The Naming of Drunken Horseman

(More Than Just a Paddlesnake)

By Bill Patterson



††††††††††† I have learned that trolls come in all shapes and sizes.Trolls also come from a wide variety of places.This particular troll emerged from a nasty undercut in South Sauty creek.†††

Our first encounter with this troll was in the mid 90ís during our first descent of South Sauty.Chuck Kirk was taking Jim Kelly, Josh the Punk Kayaker and myself down the creek on a nice 24 degree afternoon.After a brief respite from the some nice drops, Jim found a particularly menacing undercut.From the top of the drop it looks like you can run down a slope and boof left in front of the big rock in the center.Au contrair, trying to pull that move will find you landing on another semi-sloping drop below the boof rock.You will then slam sideways into the nice undercut rock in the center of the river.This is exactly what happened to Jim.As I looked down from the eddy above, all I could see was Jimís pogies and paddle sticking out from under the rock.After several attempts Jim managed to extract himself from the rock and roll up in the eddy below.From the top eddy the whole event looked terrible.After I ran the drop and caught up to Jim, we discussed the situation.Laughingly Jim mentioned that it was pretty horrible under the rock.I seem to recall that he mentioned something about a troll.

Years later in the spring of í02 Jim and I found ourselves back on the creek with Ross Kramer and Mike Huff.After meeting up with some more friends on the creek, our group grew to about eight including a first timer who was running it with her boyfriend.Since Jimís incident we had learned to give that nasty rock a wide berth in order to avoid another encounter with the minion that lurked below.Our repetitive experience with the rapid had given us a certain amount of contempt so we gave that particular drop very little consideration.I was running sweep and told the newbie to watch the undercut in the middle as we began to enter the last busy section.As I told her to watch the undercut she did exactly that as she slammed into the rock.I am sure that she saw it from the side as well as the bottom once she went under.The whole incident looked absolutely horrible from the top.After a nice battle with the rock and the troll that lurked beneath, she emerged and was deposited in the eddy below the rapid.Shortly afterwards her boat followed sans paddle.

I quickly ran the drop and ferried over behind the undercut.I noticed a fair amount of water flowing out below the rock and quickly deduced that the paddle was still under the rock.That is where I made my tragic mistake.Another boater and I climbed up on the rock and attempted to dislodge her paddle.After quite a few attempts we gave up.Little did we know that the damage had already occurred.The troll had been disturbed one too many times and he also got a look at my face.

Not knowing what had actually taken place, I gave the girl my paddle and took off down the creek using my hand paddles.After running through the Minefields, the Slot and Bonecrusher Mike Huff produced a ceremonious flask of Scotch.Mike, Jim and I polished off the flask as we cruised the remaining class IIIís.†† We were comfortably num as we beached our boats at the takeout.It was time for hot showers, more refreshments, river stories and hanging out at my party trailer.

After a couple of hours the Troll came looking for me.I did not know it at the time but he was under the guise of a horseman that lived at the top of the gorge.The Troll was quite ornery and a little drunk.For some reason he really seemed to have it in for me.The Troll was luring other members from our party to ride his horse.Jim went for a quick ride as Brian poured whiskey down the Troll, hoping that he would quickly tire and go home.No such luck.The Troll kept on insisting that I get on the horse.(I later deduced that he was trying to get me back to the undercut.)The more the Troll pushed the harder I resisted.†† Jim soon returned to allow the Troll to return to his lair.He did not accept the offer.That was when Jim poured him another triple.

After swilling down the last drink the Troll became quite beligerante.That was when Mark D and others arrived to witness the menace.After one last attempt to lure me back to the undercut, I jokingly asked the troll if he needed a good ole fashioned Alabama ass beating.The Troll bowed up and said ďletís go!ĒAt that point in time I sensed that something was way beyond ďnot quite right.Ē††

I assured the Troll that I was just kidding as Brian poured him one last one for the road.We then received our reprieve.The Troll mounted his horse and left for his lair.

The next day I realized how lucky that I had been.After talking to other campers, I learned that the Troll had fallen of his horse on several occasions trying to make it out of the canyon.In the end the Troll had walked off with his horse into the night and I had luckily turned in to my bed with visions of undercuts dancing in my head.††

The moral to this story: Give the undercut in Drunken Horseman a wide berth.If the Horseman comes calling at the end of the run then give him at least Ĺ a fifth and run the other way!