Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day 6 in the Canyon with Liquidlogic: Big Water in the Remix XP and Stinger XP

Walls above Granite
The annual Liquidlogic trip through the Grand Canyon was a dream of Boyce and Woody's. Boyce loved doing multi-days in his kayak and Woody knew that the best place to test the Remix XP series would be to take them on an extended trip.  What better way to achieve both goals than 12 days in the Canyon?  The first year, they took prototypes and early production models to test how they paddled and carried gear.  They came back knowing that they would do it again.  I couldn't join the XPdition until a couple years later but I kept hearing how great the trip was and how perfectly the boats performed but I felt a little removed from it because I didn't have that experience yet.  I had done some short overnighters on the Chattooga, and other rivers in the Southeast but I hadn't really loaded it down and lived from the XP for an extended time especially not while paddling big whitewater.  When I finally signed on, filled my boat with gear, and paddled it through big water,  I fully realized what an awesome boat it was for that type of trip.  The more weight I added to the boat the more stable it got and yet remained capable of rolling easily and maneuvering through the rapids.  The other big factor that I didn't realize the importance of was the skeg.  At the bottom of most rapids and all along the river big boils, swirls, and reflecting currents can toss you around a bit.  By dropping the skeg, the XP cut through the chaotic water quickly and effortlessly. It's also amazing the holes and breaking waves you can punch through with a boat that weighs nearly 200 lbs.

Granite for Breakfast
I am a lucky person to get to see my work play a part of people having incredible experiences. During the afternoons in the Canyon I love strolling around the beach after a big day on the water, pulling gear out, setting up camp as the evening light slides up the canyon walls, and listening to everyone talk about how amazing the day was.  It's not the boats that make it happen but they are a little part of it.  In one moment this 6th day that I won't forget, I got a little sunburnt with pride when we floated into the sun at Hermit and the entire LL armada was soaking it in, working through the rapid, laughing and yelling for one another, and I got to watch an inexperienced nervous paddler reach into the mountains of water and pull himself through and smile broadly at the bottom of the wave train.

Bram pulling his way through the waves.
As soon as we decided to make the Stinger race boat a real production boat, Woody and I both knew that we wanted to make it as an XP version as well.  It's a perfect complement to the Remix XP series.  For more experienced paddlers, the Stinger XP is fast, playful, and yet still super stable and predictable. The Remix XP's are extremely stable and forgiving for paddlers of all skill levels.  I experienced the speed of the Stinger as one obvious difference.  I could move forward and back in the group quickly and easily.  I felt like I was using less effort to cover our 20 mile days.  When I paddled the Remix XP I almost felt like I couldn't flip over but I could move around very well in the rapids.  At first I thought both boats seemed to carry the same amount of gear but as I got more used to packing the Stinger it seemed to have more room.  They both surf well but it can be tricky to fit the Stinger into tighter waves.  The Remix surfed easily in lots of different waves. I found that by dropping the skeg in either one and I could catch waves more easily.  We had a good mix of both boats on the trip this year making it fun to see the advantages of either design.

Black Tail Canyon
We paddled from Granite (Mile 194) to Black Tail Canyon (Mile 120) this day.  After the big hike and fairly long paddle of this day we were bushed.  Fortunately it was a short hike up into the super tight and sweet Black Tail Canyon to finish off the day.

Here is a link to all the photos from Day 6 in the Canyon.

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