campfire tales Nanook's Campfire Tales
A Swim on the Eel River

Pete, I hear you and your buddies took a close look at the falls on the Eel and decided to run the rapids in the canyon just below the main drop. Tell us how you made out!

Well, Nanook, in all our wisdom we decided to put in right below the main falls and run the next four drops.

Three of us, one amateur, and of course, the amateur made it through, I've been shaking my head ever since in disbelief.

Eel River Gorge
Looking upstream from the end of the portage trail.

I have a couple of new theories since this trip.

  1. Wear two life jackets. I got shot down through that white half-air half-froth and didn't see very much daylight. Not cool.
  2. Use flotation in the boat. My Appalachian took hell. It spent the majority of the run underwater, and got pinned three times. Hard on the boat, and it took us a lot of time to get it free. Almost had to leave it. Flotation would keep it up out of the water a lot more where it could sail through the bad stretches.
  3. Wear two life jackets.
  4. If you are running rapids beside your canoe that is not equipped with flotation, you do not want to be below or above the canoe, beside it is the only place to be. I got sucked under the canoe, the canoe got sucked over me. Not cool.

If you want to get in shape, go run up and over those cliffs eight or nine times. I'm still sore.

We're going to try the river again this weekend, minus the rapids perhaps but we'll see. Depends if I can find some flotation.

Eel River
Sammy Solo, Eel River

Here's a story from Derek B.:

Hi Ken, I was just poking around your Nanook site and read the Eel River story. What a thrilling river eh? In it you mentioned a legend of soldiers from Gagetown running amok there. Small world, I just posted my video of running the falls on youtube and got a call next morning from a veteran who remembered that story well. I can't remember now if he said it was back in the late fifties or sixties, it was decided that it would be great training to send soldiers down in a raft. They did go over the falls (four of them), but no life was lost: two had to be taken to hospital, and they lost all their gear. He thinks they sent swimmers up later that week to retrieve the machine guns, etc ... Ha, the reason he called me is because he didn't think the falls in my video were the same ones ... his wife was from up that way and she figured the 'real falls' had to be bigger than that!

campfire tales    Mitchell, you and Alicia went for a trip on the upper Nashwaak after several days of heavy rain. How did you make out?

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