Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skook - 2009

Deep in the minds of most all kayakers there exists a wave that forms reliably, has great eddy access, offers up every trick imaginable, is located amongst a powerful landscape, and even instills a sense of respect and awe due to its size and power. Well folks this wave exists and its called Skook. After years of seeing pics and watching video, I finally had a chance to experience the Skook this fall and it absolutely blew away all my expectations. While the que can be long and the journey to it not exactly straight forward if you happen to make the effort to experience this feature I don't think you'll be disappointed. Here's some pics from my journey enjoy,

PS - The new Jackson Star series rocks. I highly recommend a test drive I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fall Nicaragua Surf trip

After years of kayaking trips to places like New Zealand, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico to break up the winter it was time to try something new. So this year for something fun and relaxing, we headed down to the beaches of the west cost of Nicaragua to Buena Vista Surf Club just outside San Juan del Sur.

Yep, ruffing it!

Being total beginners in surfing and Stand Up Paddling, we wanted to go some place with nice warm water that would be great for learning. So easy to get to - check. Warm water - 80 degrees sounds about right - check. Nice place to stay that's not the 4 Seasons but still has great food and a nice beach break near by - check.

From the 1,000+ sq. ft deck you can check out the break, do yoga, or just watch the monkeys in the jungle all around.

These guys lived right outside our tree house

Amazing breakfasts every morning with fresh local fruit

surfing. We rented boards from BV Surf club along with a helpful lesson to get us going. Then we brought along a Kona Samoa inflatable SUP board. This proved to be super handy as it fit in a large duffel bag and with my clothes, was still under 50 lbs. For a paddle, we were able to place a Kona 2-piece paddle in a ski duffel bag. No hassling to get creek boats checked in on overseas flights, which seems to get harder and harder every year. Besides a pair of board shorts and flip flops, little else besides sunscreen was needed. No camping gear, stoves, freeze dried food, rain gear, etc. Traveling light!

Karen having a blast learning to SUP in nice warm water.

Our host Marc giving SUP a try (his first hour). Helps when this is your home break that you get to surf every day.

Not quite ready for Mavericks yet, but could go for another month on the breaks of Nicaragua.

Almost ready for ski season.....nahhhhh!!!!

So if your not quite ready for winter and would like to go someplace warm and a little more off the beaten path, I highly recommend Nicaragua. Warm waters, 320 days of off shore wind make it an amazing surfing/SUP'ing getaway perfect for beginners or experienced Surfers/SUP with many other breaks close by.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An East Coast Fall - Photo Recap

Here is my TO DO list from this past fall
#1- knit millions of hats
#2 - hang out with the family
#3- find a winter job
#4- kayak some of the classic whitewater the east coast has to offer

I succeeded in accomplishing all of the above.
Here are some pictures from the adventures.

Dave Fusilli surfing the top wave at Sheepscot Reversing Falls in Maine. A tidal rapid, these play features form daily a couple of hours after high tide. I can't tell you exactly when they form, but I do recommend not showing up late, because the fun spots appear and disappear quickly.

Looping the lower hole.

Camping at the Kennebec River in Maine

Dave is lost trying to figure out how to get back to the top without a jet ski and no one to show us where the ropes are located.

Moose River Festival!

Jared Seiler running Magilla's middle line.

Dave - Magilla

Wonderfalls on the Big Sandy in West Virginia

Big Sandy's Big Splat

Green Race!
Megan Smith browns while Jakub Nemec prepares for his second race lap with a short boat.

Bryan Kirk entering the notch.
Sorry, no pictures of Gorilla.
With hundreds of spectators, I was not there early enough for a coveted Gorilla spot.

Shannon Carroll on one of the slides after Gorilla.

Shane surfing the Dries of the New River in West Virgina.
I never imagined I would be surfing the dries on a beautiful sunny day in November wearing only shorts and a dry top.
What an amazing way to end the kayaking season!
Now I am ready to head to snowy Utah in a week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Outer Banks Road Trip

Coming to the end of Mike Tavares' and my east coast vacation, we decided to head to the outer banks for the last week. First stop was Cape Lookout! After arriving late and crashing in the visitor center parking area, the next morning we were ready to check it out in day light. After finding out the price of a ferry ride to the lighthouse was 15 dollars. We stuck to the original plan of paddling out the 4 1/2 miles and get a workout. We got some advice from the park ranger that we should leave the island after 3:45pm to come back with the tide. We were stoked that we had all day to play.

Arriving at the island we got some great up close views of the lighthouse. We then headed to the beach to find great surf!! The waves were 3ft to over head, breaking in deep enough water.

The water was clear and you could see tons of mackerel swimming in with the surf. Some of the fish were bigger then I would have liked to seen. I have a small case of the deep sea creeps. After surfing for hours, we took a break and walked on the beach to find a dead stingray that Mike the marine biologist inspected for the cause of death. Realizing it was 2:30pm we packed up and carried our boats to the sound side of the island.

Already tired from the paddle out and surfing, we were ready to get back. Pushing off a little earlier than directed from the ranger, the tide seemed really low and much more challenging to paddle across the boat channel. We felt that if we paddled closer to the islands it make it easier. Comically if you stopped paddling you would drift back to were you started. Realizing that it was almost 4pm we kept hoping the tide would come back in. Unfortunately the ranger was wrong and the tide was going OUT at that time we left to paddle back in. Even though our muscles burned every paddle stroke for 4 1/2 miles, we saw a bunch of jelly fish and shells. We also paddled passed an island that has wild horse that were out grazing.

Completely ecstatic to see the white lighting, we did the final push to the car. The paddle back took 3 hours and it was similar to attaining on a big volume river. Once we loading up the car, we stopped at the first restaurant on Harkers Island. It happened to be the Fish Hook. After having the biggest shrimp burger we have ever seen and more deep fried food, we felt much better about the 9 mile flat water paddle half against the tide and surf kayaking for hours.

Leaving Harkers Island we headed up the coast taking car ferries and island hopping. Okracoke Island was a chill town and beautiful. We continued on to Cape Hatteras and watch some surfers at dusk catch some waves. We camped in the parking lot since most of the camp grounds were closed for the season. The next morning we were awoken by a ranger beating on the window. After talking him out of a ticket, we got a warning that we can't camp illegal again on the outer banks. Once the jerk ranger left we checked the surf and were disappointed that it was flat. Blowing that popsicle stand we finished driving up the coast and stopping to surf and check out the sights.

We finished our trip at Mike's cousin's house in Kill Devil Hills and with no surf and wishing we had Stand up Paddle board, we headed back to Mike's Mom's house in Apex, NC to pack for the next trip. Were Leaving Nov.1, on a 6 week tour of Costa Rica. Check back for a blog about the rivers and beaches of Costa Rica. Hasta Luego!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dipper Creek Short Helmet Cam Video

This is a short video that I put together from my dipper creek trip. It is a sick little creek in a very cool gorge. Read more about it in the previous post I put up.

Dipper Creek from Fred Norquist on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eternity Hole on the Tuckasegee

After traveling to Gauley Fest the southeast was blessed with RAIN! Mike and I decided to head south and paddling rivers that have not run since the terrible draught. Once the creeks water tapered off we caught the Tuckasegee's
Eternity Hole at higher than normal water level.

Only surfing this spot once when I was in High School, I was surprised on its quality. Eternity Hole is easy to spin in and to get on top of the foam pile. The hole is plenty deep for aerial tricks, water dependent, and super friendly for learning.

After spending so many hours in the Salida hole this summer I was stoked to find a baby salida hole in the east. The slab is up stream but we just parked and played at the hole. Watch out for the trails to the play spots after a heavy rain because they are steep and muddy.

I found the hole to be a little flushy so you have to be quick on your landing or it can be frustrating. I have heard the reason that its not retentive is because the flooding moved some rocks around.

We had great weather and the river to ourselves, which was awesome after playboating on the crowded Gauley. I was luck that Mike stretched his legs and took some great photos. On to our next adventure!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chawanakee Gorge of the San Joaquin

Just a reminder for those of your in the Santa Fe area that the Los Alamos Mountaineers have asked us to give a talk on multi-day expedition kayaking.

Los Alamos @ Fuller Lodge Wednesday Oct 21 @ 8PM

Taos: TBD

We are planning to show photos from California runs including Cherry Creek, Devils Postpile of the San Joaquin, and Middle Fork of the Kings. Will also talk about food, gear, and logistics of multi-day expedition whitewater kayaking.

Chawanakee Gorge of the San Joaquin

Its been posted on American Whitewater that the Chawanakee Gorge of the San Joaquin could be one of the best one days runs in California. Since almost all of what I've done has been multi-day runs, its really hard to say. But to bring it into Colorado terms, it has more good class V drops than the Big South.....if you run the Big South twice. What keeps the Chawanakee Gorge from being ran a lot more are the variable flows and lack of a gage. I was fortunate enough to catch it twice in three days, both times avoiding the dreaded 3,000 cfs dam spikes due to maintenance and a steady 900 cfs flow released from the dam.

Since the run sits between several pump houses, flows are dependent on the power they are producing. Often, they release at night to pump water back up the mountain so it can generate power during the day. One of the dam operators informed us that water can be turned on or off at any time....adding to the excitement of the run.

Bryan Kirk

There are 50 - 60 amazing drops in just a 6 mile section

Ben Davis

Just be sure verify if they are releasing down Stevenson creek. If so and you have 300+cfs, don't even think about a bike shuttle, as the creek consumes the road and will push you off a 500' wall

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Fluffy Westwater Muffin!!

This past September, i had the pleasure of putting together one of the finest Westwater trips I have been on in the past few years. The plan was simple. A good crew, a couple of stand up boards, a couple of play boats, a raft, some alcohol, and a dog. The night before we launched, the crew (Mike Tavares, Haley Mills, Chris Menges, Dave, Lisa and Johnny Kloberdanz, Izzy, & Tracy Sage) all met at the put in for a few drinks and went to bed in dreams of the perfect westwater float. The next few days were as follows. Perfect weather, stand up board carnage, lots of swimming, and the perfect way to end a great kayaking season. Here's a few pictures of the trip

The scene at the put-in. A raft, some kayaks, and what the ranger called "some of them stand up duckies"
Dave, his rescue dog Izzy and Chris, Getting ready to head to the canyon
Haley and I somewhere on Day 1

Chris Menges shot this great photo of Haley Mills somwehre in the canyon on a Stand Up Board
Chris, the only person to do the whole length of the canyon on a Stand Up Board was perfecting his gymnastics skills.
Classic Westwater Fun
Doesnt get much better than that, Haley Mills soaking it all in at the end of the canyon
Stand Up trio, I look a little scared

Haley and Lisa showing us how its done

Chris at Lower Little D

On the way home, we were able to hit both the M-Wave and the fluffy Muffin in one shot. One of the greatest fall combos in Colorado.

Chris Shredding!

A Couple of pictures of Chris and I at the Muff

Looking back on the trip, I have come to the conclusion that the combination of Westwater and throwing in a little playboating at the M-Wave and the Muffin on the way out and the way back in one of the best fall trips in the region. Throw in a couple of stand up boards on westwater makes it even better.