Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Descent of the Loop on the Youghiogheny River...on an SUP

The last time I was standing at Cucumber on the Youghiogheny River

I know I know, I used the oldest trick in the book to peak the interest.  A typical Youtube attempt to lure you in with the title of the article.  But I can promise you photos and videos of Andy and I crashing through the Loop section of the Youghiogheny.  We did manage to stand up through most of it but there was a little action for sure.  I just plain chickened out at Cucumber.  I had a bad line going so I just knelt down so I wouldn't land on a rock from standing cause that would hurt.  In fact I braced up off a rock at the bottom of the rapid while kneeling.  Theres a pretty good shot of it in the video.  Andy on the other hand tried to stick it standing and it looked like he had a shot at it... and then... he fell down.

When things go bad

Andy Hanging Tough at Cucumber

Andy had been trying to get out on the Loop on SUP this summer but was getting rejected by the State Park, because the river is restricted for inflatable craft.  They must have at least 3 air chambers in case one fails and the only boards people were trying to take down were single chamber inflatables.  So that left Andy one option to Stand Up, other than Striding of course, The Versa Board.  So we went for it.

The Lower Yough is a classic class 2-3 stretch that has some technical rapids at the level we were paddling.  Its amazing the difference paddling boards in class 2, and class 3.  When you add that extra level of manuevering and diagonal waves and holes it makes stand up paddling much harder.   I do think that anyone can paddle class 1 and even easy class 2 on an SUP but when you have to start reading the river and dealing with more complex currents it gets really really hard.  Which is a great challenge for experienced paddlers but could leave newer paddlers very wet.

It was a great day and weekend visiting Andy and Erica at Riversport and enjoying the community that is hanging out at the Lucky Dog Cafe in Confluence Pa.

Big Thanks to Erica, Andy, and the crew at Riversport and the Lucky Dog Cafe

  
Here is the video I promised.  Later Shane


plus a few more photos

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Versa Boards on the Hiawassee River


Woody, Adriene, Maria, and I rambled over to Eastern Tennessee to take a trip down the Hiawassee river on Stand Up Paddle Boards.   The river was perfect for SUP, great sceneary, some whitewater, a little wildlife, and the water was cool because it comes from the bottom of a lake but it felt great on what was a really hot day.  We were joining a bigger group of SUP folks cruising the river.  It was the most people stand up paddling down a river that I had ever been a part of.   Awesome day.

Hanging on in the Island Rapid!

Surfing a huge gnarly wave on the Hiawassee!

Team V for Versa Board.

Here is a new radical trick I am working on for the Versa Board.  Thanks Maria

video


Here are a bunch of photos that Maria took of our trip.

Cheers
Shane

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Pilgrimage to Oh Be Joyful Creek


Oh Be Joyful creek is a pilgrimage for paddlers every year.  It has all the makings of mecca for paddlers.  If the season in the Crested Butte valley were a couple months longer there would be 100s of paddlers moving in for the summer but because the season is only a few weeks long it has the feeling of a carnival camp with new members rolling in daily and a frantic pace of paddling and partying up and down the valley.   Camp itself is an awesome scene.  Its a beautiful spot directly at the base of the Oh Be watershed with the Slate River flowing by.  Just upstream is Daisy creek and up the valley from camp is a fantastic view of the mountains of Gunnison National Forest and the snow pack that promises the next days adventures.


If you haven't paddled continuous fast pace stuff your first time on Oh Be can be disconcerting at best.  As you walk up the run, earning every turn, you see lots of slides and fast paced whitewater.  The 9,000 foot elevation makes the eddies look very small and the holes look bigger but as the light headedness dissipates and the first run is under your belt the butterflies calm and you become more comfortable.  Most folks do a few laps on the first walk up from camp.  Two things happen during the session.  You as a paddler get more comfortable and the river begins to rise.  The morning runs are often a little bonier and the evening runs can get downright juicy.  And as the paddlers come down off the mountain side the excitement is intense.  The stories are of all kinds.  First timers are jacked with adrenaline and excited about how fast and long the last slides are or how sick their line off the big drop was.  There is goodness for the old pros and the setting itself is different from just about any river you will ever paddle.  There are stories of whoa from missed lines, tortured gear, and drowned vehicles that didn't quite make the trip across the Slate river.  This year in the first 36 hours we were in the area 3 vehicles were stuck in the river while trying to cheat the hike up to the put in.  I did climb into one rig that was stuck mid river to have dinner and a couple shots.  It was a pleasant mid river camp spot but expensive I think.

The Glorious Ride Across in the Morning.
The Unfortunate Aftermath in the Evening


Even putting in on OBJ is a different experience.  You have a couple choices.  One option is to put in above a drop called Ankle Breaker which is fun but it does land in 3 feet of water (not many people do this).  The other option is to put in, I kid you not, 15 feet and 4 to 5 paddle strokes above a good 15 foot drop that they call the 18 footer.  Fortunately you are well warmed up and light headed from the hike up the valley, or holler as we call it here in the Appalachians.  From there the river is pretty much non stop with small eddies and lots of willows overhanging the banks.  We coined a new phrase this time up..."willow turns".  There are times instead of doing eddie turns you have to do a "willow turn" to stop and set safety.  Here are a few shots and a slide show as well as a link at the bottom to 100 shots of our stay at Oh Be Joyful.

Cheers
Shane

Put In Above the "18 Footer"

The 18er
The 8 footer
Grace Stylin' the Big One


Headed back to Camp


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Versa Board down Gore Creek in Vail, Co.


The last couples weeks has had me traveling in Colorado for a couple events and a couple rivers.  This past weekend I was helping at the Teva Mountain Games with the Extreme Race down Homestake Creek and the Freestyle Event in the middle of the Vail Village.  I also signed up for the SUP surf cross sprint down Gore Creek which is the first time I have entered any kind of an event on a stand up paddle board.  Its also the first time that I have run a river that I hadn't first run in a kayak.  So it was a personal first descent for me and my Versa Board.

Theres a video at the bottom of the story.


 Gore Creek is very continuous especially at the levels we were on it.  The video is from the day before the race.  The water came up several hundred CFS the next morning for the sup race which made all the waves bigger and the whole section much more continuous.  There were a couple of solid class two drops that were made more difficult by low hanging bridges.  Its one thing to stand up down rapids but to also duck under bridges, pipes, and trees makes it more like a class 3-4 experience.  The first trip down was pretty uneventful.  I managed to not fall in at all but I could feel how tired my legs were after three and a half miles of maintaining my balance and paddling.  Lets just say it was a good workout.


The race went well.  I finished 16th out of 39 guys. The water was much higher during the race and the waves and rapids were a lot bigger.  I fell 3 times I think mostly because I was exhausted.  When I stepped off my board my legs were shaking and my arms were tired.  It didn't help that we were racing at 8000 ft.  It was a great time and I will do it again.  One of the cool things that happened during this event was that a team of Hawaiian SUP racers flew over for the event.  Of course they came and kicked all our asses but they also brought a good vibe.  Before the race they handed out shell necklaces to everyone and asked us to remember the things that were important.  They wanted everyone to look out for each other and remember that just paddling and friends were what it was all about.

I hope you are all getting out on all the water.
Shane

Here is a video of the session on Gore Creek on the Versa Board.

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