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Published on octobre 31st, 2016 | by Kayak Session

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Near Death Experience on Belson Creek (Ohio)

Scary video featuring  Ted Engelhardt running Belson Creek (Ohio/Ny state) during winter time. Ted paddled alone, and got recycled on a small sticky drop, ended up swimming and had to battle real hard to get out of there. This could have easily ended up tragically; Read below Ted’s account and feedbacks on this misadventure. Conclusion: always scout when you do not know a run, and never paddle alone…

Belson Creek AKA Gages Gulf: 7.5 square mi drainage 1.75 ft @ Rt. 76 Ripley NY ~ Gages Falls. From the center of the Go-Pro lens to my mouth is in between 10.5 and 11 inches so a lot of this video I am barely underwater and the camera is not. If you cant here my moans there’s a good chance Im underwater. I rationalized it several ways, none of which were legitimate. It was the last significant whitewater creek from the Ohio line to 20 miles past the NY line I hadn’t run and really wanted to check it off the list. I knew it was deep because I camped back there 4 days solo this summer getting to know the run and clearing wood. The spot I almost died was actually where I took my baths. A deep pool is a critical safety feature on a sticky hole because you can ball up and sink to the bottom to get washed out which is sort of what saved me. I told myself the gauge is only at 1.75 ft which isn’t anything on any other creek, even though I didnt really know how to interpret that because it had never been run. The flume of doom 1/4 mile downstream from here used to be the bottom leg of Belson before twentymile punched through the ridge and joined the Gulf so the Flume has all the narrowness of Belson with 3.5 times the flow. Like the falls its near impossible to set safety without hiking in, but unlike Gage’s it had been run successfully several times and the extra flow actually makes it safer because it just blows everything through there. The flume also comes in straightish where Gages falls comes in at an angle, creating a whirlpool with a massive boil. We spent a lot of time analyzing the flume before we ran it, even changing our strategy after scouting from the bottom compared to our original plan from the top. I rushed scouting Gage’s because it was getting late. If I would have brought my binoculars like I should have known I needed I would have been able to tell how bad the boil was on river right and that the only way out was on the left. We had discussed hitting it left but I was concerned about having a hard time getting my boof stroke in shallower water if I was to far left so I went right for the middle, bad move. My #1 mistake was treating a creek like something to be conquered instead of enjoyed with respect. I would run it again at that level tomorrow if I could talk someone into doing the 1.5 mile hike down the gorge to set safety and not paddle the Gulf, but they could paddle the Flume and the rest of twentymile from the falls down. I know how to run it now! We left Franks boat in the gorge and hiked back the next day with my spare to try and recover. Ended up finding my boat less than 1/4 mile from where I swam and 10 ft from going into twentymile where it would have been probably gonzo under the ice at Rt 5. Towed the spare boat 5 miles down twenty mile after repelling around the flume because it was so low there was a pin potential and got out at Rt. 20. Only lost the paddle. Most difficult recovery mission I have been on by far, most epic swim too. To set safety would have required one of us soloing most of the gorge and the other hiking in 3 miles from a different location down the 275 ft to the bottom (with boat) and missing the first 3/4 of the run. It was 4:30 pm when we put on. He didn’t know how to get to the safety spot anyway and I wasn’t going to have him run the gorge solo having never hiked it. It should not be done without at least three people, two in the gorge and one on the safety hike. Lesson learned. 

 

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