Dan, Pat,. JD, Jim H., Tom D. Centennial Beach to Knoch Knolls. Gauge 7.19 ft, discharge 719.
Jim H. got an exciting introduction to solo yakking less than 100 yards from the put in. The rifles in downtown Naperville can be a little exciting when the river is high and fast like it was today. Jim maneuvered his way like a true pro but once the water settled he declared: "Quite an introduction going through the double Diamond back" (or something to that affect, I think it must be a skiing term). On another occasion he followed Dan's lead (a mistake since Dan and Tom were not going where they wanted to) and he got stuck on construction material. Dan looked back and shouted "Don't' turn sideways, Jim" to which Jim yelled back "I'm not trying to!!!". With Pat coaching him to back up and paddle strong to extricate himself Jim again looked like an old pro. "I owned that, like a three pointer to win the game...nothing but net!!"
As the group passed Pioneer Park the veterans (Pat and Dan) elected river left around the island while the rookies (Jim and JD) elected river right. Like a Dad letting his kids sled down the big hill by themselves for the first time, Dan quickly got around the island and got in position to observe as his "kids" finished. Jim, fresh off his recent river success once again handled the fast moving river like a pro. Dan smiled proudly.....uh oh, STRAINER!!! A twelve foot long, 8 inch diameter limb was hanging out 3 feet above the churning water. Jims's eyes widened as the river sucked him towards the looming limb. He stuck out his left hand onto the end of the limb and successfully avoided disaster. A sigh of relief was had by Jim and Dan. Oh no!! JD was right behind and Dan felt powerless as he watched the scene unfold.
JD was taking a similar path as Jim but that is where the similarities end. Whereas Jim just missed the end of the limb, JD was heading straight at the midpoint. His eyes widened as the river directed him to a place he did not want to go. To avoid decapitation JD ducked his head and did a dead lift on the limb all at the same time. You think his eyes got wide as he approached the limb? They opened another couple degrees as he found himself waist deep in the frigid water. Did I say waist deep? Oh yeah the river was moving quickly, forcing JD to "jog"further down river. The water was now chest deep. We don't even need to mention how certain body parts were racing and other parts were shrinking aka George Costanza "there was shrinkage!" Somehow Pat and JD managed to gather all equipment and get JD back in the boat. There was speculation that JD's brief kayaking career could come to an end but JD took the other route....defiantly claiming he needed to go run that route again just to prove he could do it.