Tuesday, December 04, 2012

One Month until the Liquidlogic XPdition to the Grand Canyon

This years trip will be the 5th annual pilgrimage through the Grand Canyon for the Liquidlogic team.  Unfortunately I am not going to be able to go on the trip this year but what I do have is a bunch of footage that I never put together of my trip last year.  So for your viewing pleasure here is a video loosely documenting our trip self support style down the Colorado River in 12 days.

XPdition Grand Canyon 2012 from Shaneslogic on Vimeo.

Here are a bunch of photos that I took during the trip. Thanks to all the folks on the trip it was a trip of a lifetime and you all made it fantastic.  Hopefully I will be back on the XPdition next year.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

10 things you should know about Overflow

The last 6 months have been crazy.  Liquidlogic and our brotha brand Native Watercraft have moved our entire manufacturing facility and offices from Greensboro to Fletcher NC, near the Green River.  Its kind of like moving from one house to another except the moving truck is a tractor trailer and instead of one truck it took us 50 tractor trailer loads to get everything in the building.  I have had the pleasure of designing new offices, helping design the manufacturing floor plan, helping train new staff, integrating new manufacturing plans, and I am definitely getting pretty good on a fork lift.  All that has been on top of the normal stuff so to say the least its been a fun busy time. A different sort of Class 5 which has made it difficult for me to take off and run much other than our home run the Green.

However... the other day it rained cats and dogs.  It rained enough that I knew things would be super high in the morning but that they might start dropping in during the afternoon.  I had convinced myself I would be fine just going to work and not worrying about it but as the day wore on my leg started that twitch thing.  The boatingbeta flows page was on constant refresh and Overflow was looking like it would drop in perfectly, if I left right then.  Fortunately Yonton was ready and on call for a paddling adventure.  We loaded up my van with boats, gear, and the motorcycle for the shuttle and we were off.

10 things to know about Overflow

1.  The shuttle road is longer and a little rougher than you think.
2.  The mud on the put in trail is slicker than snot.
3.  The right eddie in Hemlock is a bitch to get out of while you wrestle rhodos.
4.  There is a new tree after 7 Car Pile Up. Watch the video.
5.  The left hump boof at Round About is awesome.
6.  Gravity is much harder at lower water.  Fortunately we had a sweet level of 1.3579341
7.  If you haven't been on Overflow there is an initiation.  If you have its your job to initiate.
8.  The Twilight mini gorge is one of the coolest sections of whitewater you'll ever run.
9.  The Great Marginal Monster is an awesome iconic rapid.  Go left on the drop below it.
10. The motorcycle shuttle is awesome!

It was a perfect fall evening, enjoy the video.

Sometimes you forget how good a river is...Overflow from Shaneslogic on Vimeo.


Monday, May 07, 2012

A Lesson in Paddling with Kids and a review of the Remix 47

I have been lucky enough to paddle with my brother since we were young, and I consider myself very fortunate to have started as early as I did.  My brother now has a posse of rugrats that he started paddling with far younger than we were in our beginning.  It has been an indescribable pleasure to create a kayak that makes paddling fun, and safe, for his kids.  He wrote this article recently about his experiences paddling with children, including his own, and using the Remix 47 to help them love kayaking.  Shane

I play with kids in the outdoors for a living.  I teach math at a private high school in Colorado.  I am also a ski coach and run the river program.  Part of the magic of doing what I do is being there at that moment when they go through their first rapid, or sit on their first wave. 

When I suddenly had kids of my own and was worried about how to help them love outdoor sports, I went back to the cardinal rules of leading Students.

  1. Safety
  2. Fun
  3. Learning

If kids feel safe, and are having fun, they will learn. Through experience taking my kids out I have to add one - Bring Snacks!!!  So here they are, the cardinal rules of taking kids into the outdoors.

  1. Bring snacks
  2. Make them feel safe
  3. Keep it fun
  4. Bring snacks
  5. Encourage them to explore
  6. Bring snacks.  

Make them feel safe - I want to highlight the feel safe thing.  That is what the Remix 47 is all about.  In the 47, kids can get where they want to go.  They do not spin out on eddy lines. 

They can lean the wrong way entering and exiting eddies.  It is buoyant enough they don’t have to wear a skirt.  The best part is they don’t notice it.  They can just go play.  That is true for the wide variety of kids that I have had in this boat from my little girl at 4 years to smaller freshmen in high school.  They get in and feel comfortable.  

Keeping it fun - Nothing is more frustrating to a new kayaker than not being able to go straight.   The longer shape of the Remix allows them to do this. They can catch waves and move around the river easily, saving time for fun.

Let Them Explore   - Though everyone learns differently, kids tend to be doers.  They like to feel.  They like to poke around in the bushes and wiggle their paddles in the water. All that exploration forms the foundation of an innate sense of balance and comfort in a boat that cannot be learned any other way.  I have been skiing for longer than all of my students have been alive.  However there are certain things that they can do simply because they started by exploring around when they were two.  That is born out of goofing around with friends.

When they are ready for more, they will ask.  Otter, my oldest, asked for a skirt  at age 8 after 3 - 4 season of paddling without one.  He asked about draws.  He even eventually asked to learn to roll.  15 minutes later, he did roll.  But what I love best about the Remix was it was harder for him to tip it over then roll it up.  So go out and let your kids explore.  

Oh, and don’t forget to bring snacks.

Here is a link to our Kids Trip on the Chattooga River.
Here is a video of Otter learning his roll soon after he asked to try it.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Stomper testing on the Green with Brown Claw

Brown Claw wants a Cracker
 Last season seemed to be the, thankfully, climax of the brown claw epidemic.  However I didn't enter my video into the Brown Claw archives so here it is.  You will see your basic Claw, The Spinning Claw, Under Over Claw, Double Claws of Fury, The Clap On Claw, The Clap on WTF, The Double Shocker Claw, The Claw of Terror, The Claw Your Way out of a Hole, The Preemptive Claw, The Claw Your Friend, and the Claw Your Way Up Out of the Water.

They Wander Downstream...I Claw My Way
Enjoy and May The Claw Be With You.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Testing the Stomper with Woody and others on the Green at 9"

Dropping into the Green with Woody
Another classic day of footage that I recovered from the depths of the Stomper prototype testing archive.  It was a day much like we have had lately.  Water and air temps were just starting to get downright comfy last year as the final touches were being put on the Stomper.  All the crew was out on a perfect weekend.  It just doesn't get much better than that.  Oh and add on top of that I got to roll down the river with my paddling and business partner Woody Callaway.  He is living my goal in paddling to just keep rolling out smooth lines for a really long time.

In any case the Stomper proved fun for all... and it rolls well!


Friday, March 30, 2012

The Green River at 16"

Its not that different just a little more padding

Well now that I found this little nest of forgotten footage I might as well keep going.  Adriene and I got out on the river last winter at 16".  I was testing out one of the early protos of the Stomper 80.  It was a fun day just the two of us out there.  We didn't see a soul.

To me the river is actually easier and more fun at this level, except Gorilla of course.  The whole thing is just softer.  The boney rocks and slides that beat you up daily at normal flows are well padded and the extra juice makes it more splashy and bouncy.  Yes there are a few holes that become a bit more disconcerting but over all it makes the river easier.  The best examples of that are Go Left, Zwicks, and Sunshine.  At Go Left you can start to run down the entire left side of the whole rapid which makes it a direct line rather than having to paddle out on the dome and turn hard to run the slots at the bottom of the rapid.  In this video I run the sneak and Adriene comes down the Left Left line.  Just watch the log its pretty exposed at 16 and gets better as you go up.  At Zwicks you can run right of the top hole which takes this one from being one of the tougher rapids to being one of the easier.  You can't help but run out over the shallow slide.   At Sunshine as the levels get over 16 inches you can just run straight off the middle and pretty much clear the center rock.  Adriene ran straight and I ran the right line.  I should have run the straight line because I did flip over.   Gorilla is a beast and it gets really beastly as the water goes up.  We walked it.

Going Direct at Go Left
The down side to the river being this high or higher is that when things do go wrong they go wrong really quickly and in a much worse way.  Its going to be a long time before you can pull your boat out of the river if you swim and it may be a rapid or two before you can swim yourself to shore if you aren't aggressively swimming.  So if you are thinking about running this river at higher flows make sure you know the lines well and know you can deal with the issues that can arise.  If you have that covered this can be some of the best runs on the river you will ever have.

Oh and don't forget about Hammer Factor.  When the water levels rise the bad ass paddlers that are on this river at hi flows aren't worried about Go Left or Sunshine.  They are pinching a loaf about Hammer Factor.  Its big, nasty, and it gives grown boys and girls nightmares.

The Pit in Hammer Factor

Here is the video from the day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adventures from found footage: Testing the Stomper on Yellow Creek

I was sifting through my hard drive and stumbled across a few extra morsels of Stomper prototype goodness.  These tidbits came from a day when we were doing the classic chase the rain around looking at rivers that were too high or in the case of the Santeetlah the gate was locked and we couldn't get near the put in or take out so we had to opt for something that none of us had done and as always happens on these types of days we had 45 minutes of daylight.  Yellow Creek flows into the Cheoah River.  Its the last river on the American Whitewater database of rivers for North Carolina.  However we had no idea what we were getting into. We didn't know what the level should be but it looked paddleable.   We had no idea how long it would take but we did know that it was short and worst case we would be able to walk out in the dark if all hell broke loose.   As it turned out it was a fun short run that takes about 45 minutes.  The top 2/3rds is easy peasy, fun and cheesy.  The part from the falls down to the Cheoah River is pretty juicy with a nasty sieve and some fun read and run.  The Stomper rocked it in this tight and technical environment.  Mefford, Adriene, Snowy, and I had a great time.  Enjoy the flick. Fast and furious helmet cam love.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

12 Days in the Grand Canyon: Every day something different

Everyday something different.

Day 1.  Day one was a big one for me because I just don't get to go on trips where everyone is paddling one of our boats let alone everyone was paddling the same boat.  It was also a really cool experience to see how well the Remix XP performed for everyone and how perfect it is for this type of trip through rapids and long stretches of flat water.  Pushing off from shore and feeling the stability that the boat had with 100+ pounds of gear loaded into it felt great.  Yes it was another proud designer moment.

Day 2.  One of the incredible things from day 2 was the appearance of the Redwall Limestone and this wall.  You can see how small the kayakers are next to it.  It was distinctly layered with dark and light colored sediment layers.  The perspective as a paddler going through the Canyon is really wild  because the walls that surround you seem so big and dominating of the landscape but from the canyon rim looking down and in, the river gorge is just a small part of the Grand Canyon as a whole.

Day 3.  The hike up Little Nankoweep Canyon and up onto the first bluff above the river was really cool.  I am not sure how much altitude we gained but I would guess around 1000 feet and we might have walked 2 miles each way.  The tricky parts were 3 slightly sketchy climb spots on the way up and down.  Nothing terrifying but it certainly made you concentrate.  This hike is just up stream of the classic Grainery hike at Nankoweep Canyon.  We had this incredible view down river and we stood on this rock directly over our boats parked far down below.

Day 4.   Oh boy this was a big one.  We camped at a place called Basalt on day 4 because Mike had a hike that he had never done and really wanted to see.  Mike has somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 trips through the canyon so this is actually an unusual thing to find.  I joined in on the experience even though the report was that there would be sketchy climbing.  I got to the first "crux" of the climb and pulled rocks off the wall that I was trying to use to climb and lets just say that rattled me.  A couple rocks rolled down from the folks up above us and I opted out with signal.  But a big group pushed on to the top of the ridge.  I waited at the bottom of that first crux listening as they worked their way up the wash, avalanche looking area.  They managed to climb all the way up but I heard several cries of "ROCK!" and I could hear rocks careening down the gully.  One of them even got down near me even though I couldn't see them any more.  I saw that they had reached the top so I started walking back to camp but I could still hear them as they started the descent.  Then came a really loud yell!  "ROCK"! and "COVER UP!".  I heard a few echoes of the call by people further down the climb and then it was quiet for a minute and there were some nervous laughs.  I was glad to hear those laughs.  I couldn't handle it any more I went down to camp but for the next 20 minutes I glanced nervously up at the path leading into camp hoping to see them but at the same time hoping to not see someone come running into camp.  It all came out ok and the group had stories to tell all evening and into the next several days about the "Mike Hike".

Day 5.   One of my favorite things about day 5 was this camp.  Its called False Trinity.  It was small and close in but there were good places for everyone to set up their tents and room for all of us to have a nice kitchen space.  We watched the nearly full moon come up along with Orion.  We had a great night chatting about the Mordor middle earth like canyon of the inner gorge.

Day 6.  It was the rapids of day 6 that I really enjoyed.  Granite, Hermit, Crystal, and the Gems were super fun and we covered 16 miles like it was nothing.  Hermit was in fine form.  As I slid down the green tongue into Hermit I could see down the row of waves and down in the middle was a huge wave that was breaking heavily.  It made me think a little about dodging the heart of the waves but then I remembered I was in a 200lb kayak.  It would take a giant hole to stop me.  With that reassurance in mind I floated through the towering peaks laughing all the way.  The big wave broke over me.  I didn't even slow down.

Day 7.  We covered 24 miles and got to camp a little tired.  We were all struggling to stay up and it really helps to stay up at least until 8 or 9 pm or you wake up way before sunlight with nothing much to do.  So I came up with something to do.  We had a fun evening playing with our headlamps and long exposure photos for a an hour in the moonlight over the canyon.

Day 8.  The highlight of this day was doing an up and over hike from Tapeats Creek to Deer Creek, which was only possible because a few of our team hauled our boats a couple miles downstream for us.  This hike takes you up to Thunder River which is a creek tumbling out of the side of a massive ridge fed by an underground aquifer.   We climbed up past Thunder river and across Surprise Valley to Deer Creek which is one of the more famous side canyon hikes.  There were spectacular wide long vistas and an intimate carved micro canyon which falls over a 100 foot waterfall into the Colorado river below.

Day 9.  Day nine had a complete up and down feeling to it.  We stopped off for a classic hike at Matkatamiba.  The hike was super stylie climbing through the smoothly carved hall way that the creek had formed and it was warm up on the rocks when the sun hit us at the top of the gorge, but when we returned to our boats we realized that we were one boat short.  "Boat missing!"  A big group took off immediately to try to catch up with the kayak that must have slipped into the river on a surge or rise in the water level.   The rest of the group held back to keep track of the boatless paddler.  It took us over 2 miles but we caught up with the boat.  All the gear staid in the cockpit and only a few things got wet that shouldn't have.  John rode on the back of Woody's boat until they caught up with us.  That was a hilarious sight.  Woody told me that while John was perched on the back of his boat he had said,  "the next 60 miles is going to suck if we don't find my boat", and Woody's reply while trying to keep the his boat above water was, "you're telling me!" 

Then late in the day we caught up with another trip that had a unique set up.  They had a cataraft with two kegs strapped on the front and with true river man class they invited us in to fill our water bottles with a fine local brew from Flagstaff.  Thats a nice way to cap off a slightly stressful afternoon.

Day 10.  Lava day.  It fills paddlers minds from the moment they get on the river sometimes.  When it gets quiet people start talking about what they think the water level will be at Lava or how it went for them last time they were at Lava.  Its the perfect whitewater climax to this trip with only a couple days left.  We spent the morning running good smooth lines with only one swim and a flip or two out of 16 boats.  We had big smiles through 20 more miles of the the lower canyons that day.

Day 11.  Miles and miles.  These last few days we covered about 25 miles a day.  My arms were tired but it was a good tired.  The shadows continued to morph and change on the canyon walls.  The moon followed Orion over the horizon.  The end of the trip felt close.  I tried to keep myself focused on the present but little bits of home started to seep into my thoughts.  The lower canyons are beautiful.

Day 12.  We had just a short paddle to the take out so it was more of a silly float.  I think we all felt pretty happy with ourselves accomplishing a great trip, with a great crew.  Paddling fairly remotely for that long, with a lot of people, in the winter, is a fairly serious endeavor.  It came off perfectly.  Its not very often that you travel with 15 other people with, no drama, no real problems, and lots of memories from a trip of a lifetime.


Monday, January 23, 2012

12 Days in the Grand Canyon: Things I learned on my Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Overlook
Things I learned while I was on my Grand Canyon trip.

Day 1.  "Clean up your stuff before you go on to do something else!"  My mom told me that when I was a kid and I am still paying the price for not learning that lesson.  Piles of dishes still show up in my kitchen sink at home but when you are camping in the cold it is much harder to clean your dishes after they have frozen over night and that will piss you off because then its much harder to make coffee since you only have a few pots to start with unlike my collection at home so that I can go a week without cleaning. 

A well organized kitchen makes all the difference
Day 2.  "Skeg Down!"  Holy Mackerel that little plastic slice of love hanging off the back of the XP 10 is magical.  It makes the swirly water at the bottom of every rapid and in every tight canyon on the river  a piece of cake.  I would occasionally find my boat wandering all over the river in the seams where the fast water and surging pools collided.  Then I would notice that I was not, "engaged".  Some of our crew paddled the entire river, rapids included, with the skeg down.

Woody was skeg down all the way!
Day 3. Brook Burke is the man!  This dude had less than 10 days of whitewater kayaking under his belt when he started to paddle through the Grand Canyon.  Throw in the fact that he got sick in the first few days and you have a double stud factor of 11.  

Brook feeling the power at House Rock!
Day 4.  You don't need to pack everything in a dry bag.  Things that can get wet can get packed anywhere and single pieces fit well into the little spaces between bags, behind seats, and in front of your feet.

Day 5.   There is soooo much room in the XP that I can't even tell you how easy it was to pack and actually pack too much stuff.  I had socks, underwear, playing cards, harmonica, jacket, a jar of peanut butter,  jelly,  and a roll of bagels that I never used!  It was really nice to know that I would have enough even if it got really cold.  The key is to look for all the nooks and crannys between the bags and  spaces that bags don't fit.

Will it all fit?
Day 6.  Neosporin and bandades will heal a cut much faster than just letting it go while in the desert.  Here in the southeast you can just let it go and the moisture in the air will keep it from cracking and bleeding over and over.  Not so true out there.

The only injury on the trip
Day 7.  There is always something than can kick your ass even if you are on top of your game.  You might just fall down, knock a rock loose, meet a cat the size of a German Shepard, leave your drain plug open, or find your boat missing from the beach.  Not that there is anything you should do about it or be afraid of.  Just recognize that sometimes shit happens and having a good attitude, dealing, and understanding that we are all in it together is the way to go.

I kind of do and kind of don't want to meet the cat that goes with those prints.
Day 8.   Thermoses rock! When you are paddling in the cold a Thermos full of hot soup is one of the most satisfying things I have ever had for a river lunch.

Day 9.  If you pull your bad ass outfitting off the back band and lay it down on the seat pad you won't have a frozen dew seat in your kayak in the morning.

How long did it take to carve that creek?
A good tarp is as good as a tent except when it comes to mice and ringtail cats.
Day 10. Probably the most important comfort issue to be conscious of during the trip through the Canyon in the winter is condensation and moisture.  True there isn't much rain, snow, or sleet down there but if you dress too warm you may sweat and that will chill you if the breeze picks up or the cold water of the river hits you so constantly monitor and control your temperature so that it doesn't happen.  The other place to really watch is your camp set up.  As the temps drop there becomes a serious difference between your temperature and the outside air temp. which leads to condensation.  If you sleep out under the stars that moisture will build up on your sleeping bag and can be serious enough to wet the bag pretty heavily.  I even got a little wet inside a tent without the fly.  The two things that really help with condensation seem to be coverage that will catch the moisture (a tent with a fly or a tarp), and ventilation.  It seems to me that having a tent or tarp that allows ventilation around you without it settling on top of you is very important in this battle.  A crazy simple tip to spotting a dry camp spot:  dry sand = dry camp spot,  damp sand = damp camping.  I know that seems obvious but it was a great indicator.

Day 11.  Neck warmers are the bomb when it comes to controlling your temperature or just keeping warm.  My parents used to tell me that 92% of your body heat went out of your head.  After this trip I think the other 40% leaves through your Carotid artery.

Steve J. psyched to be on the water

Day 12.  No matter how many times you do something you can find something special about each trip. Down playing the experience because you have done it before is a weak excuse for not having an incredible time.  Its ok to be totally stoked on the experience!  What a great crew I got to paddle with!  I hadn't spend this much time on the water with Woody before.  It was awesome to see Steve Jordan (a former partner of ours at LL) do so well on the river and see that his hard work to get ready for the trip really paid off.  I met a great crew of new friends and I had many friends in mind and traveling with me that couldn't join us.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Source to Sea on the Colorado River

Two new videos from Will and Zak up on the Rockies Youtube channel.  The first details their journey from Flaming Gorge to Ladore Canyon.  The second from Desolation Canyon to the Grand.  What an amazing adventure these guys are on traveling all the way from Wyoming to Mexico, 1700 miles.

Here are a bunch of photos from their trip so far.

You can keep up with their trip and look back through the 3 months they have been traveling here.  I just got a message from the guys that said, "We just ran out of river yesterday in Yuma AZ and were trying to figure out how to cross the Mexican Delta."  We'll see what happens next!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

Driving to the Put In: Grand Canyon 2012!

Driving down to Flagstaff with the home team.
Well today we are driving up to the Put In for our trip through the Grand Canyon.  I was lucky enough to have my home team along for the ride and a quick glimpse at Monument Valley, and the South Rim so they could see where I was going to be for the next couple weeks.  It was a perfect day to drive down to Flagstaff and meet up with the river team.
My home for the next couple weeks.

It was great to see the team in Flagstaff for final packing and celebration of 3 New Years.  East Coast, Central, and Mountain.  I think the packing got a little sloppy in the end.  We'll see if we got it all on board.  Happy New Years Everyone!  See ya on the water.

Last minute packing on New Years Eve!

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