Saturday, September 11, 2010
I.m Jerry Dixon
Some men should have mountains named after them, except in Jerry’s case it would have to be a restless mountain, with ice and snow sheeting off its face in winter and water cascading in spring, and at its base there would have to be a huge, roaring river raging though a spectacular gorge. It would be the kind of place that attracted people like him.
So one story though there are so many:
That summer, he and I paddled the Main and then the South and Middle forks of Idaho’s salmon river system. Coming off the South Fork, which he and I had run with no permits, no back up, and after that first night at George’s place, there had been just the two of us and the bears and the rattle snakes and the river, we met up with friends to run the Middle fork.
We had been comparing the Middle Fork's rapids to the South fork and were unimpressed. It’s always a good recipe for a disaster. Arriving at Tappen Falls we only got out to scout because there was a group of tourists with their bright inflatable rubber duckies looking at the falls.
A fat man with a cigar in his mouth asked Jerry if he could run his rubber duckie through the main hole.
Jerry spent some time dissuading him.
We scouted what seemed the obvious line for kayaks and I took off: hit an eddy line we hadn’t seen, and in my four metre kayak was faced with "water fall sideways" or "water fall backwards". Much to everyone’s amusement I choose backwards, demonstrated the rock splat/pivot below the drop and tried to look like it was all planned.
Dixon, following, did it sideways, flipped, bounced his helmeted head along the rocks, and finally rolled up.
Watters was laughing so hard at our disasters he wrapped the raft on Little Tappen, so we pulled over to have lunch. A very fat man with a thick cigar in his mouth, wallowed past us in a bright yellow duckie.
Hey, he bellowed to Jerry, are you the guy who kayaked Tappen upside down.
No said jerry, waving his hand down river, he’s gone on down stream. Heluvva boater though, helluva boater.
He was. And it was my privilege to have known him.
So: Go light, Go fast, Go far.
And remember: If you need to ask how hard it is; you shouldn’t be there.