Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sampson's Southeastern Update

Carolina Sunset, 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.

Watauga Lunch; photo: Bryan Owen

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.

Redneck Sampson; photo: Mitch Batemen

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

Todd Johnson at Sateline Falls (Watauga) photo: Bryan Owen

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

Blue Angels on slide #3; photo: Ryan Bednar

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

Buena Vista Whitewater Park Upgraded

BV's new lower hole at the South Main River Park. New ramp and hang out zone is ready for warmer days.
So we have waited a long time here in Buena Vista Colorado for our shot at having a killer play park for locals and tourists to enjoy. Well the time has come. As of October, BV now has 3 features to choose from with a fourth in the works for spring 2007.
It started 5 years ago with the upper “Uptown Hole” It was created on a shoe string budget by a group of dedicated paddlers and volunteers. This hole is super dynamic and keeps you on your toes, but is also very safe and deep. The pros go huge here and the mere mortals hold on in between moves. Tubers get rocked and fishermen slay it. Plus the locals and tourists gape all day and love the scenery and refreshing dips. It is a very cool spot to hang out

The new Midtown WaveThe lower or “Downtown Hole” was built last spring but had some challenges at higher water. It was completely redone in September and is now great. The recovery zone has been doubled in size and it has been re engineered for better hydraulic performance. It will be awesome and is already a great low water spot for easy surfs and spins.

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.
Uptown Hole
With 3 complete features and one more on the way, Buena Vista is destined to keep paddlers in town a little longer on every visit. Salida paddlers will also be excited for BV’s success. Those double digits line ups at 9 am every day may be relieved and campers at the Salida boat ramp will be watching paddlers head north to the even more improved “Promise Land.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Records being set in the NW

Not much to say and not much time to say it in, but thought I would put up a quick update. Its been quite wet up here in the NW as of lately. After a beautiful and sunny October, November came in with the beautiful high pressure and some of the driest air on record in Seattle. This only lasted for about two days, as right behind the dry air was a string of rainmakers. For a few more kayaking focused updates on the local flooding check out THIS SITE and THIS ONE TOO.. Also, go HERE.

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 :)

It may not be kayaking, but its close!

Today the water might have been frozen, but the jibs in the tree were off the hook. Waking up early to cut apart a burn and a m3 to make a sled to transport our 16 foot rail up to the high country. After a gruling snowmobile ride to the rail already set up we began our mission to pack out the inrun and get our skills dialed. Once comfortable hitting the smaller 14 down rail we set up the 16 flat rail in front of it so that we had a flat down! And as the sun was setting we set off into the woods and back to the cars! Pictures soon to come!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Something south for everyone

This is the time of year that folks start digging out the ski gear. It is starting to get cold and the local rivers and creeks have started to go into hibernation. A few runs like Gore, baileys, shoshone and the upper box are still flowing, but ski mode is in the air. When this happens, I begin to dream about Mexico. A lot of kayakers head south for the winter. Going to Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador, Chile and a ton more places. For me, Mexico is the closest and the cheapest. My friends and I can leave Santa Fe, NM on a Friday morning and be running some fun drops Sat afternoon. The best part about Mexico is that it has runs for everyone. You can be a class 3 boater and have a blast. Or you can be a hardcore creeker and find some amazing stuff. Folks on Mountain Buzz have been chatting about Mexico, So I thought I would post a couple of videos of the Cascados Micos and the Salto. These runs are just about having a blast and having everyone enjoy them. I stand by the saying that "Kayaking in Mexico is for everyone"!
Flash player is needed to view Google video, click on link if you can't watch the vid's
  • download flash player

  • 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.
  • IR splash pants
  • Monday, November 13, 2006

    Don Earl's Day Off

    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

    Joe sez Happy Veterans Day!

    Happy Veterans Day.
    It's definitely a bit slow in good 'ole Buena Vista, CO this time of year. While we are anxiously awaiting the opening of Monarch Mountain, our local ski area, we have still been getting on the river. Last week we were able to get in a cold weather run on Bailey (scouting in 6in of snow) as well as the Upper Taos box in full sun.

    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

    Black Canyon Rangers

    Keith Kirschner at the 18 footer
    photo: Chris Menes

    This is not your ordinary blog post about some river that some paddler ran one day and took some photos of it. Instead it’s a compilation of photos, video, and memories of one of the best runs in the world: the Black Canyon of Gunnison. Those of us who live and paddle in Colorado, we are very lucky to have this special place in our backyard. If you’ve had the chance to paddle the Black Canyon then you probably have some memories and images of your own…here’s a few of mine from over the years.

    Bryan Owen about to Piton in 2001
    photo: Chris Larsen

    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.

    Evan in the Narrows
    photo: Chris Larsen

    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

    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.

    Milo's Cheat sheet, very valuable on Ebay

    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.

    Chris Menges at Lower Intestine

    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.

    Bryan Owen
    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”

    Milo Wynne
    Will Lyons
    Bryan Owen
    Chris Menges
    Adam Chase
    Mark Miller
    Max Keller