Friday, November 30, 2012

April 12, 1987 Sunday

Mark Jefferson was writing blog posts more than 20 years before the internet was invented.  He kept (and keeps) meticulous notes about each day's events and experiences.  Here are his verbatim actual journal notes (as rec'd this evening) from a Verde River trip we did a long time ago!  THANKS, Mark!

Adventures of April 12th on the Verde River
— A classic John Parsons trip — that guy has more fun watching other people's reactions to a little adventure (trauma?).

  There were 6 of us on the river, one of whom was no other than Gary Weesner — hadn't seen him in awhile. The other three were Bill, Ted & Jeff (I tell you this tax job has fried my memory. I can't remember anyone's name anymore.) The other was Ted's 12 year old son. It soon became apparent that I was not the novice on this trip. In fact, next to John, I was the expert. Ted and his son had never been on a river before.

  As soon as the boats were pumped up, we shoved off with barely a word of advice on technique from John. Gary was in a canoe with John, who was frantically trying to tell him all of the things he needed to know for the first rapidly approaching rapid.

  The rest of us were in our own "Cherokees" — these little inflatable kayaks. But they were open like canoes. They were worthless in the wind, but turned out to be fairly maneuverable.

  It was a crazy day with lots of mishaps. People flipping, going for swims, boats floating away and people almost drowning.

  The first was in "Pre Falls" — just above Verde Falls. We got out to have a look and I took some pictures while Ted and Bill made some runs. Ted ended up getting flipped at the bottom and caught in the keeper. He tumbled around a few times, and looked like he was drowning in there. I motioned to get Gary up with the throw rope. Finally Ted kicked free, and his boat floated on towards Verde Falls. I put down my camera and ran after it. Went in swimming and pulled the boat and oar back to shore.

  I aced the run and then we looked at Verde Falls. What a change from high water. John ran one boat through. Then I tried one. I made it over the Falls and then fell out of my boat on a rock below the Falls. My foot touched a rock and I sprung back into my boat.

John was laughing his ass off. He couldn't believe I'd survived the Falls since I'd been up on my knees instead of leaning back. He said I'd defied the laws of physics. No one else wanted to attempt the Falls, so I ran a 2nd boat through. This time I did a face plant into the river at the bottom of the Falls. John laughed and laughed. He said this is why he took novices down the river. It was too dull with all his competent paddling partners.

All of us incompetents made it much more adventuresome.

  He said later that a couple weeks ago they'd wrapped and sunk a boat and had to hike out.

  I told him this was a much needed break from doing taxes. I needed to get my mind off it. He said he imagined that taxes were the furthest thing from my mind as I was sailing over my boat into the river at the bottom of Verde Falls.

  I got beat up a little in my 2nd swim. I got my paddle and my hat but had to let the boat float away. Rocks pounded my legs and arms as I flailed to fight the current. Finally I swam ashore and waited for someone to pick me up.

  Ted went for a 2nd swim after lunch. That time he was too numb and sapped of energy and Gary had to throw him a rope to pull him out. I herded his boat into an eddy and we dumped all the water out.
  He was hurting, and when we came upon some fishermen, they agreed to give him a ride back to town. They deflated his boat while I ran back upstream along the bank to retrieve his Black Bag that Bill had rescued and then left behind on the shore.

  I'd imagined to get some exercise boating today, but I hadn't figured on the workout I was getting — boating, swimming, and running. John just smiled and said, "I know you're tough" when he left me behind shivering after a swim, to put on my wet suit and then catch up. He was in a hurry to get down the river.

We were only half way.

Jeff left his father and stayed with us. I led him through New Wave Rapid only to discover a long keeper at the bottom. I paddled swiftly around it, but Jeff went through broadside, oblivious. Needless to say, he flipped. His boat went under, and when it came up it shot straight up on end and cleared the water. They could see it well upstream. I fished Jeff and his boat out of the river.

  Bill got tired and had to switch with Gary, who was now in a kayak. Bill proved to be not as adept as Gary, and caused two upsets in the canoe. So John got his share of water as well. Only Gary made it through the day without swimming. We arrived at Verde Hot Springs as the sun was beginning to go down. I took the right fork and spent 10-15 minutes in the Hot Springs while the others continued on down to the take out. I had the place to myself. Ah. That warm water felt good, as I had a chill from being in and out of the river all day.

  The place was beautiful. This whole Verde River was.

What a shame that we had to rush through it so. It reminded me of our canoe trip last Fall. What a paradise and playground this Verde River is!!! Sometime I've got to spend more time here. There's just too much to do here in this world!!

  I had to ask John afterwards. Did he have fun? It seemed like he was worried all day, and hadn't had a moment's rest. Why was he doing this?

  He had 2 reasons. One was political. These people were the mayor and superintendent of schools. The people of influence of Camp Verde. He wanted them to get to know the river and be staunch defenders of it. Ted was the Supt. of Schools.

Reason 2. This was putting adventure back into the river. It was just too dull going down with competent paddlers. They aced every run, and nothing ever happened. Now every day is full of stories to bring home.

I had to smile. This all made sense.

What a great, unusual person John is. I'm so glad I know him.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't remember you guys living there! It would have been a couple of blocks away from our house on Santa Fe. My dad later lived on Grand Canyon with a roommate - I remember the trains shaking the house as they went by! Kelli B