Sunday, February 24, 2008


(Images are stills from Kayak Session presents: The Risen Sun, a huckinhuge film)

So this creek has always haunted my dreams. I have been driving along side of it for 12 years of boating and never have I had the opportunity to boat it. Located just 50 minutes outside of metro Phoenix, AZ...this roadside run has always attracted motorists and rock climbers. Dubbed "Devil's Canyon of Queen Creek" by most, not to be confused with the true Devil's Canyon just upstream of this slot in the earth.

So I was called by Tyler Williams to meet him at Sycamore Creek (the next weeks 1st D). Upon arrival, we found Sycamore to be running at a massive 4-6,000 cfs. So plans changed immediately, to what I thought would be our best bet. Boy was I wrong! I drug him out to Queen Creek to find it was absurdly high as well.

Queen Creek, the 20 footer "Moko Jumbie" @ Flood

So obviously, we didn't do anything that day but run up and down the canyon, shouting and jumping like idiots in the rain....damn boaters!

But fear not, I was going to get in there alright! That night I called everyone, trying to rally a crew for the weekday descent. This was a tough task, but pards, Hut Wade, Ryan Fair and by bro Bret Howard came through. We met at 5am and drove out to the creek....finding it at perfect flow (100 cfs). So I convinced them not to waste any time and to "just put on" under my careful instructions. Well, the thing is with this creek (550 fpm), there really is 0 warm-up. Breaking out the cameras (for film for THE RISEN SUN) I set up high on the bank and shot a killer downstream shot of the put-in drop, "Balls to the Wall"....I know, cheesy, but aptly named.

Ryan Fair, contemplating why he is doing this at 6am..and about to have a major wake up call!

So after seeing some awesome lines on this 80 foot long slide, we continued on downstream. The next drop would be our only portage, Moko Jumbie. A pile of rocks from the road's construction. Next up was "Vegas"...a 20-25 foot tiered drop. That was the "choice drop" of the run. I'll leave you in suspense about this drop...footage will be in the film. But for now, here is a little slideshow for you (if you are still reading).

1st D Slide Show

So after Vegas, we paddled out of the only true "pool" on the run, and came up to "Pencil Pusher"....a 14 footer landing on rocks. And tard, eummm...Hut, decided to run this. Props, because there is no true line at this flow, and he didn't break any bones.

Hut, trying not to break all of his bones in his legs.

After Hut came away un-scathed, immediately the creek dropped into an impressive narrows of 5 back-to-back drops, ranging in height of 5-15 ft, all with some sort of nasty sharp rocks (oh did I mention this...ya, every rock either has re-bar wrapped around it, or is a product of dynamite). This alley of five drops would woop all of our a$$es. The top 4 drops were sweet, but the last drop made us pay. Dubbed, "Five Finger Death Punch"...check the band out too.

Droppin' into Five Finger Death Punch (notice Pencil Pusher in the BG)

Well, we were almost done, and we had taken all morning just to boat and film .7 miles. The last coupla drops would be the icing on the cake. We had a sheer 300 foot vertical walled gorge ending in a 12 footer and then another tight slot called the Tunnel of Love. So to wrap up this epic, roadside first descent, we dropped some 500 feet in just over a mile and had the bloody knuckles, catus, bruises and SMILES to prove it.....along with some killer footage. Check it! Huckin

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Protect Our Rivers: Comment on antiquated and destructive mining policies!

Ask Your Senators to Modernize Our Nation’s Hardrock Mining Policy!

Watch Outdoor Alliance's YouTube video below to see whay you should TAKE ACTION today!

"Dear Friends,
Help Preserve Whitewater & Paddling Throughout the Deserts and Mountains of the West

Reforming the 1872 Mining Law will, finally, give recreation values a voice on how our federal public lands are managed

Perhaps no other human-powered outdoor recreation is so clearly affected by hardrock mining as our treasured whitewater. According to the EPA, over 40% of our Western headwaters are already contaminated by hardrock mining activity. Even without the additional threats of drought and population growth, our streams and rivers deserve, finally, protection from hardrock mining's huge ecological footprint. Iconic desert rivers like the Green, Colorado and San Juan are under considerable pressure from new uranium claims. Creek runs in virtually every mountain range between the Sierra, the Sawtooths and the San Juans are also seeing a significant spike in proposed mines along with threatened access and continued water quality concerns.

As paddlers, we all need metal and responsible mining remains an important activity. The problem lies with 19th century values and policy guiding 21st century high tech mining technology. The laws adopted in 1872 to govern prospecting with a pick and shovel and to help settle the West before the invention of the light bulb are the same laws in use today. These outdated laws place no regard for the new outdoor recreation values and economic future of the West.

Late last year, U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to reform our nation’s policy on hardrock mining policy. Right now the U.S. Senate is considering reform too.

Please TAKE ACTION and let your Senators know what you think.

Thanks for supporting clean rivers and protecting watersheds,
Mark Singleton
AW Executive Director

P.S. For more information on why reforming our Nation's Hardrock Mining Policy is so important check out the Outdoor Alliance's YouTube video (above)."


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Meet the CKS Sqaud Part 5: Cody Howard

Meet the CKS Squad Part 5: Cody Howard & Check out his tops on the river last year - The Royal Gorge, 1st Descent of Rio Aguililla, 1st Descent of Poland Creek

Droppin' in the first double drop. Photo by Bret Howard

It wasn't until I was standing on top of Heath Springs 1, that I realized that I had forgot my sleeping bag back in the put-in car some 8 miles away (see our road was snowed in). But I couldn't have cared less....for I was about to drop over one of the most holy falls in whitewater. The run was awesome and needless to say, I spent 3 sleepless nights next to the fire, burning every piece of gear I owned.

Huckin Mini Curtain. Photo by Bret Howard

But after the three days of pure boater's bliss, myself, my brother Bret and buddy Nathan, came away with a trip to remember. 5 months later, I was sitting in a remote canyon with JD Batove and he quoted, " No Sierra overnighter is the same after the Royal Gorge. " Which brings me to my next top run of the year.....

The First Descent of the Rio Aguililla, Mexico

Bashing down a random nasty, photo by: Rocky Contos

This was what every expedition boater looks for. Remote, unknown, steep, sketchy and long (60k). We instantly knew this run was going into the books as a good one, when the President of the town of Aguililla had his police escort us to the put-in. We had a hiccup when we ran into some military and had a discussion about what we were about to attempt...but all was well when they just figured we were plain crazy. After putting on, Day One took us through "mota fields" and massive drops, that were runnable.

Lookin' for a boof on "Moulin Rouge", photo by Rocky Contos

Day Two took us through even more classic granite boxes. The highlight of the day was a tucked away, nasty double / pinch drop dubbed "Moulin Rouge". After a long look, I gave 'er and came away smiling. Fast-forwarding a bit, we made it down in 4 days and did my first Source to Sea river. What a great find this was!

My favorite picture of the year: JD Batove w/ me standing by. Rio Aguililla. Photo by Rocky Contos

Poland Creek, AZ

Gettin' some on McLovin. Video still from The Risen Sun

I led a group of willing paddlers into the 1st Descent of Poland Creek, AZ. This ended up being more than what I was originally expecting. We discovered a granite paradise with everything a paddler could hope for...falls, boulders bigger than cars, and outstanding scenery. All in my backyard (semi). We extensively filmed this stretch for the upcoming film, The Risen Sun. This proved to slow us down a significant amount and combined with the relentless canyon, we spent a very long, cold night, huddled under a self made hut of yucca / agave plants.

On a spilt decision run of "Orion". Video still from The Risen Sun

All in all, we came away with a great story and an itch to get back in there and duke it out again. This run would wrap up one hell of a year and begin the start of an amazing Arizona season. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store...we have big plans....and it's going to be huge as always!