By Jason Garrett (May 9, 2002)
Big grins and lots of fun were had by all. For the Saint we had a fairly large group. Chris Amelung, Tim O’brien, Paul A., Anie, Steve Schaeffer, Diane Duncil… a couple of guys from Springfield… I am forgetting names andmyself. We ran Roselle to D. We started about 2:30PM. Concensus said the level was about 5 feet over as we put on. The river dropped about a foot by take out. The river was great. A few of us were just along for the ride but Chris, Paul and Tim sliced a few waves. As opposed to Wednesday… Shark’s Fin was visible again. Somehow that was comforting to me. Wednesday was way too big for me. Clean runs were had by all. We pulled out at Mud Creek and most of us ran the last 200 feet of it. I guess this area is officially called the Gauntlet but at this level, Bumper Car would be better. It was boney and finding water to put the paddle in was hard. It was still fun. All walked the dam, of course. Yes, Don the dam is still there. We couldn’t see the top so we’ll have to wait till tomorrow to see if our new breach has appeared.
After running Chris, Diane, Paul, Anie and I went to Castor River. This is a great run. It is short, maybe a half mile. If you have never hiked this area even in low water it is beautiful. God did some amazing work here. The pink granite canyon walls are steep and more narrow than anywhere on the Saint. The main portion of the run is about a quarter mile. It starts with a boof or drop depending on route. Either way the bottom is shallow. Anie’s inspected the rocks for us… after a quick roll she confirmed the shallowness. The boof here would disappear if the water is much lower and a vertical pin would become possible. This drop is followed by a couple smaller drops. (I like to call these Bone Crusher and Eat Your Lunch.) They are harmless. The fourth drop is more serious. We all agreed that if you flipped you could have a new face before you come up. With that all but Paul ran. I guess that should have been a clue that one of our best two boaters didn’t run… but we are slow learners. Chris ran smoothly… of course. Diane flipped above the drop in a small curler. In the middle of this drop is a flat rock near the surface. From wear I sat above the drop I thought she had ordered her new face. I was happy to see her safely on shore before I ran. As I watched her bouncing upside down in the rocky river bottom I thought maybe Daine’s Downfall would be a good name for the rapid. Happily… she was too unscathed to get a rapid named after her. I proceed to miss the optimal line by a couple feet. The river decided to pop me into a large rear ender before spitting me out. Aine got turned sideway in the middle of the drop and recovered with a quick roll. I am no person to offically rate rivers but I would say that if the last drop is not a class IV, the only reason is a nice recovery pool. Yesterday the level in the shut in was a good 2-3 feet higher the hole in the last drop may have held more.
Well it was now after 8PM and a darkness settled over our Ansel Adams landscape… my best memory was that there was a take out along the main road after a half mile of flat water. Chris and Diane decied to hike to the putin and pick us up at this “easily found” take out right on the side of the road. Paul, Anie and I started wandering down a darkening river. “What is that… a rapid I hear?” Yes… there are two more small class II rock gardens. If it weren’t getting dark there would be some good eddy lines to play. This is where the river and my memory parted ways. I hiked in the woods a bit and there was no road, ut ohhh!!! It was at this point that I seemed to remember that you had to take another road to the take out… This is one of those details that is good to share with your drivers before they leave. Well, a little further down there was a creek bed or dirt road… it was too dark to tell. I proceeded to jog down the path hoping to find the main road… there is a small parking lot but seemed to be no signs of the main road. So I turned back… then there was a light in the distance and a large black object… was is a bear looking for a lost kayaker to eat??? I quivered. It was only Chris or more properly… Chris’ truck. But he didn’t see me. As he slowed in the parking lot I yelled like the man standed on a deserted island check these guys out. I feared he was turning in the parking lot. I felt like Tom Hanks, but sadly without a volleyball to make friends with. In a crucial moment of decision Chris thought once, then twice and even a third time and then made the definative turn. We were rescued. Rescued from the perilous darkness and impending doom.
For the record at the end of highway W east of Fredricktown is a fork in the road… take it… Take it to the left and the first parking lot is the put in. Take it to the right and the only parking lot is the take out. In daylight the road would be more visible from the river. There is a small gravel bar after the second rock garden and about a half mile past the shitins, opps I mean shut-ins. The takeout is the road in front of the gravel bar.
This is a fun run. Of things I’ve run, it most reminds me of Wolf Dells. The canyon is not that steep but it has the big starting drop and an exit drop in about the same distance. However, Castor adds a couple of 3 foot drops in the middle and the drop that exits the canyon is much bigger than the Dells exit. I believe this short section is definitely a III+ and a more authortative source may even say a low class IV.
Add these runs to a Wednesday scouting the Saint and running Marble Creek and it was lots of fun. Wish you were here.