Exploring unknown places has always been an absolute passion of mine. These explorations always seem to lead to at least Type II fun. If you're not familiar with this scale, let me break it down for you:
Type I fun is true fun. It's enjoyable while its happening, like good food, good sex, Class 3 rapids, drinking with the boys.
Type II fun is fun only in retrospect. It is not fun while it is happening. Usually people are cussing at me, lots of portaging with a heavy kayak, a few good rapids that don't really make it worthwhile, kayaking in a snow storm, drinking with Nathan Danforth and Nate Winning.
Type III fun is not fun at all, not even in retrospect. Typically this type of fun creates the best stories but the thought of going back makes you puke in your mouth, such as running mandatory class 5 drops that you only ran because you had to. Tom Sunderland, Randy Binder and I dragged kayaks through the snow for 10 hours over 6 miles one day and we never took one stroke. Oh yeah, and don't forget to bring your tears. This is a typical "Mulkey Mission."
10 miles of unknown into a 1000ft gorge with no way out;
major snow storm with freezing temps; and
putting in on a tributary creek with hopes that other creek (2 miles downstream) will add enough water to make the creek worthwhile.
Mix these ingredients together and you have the perfect recipe for Type III fun, a.k.a. "Mulkey Mission."
Looking up into the walled in canyon, we were all a little apprehensive.
I remember my Mom asking, "If your friends all jumped off the bridge, would you?"
This mission sorta started off that way. It was snowing and pretty damn cold and I don't think any of us were really psyched to immerse ourselves in these conditions for a day of exploratory kayaking. Nobody wanted to be the wise voice in the group, so we all just put our heads down and shouldered our kayaks to the river.
Surprisingly, the water level wasn't too bad, albeit low, it was doable for an exploratory mission. We had very few portages for several miles and the creek just kept going at a decent pace. Once we entered this canyon, we were completely committed to making it out. The rapids were mostly pool and drop class 3 and 4 up to this point, so I don't have many pics.
We eventually reached this waterfall. From the lip, it was a twister of sorts into a pool that we really couldn't see all of. It looked like it went into a wall, but it looked 50/50. There was no way to set safety and with all of us feeling pretty damn cold, a possible swim could be disastrous. The funny part is, all of us wanted to run it since the portage was gonna suck. All it would have taken was for one of us to say, "Screw it... I'm given'er." and the entire group would have gone. With the temps and no safety, bailing was probably the smartest decision of the day, but also the only decision we would all regret later.
Basically, after the waterfall, the rest of the creek was class 2 and we were out of the canyon kicking ourselves because we had just walked possibly the best drop on the creek. Part of our reason for walking was that we were unsure how much more serious whitewater we had downstream. Little did we know, that was the end of it all.
We packed up the car and headed back to Ten Sleep for some much needed warmth, food and celebratory drinking.
Here is Tom Sunderland showing the lady bartenders how kayakers party.
The crew. From the left, Tom Sunderland, Aaron Mulkey, Tyson Bednarz, Matt McFadden, Randy Binder, and D-nuts a.k.a. Nathan Danforth.
All in all, it was a great trip. I will soon return to that creek when it has more water and warmer temps. It's one of the most amazing canyons I have ever been through and there is only one way to see it.. in a kayak.
Watch The Video !
Spring Reverance from Aaron Mulkey on Vimeo.