The Scout

Our first glimpse appeared on a Google map where a curl of whitewater was spotted extending into the river. Comparing the same spot with a Bing bird’s-eye view confirmed the hunch: There is a significant outfall. Another cross-reference reveals trenching in an old photo of the area.

Time for a scout. Since we’re just there to get a look at the area, the pack for scouting is much lighter with two lights, water, and an iPhone for the camera. We are in shoes, not boots, and we are blending in. Safety vest, moving slow, obvious note-taking, and pointing at things. Usually I will do a few scouts in one trip and stay in character the entire trip.

The outfall is typical for a round drain. Deeply overgrown with long branching bushes that reach out over the river. Slippery, algae covered concrete and riprap along the riverbank. This one is an eight footer and a distant rushing can be heard. At the bottom where the water moves there is a wearing that reveals the stones used as aggregate and tells us that this concrete is probably thirty to forty years old, maybe older. There is no gate here and a gentle, cool breeze can be felt flowing out near the bottom few feet of the pipe.

Photos are taken. The spot is marked on the map with updated notes. Planning for the real explore begins.