This is our super tough looking R and D photo. Damn Ryan you weren't supposed to smile.
Organizing a paddling trip for folks that you haven't done a paddling trip with before can become quite a cluster f@*k. We started out with tons of people all fired up to go but then the soccer games, beer fests, birthday partys, and bowel issues among other things, started to whittle the crowd down to a few hearty souls. The group that you see are the few and the proud. We are the R and D department of Liquidlogic and Native kayaks. It came down to the 6 of us. Betsy is an honorary member because she has to put up with my dusty ass every time I come home from the shop.
Here are all the photos from the weekend.
We put on the West Fork of the Chattooga a couple miles above the confluence with the North Fork of the Chattooga and paddled down through Section 2 and into the beginnings of Section 3 on the first day. The water was high so within 4 hours we had easily floated the 10 plus miles. On day 2 we paddled the rest of the way out of Section 3 which was another 10+ miles. If you have followed my blog at all or read through some of the stories there is a good chance you have seen a Chattooga overnighter post before. This one was really cool for many reasons. It was a bigger crew of folks from the factory that came along. We covered a bunch of miles which made it a little more adventurous, which was evident by how sore we all were coming into work on Monday. The weather was perfect. Really it was the first really incredible spring weekend this year. The food worked out great. We had a great camp site, and everybody paddled so well that we had no problems through out the entire trip. We didn't even have a single flip or swim or frying pan sink to the bottom of the river. It was awesome! The best part was hanging with folks from the factory playing with the toys that we make every day.
Here is the crew.
This is Ryan testing out the food safe qualities of the Remix XPs hatch. He is also the guy on the left in the group picture who didn't get the memo about it being a goofy serious shot. He was sporting a seriously nice stache for the trip as well. He is our do it all master in R and D. He is the one that figures out how to make the little springs, levers, and pulleys work. He builds prototypes of all the different ideas we have for parts and pieces on boats and helps do all the sanding shaping and polishing of our final models. Its one thing to have an idea, its something all together different to figure out how to bring that idea to reality. Thats what Ryan can do.
Bryon is the head of R& D he makes the whole thing happen from organizing and designing all the different parts and pieces of our boats to doing the actual CAD (computer aided design) work on the kayak designs. Bryon and I have been working together designing boats for 10 years with Liquidlogic and a little bit during our times at Perception kayaks before that. Bryon and his brother Aaron started and created Lidds Helmets and The Sin and Drain squirt boats. I still have a Sin that I will never relinquish. On this trip Bryon was advancing his skills as a martini maker and I have to say they were delicious. Its not often that you pull up to camp on an over night kayak trip to the sound of a shaker mixing a frosty cold tini.
In the shot below is Betsy. She's my girl. She is a Dr. of Art. That is cool. She paddled a long time ago but only sparingly. In the last few years she has started paddling again. Its fun to watch her find her way through the trials and fun times of learning to kayak all over again. This weekend I think she may have started to see that she's got some skills. I could see the confidence growing in her as the miles went by smoothly. Here at Second Ledge she nailed a sweet little boof and paddled away with her hair still dry.
Sam is the neat guy. He is a perfect offset for me. I roll up in dirty clothes smelling like I paddled all last weekend and didn't necessarily wash any clothes or myself for that matter. Sam rolls up with the car spick and span, clean clothes, and his goatee trimmed up perfectly. I like the way he rolls it just ain't me. I feel, wish, and caress my way into kayak designs and Sam helps clean up all the loose ends, tuck in the edges, and dot and cross the t's and i's. During this trip I was slamming stuff into my boat with trash compactor bags and he was neatly packing in pristine dry bags of accurately measured capacity and volume to fit the allocated compartments of the craft at hand. It was sweet to see Sam find a comfort and control of a vessel that he helped create.
Keith is another jack of all trades. I am pretty sure that Keith has worked in just about ever capacity there is in making a kayak. Sometimes I see him welding a mold back together or cutting a frame work apart. Other times he is working with the sewing department on pattern work to make the outfitting of our kayaks look and function better than any other kayak manufacturer on the planet. The thing that Keith does that is amazing is that he looks all through the world wide interwebs to find the bits and bobs that we need to make our kayaks function. We all think about the shape of the hull and how the outfitting feels but very few of us think about every screw, nut, and piece of webbing that goes into a kayak. Keith does that every day. If its in a Liquidlogic kayak, he probably found it, bought it, and tells us where to put it. Oh and he also works with a guy called the goat man. I don't know what else to say about that. Oh AND he paddled 11 miles with a watermelon on top of his kayak.
I have been doing overnighters on the Chattooga since I was a teenager and once we started Liquidlogic 10 years ago we have done regular company or family trips. When I was a kid we used huge Blue Hole canoes and loaded them down with gear. They were great for hauling but not as dry and maneuverable as a kayak. When we started Liquidlogic we built a day touring kayak called the Pisgah that had a couple hatches and it was good for gear as well and very dry but moving it through whitewater was pretty difficult because one of its main design features was tracking in a straight line. That doesn't work so well for whitewater. The Chattooga is where the Remix XP design was initially conceived and now it is a permanent part of my quiver of boats. Notice the Habachi strapped to the rear deck. Good fun.
In any case you get the idea. It was a really good time.
Thanks to the R & D team for a great weekend!