then noticed that my canoe and I were caught in the eddy in front of the cove and in several minutes had entered the cove where I was able to touch bottom. I finally made it to the edge of the cove where I was able to unload my canoe, in spite of the challenges I thought I had seen when inspecting the cove 20 minutes earlier.
Below is a picture taken from within the cove, with the eddy in the distance which had first dumped me and then allowed me to save my skin.
Location: N55º25.515’ W064º35.559’ Straight-line distance covered: 7.74 kilometres