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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dipper Creek.... The coolest place in the world?

Well since I last posted, I have relocated to the Pacific Northwest and am going to college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Have no fear.... This will still allow me to get out there and get on some cool rivers, I already have!! The past two weekends I have made the journey to BC where easily the coolest place that I have ever been does in fact exist. This place is powerful, mystical, wild, beautiful, and dark. This place my friends is Dipper Creek. It was discovered a few years ago by the range life boys who did all the groundwork and scouting on this one. The creek makes its way through a deep and powerful gorge where if one log is in the wrong place, you will either do the sketchiest climb of your life or you will be roped out. Big ups to TRL for taking the time to open this one up because it truly is one of the coolest places in the world. It was Friday. I sat in computer science class listening to my french professor murmur on about html code. I came out of a slight sleep when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I looked at my phone... 1 new txt message from Cody Howard. The text read... picking you up around 7 looking at getting on dipper if flows cooperate. I pulled my computer out of my backpack... the range life was typed into my browser. I spent the rest of class thoroughly reading through their posts of this incredible place. The stoke was on.... as class ended I sprinted to my dorm and organized my kayak gear in anticipation of the weekend to come. We drove to canada,eh!
After a freezing cold night, we motivated, and checked the flow. It was a good flow.

Our friends Steve, Ali, and Scott met us in the freezing cold as we geared up. Putting on kayak gear in the cold could be my least favorite thing to do in the world. After pushing past this.. my drysuit with ample layers of fleece felt nice once we started hiking in.
Cody bushwacking through the BC woods... on the way to our put-in on a small tributary creek.

The tributary we put in on was mostly a mank fest... untill we rolled up to a pretty nice horizon line.
This is what lay below, a perfect 35ishftr. ...Oh man this day is getting good I thought.
Ben Hawthorne with Cody looking on.

Once we reached the confluence of dipper and the small trib we were on, there was a mile or so of some fun boulder-garden style rapids. Then it drops.
Ali running a great double drop dubbed "Double Dip" by the TRL boys.
Ben running it from the top.

Great photo by Ali of Steve on Double Dip.

Then it really drops. Just after Double Dip, comes Big Dipper... it is Big too.
A perfect sliding 70ish ft tall waterfall awaits.

Ben got the First Descent on this guy.
Ben Hawthorne about to go speeding into a somewhat green pool.

Ali then ran it. After hearing that the waterfall went without incident, I decided to run it as well.

Great photo of me by Ali

Cody ran, then Steve.
Steve Arns recovering from a big hit.
This is the cool boof just below the big guy.

We hiked out bushwacking for a couple hours through devil's club... called it a day, and setting our sights on the Vertigo gorge the next day. After another freezing night in BC, we hiked in and put on... dropping ourselves into commitment. Luckily we had Scott, Steve and AJ on the canyon rim with a huge climbing rope in case of wood.
This is looking into the Vertigo Gorge from the Canyon rim.
Ali running a sweet 10 footer above the entrance to Vertigo.
This is the waterfall that drops you into vertigo gorge. It is a sliding 2o footer that lands in a pocket. Directly after that is a sweet double drop that looks like this.
This drop lands you deep in the gorge and a very cool place.

This place.

Ben and Ali chillin in Vertigo.

This is the view looking downstream.
Its such a cool place.... I had to take a self portrait.

Directly below the Vertigo room... a sketchy little crack drop. Watch your elbows here.
Just after the Sketchy crack drop is a sweet 15 footer.
Cody on the sweet 15 footer.
Just below that 15 footer is....Another sweet 15 footer that leads you out of the gorge.

The vertigo gorge, although only 5 drops is the most committed place I have ever been. It gives a nice definition to the word gorge. I have never felt quite so "trapped" by the earth. After the exit to the gorge, the creek then mellows out for a while untill you come to a big horizon line. We portaged this one, although Cody and AJ ran it later that same week. It is a 40ish footer that lands pretty hard on a rock shelf. Cody was able to boof out past it, while AJ took a hit on the rock. Below that drop is a marginal looking 20footer that folds in on itself. I was on the fence on this one untill Ali and Cody both ran it. It runs better than it looks. Just after that is the confluence falls where dipper hits the Squamish.
Sweet photo of me on the confluence falls.

I left dipper with the plan of coming back and completing the run the next weekend. It was a rough week. Cody and AJ stayed and did the other two sections of the creek while I sat in 8am math class...... I was jonesin. Luckily the weekend came fast. I left the dorms on friday night. While all my friends left to party... I left for the coolest place in the world. Ben met up with me in Bellingham, and even though we heard from Cody that dipper had dropped significantly, we were stoked to drop in again, and get the complete descent of dipper creek.

We arrived at the take-out with a beautiful sunset, and camped.

After another freezing cold night in BC we woke, scrambled down to the creek to make sure it wasnt too low. It looked lower.. probably 2/3 the flow we had the previous weekend. After scouting Big Dipper, I decided it still looked good. I ran Double Dip and Big Dipper.

Double dip is easily one of if not the best drop on the run.
My camera has issues sometimes.

Big dipper look close im scouting on river left.

It was a tad low... I would prefer more water... but when in Rome....
Ben and I then continued down the canyon into the section neither of us had done. This is Ben on Little Dipper, a few rapids after Big Dipper.
Little Dipper in the distance... cool gorge!

We continued down stream where we came upon a sweet rapid dubbed rowdy flatwater by TRL.

My photoshop skills arent very good but i put this sequence of Ben together running rowdy flatwater.

We continued downstream more and ran some very cool rapids.
Like this sweet s-turn slide. Just after this rapid we came upon a very tight rapid with an oldgrowth standing vertical in it. This was the most involved portage I have ever done... we roped the boats up a very steep sketchy hill, traversed and lowered the boats to the pool below. We then climbed down back to the boats needing a rope to avoid slipping into the gorge.

Stout portage!

Me roping down to the river after the stout portage.
We continued down the gorge, running some more cool sliding rapids... stay tuned for a little video soon. We hiked out of the gorge deciding not to run the confluence falls due to low water. It was another amazing weekend... If you get the chance to do this creek, do it because it is the full creeking experience, waterfalls, slides, gnarly gorge, portages, but mostly a really cool place.

My subie killin BC.
BC is dope.

River gypsies sleep in their cars when it is cold outside.
Hoosters (half horse half rooster) love BC?

Photos by Ali Marshal, Steve Arns, Fred, and Ben Hawthorne