• Tyler Nash

The Deadwood River Float | Apoc-Eclipse | Part 1

Starting the weekend of the eclipse, we had a grand plan of 4 full days of endless adventure, and it definitely did not disappoint.

We started off about 4 hours late in the adventure rig, loaded with dirt bike, kayak, cataraft, backpacks, eclipse glasses, scientific instrumentation and enough other gear to completely fill the back of the vehicle to the brim. Myself, perhaps feeling apprehensive and a little in over my head, while John and Tyler seethed with excitement over an exploratory float.

We put in to the Deadwood River about 1:10 pm on Saturday after 4 hour sleep at the take out and a gorgeous drive to put in under the Deadwood dam. The water was flowing at a comfortable 800 cfs, the sky was blue, the air was warm, and the balmy water turned your feet into white walkers if they lingered in there too long.

Three hours and two portages later, we stopped for lunch after Tyler and John conquered a sweet drop, myself volunteering to take video, because... no thank you.

Perhaps it was the beginning of exhaustion after the adrenaline faded during lunch, perhaps it was the excitement of what was to come, but whatever it was, caused Tyler to commit to the next class 4 without myself completely on the cataraft. So began my experience of boating through the eyes of a spider, clinging for dear life to the bottom of a boat frame. Somehow, wiggling myself back onto the boat (my first self rescue #success) at the end of the rapid. John was certain that Tyler left me at the lunch spot, which he certainly could have tried, but I wasn't going to let go of this fella without a fight. #adventurehappens

Successfully running one or two more big rapids, one of which we had to pass up due to tight passage from... dead wood, I felt scott free! The reports said the top part was the steepest and hardest with two to three solid drops, we had those in the bag.... The reports said the lower section was far easier and flat, which we enjoyed thoroughly.

Turns out I missed that report on the American Whitewater with the "mandatory portage" class 6 rapid in the lower river report (the boys would say this one was class 5, maybe #guidezilla) and continuous class 4 rapids for like, a million miles afterward.

After a scout and analysis of this churning angry beast, I was told to put the GoPro away and swim like a banshee to the right if I fell out, so, I think to myself, "Great, I am pretty much dead if I fall out of this boat... Spidey grip engage!!" John quickly made his strategically perfect and surgical kayak maneuvers down the churning monster. Thereafter, Tyler pursued him with the grace and poise of a freshly cobbled donkey. Bouncing down the river with a near guideapult (Tyler trying to escape my clutches again, lucky for me his pfd had a grabby part so I could pull him back in his seat), a near strainer flush, a popped oar, and a ride down a 10 foot pour over / rocky cliff with a "Sierra, hold on! We are taking this backward!!" (as if I had been thinking of anything other than becoming one with the boat through white knuckle grip assimilation at the time). This part of the trip made me extremely relieved to be in the hands of the best floaty tool available for our adventure, the AIRE wave destroyer. This vessel forgave our decisions and miraculously got us through to safety. #adventurehappens #AIREWhitewater @AIREWhitewater

The last three hours of the day were exhausting, splashy, white and frothy as could be, and resulted in us resembling drowned rats after the adrenaline reserves ran dry. In fact, an osprey followed John 5 miles down the river, most likely mistaking him for a drowning rat. By this time, the camera was put away for good, heck, all this whitewater was starting to look the same. Just white... and cold, with no beer, or flat water to drink a beer if we had one.

We made it back exactly by 8 o'clock barely able to move, shivery and PUMPED... to drink a PBR. The calories from dinner sunk in, the generous John motorcycled the last part of our shuttle while Tyler and I struggled to organize our camp that resembled an exploded outfitter warehouse. We went to bed being PUMPED we made if through our first Apoc-Eclipse adventure and dreamt that night of the next one to come...

#AdventureHappens #WhitePineOutfitters


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Photography by Ben Herndon. www.benherndon.com

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