Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Season warmup trip to the San Juans

Andy, Sean, and I had rendezvoused at Andy’s house in Denver, and were packed up and ready to roll out of town and beat the traffic. Then we got the timely call from Forrest saying he was in for the trip. So, we waited. He rolled up in his Lexus SUV with a gigantic smile on his face. Gotta love it.

We burrito wrapped all the boats together and hoisted them onto Forrest’s roof. Off we went. On the way, Forrest said he had a great mexican restaurant in Colorado Springs that we could eat at. We walk in to find a glorified taco bell with some B grade mexican food. “This place is awesome!!”, exclaimed Forrest. We had our doubts. It didn’t take long for the stomach pains to set in after chowing a steak burrito smothered in green chile.

We camped that night just outside of South Fork Colorado, so we could be in a good position to run the South Fork Rio Grande on the way to Vallecito. On our morning scout, none of us were super motivated on the run. It looked like a mile of roadside mank. “Get your gear on you pussies!”, says Forrest. “We’re here now and we are all running this shit.” So we did. The South Rio turned out to be a lot of fun. There were several great boofs and some interesting boulder gardens. It ran a lot cleaner than it looked from shore. I recommend it for anyone on their way to the San Juans.

After the South Rio, we headed for Vallecito. Forrest and Sean got the waterfall itch when they saw the drops on Wolf Creek were going.

sean lee wolf creek waterfall

Sean Lee on the lower wolf creek falls

forrest noble wolf creek waterfall

forrest noble wolf creek waterfall

After the boys dropped wolf creek, we loaded up again and headed straight for Vallecito and started hiking. It was getting a little late and the gauge was at just under 2 feet. The run was great. everything clean, and we had a lot of fun.

forrest on entrance falls vallecito

forrest on entrance falls vallecito

andy blakeslee entrance falls vallecito

andy blakeslee entrance falls vallecito

sean lee entrance falls vallecito

sean lee on entrance falls

After that day’s run on vallecito, we took out right at our campsite in the campground. After some elk fajitas, and a few beers, we were all ready to hit the sack. Brad Higenbothem was planning on meeting at our campsite the next morning at 9 am for a second run.

forrest in trash can

forrest in trash can

andy blakeslee in trash can

andy blakeslee in trash can

After the second run on Vallecito, we loaded up again and headed over to the upper east fork san juan. We had no idea where the waterfall section was, but after some bushwacking, we found it. It looked super sweet other than a log half way down. We decided to run down to the log and then take out and head home. It was a fun low volume creek with a bunch of waterfalls from 4 – 20 feet.

yeah bitch!

East Fork san juan shuttle


mountain sunset on the drive home

WV Springtime Reminiscing

Good old Fayette County has been blessed with some good steady precipitation lately resulting in plenty of water for boating. After two days videoing on a rising New River, I had a chance to go hit up some sweet local park and play with some friends. Five boat hole was our first choice as the levels began to come up. We caught it around 6500 so it had a fast pulsing right shoulder feeding into a deep retentive foam pile. We had a great sunny day and eddy service allowing for a long session chock with spins, cartwheels, blunts and bouncy hole rides for those lingering to long in “the pit.”

Coleman H testing the cartwheel-ability of the 5 boat. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Eric K throwing down on the shoulder. Photo by Coleman Hamilton

5 Boat has a good right shoulder at these levels. Photo by Coleman Hamilton

A bouncy ride in the foam pile. Photo by Coleman Hamilton

The next day we had to face the reality that many area runs were blown out from overnight local rainfall. We decided to hit Paint Creek, a fun roadside (mostly) option when other area runs are high. We had a manageable medium-low flow with some slides, boofs, and inconveniently placed trees. One such tree was jammed in the line at the falls. Scotty P edged out close enough to lasso the wood and pull it to shore.

Paint Creek Put-in. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Paint Creek scenery. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Scotty P. wrangling a log out of the line. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Lasso the tree. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Daniel D. firing up the now log-free line. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Third day was spent down at the New River Dries. The put-in waves were fast and steep with a healthy flow of nearly 35,000 cfs at the Thurmond gauge. At these levels the put-in waves form as a series of 3 waves right in a row. The first two are steep and friendly while the third wave has a very wide, deep foam pile that can pack a punch. For those with the skills these waves can give up HUGE aerials. Just be prepared to dodge floating debris.

Pretty maids in a row. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Shane G. ripping it up. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Justin O. throwing a HUGE airscrew. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Shane G. and Dave H. getting some wave time. Photo by Casey Cunningham

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Oh yea, it's on! I love Escalante. It's generally the first big run of the season and it's out in the desert where we can get away from the cold - at least for a bit. Plus there's this Disney Land style to it when the flows are right. Esca is not super intimidating and generally keeps to the IV+ region of creeking. A few weeks ago the Mank crew hit it up at perfect flows! We had a campfire, some whiskey and tons of drops to go around. An all around excellent weekend.

Here's C.Mo starting it off nicely on Escalante falls.

One of the funniest thing about this canyon is that you are always herding cows when driving in and out. They never want to leave the road.

This is one of my favorites from the weekend of M.Hagadorn routing into the Magnetic Wall.

This shot pretty well demonstrates my love of the new Villain - stylin.

The Hagadorn mobile all loaded up for a weekend huck fest!

So the Mank Crew has a long standing policy for good luck - kiss the ducky at the putin. He's been saving us ever since a fateful day on Gore, years back. Joel's givin'er the smooch.

One of my happy places.

(Photo: Lori Merritt)

So as the flow comes up on Escalante, it mostly just gets more fun. However, the hole at 57 Chevy can start to get interesting. It's not that sticky in the traditional sense, but it feeds into a river right pocket that can start to cause trouble.
(Photo: Lori Merritt)

I'd call this flow medium. The falls is runnable casually and the Magnetic Wall isn't too bad. The boof off the top at Waterslide was marginally in. Once that boof becomes mandatory the flow is high.

Alex Clayton slip/slidding through the Wall shot by Lori Merritt.

Laying the stomp down with the Villain. (Photo: Justin Merritt)

Lori got this great shot of her husband going airborne.

Alex getting awesome seperation!

The inner gorge.

CKS Squad's very own Chris Menges laying a sick fiddler grab!

Going vertical

And I saved the best for last. Menges laying it down for all the players world wide! As MC Hammer once said, "Can't touch this!"
(Photo: Joe Keck)

In the end, I'd say if you haven't been here - what are you waiting for? The upper gorge is class IV creeking and fairly pool drop. It's a fantastic place to step it up in preparation for the season. The inner gorge is a bit more committing and difficult, but still far from hair boating. Get out there!

Get out there!

So you just never know what curve balls life will throw at you... Make sure to get out every single day possible this summer - you never know, next summer you might be moving to Texass. Seriously. It's all good though, because after just one season sucking Texan heat, I'll be off to the best paddling destinations in the US - the southeast followed by a three year stint in Seattle! So anyway, I've been charging hard as usual, including a single day Denver to Denver two time Embudo mash. Get after it boys and girls!

Onto more interesting paddling news. The new Jackson Kayak Villian is the cat's pajamas, all that 'n a bucket of chicken, or da bomb in the parlance of our times. Here's a shot of me strokin' my Villian into MJ falls by Chris Roberts.

It's really that good. The boat is extremely fast and maintains a great rocker profile for boofing ability. It's not quite as quick side-to-side as the Rocker or Super Hero, but the speed more than makes up for it. So much fun to paddle! If you have the means, I highly recommend it - so choice.

Just another bluebird day on the 'buda!

Here's Chris. He had a really bumpy line up to this point, but Golden Stroked it right over the hole. Like butta on the 'buda.

Homie and fellow ICU nurse Oliver had a smooth line through the Slots and avoided the slot jacking.

I was so close to beating McCutchen at his own ice cream game, but he pulled this brace off with help from some of the Embudo's trout.

This here is Chris again showing that the East side gots the skills to pay the bills.

It was a bit chilly on the first runs this season. We got snowed on a couple times this weekend.

But we also got some fantastic sunsets!

Paul Siratovich lining out his first Slots run.

And Ben West showing how it gets done on the river right side....

Stout - first booty of the season! The Embudo is like that. Dave here had a great day even with the booty, but some other people this season have had serious issues. Take the Embudo seriously. I've routed it with a heavy hitting 8 person crew in under two hours. I've also lost my boat and had to hike out over the course of 7 hours. Respect the river, take a real rope, first aid, headlamp and serious creeking clothes.

And finally a huge shout out to the King and Queen of the Embudo and New Mexico zone in general. You are true ambassadors to the sport and make the Embudo experience 100% than it already was. This Bud's for you!