Monday, June 28, 2010

Selway Madness

So somehow after 10 years of submitting for the Idaho three rivers lottery I finally won a permit and for the Selway nonetheless. The Selway is a river trip of the highest caliber. The putin is south of Missula, MT and the takeout is on the otherside of the panhandle near the confluence with the Lochsa River. The river trip itself is about 47 miles long through some spectacular wilderness that also boosts some great whitewater. If you are ever so lucky to have the opportunity to do the Selway I highly recommend it, just know if your launch date is in May or early June expect to deal with some rain and weather but also be prepared to have good water great times.

Typical Selway scene

Idaho is filled with lots of great read and run whitewater. A common question however is to boof or not too boof. Here our group is trying to decide

These two souls did not boof but wished afterwards they had...
If one decides not to boof, purposeful surfing is an acceptable plan B

As is running the meat

But boofing is always best...

Typical Selway camp. Don't forget the bochi ball set.

And don't forget about river time campfires...

PS - If you do find yourself on a Selway trip be sure to thank the rafters (if you have any) for schleping your gear , food, and less desirable by-products. Someone once said river trips are like backpacking but you can bring anything you want. Here's to that and thanks Kurt!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Raffuse Creek Exploration

When Todd calls and says "hey man, ive got something sweet, wanna go to BC this weekend?", It probably means its gunna be a good old fashioned BC bushwack to a worthy creek. Then he texted me some photos they had taken when they scouted it a few days prior. Pictures of clean waterfalls and a kickass gorge met my eyes. I dropped other plans and headed up to the squamish area. We made some delicious food at Bryan's house, and went to sleep stoked to go explore Raffuse creek. We woke up super early and drove to the creek which just happens to be crossed by the road to Skookum Creek. We hiked a few miles up the creek on a nice trail. Then we picked the least menacing spot in the dense bc hell f*@k, we did some classic BC bushwackin down to the creek. We put on, and ran through some really cool mini gorges like this one.

Bryan Smith photo.

We then reached some cool low volume boofs like this one.Chris Tretwold Photo.

The gorge started to get a little deeper and steeper we came upon this sweet Double Drop.

Boofs like this don't suck.

Todd Gilman Photo

Cool shot of me resurfacing. TG photo

The second stage of the double, good stuff. CT Photo

Chris Tretwold charging of the first part of the double, reppin dat WA apple phat! Tg photo

MMM The second drop from above. Tg photo

Shane and Bryan in some fun boogie just after the Double Drop.

After some cool boogie and mini gorges, the Creek got quite a bit steeper indeed. We came upon this, and of course Chris Tretwold fired up some stout wood removal by walking across the big log, then sawing a smaller log in half so we could run the stuff that came below.

It was definetly brown.

The eddy just above a sweet 25ish footer.BS Photo

And Todd Launching off of just another sweet BC waterfall. BS photo

The 25r from downstream, with the crack rapid soon afterwards. CT photo

And me dropping in on a really cool boof to crack drop.CT photo

From Downstream, Photo TG

And Bryan exiting the crack.TG Photo

Shane getting a nice boof into the pinch, stylie! Shortly after these quality drops, there was another waterfall in the 25-30ft range with a weird crack entrance that then proceeded to land on rocks. With higher flow, it would probably go, but the rest of the creek would be terrifying.

Shane Peering into the crack.

The creek then proceeded to throw a few walled-out, woodblocked smaller drops, so we had a couple proper BC portages.Up, out of the gorge, then yes right back down in through spikey plants and moss-covered rocks.

We then proceeded to meet the bridge that we had decided to take out at. We started the day at 8, and ended at 7:30 or so, it was a solid day of kayaking indeed.

Here is a short video I put together of the day, Check it out

Raffuse Creek Exploration from Fred Norquist on Vimeo.

Overall the creek was not quite a classic due to the amount of work required, but there were some great waterfalls and beautiful scenery.

Check back soon for more!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The OBJ Daze

With the conclusion of the CKS Paddlefest In Buena Vista two weeks ago, and the beginning of the statewide heat wave, a horde of boaters made the short pilgrimage over Cottonwood Pass to Crested Butte and the Oh Be Joyful campground. With all the east coast companies out for their yearly summer tour of Colorado, there were honestly only a handful of Colorado plates in the whole campsite. Monday morning started off in true OBJ fashion with the biggest 4x4 jeep in the whole campground having to be pulled out of the river at 8:00 in the morning. For those who happen to be unfamiliar with OBJ, shuttles to the put-in are a bit of a luxury because of the required crossing of the Slate River. On this weekend, rides to the top were rarer with such high flows coming down the valley. If you didn’t make your trek across early in the morning you could go ahead and start rigging the kayak straps for a hike. And as one couple of veteran east coast boaters (who won’t be named here) would attest, you’re better off camping on the other side and ferrying over to the party, than attempting to forge after noon. Or you might just find yourself staking claim to your own private island for an evening.

Early morning excitement, with the whole campsite spectating
3 Toyotas to the rescue, good luck American auto industry

Now I’ll come clean, this was actually my first time down this gorgeous run. My friend Duane and I got lucky and met up with a crew from Denver who had been on the run for the past couple days. We were even lucky enough to have a shuttle for our first run. As kayak trips tend to go, when you’re scrambling to get on a run you tend not to be too picky about who you’re paddling with, and I’m sad to admit that I can’t even remember the guys’s names that we paddled with, but they were the best guides we could’ve asked for. Only taking a quick glance at Avalanche, the 60-70’ slide, just so we knew what we were getting into, we were in for a rollercoaster ride of a virgin run down OBJ. If you’re a competent class V boater and you have a solid guide you may really enjoy this approach as I did, but don’t ever feel pressured to run something if you’re not sure of your predicament, and if you get hassled by your fellow boaters they’re not people you want to be boating with anyways. But I’ll admit, and I’m not trying to sound like some cocky POS, but running OBJ Falls blind at good flows might be about the best way to do it if you struggle with the nerves. It is definitely one of the best 20+ footers to truly dial in your boof. It is one drop that’ll make you work for a solid boof, as I found out the hard way, multiple times. Chase Nobles, gettin on the goods for his first time as well

Shane Benedict, I think he's done this before

OBJ Falls, mmm...tasty

Run number two I found myself paddling with the Liquid Logic crew of Shane Benedict, John Grace, Adrienne Levknecht and Dagger paddler Pat Keller. With the first run going by in a flash it was nice to have another guided tour and really start dialing in the lines. I took my last run the next day with Demshitz and Todd Baker. There was a little hole surfing action to be had in the bottom of Avalanche but all around everyone styled it.

Dave Fusilli, splitting wood on Ankle Breaker Falls

Team Demshitz and CKS Squad member Nicole Mansfield gettin rowdy on Avalanche

Demshitz paddler, Grahm Seiler working hard to avoid the hole on Avalanche

This report comes from about two weeks ago and the word on the Buzz is that the wood damn at the base of Avalanche has partially blown out and is now ready to turn the unwary paddler into a human shish kabob. So, be careful if you’re making your way out to OBJ anytime soon and check out the Buzz for updates before you commit a weekend to this Colorado classic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Cali Fun

A little delayed I know, but one Grand Canyon trip later here are some photo's of my last week in California. In the Kaweah drainage I finally found the California sunshine I had heard so much about. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed straight to the Chuck Kern slide and Hospital Rock run.
Nate Garcia On Chuck's slide.

Erik Johnson on the same.

The next day was high water on the East Fork. That's me enjoying Nate Garcia's dirty foot-rot post smack-down Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures of the run..

Predictably, the Kaweah blew sky-high so we began searching for anything that might be at a feasible level. After a day of refreshing Colorado-style super mank on the South Tuolumne we got word that the illusive Big Kimshew creek was in! Another burly California drive put us near the put in of one of the most amazing day runs I have ever done. Above is Evan Garcia in Big Kimshew Falls.

Evan stomping Frenchy's Forty.

Me on Frenchy's

One more run of the South Branch at slightly higher water finished of my California trip and I headed back to work.
Me boofing 99 Problems perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

Back to the Grand Canyon. Double Rainbow at Three Springs.

Back in Colorado hoping the water levels continue to cooperate until I can make it out to Cali again. Everyone who let me tag along and showed me around California. Hope to see you all again soon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

There's creeking in TEXAS!!!!

Ok, so I'll admit. Thus far it's a bit of a stretch for me to claim good creeking in Texas. But I've only been here two weeks, so I'm holding out hope. Especially after the Mank Crew claimed a first D of Bear Creek Falls this last week! Well, there may not be a ton of creeking in Texas, but my first day wouldn't have seemed right if the team hadn't almost stepped on this huge Eastern Hognose snake!

I had never seen one of these, but after a minute we decided it definitely wasn't a rattler. It looked closest to a cobra to me, but it was too fat, too short and on the wrong continent. Come to find out that Texas is apparently chock full of snakes.

And on to the kayaking....
Bret Franson took this incredibly purdy shot of my first run. It's always nice to get out with awesome photographers.

(Photo: Jessica Nitschke)
Since this was my first day kayaking in Texas and these boys brought me out with them, it wouldn't have been right to bag her first. So, here's a true Texan boy, Richard Harris, gettin' the first D!

And me following in my hot purple Villain.... yeah haw!
(Photo: Jessica Nitschke)

And another angle from Bret.
(Photo: Bret Franson)

I like the following shot because it actually shows Richard and I boofing off of a road. The rains that got this running caused an enormous flood at least 10' over our heads the previous night. Apparently, this hadn't run in 5 years or more, but when it does, it goes huge.
(Photo: Jessica Nitschke)

And I figured I'd just throw in this shot of my little girl loving the river in the safety of her PFD!

Hope ya'lls season is crushing it - I'll be making a CO cameo on the 4th of July weekend - hope to see ya!