Upper Yough Rafting Trip 2005

I had decided to do some hiking on Big Savage Mountain over the holiday weekend but last minute decided to take advantage of the white water in the area. Through the magic of the Internet, quickly found a rafting company that led trips down the upper Youghiogheny River. This involved all of about 5 minutes of thought on my part and the trip included Class V rapids via a dam release.

I managed to finally clean my house Saturday morning , Memorial Day Weekend. I refused to allow myself out of the house until it was finished. The minute I wrapped things up it started to pour, not a good omen. I sallied forth anyway figuring the weather is usually vastly different on the mountain. I arrived Big Savage Mountain in two hours flat, but it was overcast and cloudy on my arrival.

I spent the night in the van on a very quiet mountain. I rose early on Sunday and hit the trail. The Savage Mountain Trail was a mess, overgrown with tree limbs and sticks willy nilly everywhere. I figure in 2 weeks the trail would be impassable. It was tough doing even 10 miles, I made sure I was off the trail by 3PM in case it showered. I ate dinner in Frostburg then decided to drive up to Garrett County so I wouldn't have to drive the next morning. I played a game of minigolf and climbed a small rock wall at Fun Land in McHenry. I found a very nice townhome community which looked like a very complex log cabin and spent the night in their parking lot.

I woke up early and decided to go to Swallows Falls and do some morning hiking along the Falls before I had to go to the rendezvous for the Yough trip. The rafting segment of the vacation turned out to be the high point. 3 rafting companies showed up at the parking lot to meet their guest at the same time. 2 outfitting companies' guides wore golf shirts and matching caps. 1 company showed up with a beat up old bus and a bunch of half-crazed hillbillies in it. I had forgotten the name of the place which whom I had contracted beforehand. I said a quick prayer to God to please please please let it be the hillbillies with the WV tags and it was. I was elated, I knew today would be a great day. When we arrived at the put-in the other two companies started reviewing safety rules with their guests. I was being smart mouthed with the company leader and he suggested I raft with Josh, a guide who was missing more than a few teeth and had hair down to his ass. Josh told his 3 guests to "get in the raft" and we took off with no safety review or instruction.

I was teamed up with Jen and Dan from Canton, Ohio. Jen and Dan had lots of rafting experience, Josh had a lot of rafting experience, I had none. Josh asked me about my level of fitness, I told him it was pretty good, although I was the oldest one out of the 20 or so people who were with us by at least 10 years. We began our trip down the river, things seemed pretty calm, I told Josh that I wanted to have lots of fun so he better make sure he doesn't let me down. Josh asked whether I felt obligated to go for a swim in the cold water so I told him I didn't mind getting wet. I could tell Josh was going to figure out how far he could push me. I found out that Josh's specialty was doing 360s on the rapids. We went through the first part of the rapids pretty well until we got to a place they call "Little Niagara". Josh had some big ideas on how we were going to get through it, unfortunately, they were a bit over our collective skillset. At one point I heard Josh scream "hold on" but it was too late. I found myself in the water and under the boat. I don't have gills so it was difficult to breathe.

I came up for air, looked down river and all I could see was white foam, much white foam. I saw the raft with only two people in it hurling away from me. Then I saw a big rock, then I slammed into the big rock, then I went back under the water and down some more rapids. I drank lots and lots of river water. I went down some more rapids, somebody tried to grab me but they let go. Then somebody else finally threw me a line and hauled my sorry ass into the boat. Now there were 3 in the boat, Josh the river guide, was still missing. We found Josh and got him in the boat, we all had a good laugh. Josh had bit off more than he could chew with his rafting ideas I guess. But that didn't stop him from being just as crazy for the rest of the trip. I decided that rather than do what Josh told me to do, I would decide when to paddle and when to hold on. I didn't fall in after that.

A good time was had by all and I really enjoyed the trip.

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