Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A little 801 Love

For the past few weeks there has been a rare abundance of boating in Utah. The Weber river rose up past flood levels, peaking at about 4800 cfs. For those who don't know - that's a ton of water going through the 'mighty weber'. Between and around the electric cow fences and low bridges, the Weber has a few good runs including some class II - IV. At these high levels especially, a wave on the Weber gets to be really good and we call it Riverdale wave. It's pretty easy to find all you have to do is take the 'Riverdale Rd' off I-15 and find your way East to a little parking lot behind the trailor park. Here are some pictures from my times at the wave, including friends, my parents, and fellow CKS squad members Haley Mills and Mike Tavares,who stopped on their way to Reno:

Me (above), my old man and my mom (below)

Haley Mills and Mike Travares layin' some treats (below)

Local paddler Craig Waddell and Billy Bob Malesky (below)

The next time you'll hear from me, I'll be in Reno, Nevada for the annual River Festival! Wish me luck!

West Coast Waundering (Part 2) Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek was the last stop on our paddling fiesta of a spring break. For a glimpse at the first part of our trip go here. After a 9 hour push from the Cal Salmon to Hood River, Oregon Leif Anderson, Natalie Kramer and I pulled over for the night and caught a few hours of sleep with dreams of Metlako running through our heads. After a rainy night we woke early and were ready to get after the day’s mission.

Assessing our food stuffs for breakfast you could tell we probably needed to get home soon. After a delicious breakfast of cold tuna, hot sauce, and macaroni sans cheese, we were ready to move on to bigger and better things. We met two other crews at the put-in and planned on meeting them up the trail. We geared up and set off on what would become the most enjoyable hike I’ve ever taken. Carrying your boat for 4 miles isn’t really that much of a chore when you’re engulfed in a big beautiful dynamic landscape. Gorgeous cascades, stunning views of the canyon below and the ultra-scenic footbridges crossing side tributaries made for a pretty easy going trek.

An 8 foot Fluid Solo for scale, simply gorgeous. photo: David Schmitt

First look at Metlako. photo Leif Anderson

Skoonichuck was our first test, and when I say first I mean it was put on, float 20 feet and be at the lip of the waterfall. The drop itself is around 40 feet into a small pool followed by a 10 foot boof. We all decided to fire it up. After leif went off the second drop backwards and I chose to perfect my roll to boof technique Natalie took the cleanest line award on our first drop of the day. We worked our way downstream through pristine basalt gorges that were out of this world. The hike up may have given an incredible view of these gorges below, but on the water they became a kayaking sanctuary.

Leif on Skoonichuck! photos: Natalie Kramer

Basalt gorge bogey water. photo: Leif Anderson

A few fun read-and-run boofs later it was time for round two, Punch Bowl Falls. The other two groups were either taking their last glances at the lead-in, or already waiting at the bottom when we pulled up. The creasing lip on this drop makes it a little more challenging, but all in all our lines came out great. All it took was a little speed to ride up on the pillow and one steady sweep stroke into a tuck. I popped up in the pool below to find everyone beaming ear to ear. With the adrenaline still flowin we paddled downstream to the take-out before the big boy, Metlako Falls. Five of us decided we were in, Leif, Natalie, myself and the Montana boys Jared J. and DJ Stoneman.

Punch Bowl scout. photos: Leif Anderson

For those unfamiliar with Metlako Falls, it is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the U.S. Its height has been debated from 80 to 100 feet. It’s enclosed nature has made it a little difficult to get a true measurement. I don’t claim to have the best eye for measuring waterfalls but I’d put it at about 85 feet. Really it’s neither here or there, it’s a big drop, but one of the most beautiful out there. If in some twisted way you can consider throwing yourself off a huge waterfall “easy” then Metlako is probably one that is. The lead-in to the drop is “relatively” simple; just line-up downstream, in the center of the channel, and paddle slowly into the lead-in sloping chute and away you go. The key is “relatively”, running big drops is a serious undertaking and takes a cool head. Free fall in general, let alone in a kayak, is not a natural feeling for the human mind or body and takes sense of very acute control. Knowing that this is what we signed up for we all headed downstream.

Aside from the thought of the upcoming falls I really can’t picture a more serene setting than the float into the inner sanctum above Metlako. Sitting in the pool above the drop is a feeling of nervous tranquility that can’t really be put into words. We waited for a while to make sure our cameras got into place and then started discussing the inevitable…. “so, who’s gunna go first?”. Well, long story short, as all of us guys made dumbfounded faces and tried to come up with the best excuse, Natalie made sure we knew how big of pussies we all were. She said something along the lines of, “You all are acting like a bunch of little boys” and then peeled out of the eddy and out of sight over the lip. Well like any little boy who’s just been taunted we hid our shame, buffed out our chests and showed that we weren’t chicken. Leif went after Natalie, followed quickly by DJ and Jared. Bringing up the rear isn’t the most fun, 1st off you don’t get to see everyone else’s runs and 2nd it can get real lonely real quick at the top of a big drop, so much so that talking to yourself is actually pretty reasonable. After a minute or so in the eddy I finally got myself together and went for it.

85 feet is a long ways, the second or two it took to reach the bottom were undoubtedly the longest of my life. I made sure not to tuck to quickly after separation from the lip but even then I found myself having enough time to peek halfway down and specifically remember thinking “am I there yet?”. Well pretty quick thereafter my question was answered. Apparently I went a little over the handlebars and was immediately ejected. The group in the eddy said my boat flew about ten feet in the air when it surfaced and I believe it, it came off fast that’s for sure.

After a cooldown swim to the eddy, I caught my bearings and realized that Jared had got ejected too. Leif and Jared had also thrown there paddles which were still missing. Natalie, who’s skirt imploded was standing on the bank watching the junk show, while DJ wrangled paddles and gear. It was actually a bit comical how misconstrued we all were, but overall we were fine and overwhelmed with excitement. I had to take a moment in the midst of the pandemonium to look up at Metlako. Between emotional relief and the cascade that thundered before me I was in a state of sheer euphoria.

Leif, chucking the paddle on Metlako. photos: Maddy Niermeyer

Eagle creek is unlike any place in this world. It’s a site that has to be witnessed first had, whether you kayak it or not. It draws you in deeper with every bend in the trail or horizon line downstream.

Spring Again!

There’s nothing like spring, when the water runs high and the rivers become alive again, the re-birthing of the world and warming of the days, bringing flow, to the world’s veins.

As May comes around we look forward to a new season ahead, but for me its closing down a season in Chile and starting a new season in Colorado.

Working as a safety kayaker on the Trancura River in Pucon, Chile is great you meet so many kayakers from all over the world, that just come to huck the amazing crystal clear waters of the Palguin, the must run of the Nevados, or the boulder fields of the Puesco. Pucon is an amazing place to work, live, and go boating. I have not seen winter in 4 years because I have been working in Chile. But this year in Pucon I will never forget it. Looking up the canyon walls on the Nevados, and Running the 70ft on the Middle Palguin for the first time, or the multiple laps on the Upper Palguin with some escudo at the end! Great Memories, good friends!!

Mi hermano peridido Carlos and I after a trip on the Upper
always my pleasure to work with him

"Feo" Upper Trancura and Volcano Villarrica in the back, Best view in Pucon

"Ultimas Sonrisas" Upper Trancura Pucon Chile

"Salto Colilaco" great park and huck

"Must run" Rio Nevados

Throwing my paddle on the 70 footer Middle Palguin
using NRS propulsion gloves to throw my paddle and roll up with ease

Represent RMOC from Chile

But as the seasons change and the snow starts to melt I look forward to being back in the Arkansas River valley. I miss play boating and can’t wait to go surf around the state at all the good man made features with of course the occasional creek stop. I am also looking forward to teaching kayaking again, at Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center where I work as an instructor. To teach someone something I love so much, and to watch them succeed in kayaking is something that I cherish. But the place to find me is in the Salida WWP in my green Jackson Superstar surfing the main hole going big! So I hope to see everyone on the water, have a great 2011 season, stay safe, y buenas lineas!!

Come on out, get wet, and learn to kayak with us at RMOC!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back to Norway

This will be short because my arm is broken. One week to go in the cast and I am chomping at the bit. I hope to come charging out of the gate with a rowdy run down the Pilar stretch on the Rio Grande.

This season I want to get back to Norway, back to my roots. We moved to the US shortly after I was born. I have lived in 4 different countries and 8 different states in the US. Norway is definitely one of the most amazing destination kayaking places in the world: spectacular scenery, free camping everywhere, super friendly people, and the steepest rivers out there.

These pictures are from a more recent trip where a couple Kiwi buddies (Eden Sinclair and Jonathan Ramsey) and I spent the summer kayaking.

My best advice for a trip. Fly into Germany, buy a car, load it with alcohol, and drive into Norway. Alcohol and cars are brutally expensive there.

A few shots to set the scene
Photographers: Jonathan Ramsey & rkelly

And on to some of my favorite rapids and rivers...

Kayaker: Eden Sinclair
Photo: rkelly
River: Brandelselva

Kayaker: Claire
Photo: Jonathan Ramsey
River: Finna River

Kayaker: Jonathan Ramsey
Photo: Eden Sinclair
River: Randalselva

Kayaker: Eden Sinclair
Photo: rkelly
River: Austbygde

Kayaker: Eden Sinclair
Photo: Jonathan Ramsey
Sjak Wave

Kayaker: rkelly
Photo: Jonathan Ramsey
Money Drop

Kayaker: rkelly
Photo: Jonathan Ramsey
Flemming Fossen

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Pole Pedal PADDLE!!!

The pole pedal paddle is a yearly event that embraces both winter and summer activities; it means the end of ski season but the start of kayaking and mountain bike season. Our team was the only junior team in the race. So all we had to do was finish and we would get first place.

Start of the Race


Finishing the ski leg


My math teacher Bechtal and his skier

End of the biking leg

Start of the Kayaking

End Of Kayaking

Earl Richmond

My Team From Left Cody Johnston(Biker), Evan Schehrer: me (Kayaker), Ethan Coit(Skier)

Overall, the race was great. Jessie Richter won again for his seventh repeat in the race, and our team had great time of 3 hours and 21 minutes. I would also like to thank Mike Harvey for letting me borrow the plastic slalom boat, otherwise I don’t think the creek boat I was going use would have been that fast.