Monday, July 28, 2008

CKS Fest Photo Dump

Well folks, I don't have many excuses for not posting these sooner but this season has been crazy good. A kayaker was once heard saying "We're going kayaking cause we're kayakers and that's what kayakers do" or something like that.
I almost wasn't going to post these pics but after looking at the current Ark flows the playpark is probably at similar conditions so go get sum...
Tommy H showing he can playboat with the best of them

Local and developer Jed Selby showing why BV is the place to be.

Devils Punchbowls - high altitude waterfalls huck day

The Devils Punch Bowls are a spectacular set of waterfalls accessible from either Crested Butte or Marble Colorado. The falls are in the upper reaches of the south fork of the Crystal River and generally get paddled a couple days each season by boaters who want to get off the couch from their work weeks and take approximately 2 strokes before hucking ze gnar. The drops are definitely clean but do require skilled paddling. Here is a little photo series of a recent day we had up there on July 27, 2007. Make sure to check out some of the text at the bottom of this article as I tally up carnage this year versus carnage last year and we revisit the video of the famous and amazing backwards boof.
Photos: Chris Menges

We met Mexico in crested Butte this spring. He is from Asheville, spending the summer out here. He was the first one to fire off the drops this day. Here he is scouting his line.

Mexi heading towards the lip and looking good.

He started falling off line right about here and kind of flipping over.

Mexico proceeded to swim in the boiling pool between the first and second drops. His leg had popped out of his thigh brace and basicall ejected him when he landed almost upside down. Luckily, the lip of the second drop is pretty shallow and he is able to stand up on the rock and then exit onto the cliff wall.

Our friends DK and Natalie from Glenwood Springscame up from the Marble side (mosy of us descended from the CB side)!

Johnny Myers went next and of course styled it. I talksed to him afterwards and he said the JUST BOOF IT stickers I had recently hooked him up with definitely helped him out.

Here's Johnny!

Johnny's girlfriend and her family came out to watch us huck. Here she is at the perfect viewing spot between falls.

These are some of my favorite shots of the day: Johnny Myers shot from above launching off the bottom dropp in perfect style. Blow these up, they are worth it.

Another angle of Johnny coming off drop number two on his second run.


DK went ahead and dropped next. As seen by this sequence of photos he had a super styling line off the top drop...

...but somehow, a slight over rotation ejected him from his boat causing swimmer number two. Total count so far was two swimmers for the first three paddlers.

Recovering DK's boat.

Zack From Crested Butte has been paddling a lot locally for the past few seasons but had never been out of the punch bowls. Here, he looks down at drop number two in preparation for his run.

This has got to be my best shot of the day (above): Zack on the first drop.

DK's wife Natalie went next and had solid lines. Here she is coming off drop two. Photo: Zack.

Chris Menges was the last to go. Three shots of his lines are below (Photos: Zack):

Top drop...
bottom drop...

Then, we fired up the first-d of this sketchy ass mank above the punch bowl's. JUST KIDDING!

Our trip out to the punch bowl's last year produced a legendary piece of video. Check out the following vid to reexperience the historical backwards boof a.k.a. "First backwards female Descent of the DP's".

Carnage report 2007: Three paddlers, One broken paddle,One backwards boof.

Carnage Report 2008: Six paddlers, two swims, one busted up face, one flat tire, one broken truck axle.

Stay tuned for a North Fork of the Crystal report and potential first D in the CB area coming later this week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One Creek to Rule Them All

So the story goes something like this:

I woke at 3am and strolled to work in the darkness only to discover upon arriving that I wasn't due in until 8am. Doh. As I meandered home on the deserted streets, I sent a text message to a few friends - "Anyone up for SSV (South Saint Vrain) this afternoon?"

Forrest Noble immediately replied, "I'd love to, but I'm in Cali."

It was early and I definitely wasn't expecting any replies until morning, especially not a slap in the face about not being in Cali myself. "Wait," I thought. "I've got the next six days off, why am I not in Cali?" Being awake at 3am is rough, but the flip side is that I routinely get weeks off at a time.

The gears were cranking in my foggy brain as I dialed Forrest. He and Raggedy Andy were in the Reno airport - Upper Cherry Creek was running. I wasn't going to make his trip, but before I was home I had complied a mental list of eligible Mank Crew members.

I called Alex Kilyk in the morning. He doesn't keep up with the scene and had somehow never heard of Upper Cherry. He was skeptical of my plan to drive 23 hours for a single run. Thankfully, Moe the Kiwi was standing right next to him when I rang. On Moe's advice, they were in. The plan was to rock Christian's ride out. However, the day we were leaving all of his packed gear bags were stolen after the windows on his car were bashed out. Christian was out, but once the Mank Crew gets rolling, there's no stopping the trippin' train - all aboard! The drive was epic, but thankfully I was exhausted from work and slept almost half of it. We rolled in "right on time" to meet Nick and plan for an early hike.
Moe and Jordan try to figure it out after dark with an hour drive still to go. "Right on time"

Our beta before leaving Colorado was limited. We had no idea where the put-in was, what the hike was like or any river beta. I tried to watch "The White Album" one last time, but decided to double check my gear instead - we were gonna have to wing it.

Alex begins the 4.5 hour hike with a smile

At the beginning of the hike-in we found a gent named Roman who's buddies were doing an extended trip. He was hoping to go with our three day version and had been down twice before. In the hour of deepest desperation, the river gods will provide. He also happened to mention that he had an HD camera and would film the trip. We asked him how long the hike would take. His answer.....4.5 hours or so. Not that bad!

The ridge line of temptation.

Seven hours or so into the hike we found the place Nick Wigston had warned me about. He said we'd be tempted to leave the trail and scramble down to the river early, but we'd miss the first gorge. 3 hours after we were supposed to have completed the hike, the temptation was intense, but we trudged on. Did I mention that Roman passed us in the first half hour and we hadn't seen him since?

Alex and Moe peer through the smoke to the put-in of UCC from the top of Styx pass

After eight hours or so of hiking and battling through dark clouds of mosquitos, we reached Styx pass. The forest fires in Cali were intense. The California Department of Health had recommended that sensible humans not exercise outside due to the extremely poor air quality. These recommendations we of course ignored, but the smoke did create hazy conditions for all the pictures on the trip.

At 8 hours into the trip, Nick wasn't smiling anymore even with the most stunning scenery

So I got lost right at the end and rolled into camp about a half-hour after dark. The rest of the Mank Crew beat me by about 15 minutes for a total time of 9.5 hours. The Roman god from Cali had been there for 5 hours with camp set up, dinner done, relaxing swim complete and nap taken. He forgot to mention at the start of the hike that he runs Iron Man triathlons. However, the other Cali group started with us, but took an extra day to complete the hike. There should be a sign at the start which says, "Hike 4.5 hours up to the river...results may vary...widely."

The extremely rare Giant Whitefish lives in the put-in pool below the shadow of Styx pass

At the start to the hike, some Cali boys flat out laughed as the CO boys loaded up our Kokatat drysuits into the boats. Little did we know that even high altitude Sierra runs enjoy 65 degree warm water.
Moe showing off his dirty mo-stache and dead pig

If you ever go on a multi-day kayaking trip requiring a 12 mile hike in, I recommend bringing a package of bacon and a Kiwi. The Kiwi will carry the frying pan for you....

Welcome to Cali with the morning Coffee Pot drop

We woke up in the morning... We took two paddle strokes across a crystal clear pool... We slid 5o feet down granite and off a 15 foot vert with a cave on the left... Welcome to Cali!

Roman found water on the moon!

As we boated on the first day, I couldn't believe what was happening around us. The sheer immensity of the granite can't be captured on film. My homie Petey always likes to make fun of the moon explorations. He says that basically we flew all the way out there, got out of the spaceship and then in the name of science, the progression of human kind and all things holy, we played golf and drove high speed laps on a dune buggy. If they ever discover water on the moon, I'm going to add kayaking to that list, but for now Upper Cherry Creek is what boating on the moon would be like if the moon had good boating.

A picture truly is worth a thousand words, but in this case neither suffice

Dropping in here is like stepping onto the edge of a knife

Finally the point came. After hours of epic boating, Roman pulled over at a random eddy. The gauntlet was thrown down. We were at the point of no return from the Cherry Bomb gorge. Roman had been before, but was feeling rusty - he's out. We have no guide. The scout is over a mile and relatively worthless from about a thousand feet up. We have a long day in the morning, so leaving the boats for the night and returning having scouted is not an option. We all immediately try to remember the Seven Rivers Expedition walkie-talk. Right, left, left, right, center, left, right, left, right, right.....ummmm, wait how many drops were there again? We have no idea. However, Moe, Alex, Nick and I are feeling really good and have gelled as a team. We went down with Roman and partially scouted the initial gorge that commits you to the Cherry Bomb gorge. The above picture is as good a look as you get. We know that the 40-foot Cherry Bomb drop is scoutable from the lip, but once you scout it, you're committed to going off it and the rest of the gorge is un-scoutable, un-portagable. Nick says he'll go, Moe is in. Screw it, I'll go. Alex waited until walking back to the boats and then saddled up.

This is one of my favorite pics of the trip. Alex took it from his boat as Moe committed to the most intense adventure of my life.

Have you ever felt like the world was about to drop out from under you? Look at the end of the Refection Pool.

After the above gorge we arrived in the Reflection Pool where you can contemplate what you've done because you are now completely committed to running Cherry Bomb gorge.

Moe slip-sliding away off Cherry Bomb and the view downstream into the gorge.

Alex and Nick went first. They both stuck the line, but we got the best pics of Moe. Alex is at the bottom taking a pic of me and Moe from his boat.

I'm at the top of the pic taking a shot of Moe and Alex from the safety of the rock.

California Dreamin'

This was one of the coolest sunny afternoons I've ever experienced - we're in Cali for sure. This shot looks back up at the Cherry Bomb gorge. I've been to committed to my boat for sure - Vallecito, 1st Gorge Lime, Inner Crystal Gorge, etc - but nothing I've done comes close to comparing to the CB gorge. The Colorado gorges allow brief exits on rocks that have fallen into the river and they are boxed in by 100 foot tall walls. The Bomb gorge is walled in 1000 feet by slick granite and provides absolutely no way to stand up. Exiting your boat would undoubtedly involving swimming over successive sticky ledge drops to the bottom.

What's perfect about this 20+?

This drop is named Perfect 20'. Kinda funny because it's actually a sketchy 30' with bad pockets on both sides of the LZ. Roman's line looks pimp and made for a great picture, but.... well check out the video.

Sketchy 30' was one of the first drops in the morning of day 3. And was immediately followed by...

Money Shot

Here's Nick lettin loose on one of the coolest looking drops of all time - Double Pothole. The pool below Double Pot leads off an 80 degree 15 footer and then straight into the Waterfall gorge.
Who says the CO crew can't boof? We just don't often get the perfect launch site.

Here's Alex halfway down the Waterfall gorge. He's on drop 3 of 6, I think - it's a little hard to remember. Just to put things into perspective, it goes like this: Gorge above the Reflecting Pool, Cherry Bomb, Jedi Training slides, Teacups, Flinstone camp, Cali Groove Tube, Sketchy 30', Double Pothole, Waterfall gorge, Kiwi in a Pocket, Brown Bear falls. Together that makes about 20 waterfalls within less than two miles, including a double 15', 20+, 30x2, and 40ish falls. Vallecito is no longer the best mile of boating I've ever done.
Moe - cool, calm, collected and online in typical Kiwi fashion

So we're tired. We have literally boofed our brains out on day three. Then there's the Final Gorge. It starts with this sketchy drop where all the water pushed into the cave on the left. Then it again commits you to running a marginal, but oh so good drop...
Huckin Duckie letting the hair hang down

Here's the final major drop of the Final Gorge. Cherry Lake is within site, but you have to tread carefully to the end. The river right side of the landing is a terrible sieve and salvation lies only in the boat width exit on river left. Slick to the last drop.

Now the moment you've all been waiting for. My prose is out, but you're still wondering what ever came of Roman's HD camera. For your viewing pleasure......Make sure to crank the bass and hit the full screen button on the video! Click on this link to watch it in High Definition - way better. Upper Cherry Creek in HD.

Upper Cherry Creek 2008 from Powder Monkeys, Inc. on Vimeo.

Upper Cherry Creek is undoubtedly, without the slightest hesitation, my favorite creek and probably the best three days of life. Leave your wife, quit your job and go.

A huge thanks to Roman Nelson, Alex Kilyk, Nick Abrams, and Andy, known as Moe the Kiwi, for the video and photos.

Oh, in case you wanted to know, it's left, left, right, center, right, left, left.

Little White Doesn't Suck

Ryan Scott Firing off Wishbone.

Getting some Spirit Luvin. - Photo: Scott Waidelich.

Enough Said.