Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stupid is as Stupid Falls....

As CRC2 mentions the Upper East is all about WATERFALLS. Well, maybe not so much but it certainly has one big one that will get your attention ... Big Stupid. On a recent trip back to the Colorado homeland I had the opportunity to paddle with Kiwi Lawrence Simpson and Caliproduct homeboy Paul Gamache on the Upper East.

Above is a shot of Lawrence and I dropping into the first rapid on the East named "Midget Wrestler," it gets its name cause it is a little slide into a little hole with a strong recirculating eddy. At higher flows I like to go a little right of the hole. I haven't seen it beat anyone up too bad but I have heard the stories.

So above is a shot of Paul Gamache running Stupid Falls. This is definately one of the biggest single rapids near CB, but the rest of the Upper East is a bit more manageable than this. If this drop doesn't look like fun then you should probably get out in one of the many eddies above it. If you thought this drop was very mellow than you should maybe go look at NF Slate.

Here's a shot of Lawrence going off. Downstream the East River meanders as it works its way past Mt. Crested Butte then it meets the Taylor River to form the Gunnison. Both of the boys had excellent lines this day and I was happy to take their photos from the top.

Paul and Lawrence post-Stupid. There's a pretty good eddy below on the left but I understand that the trail to the top can be a little steep and slippery so waaatch yourself.

Gothic Mountain looms over the East while the boys get ready to hike back to the car. There is an exceptionally large population of stinky cabage (and other rare species) near the Upper East. Also, Gothic is home to the Rocky Mounatin Biological Lab with plenty of researchers wandering the nearby forests.

After that we crused to Oh Be Joyful for an afternoon run. Here's Lawrence on OBJ's 15 footer getting some airtime.

It was awesome to be back in Crested Butte and especially to have the opportunity to paddle with these guys.

Salud to the CKS possie!

Bryan Owen
Astral Buoyancy Customer Service

photos: Bryan Owen and Paul Gamache

Thursday, May 24, 2007

~~~~~~~~~~Superior Creekin~~~~~~~~~

(Mark Hattendorf on Conglomerate Falls, Black River)

Well, this year was a bust for me with the exception of one weekend hitting up the south shore of lake superior. For those who haven't traveled up to this area.....I highly suggest it! You should also check out the "late, great, paddling legend of the Northwood" Jim Rada's book aptly titled "Northwoods Whitewater". It is one of the best guidebooks out there in my opinion.

(Kevin Hickson running Manabezho Falls)

During the Memorial "Jim Rada Race" set up by John Kiffmeyer one of my best buddies in my paddling crew came off the falls a bit funky, corkscrewed and hit rock at the bottom. He did major, major damage breaking his leg in multiple spots and crushing his ankle to the point of no return. He wants to give props to the crew and everyone who helped get him out of the canyon and to the hospital quickly and safely! We all wish you the best of luck "OZ"

Regardless, the reason I was out of commission was b/c a new little baby girl paddler "Grace Naomi Royer" entered the world. She has been here for a month now but the season for the Superior region is short and I wasn't going to miss her being born!

I didn't want to post old pics from previous years and since I only had a few from this year. Heather and Nate Herbeck were kind enough to let me use a couple of their pics and throw up a link to their blog which is broken up into 2 parts of Superior Creekin! They are GREAT write-ups on creeking in the area and there are a whole LOT more pics to make you put creeking in the Lake Superior region high on your list of MUST HIT destinations!
Their website is updated often and is always has good paddling news/pics/trips.

(This is either Nate Herbeck or Taylor on the Presque Isle's final mile)

(John Kiffmeyer downstream of Conglomerate running Potowatomi Falls)

(Heather Herbeck firing up the big one "Rainbow Falls" on the Black River)

(Taylor running Interstate Falls)

I am heading out to Montucky for a couple weeks in June to hit some of the classics like "Big Timber Creek", "Kootenai" and such. Then I am spending a week with the AMAZING kayaking cancer camp known as "First Descents" started by Brad Ludden about 5 or 6 years ago now. This will be my 4th year helping as a counselor for the fact it sounds like I may have to run a bit of the show (do all the organizing) this year! I will throw up some pics from the camp and Big Timber too once I get back.

Until then....once again MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR BUTT OVER TO CKS and try out the new ultralight but 30% stronger WaveDog Paddle along with all of their other pimpin good gear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cim Cim Cimarron

Well after a great couple of days at Paddlefest the crew loaded up and headed towards the Big Cimarron outside of Gunnison, CO. After somewhat of an epic 4x4 shuttle setup we decided not to push our luck further and hit up the lower Cimarron for some evening action. The lower Cim flows into the Gunnison River upstream of the Black Canyon and if you're ever in the area is worth hitting up. Here's some pics courtesy of Wigston;

Kyle coming through super basomatic - Photo NW

Whoa, big man in a blue boat - Photo NW

Evan and Kyle finishing off the run - Photo NW

After our false start we camped at the putin to the Big Cim and got after it first thing in the morning. The Big Cim is a great wilderness creek run in quintessential Colorado country with boofs a plenty, a fair amount of wood, and has a remote feel to it. If you go be sure to watch for new wood, use Larsen's shuttle beta, and be ready to experience a CO classic. Here's some pics from the day;
Camp and putin - Photo LE

Putin scenery, pretty tough stuff - Photo LE

Kyle getting his boof on - Photo LE

Guidebook aurther Evan Stafford doing more research - Photo LE

Wigston setting up. Textbook form - Photo LE

Wigston resurfacing - Photo LE

Well that's all for now. I hope eveyone has been getting out and enjoying the melt. Yeehhahh, get some...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

North Fork of the South Arkansas

photos by Nicole Mansfield

The North Fork of the South Arkansas is a small tributary creek 15mins outside of Salida, CO. Due to its short window and steep, woody character these drops are rarely run. It is estimated that the first descent of this creek occurred in the mid 90's.

The main drop- two tiered falls

Since Lawrance had just gotten back to Colorado from New Zealand (hadn't creeked since last summer) and had never been in the new Rocker, we thought it would be a good idea for him to put on 50ft above the lip of the first drop. No worries, if you don't nail the line and boof totally flat on the second drop you piton into 6inches of water from 20ft.

Chris sets up the video shot while Lawrance reviews his line.

The NF S.Ark contains 4-5 runnable drops; 15ft slide, 30ft crack drop, 2 smaller waterfalls and the double drop. On this run we only got the double drop (the most impressive drop of the run), but we hope to get back to do the rest. Be advised that there is a lot of wood between all of the main drops, basically making this a hike n park n huck special.

Lawrance sliding into the first falls

The main double drop is a twisting 15ft slide into an 8ft falls. A short fast moving pool allows for a stroke or 2 to line up the boof for the next drop.

Lawrance lands and sets his angle

Boofing the second falls

Lawrance safely in the pool...

...and setting up for the third part of the rapid.

The last move. part 3 of the double drop.

Chris Menges sets up his boof. Things didn't quite go perfectly and a high impact piton occurred. Amazingly, Chris came out unscathed thanks to the 07 Rocker's Uni-shock bulkhead system. He is grateful to be walking back to the car unassisted.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Embudo Teaser Take Two

Well after Chris's masterful description there's not much more to say, so I thought I would post some more eye candy from the past weekend to make getting through Friday's TPS reports that much harder. Word is the Embudo will be rocking this weekend and a guaranteed good time. If you go have fun, eat at the Guadalajara Grill in Taos, be respectful of the locals, bring a rig with good clearance and tires, and be sure to enjoy a Rocky Mountain classic.

Enjoy the pics and good luck gettin yours this weekend...

The CKS connection enforce. I know what you're thinking, man that's one sweet rack and you're right it is. Thanks Tom ;)

Mr. Funnel himself. If you're looking for a guide there's none better. (PS. Atom the CD will be in the mail.)

Chris boofing the first drop of Cheesegrater

Tim showing us the line on the bottom drop of cheesegrater

Chris grinding his way into the eddy

Tim on the lead-in to slots with Nicole right behind

Double boof, double shot, yaahhhoo

Tim dropping slots like its hot

Allen resurfacing below slots

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rio Embudo with CKS Squad and Staff Members

Photos by Tim Kelton and Chris Menges.

New Mexico Trip! First Creekboating of the season! Embudo!

During the last weekend of April a group of CKS staff and squad members met up for a couple or runs down New Mexico's Rio Embudo. Our sizable group included local NM paddlers Atom Crawford and Tim Kelton, Ft. Collins Squad member Leif Embertson and Salida, CO CKS staffers Mike Tavares, Nicole Mansfield and Chris Menges. While Atom was celebrating his 205th run on the Embudo, the group contained several first timers who were excited for their first funneling.

Like many high mountain runs, the Embudo's put in offers excellent view of surrounding peaks, pueblos and valleys, as well as a short hike down to the put in.

Nicole Mansfield hiking down to put on the Embudo.

Tim Kelton sports some of the best creek gear available....sweet!

The group getting ready to dust off the winter cobwebs....

...and stoked to be on the water!

After some quality class 3-4+ boogie water in the initial miles of the run, we arrive at Cheesegrater rapid, a 3 part drop with some fun moves and a great boof at the top.

Leif Embertson styling the top boof on Cheesegrater.

And breezing through the bottom and crux section of the drop.

Mike Tavares (Monrach Mountain's ski/snowboard park director) drops into the lower (crux) part of cheesegrater. Notice the cool pipeline-looking wave by his right hand.

Leif Coming through the bottom part of Cheesegrater.

After more quality and heads up boogie water, paddlers reach MJ falls. While the line here looks relatively straight forward, a mistake would land a paddler in a hole which is backed on river left by an undercut rock. This little piece of the rapid is not a 'happy' place.

Here, Nicole and Atom contemplate a line on MJ and evaluate the risk to reward balance. Notice Atom's set up for creek runs; A rescue PFD with knife, whistle and quick access throw-rope and a 4 season drytop for warmth in variable weather conditions. Nicole was rockin' her new full face FNA helmet.

Most of the group decided to portage MJ this time. The short and easy portage gave us an excellent opportunity to appreciate our beautiful desert canyon surroundings.

More boogie water after MJ. Great moves, challenging enough to be heads up and exciting, the in between water on the Embudo is a great part of any run.

The crux of the run is the Slots of Fun rapid, which contains a 5 tiered lead in rapid after which it is possible to catch an eddy on river right, just at the lip of the main Slots of Fun slot drop. We scouted the lead in rapid on the first run. After the scout, we were all in agreement that we wanted to be "center, center, left , left, right, right" into the eddy above Slots.

Chris Menges and Mike Tavares in the lead in to the eddy above Slots.

Chris and Mike heading for the second left boof. 3 moves down, 3 to go. If you don't get the boof all the way on the left, a nasty piton or vertical pin is a possibility.

Chris and Mike after the "center, center, left, left" part, headed towards the two right moves.

Atom Crawford enjoying his new Mega Rocker and getting 'er done. Slots lead in rapid.

Leif Embertson, solid, confident and on line. Mid way through the Slots entry rapid.

Tim Kelton and Nicole Mansfield on the final "right, right" moves of the Slots entry rapid. Our goal was to boof into the eddy behind the 'shark fin' rock on river right.

Safe! TK makes the eddy while Nicole sets her angle and eyes the shark fin rock intently.

The main and crux portion of Slots is a 2 part drop. A small 3 foot ledge feeds you into quickly moving water that takes you towards the lip of the near vertical 10 foot slot drop. The key here is to launch the main part of the drop in the center, thereby avoiding the walls on both the right and left sides of the drop.

Tim Kelton was leading and probing all day. Here TK shows us how to run Slots.

Mike Tavares used what he learned while watching TK's line to fire off this perfect Slots line with a boof of the center rock fin.

Nicole Mansfield runs Slots of Fun. View from the bottom.

Leif Embertson demonstrates a smooth Slots technique, viewed here from the top.... well as from the bottom of the drop.

Chris Menges takes a stroke and pulls his knees up. This will keep the bow of the boat elevated when landing. Center line boof. Photo courtesy of TK's sweet $200 camera!

Atom Crawford in the bottom Slots eddy, making sure everyone comes through. Atom has paddled this run more than 200 times and definitely knows where to be.

Thanks to the CKS New Mexico crew for a great weekend on the Embudo!

As a final note, one of the definite highlights of our days on the Embudo was the fresh green chile breakfast burritos at the Pilar Yacht club. Yum!