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