Thursday, December 14, 2006
Well as we plunge head first into witer here in colorado, the long awaited ski season is here!!!!! Over the past weekend BT and I climbed to the top of MT. Owen and had an amazing weekend skiing from the top two times. Only once did we get shut down becasue of weather. Hope everybody esle is finding what they need to get by, weather it be kayaking the shit or skiing it! Get out there!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Watauga Lunch; photo: Bryan Owen
It’s been super cool to be back home in the Southeast and to be spending some time on the river as the winter months approach. Although the Green hasn’t been running too much this month because of generator work, we’ve been taking advantage of some local rain. After arriving in Asheville, it was great to be on the Watauga Gorge with good friends Paul Bartholic and Ryan Bednar. The Watauga is classic and a staple for Western NC kayakers.
The Watauga drainage holds water incredibly well and sufficient flows the following day made it an easy decision to go back for another run. This time Paul and I were joined by John Pilson and Todd Johnson, also from Asheville. It was a great group because Paul and Todd are hand paddlers while John and I both use a stick. I like to see the differences and syles that evolve from both disciplines and I'm always very impressed by some of the lines that these guys take. I'd like to try hand paddling some more as well.
Sampson has also been getting down and dirty in the Southeast. We went on a hike/scout mission of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon with the Bartholic dogs: Stella and Cogan. According to local beta, this creek has a hard window to catch and runs off the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is often closed in the winter because of ice. This one is definately on the list for the next big rain. Sampson likes to seek out new Personal First D's for his crew. Check out all his web videos at Sampsonspot
Here's our put-in for the Upper East Fork of the Tuckaseegee (below). This 20 footer lands on a shelf so think about it! We had a big crew of 8 people that day and ran some super fun slides and boulder gardens. This is a fun class IV-V- run with one nasty sieve that is a must portage.
Upper E Fork Tuck, Put-In Drop (piton) photo: Bryan Owen
There are about 3 or 4 significant slides on this creek. One of them was a steep 50 foot slide to an abruptly shallow transition at the bottom (not pictured) with a bumpy ride dodging big rooster tails the whole way down. We portaged this one because it looked like a back buster. The rest of the slides were a lot of fun and one in paticular (below) had a nice auto boof at the end.
John Pilson on bottom of Big Slide #2; photo: Ryan Bednar
Its fun to paddle with all of the Asheville crew and Ryan likes to take lots of photos when he's checking out a new run. He is a talented multimedia designer from Asheville and has an online photo gallery of his boating pics. Check it out to see some more of Ryan's photos from the Upper East Fork of the Tuckaseegee
So here we are on Thursday afternoon with a light rain and 100% chance of showers this evening. With an already saturated ground we are going to get a shot to run something tomorrow. Just depends on where the rain lands tonight.
Stay on those bicycles boys and girls!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
The new “Midtown Hole” is the friendliest of the 3. It is right at the bottom of a staircase with a beautiful view once you reach the water. You can surf it all day and do low angle cartwheels at 200 cfs. Time will tell how this sucker shapes up, but it looks promising and will give aspiring kayaks a great tool to improve skills.
Friday, November 17, 2006
And to leave you with a few stats:
Seattle has already set a record for most rainfall in Nov. - 11.63 inches.
Which means we are going for the rainiest month ever - current record: 15.33 inches.
And odds are good, since the last two weeks of Nov. are typically the stormiest weeks of the year up here. Should be fun :)
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Flash player is needed to view Google video, click on link if you can't watch the vid's
A Vid of the Cascados Micos (press the left hand play button to watch)
and pump the volume on your computer
A Vid of the Salto (press the left hand play button to watch)
and pump the volume on your computer
If you end up heading to Mexico, I recommend getting some good dry pants to keep the bugs of off your winter legs. The bugs are bad if you head for Vera Cruz and the pants also protect ya from the Mexican Jungle.
Monday, November 13, 2006
So, it is November in the Colorado high country and winter should be here, any day....... right? Well last week it was 70 F. and no clouds and no wind and no snow to ski on. I planned to work all day till 2 friends, John and Joel called to go paddle.
It took me about 1 second to decide that a good padle would be the best thing to do. Luckily the new Pyranha Ammo just came in and everyone wants feedback. Heck that is in my job description. So I unpacked one and outfitted it to me (in about 5 minutes) then collected my gear and it was off to the river.
What a great day. White water, warm gear, and funny friends. No epic journey, just a great afternoon on the water. No others, just us. It is a reminder to those of you that have this type of resource in your back yard. Use it, it is fun and always makes you feel that much better once you have paddled. Plus I realized tht Pyranha Ammo is great concept. The first true Hybrid. Small and easy to manuever. Agile, fast and forgiving. And surfs well. All in a dry packaget that fits on your car with ease. Plus I can carry it by myself. Nice work Pyranha.
Also the new play waves in Buena Vista are great, even at low flows. BV now has 3 features and plans on doing a fourth this April. Great work Harvey and REP.
Come to Buena Vista. We got the room and whitewater, even in November.
PS. It is cold and snowing today, time to find my skis.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
While shooting some product pics of a used Rec. boat, Joe Carroll took the opportunity to give respect to our men and women in uniform.
Joe is also showing off his hand knit beanie from Huck Ze Gnar clothing. His special, handknit message says 'Gnar Dog'. For sure........
Photos & Words: Chris Menges.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Since 2001, I have had the chance to paddle this river with some incredible people. Whether it’s your first run or your 40th, each trip takes an exceptional amount of commitment and awareness to pass through the Canyon. I was fortunate to receive a lot of good Black Canyon beta from two very good friends: Chris Larsen and Milo Wynne. They have definitely pioneered a lot of the standard lines down there in both paddling and portaging, and their names of the rapids are pretty creative and hilarious. Both are top notch JR Rangers.
It was Chris Larsen and Ben Stookesberry that convinced me over a shot of whiskey to run the Black Canyon for the first time in August of 2001. This was my first and only one day trip. It was an amazing transformational experience, but definitely a kick in the ass at the same time. Its amazing how something that beats you down like that can become such a powerful experience for you later on. Thanks to Ben for throwing some footage of this wonderful portaging experience into his first video, No Big Names.
Big Group in 2002
It’s pretty amazing from a whitewater perspective to run the river at varying levels, and to see how the water changes. One time in 2002, co-worker Shannon Linnane and I paddled the Black Canyon at 350 cfs. We were accompanied by Vito Covelli. Vito was the first person to successfully swim the Black Canyon and proved that he could fish the entire canyon from top to bottom. From my understanding the only other swimming/tubing mission was attempted by Milo Wynne (aka “Captain Black”) which ended in a hike out above Day Wrecker, the first major class V drop.
Bryan avoids a talk with the Principal
photo: Chris Larsen
Milo's Cheat sheet, very valuable on Ebay
Earlier this summer I had the chance to run the Black Canyon at 1300 cfs with Raul Buenaventura, his brother Nico, and Ted Pierce from CKS. Monsoon rains had caused landslides and rearranged both the rapids and portages. The whitewater down there at this flow is awesome: big waves and hole, pushy, and lots of fun. We were faced with some new problem solving at SOB Gully on this trip, where the flooding had changed the river and wiped out the Hairy Ferry. We found a new route, portaging over the sieves and to river right.
Another memorable trip was with the big group, about 9 paddlers. I was happy to have my good friend Paul Bartholic, along from North Carolina. This was my second run down and was unlucky enough to piton the waterfall, blasting my ankle before the portage. Massive swelling and pain resulted from the hit, proving that a piton here will put a damper on your run. Thanks to my friends they were able to help me limp through the portage and enjoy the big party at Cave Camp that night.
photo: Max Keller
My last trip down was a good reunion with Max Keller and Chris Menges. We had just finished up a long trip together to BC a few weeks earlier and now our crew was back together in the Black Canyon. Chris had run the river once before about 5 years earlier, and it was Max’s first time down. I was pretty impressed with Chris’ portaging backpack the he made that day. We were also joined by Keith Kirscner, a paddler/real estate broker from Summit County who was making his first run. We enjoyed a fun 650 cfs flow with some beautiful fall weather. It doesn’t get much better than running the Black in October with some good friends.
photo: Chris Menges
Returning from this trip I started to compile my video footage from the last 2 years of kayaking in Black Canyon. My original idea was to give the video to the real “Black Canyon Rangers” to show to park guests at the Visitor’s Center. For now, I want to offer it up to the unofficial JR Rangers and the rest of the boating community in Colorado. It may be awhile before I run this river again as I will be heading east to North Carolina, turning my attention to another wilderness run, the Linville Gorge. Thanks to all my good friends here and the crew at CKS for making Colorado such a wonderful place over the years.
Salida Ranger 420
click here to view the "Black Canyon Rangers" Part 1
click here to view the "Black Canyon Rangers" Part 2
Paddlers in “Black Canyon Rangers”
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A few of the year-round CKS staff got out to enjoy the late season high-water event and meet some new friends. CKS Manager and Web developper Chris Menges enjoyed 2 days on Lime Creek while Joe Carrol (customer service and purchasing) and International Sales Jefe Raul Buenaventura got their end of season fix on the Piedra.
Up-Valley view of the put-in, Day 2 on Lime Creek. Photo:Chris Menges
The first day of the Lime Creek runs, a group of 7 put in (in 2 groups) with 3 inches of snow on the ground. I had driven for 5 hours over 3 snowy mountain passes to get to the creek by noon, throw on a drysuit and paddle down to the entrance rapids of Adrenaline falls.
Entrance to Adrenaline Falls. Photo: Chris Menges.
Arriving at Adrenaline Falls is always an 'exciting' experience. It's a 20 foot crack drop with a tricky entrance. As seen in the photo above, it can be run left down the slide or straight as a boof over the hole. Either way, it is necessary to quickly shift your paddle in order to fit through the crack. The drop is shown here at a medium-low level on day 2.
Joe Keck, Adrenaline Falls. Photo: Chris Menges
Joe Keck, Mountainbuzz socialite, great paddler and all around nice guy had a great first line off Adrenaline. I think he was siked when he hit the pool at the bottom because all I heard after taking the photo was lots of celebratory hooting.
Chris Menges, Dragons Back. Photo: Scotty Baker.
A few fun rapids follow Adrenaline falls in S-Turn Gorge. Dragon's back is the final and second-most rapid of significant verticality. It can be run center, off the 'Dragons Back' or on the far right. A run down river left typically results in swimming. Sometimes, paddlers attempting the center line fall off the 'back' into the left pocket and get worked. Some say 'thats what they get for trying to show off.'
Durango local high-schooler stomping the 'money line.' Photo: Scotty Baker
Nice gorge scenery after Dragon's Back. It was nice and warm too (about 40 deg.). Photo: Scotty Baker.
Piedra River, October 10th, 1500 cfs
CKS Staffers Joe Carrol and Raul Buenaventura took advantage of the mid-october storm to get a nice high-water run in on the Piedra River between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Raul Buenaventura checks out the Piedra's beautifull gorge and waterfall scenery for the first time. He is giving up a summer in his native Chile to be with us at CKS this winter. Thanks Raul!
Joe Carrol paddles his happy All Star into some high-water Piedra action. Photo: Raul Buenaventura.
Joe Carrol, pictured above is going into his 8th month as a key part of the CKS sales, management and inventory team. He is about to experience his first full winter in beautifull Chaffee county, Colorado. They dont call it 'chafe-me' county for nothin.' We know you are ready Joe!
On the return home the boys got a good taste of winter on Wolf Creek pass. Joe's 'Monte Carlo' rallied through the white stuff like a champ, further proving Joe's theory that is the ideal boating/snow car for Colorado.
Look for more photos and stories of late season Colorado paddling in a future posting. Next issue: 'The Gunnison River: Colorado's Mecca for late season paddling from playboating to portaging'
Words: Chris Menges