Thursday, June 26, 2008

Awesome High Water Days on Oh Be Joyful

Oh Be Joyful is one of the classics of Colorado and there has been a race on this run for a fair number of years. A straight downstream race from just above the 15 footer to the bottom of the big slides. The first race Clay beat me by a second or so...dammit. This time I wasn't racing but I did get to paddle with everyone and set up some good racing and expose folks to a new form of racing that we call Giant Slalom. Its like slalom except we race over pretty big rapids. This year we have had a race on Brush Creek, The Little White Salmon, The North Fork of the Payette, and now Oh Be Joyful, with a future race on the Green and then a national championships again on the Green but this time rumour has it the organizers are trying to get 200% flow for the finals. That will be cool.

Thanks to Trevor Clark for this cool evening shot at the 15 footer

Oh Be was definitely higher than I had done it. We were dealing with pretty big holes on a run that I can't remember ever worrying about holes on. When we first walked up it was a little intimidating but we knew it pretty well so we felt pretty comfortable getting on. The main thing I noticed was how fast we were moving. We put in up just below Ankle Breaker and before I knew it we were down in the meat of it. Not that OBJ is a long run, we did hike up about a mile maybe, but there is a fair bit of gradient packed into that short run. I took a good hit in the 15 footer the first day just a reminder that a good line can still cause problems. I stomped the drop but forgot to pay attention to my paddle and nearly popped my teeth threw my lip. I was stoked with my line but everyone was looking at me funny and a little big eyed as I spit blood for a minute. To say the least the paddle was well to the side on all the big drops the rest of the weekend.

The Normal Big Slide Finish

We had a great groups out on the river and in the evenings with the melt peaking usually after 5 pm the water was a good 8-10 inches higher than in the morning. The high flow was great for the normal run but it also added a couple drops below the normal take out that get pretty manky at lower flows. I know one of them is called Ass Breaker or something like that. What is it with this valley and the rapid names? Ankle Breaker, Face Ripper, Ass Breaker, I think there were actually more names like that but I can't come up with them right now. How about we call some things Fluffy Bunny and Twilight.

Big Slide Below Normal Take Out, with Big Hole

Travis Styling the Giant Slalom

The Giant Slalom turned out to be a favorite with the racers. The course was set up so there were hard committing moves. It started with a couple tricky small moves into eddies and then opened up with a big move off the falls where you had to stay left but then make a gate on the right side of the river. Clay found a submercible line and Andrew boofed the hell out of it. Both of them taking top spots in both the Down river and Giant Slalom. It was awesome to watch. I think next year someone else will be keeping time and setting the course I am ready to race.

The Gate on the Falls

The Gate Below the Falls

Gongrats on the Win Andrew

The race turned out to be a huge success. Folks had a great time. The water was high and the sky was blue. And the ranger didn't like that we were doing this without a permit so I get to go visit our friends at the BLM again in Gunnison County for a required court date. The fun never ends. The 4 days we spent camping at the base of OBJ were spectacular, can't wait to get back again.

More photos below in the slideshow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Coming over Cottonwood Pass, Paddling Daisy Creek and High Water on Slate Creek

After Fibark finished up we got a chance to paddle a couple sections of the Arkansas. We did a big water Pinecreek and Numbers run and then Adriene and I did a marathon day of paddling the Royal Gorge, and then Brown's Canyon all in one day. The water was big and continuous and we were in playboats so I didn't shoot any shots but I was sore the next day.

Highlights of those runs were... At 1 and 1/2 on the Numbers there was a huge wave which was giving up big fun moves but also the random beat down after the move in the pit. On Browns Canyon we had big water as well, in fact the raft companies weren't running trips into the gorge. There were a couple fires in the gorge and while we were paddling down through the narrows the clouds of smoke were getting pretty thick when someone said, "look up", and there was the highest suspension bridge in the world. I had totally forgotten about it.

Anyway back to the trip over the pass. I have done a few paddling trips in Colorado but I haven't ever seen this much snow when it wasn't ski season. Usually there is a little snow in the dark shady spots and a touch here and there as you go over a pass but this year was different.

Cottonwood was spectacular. I can't remember the name of this lake but it was basically the head waters of the Taylor river. This was a spectacular view. Actually I think its called Taylor Lake. We traveled over with Andrew Holcombe with the goal of paddling Daisy Creek.

When we pulled into the Crested Butte valley we were treated to this view. Tons and tons of snow still up on at the end of the valley which meant lots of water in the creeks that CB is known. Once again I had never seen this much snow up in the valley above Oh Be Joyful, Daisy, and the Slate.

Daisy Creek was a hike up which started with a walk across Slate Creek. Which I would have to say was the coldest water that is possible. I am pretty sure the water in Slate Creek was snow only a few hours before we walked through it. It was late in the afternoon so we knew stuff was going to be a little high but it turned out to be a medium level for Daisy. It was super fun and very controllable. The falls turned out taller than it looked from the scout and was a sweet surprise to come up to the horizon line and get that adrenaline pump from falling.

There was another really fun rapid on Daisy called Face Ripper or something like that. This was a really cool one. Nice S turny slide entrance and basically a Gorilla Notch boof. We all looked at it and felt good since it was so similar to the Notch on our home river. The consequences were pretty brutal though. If you didn't make the move you didn't just go direct off Gorilla you got scraped up against a sharp jagged wall.
Thus the face ripper name I assume. Everyone had good lines so all was good.

With the water high and camp just downstream we also decided to run Slate Creek as well and it was way higher than I had ever run it. In fact Chris Menges the local who ran us though Slate said it was higher than he had run it but that he thought it was all good. It was tight and big in the gorge and Wicked Wanda, the final drop on the run, was pumping but good to go.

So our first day in Crested Butte turned out perfect. Nice drive over the pass, and lots of good whitewater.

Here is the slideshow of the whole thing.
There are more photos of the going over Cottonwood Pass and actual paddling on Daisy and Slate Creeks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Congratulations to Adriene on making the US Freestyle Team for the World Cup in Europe and have you ever seen the Hooligan Race at Fibark?

Two weeks ago Adriene learned how to do a loop and this past weekend she used it to make the US Freestyle Team. Though occasionally she is known to say bad stuff about playboating she is all about going to Europe to compete. Good Luck Adriene!

Here is a direct quote from Adriene. Lets get this Oh Be Joyful race done in one day so I can go to Glenwood and surf!

I also put up a bunch of fun photos of the Hooligan Race in this slideshow. This is a spectacle of epic proportions. Thousands of people watching people with homemade water craft trying to navigate a good little wave hole and not really trying to do it well.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pinecreek Race Not for the Faint of Heart

Yours truly getting ready to make the move past the hole

Like most of the Arkansas runs I hadn't done many of them since the days of the 11 foot boat so it has been really fun to jump on them again. The last time I ran Pine Creek I was in a Pirouette, I think, and when we walked down and saw the hole the day before the race was to begin I got a hankering for my long boat again. The move was not terrible but a little speed would be a nice thing. We had already heard stories about a few good surfs and swims and the race was narrowed down quite a bit from last year. There was lots of discussion about sore shoulders and weak knees as we got ready for the race. My practice run had not instilled confidence as I had lost track of where I was and pile drove myself right through the middle of the hole. I did manage to get through but I now think it was pure luck.

The race was only 26 racers including a handful of ladies. We first did a time trial run and that went well for me. I ended up 2nd in the time trials and more importantly missed the hole which was really the goal for me. Adriene ended up 2nd in the womens group as well. There were a couple of swims in the time trials. The top 16 went on to 4 paddler heats of boater X. I kind of wished that I had ended up 17th but I wasn't so lucky.

This is how quickly I went from 3rd to almost 1st.

The start was actually really cool. All four paddlers lined up on shore and slid in together. The rapid is actually well bigger than it looks from shore, hmmmm..., go figure isn't it always that way? It was about 100 yards of pretty big waves and then the quick move right to left right above the big big hole. A few people went right but after a couple people got stuffed by the right line almost no one went right. For the most part people played nice in the boater cross but once you got near the hole it was every person for themselves. After the hole it was another 100 yards of fairly big water and then the finish was actually a solid little boof into an eddie where you had to touch shore to finish your time. The boof proved to be a deciding point in the race several times.

Jason Beakes not so lucky on the move past the hole

Any way here are some photos.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Amazing Drive Over Independence Pass into the Arkansas River Valley

Starting the drive out of Aspen

Adriene and I drove over Independence Pass when we headed into Salida for the Pinecreek Race and Fibark festival.

Highlights were the climb up on the snow covered bald at the top of the pass. The dogs didn't know what to do. Watching new kite boarders try to use the snow. Several good crashes were witnessed. Then driving into the beautiful Arkansas river valley.

Enjoy the slideshow

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Brother and his Kids in the Remixes

Had a nice visit with my bro and his family while I was over in Glenwood. We had an afternoon where we took the kids down to the pond to try out the Remix 47 for the oldest. It was really nice to see them having so much fun with kayaks. This is one of the main reasons we came out with the kids Remix.

It was really nice to see how he was able to control the boat so well. Next thing just need to get him a little smaller paddle and gear. Can't wait to get out on a river with these guys.

Check out the slideshow of the afternooon.

Sweet Video of Adriene during The Teva Mountain Games Homestake race.

Young Devin firing up the Homestake Creek.

John Grace just shot me an email with this sweet shot of Adrienne during her Homestake race run. She ended up finishing 4th by less than a second I believe. This shot is sooo cool. It was fun setting it up with Grace.
Check it out.
The Video also shows that the Remix is handling the tough stuff well.

Click it Here For the Video

Big Water on Upper Death and the Barrell Springs Rapid

After the Teva Mountain Games we dropped down to Glenwood to hang with my brother and some old friends. You may know a couple of them... Dan Gavere, Clay Wright, Arndt Schäftlein, Nikki Kelly, Tanya Faux, and then there were the young bucks, Tommy Hileke, John Grace, Pat Keller, Adriene, etc, blah blah blah. We did a couple runs on the Barrel Springs section of the Colorado and we surfed a bunch at the new Glenwood wave which was awesome. We had a great time hanging out and tossing through big water.

Tommy, Pat, and Geoff all dropped into Upper Death. Which was a very steep rapid with 9000 cfs going through it. It wasn't getting stuck in the hole that worried folks it was the being thrown up on the blasted rock shore. All the boys came through very well. Pat got slapped over near shore but styled it, Geoff got swallowed but aced it and Tommy disappeared but popped up all good. It was very impressive to see.

Then we all went on down to the Barrell Springs rapid it was so fun to be out on water moving that fast. We went down in a big group so it was boats everywhere and the stories at the bottom of the rapid in the eddie were hilarious. I think everyone ran a different line yet all the stories sounded the same. "I got tossed by this huge wave and had scramble out the edge of this huge hole, and ran half the rapid on my head". It was awesome.

Best of all was hanging with some folks I haven't seen in a long time. Slide show below of the day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Big Water on Gillman Gorge

After the Homestake race we did a run on Gillman Gorge. Its the first time I had done that and we had a fun group. Tommy, John, Pat, Adrienne, Geoff and Myself. The water was high. I don't know exactly what the level was but it was fun and it reminded me of a small North Fork of the Payette. It was pretty continuous and good roller coaster fun. It seemed to me there were 6 or 7 significant rapids. A couple long rompy roller coaster rapids and a few big drops.

This run was really fun but had some major Colorado mank factor with a road on one side and railroad tracks on the other you could pretty much count on the rocks being rough. I was thankful the water was high so that we didn't have to interact with them too much.

The highlights for me were Fall Creek Rapid, There was a cool one with a giant curler off the left shore, and Slurry Pipe Rapid which is just above the take out. Slurry was a big mess of a rapid but it had this sweet boof into a maelstrom that just begged to be run. The funny part is that we all got so fired up about the big move we didn't necessarily scout the lower part of the rapid as well as we should have. I got a nice fat back ender in a hole that I hadn't even noticed down stream.

Big Bluebird Kavu day in Colorado it was a nice change after 35 degrees, snow, and rain for the Homestake race.

Here is the slideshow.

Setting up the Video Zip Line on Homestake Creek

After surfing Big Sur we had to run up to Homestake Creek and set up the zip line so John and Brady could shoot video of the event from the wire above the racers. It was super cool. Hanging from a climbing harness zipping down the wire gave an awesome shot as folks ran the last and hardest four drops of the race.

In the slide show are shots of Brady and John Grace zipping, and Devin Morton and Adrienne practicing the race lines. Devins been paddling a Chico for a while and looked great on Homestake and oh thats right he's 14. Here is a link to a blog that he and his dad put together of his travels. It was super cool to meet him after seeing all his paddling exploits. He's in the white Chico and Adrienne is in the green Remix 59. Theres also a shot of Fergus Coffee lining up the last two drops he's in a Jefe Grande. Oh I also got a shot of a very cool bridge over the Eagle river just before you get to Homestake and an overall shot of the race section of Homestake.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Traveling to Colorado with a stop off at Big Sur.

Yep I am in Colorado now helping out with the Teva Mountain Games. Unfortunately I lost some photos of the North Fork of the Payette. We had a long weekend up there doing the Giant Slalom on the North Fork, Surfing the Bladder Wave, Warming up on the lower 5, and then having a kick ass time on the full North Fork at close to 3000 cfs. It had been so long since I had done that I completely forgot how much fun that was.

This slide show below is traveling to Colorado and surfing Big Sur. The dogs love traveling and of course we had a flat tire. John Grace was editing the next episode of Lunch Video Magazine while were on the road and sure enough when we got into Colorado my brother told me that Big Sur was running and we should go check it out. It was a perfect Remix wave. We busted out the paddle twirls, hand surfing, back surfing and cross overs. It was awesome. I hadn't ever surfed Big Sur before. Its like surfing a legend. I had seen videos since I was a kid of folks surfing the wave, so it had to be done and it was sweet.

Next will be some Colorado creeking. Including an awesome trip down Gillman Gorge at a good flow.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Surfing the Bladder Wave in Idaho

Adrienne on the Bladder Wave in Beautiful Idaho

Well I made it out to Idaho. It took about 36 hours to get to Boise from Hendersonville N.C. where I met up with Woody, and John Grace. We hung out at Idaho River Sports with the crew there for the morning and then headed up to the river. I had surfed the bladder wave way back in the day we're talking '95 maybe. So in honor of that Woody and I busted out the Remixes to do a little long boat surfing.

Woody Remixin' It

Woody was lovin' the Remix. He was out there taking 5 minute rides while we were trying bust moves. The wave was awesome. It had a nice pile a majority of the time and then it would completely green out.

Yours Truly Surfing the Wrong Way

If you haven't heard of the bladder wave you would never believe it but this wave is made by a rubber inflated dam. It only runs when the water is high and even then its a little iffy on it running or not. Its a 10 foot diameter air bladder tube that inflates and deflates. It was deflating at night. Rumour had it to flush sediment from behind the damn and then it would inflate in the morning and the wave would appear. It was really cool. The damn didn't completely block the flow it sort of sloshed around for an hour and then it settled into having a majority of the flow going around one side and creating the wave. If you are lucky enough to be around when its in check it out.

The Dogs Watching the Action

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Driving West

Hey Ya'll
I am heading out west to do some paddling.
First stop Idaho but actually the first thing I have to do is drive 40 hours to get to the North Fork of the Payette. Here are the photos from the drive. It was a beautiful drive and Biscuit and Tater loved every minute of it.

Hopefully soon I will have photos of the North Fork, The Bladder Wave (rumour has it its in), and many other things.


Oh yeah check out the slideshow.

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