Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yule Creek

Wow...............Never have I gone so fast so out of controll and so excited while doing it. Yule Creek is about an hours drive outside Carbondale CO right next to a small town called Marble. Due to being a snowmelt drainage it has a short window when it's running, typicaly early summer. It runs through a few hundred foot deep slate gorge and in total is no more than a mile long, but that mile is jammed packed with some of Colorados biggest slides and exciting white water.
Jake Saxon called me up one Sunday night about three weeks ago and asked me "you ready to get scared?", I knew exactly what he was refering to and was stoked to finally have the opportunity. The next day around 12:00pm we were in the car and on our way to the Yule. Driving down a terrible little dirt road to the bottom of the drainage, we jump out of the car, quickly throw our gear on, and start hiking up. We hike up to the top veiw of Oriental Massage and Happy Ending and looking down it looks great, but from about 700 feet away its hard to tell. We keep hiking up, until we hit Ball Check and Wall Check where we walk down to the lip to check it out. They were at a great level so we didn't spend to much time scouting. After finishing the hike up past the warm up rapids and setting down my boat, I piss about three times before I get in my boat.

Next thing I know were on the river paddling down to the main drops, but the warm up rapids end up being just as difficult. The warm up is made up of ledge and pourover boofs with stick holes at the bottom of every one with no real breaks between them. They went great though with both of us having great lines and then eddying out right above Ball Check and Wall Check. I walk up to the lip and chose my line which I had seen others take, right off Ball Check then quickly shoot right to ride out Wall Check on the left. After a few deep breaths and second thoughs, I seal my self into my boat and see Jake dissapear over the horizon, I eddy out. Thanks to the river gods, we both had stomped our lines.

Next up was Oriental Massage quickly followed by Happy Ending. Standing 2 feet from the lip to scout was way differernt than looking at it from a few hundred feet away. Looking down the 80-100 foot slide with water flying off the kicker and the ledge shooting water right into a seem made it by far the most intimidating rapid I had ever scouted to run. Once again, deep breaths, second thoughts, and before I knew it Jake vanished over the horizon and I eddied out. I took the slide straight, entering far left right on the wall and going straight from there. The air time off the kicker was by far the most exciting thing on the run. I landed in the eddy on the left and decided just to jump out of my boat and seal slide into happy ending due to the eddy being really difficult to get out of. After that though I was looking back up and couldn't believe I had just made it down with great lines, and padled down to the car.

Unfortunatley that day Jake and I took no media so we don't have any pictures. We went back about a week after though to run it again and Fred Norquist came to take some video. For me though that day ended up with me hiking out after wall check with a slight lower back enjury and no kayaking for a week after. Ill post up that footage once I get it from Fred. You should check out his Blog though and see some cool shots and video of when he ran it with the CKS team! Check it out at !

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Upper Death and Barrel Springs

Me at the Entrance of Upper Death- Photo by Ross Mohsenin

After being off the water for almost a week my hands were getting shaky, anxious to get back in the boat. A couple weeks ago during the US team trials some friends and I headed up to Barrel after our heats were over, and during the first rapid, life after death, I came out with a busted nose, broken knuckle, and cut lip. I knew I had to go back and conquer the run, and Upper Death which I had never tried…… I did.

Some Splash About a Quarter of the Way Down- Photo by Ross Mohsenin
Jake Saxon, Fred Norquist, and I with some friends headed up there on the 15th to run get a good day on some stouts. Upper Death is the first rapid below the dam in Glenwood Canyon and is usually portaged being a class 5+ rapid. You paddle up to the horizon line a little left of center seeing nothing but spray shooting into the air like fireworks. With a right angle you slide by the side of a large pour over hole and head right, then pointed straight and charge. You take off in a matter of seconds down the steep incline and then have to plug a massive hole, and trust fate from there. It's is one of the biggest wholes I have ever plugged and shot me deep, letting me pop up around 30 feet downstream of the hole. After that with, no pool or eddy’s, you drop straight into life after death, a class V with big lateral waves and a few big sticky whole. You enter it from where ever Upper Death decided to put you (or river right if you portaged UD) which for me was far left, and try to get center left to slide between two crashing holes and then charge right to avoid some sticky holes. The next major rapid is Barrel Springs, class V, which is one of the biggest and longest rapids I have ever run. The entrance is three head towering laterals leading to a curler that’s pushes you left into a set of four more curling laterals that push you left, and you need to get right. Keep digging right and pushing your way, and don’t stop till you get there. You then just keep trucking down stream until you ride over a lateral that’s big enough to catch air off and book it left! A massive pour over hole is seconds below you that you need to go around left or right. Just read the river after that and ride out through the amazing Glenwood Canyon, it’s all easy fun after that!
Almost Down and Getting Ready for the Hit- Photo by Ross Mohsenin
This was one of my top three favorite runs I have ever done. Big water creek boating is a feeling like no other, and the rapids on this section of the Colorado are gigantic, making you feel dwarfed even in your creek boat.
After Upper Death and I'm Starting Life After Death- Photo by Ross Mohsenin

Sorry we didn't get any pictures of barrel springs, here's the link though to a sick edit fred made of the Upper Death runs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back Home in CO

After a hole year of WCKA and not getting to boat back where I learned to take my first strokes, it’s a amazing feeling to come back full circle. Once I got back I called up Fred Norquist and we fired of some good Roaring Fork classics, the Narrows on the Crystal River, and Slaughter House on the Rio Grand. Both are simple class IV runs but must do’s with the right flows if your ever over here!

Mount Sopris in the Roaring Fork Valley

The Narrows….or Gnarrows, is about a mile stretch of river up the Crystal River near Red Stone. About twenty feet wide and a steep gradient makes this section a rollercoaster winding down the road side the whole way. Big lateral waves stacked right on top of each other leading right by munchy holes makes this section around a mile of nonstop whitewater. There is nothing really technical about this run. The line is stay center most of the time, and dodge obvious holes that randomly pop up. At lower flows there is a hot spring by the put in which is great to check out. When we ran it we hiked it once to get twice the fun in, but if you just keep going down river you will start on a section of river called Avalanche. It’s a good class II
I cruise run about 7 miles long and has a fun dam you can boof over (it’s a little shallow so get a good boof, or if you do a good freewheel you wont feel a thing!). Unfortunatley we didn't take pictures because its so continuous.

Me on Slaughter House

Slaughter House is by far my favorite kayaking run to do in the Roaring Fork Valley, and not only cause I live close enough to walk to the put in. It’s one of the few runs in Colorado that is made up of nice smooth boulders and has endless possibilities for fun and challenging boulder garden lines. I’m not sure how long of a run it is, but it takes about a hour to get down it. The rapids are classic boulder garden style, allowing you to weave in and out of boulders. You can still paddle more straight forward lines though if you want, similar to what the rafts take. This run is great because by line choice you can make it a easy class III+ and have a relaxed day or paddle hard and choose technical lines and turn it into a class V-. I took my Jefe Grande down it and have play boated it a couple times, either one makes it a good time, but I deffinatley think the creekboat is way more fun cause you can take way more fun and challenging lines. The only rapid that stands out as not a boulder garden is Slaughter House falls, intimidating name, but not as much in person! It’s a 4 foot boof ledge that at all flows you can boof on the left, but at higher flows you have the option to run super close to the right wall and hit a nice boof flake. Get up here while the flows are good!

Fred Boofing over Slaughter House Falls

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Payette

Juicer Rapid- photo by Eric Parker

After two months of creeks in California, Oregon, and Washington, I almost forgot what it feels like to get on a river. But the North Fork of the Payette made me remember, quickly, what its like to get on some big water! We paddled two sections of river while we were at the Payette’s. The first being the Staircase section, a 30 minute class III play-boating stretch. And the second being the Lower 5. We got the whole group down the first 3 miles of the Lower 5 stretch, which was around class IV- minus at higher water. But after that the big rapids start coming in and you get into some good old class V big water creeking.

Me sailing the boof on Cruncher- photo by Eric Parker

The first rapid you come up to is Otters Slide, which is after the first couple miles of continuous boogie water. This rapid’s line is dependant on the level, but for us we had medium flows and the Slide was in! You head straight down the middle of the river and will see a giant pillow up on a rock, head for it. Be a little bit to the left side of the rock and it will shoot you straight across the river towards a big eddy which you want to catch. From here ferry straight across on the death ferry for fun or go straight down, it really doesn’t matter. Next up you got Juicer, my favorite. It’s 200 yards of big waves and bigger holes. You want to ride it out right of center the whole time, but don’t get to far right because there is a nasty pin rock!

Dave Meyers running Juicer-photo by Eric Parker

With out a break in the rapids you’ll go through some boogie water and come up on Cruncher, where you want to head left and sail a hole boof. Stay left after the boof or you’ll get crunched in a massive hole! After that though just dodge some hole and enjoy the boogie water till the end! (make sure to split left at the fork in the river!) What is so unique and amazing about these five miles is that it only stops twice! This being one of the main it is considered a class V, because if you swim…….just don’t.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In tha Hood!

I never had so much fun in a creek boat until I came to Hood River! It has honestly been the best 10 days of boating in my life. Within 30 minutes of town are some of the best rivers in the world, a paddling utopia. The Wind, Green Truss, Farm Lands, Little White, Eagle Creek, and Middle Section are the ones we covered, some of them being less than 10 minutes away from our camp in BZ Corner.

Ben Hurd running Bobs Falls on the Green Truss

The first day we got here we got the whole group to fire up the Farmlands. Its about a 6 mile class IV creek run with a good chunk of it being down in a narrow gorge with green moss walls. The first mile or so is just a bunch of easy boogie water until you get to the first main rapid. It’s a good one to portage if your not feeling to strong due to a nasty undercut/pin rock on the left. At high water there is just a green tongue through it but a couple of us fired it up at lower water and had some sketchy lines. After that though is just some good continuous white water down to Lava falls! Lava is a 10-12 foot boof that you don’t want to miss your stroke on! We had a couple swims the first few days but everyone finally got the hang of it, make sure you set safety on it! After that just keep paddling it out and the gorge will open up. There is one last main rapid that’s a good one to scout near the end, but nothing to worry about. The line is to enter and push hard right to a eddy where you then boof a small drop to the bottom. A mile after that is the take out which you can spot by it being right under a bridge, this is also the put in for the Green Truss! Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures of this run.

A shot of my line at the lip of Punchbowl- photo by LJ Groth

While staying up in the hood we decided to take a day off and head over to the Punchbowl waterfall on Eagle creek. It could easily be one of the cleanest/ most non-consequential waterfalls in the world. A 30 foot drop into a massive blue pool. The whole group fired it off. On the hike up there is a good view of Metloko falls, a 90 foot waterfall, which was pretty sweet to see.

My line off Punchbowl- photo by Paul Twist

The Green Truss

The Green Truss sticks out in my mind as having some of the best individual drops that I have seen on our entire west coast tour. You put in coming down this little cliff, personally I liked to rope my boat down, and then go for a half mile warm up on some class III-IV boogie water. Then the main drops start coming, all of them being nice by having good eddies right after, most of them being rollers with ledge boofs over holes. The first main rapid that comes up though is Big Brother.

Evan Garcia boofing the right side off Big Brother

It’s a 22 foot waterfall that goes straight into Little Brother, a 8 foot hole boof. The main danger on Big Brother is a cave in the right wall that if you were pushed into would be very difficult to get out, and on Little Brother the hole can get a massive boil that’s really hard to boof over. Besides that it’s a super fun line on the center left or right at lower water.

Quinn Connell going down Double Drop

The next main drop is Double Drop, a whole boof that is stacked right on top of another hole. Its really flushy and will just flip you around if you get caught in it, but go a little left of center and take a SUPER late boof stroke. Next come the most fun two drops of the run, Upper and Lower Zig-Zag. The name gives it away, its exactly what you think it is.

Dave Meyers and Me cutting it close on Zig Zag

You wind right to left back to right and back to left again in a narrow canyon avoiding some munchy holes and it feels like a roller coaster. After that, Lower Zig-Zag comes up, a bit shorter but just as fun. You boof a river wide hole on the right and then book it hard left to duck under a giant log that’s pinned up against the wall. Right after ducking the log though head hard right again to dodge another hole and go over a fallen tree, then your good.

Me about to duck the log on lower Zig Zag

After that the run is pretty mellow with no main rapids until the very end at BZ falls! Falls I think is an inappropriate name for it, it should just be called BZ hole. About a 6 foot ledge pour over makes one of the mankiest holes I have seen, you can boof on the right but its super difficult. I plugged it on the left and somehow got lucky and came through.

Me pluggin BZ Falls

Most people portage it on the right. That’s the last rapid though, after it you paddle down a quarter mile or so and take out on the river left which was conveniently our camp!

The Little White

The one run I had been waiting for since the end of last summer when I first arrived at world class. The Little White was by far the most difficult run I had ever been on, and it made it the most fun and exciting time I had ever had in a kayak.

Erik Johnson on Island Drop

My coach gave me one piece of advise before we put on, “don’t stop boofing”. I would try to describe the run drop by drop, but it was to continuous for me to be able to divide the rapids up. The best way I could describe it is like this.

LJ Groth on Boulder Sluice

For the first part of the run, Getting Busy, think of every boulder garden drop you have ever been on or seen, and every move you had to make to get down it.

Jesse and me running Double Drop

Then take that image and compress it into one mile with no eddy’s to catch and countless pins and sivs to miss, just a epic game of keeping on the tail of the boater in front of you through one of the Pacific North West’s famous kayaking runs.

Me "Getting Busy"

After this section you get to start catching eddies to take a breather, and the drops start to get bigger. Massive hole boof’s are on almost every rapid, technical lines dodging logs and mossy green rocks don‘t stop.

Jesse Shimrock flying off Wishbone

It was such a full on run it is hard for me to recall it piece by piece, in one adrenaline rush it all just happened. Probably the most famous drop on the run is Spirit falls. A beautiful 35 foot vertical fall near the end of the run.

Nate Garcia boofing flat off Spirit

And the take out for the section could not be more beautiful. After bombing down 6 miles of non-stop full on class V+ whitewater for two hours, the river drains out into a glassy lake in the middle of a small canyon, quiet enough to hear the ripples from your paddle.

Erik John on the last rapid, Master Blaster

After a sad parting with Hood River, we drove over to Palouse falls to stay the night. The new world record water fall drop was set here by Tyler Bradt while we were in Hood, with it being a 186 foot water fall it shatters Pedro Olivias old record head dive.

A shot I took of Palouse around 11pm

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Miracle Mile!

I have forgiven Oregon for the rain after it gave us the Miracle Mile! I bet you can guess how long of a run it was and it was so continuous that one mile had more rapids than most multi mile runs. The whole mile is one rapid, no flat water the entire way down and you could keep going past the take out to see the same thing.
Me coming to the take out- by Ben Stanistreet

Definitely a must do run if you are anywhere near the area. The rapids mostly consist of boulder gardens with countless little ledge and hole boofs. Its a steep incline to so the mile is over in about 5 minutes. We got there later in the day and did two laps, but you definitely could get there early and run it till your arms say no more.
The Miracle Mile- by Paul Twist

Its super continuous so it would be a pain to scout any of the lines, you really wouldn't need to though unless your nervous about some pin spots and holes. Luckily for us Todd Baker and some friends met up with us and showed us down.

Sweet Creek in Florence

After a amazing time in California that made some of us not want to leave we finally made our way up into Oregon. Immediately we were greeted by the wonderful spring time weather of the Pacific north west ( rain, rain, and more rain). Luckily though for the first time since we were at the Yuba we got to stay indoors! We rented out some Yurts near the coast in Florence Oregon which was great for getting out to the beach for some surf.
LJ Groth heading out for some waves- by Susan Hollingsworth

We were only there for about three days so just either played in the ocean or went up to Sweet Creek for the afternoon. The ocean is amazing up there, you can surf the waves inside the jetty so it’s mostly fresh water but you still get the ocean waves. Also once you get in seals are popping up all around you curious to see what’s going on.
Jesse Shimrock on the Top Boof of Sweet Creek

Sweet Creek though was a very unique and fun run, instead of a run its more like a park and huck. Only about a class III creek run and about 75 yards long, but those 75 yards are non-stop boofs and slides. You hike about ¾ miles into the run and just lap the section as much as you want till your ready to head down. The top boof was one of my favorite boofs of the semester, a perfectly lip and beautiful green slot.

Paul Twist

The last day we held a adventure race down it and everyone got out there an d stomped the line. First place finished with 1 min 10 sec.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

North Fork of the Feather River

Me at the take out

It’s always great to be on the river, and the big smooth gray granite boulders of California only make it better. Slides so smooth you’d think it were just water, epic smear boofs, here the rocks flow like the river. About a week and a half ago we were at the Feather river and never had one complaint.

LJ Groth Boof'n

It’s about a three mile run and takes 30 minutes if your taking your time. A completely road side stretch which is great if any one gets hurt or your just not feeling it, but even if you weren’t feeling good id stick it out for this run.

Me Boof'n in the Channel- by Paul Twist

The whole way down you got big granite boulder gardens creating small shoots and boofs for the whole run, all the lines are easy and awesome but if its your first time down you should take somebody who knows the run because there are a lot of sivs and the line is not always clear. It’s good to go though and definitely worth hitting up if your in the area.

Me trying out the River Board

After hitting up the Kaweah to we drove into Sequoia national park and saw the worlds largest tree, General Sherman! It was fenced off but.......we had to get up close.

Sam Makman climbing the General

Friday, April 3, 2009

Picture from China

Thought it might be cool to post up some photos from China! While we were there we paddled the three parallel rivers of the Yunnan Province (the Yangtze, MeKong, and Salween. Enjoy the shots!

Great Bend of the Yangtze
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Foot Hills of the Himalayas
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Tiger Leaping Gorge
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Hike to Tiger Leaping Gorge
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Ben Hurd on Kim Jong Ill
Taken by Jason Cohen

Math Class at WCKA
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Baoshon China
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Jason and Me Amazed by the....?

Jesse Shimrock on the Salween
Taken by Sebastian Scholl

Susan Hollingsworth on the Salween
Photo by Sebastian Scholl

Yubeng China-21,000 foot peak
Photo by Sebastian Scholl

Yubeng at Night
Photo by Sebastian Scholl

Yubeng at Night with Full Moon
Photo by Sebastian Scholl

Erik Johnson in Prayer Flag Pass
Photo by Sebastian Scholl

Me on Dredger Wave
Photos by Jason Cohen

The Salween
Photo by Jason Cohen

World Class Kayak Academy
Photo by Adam Elliot