Monday, August 29, 2011

Fist of Boof - One Day Wilderness Checklist

One Day Wilderness Checklist

with photos from some of the best wilderness day runs of the year


There might be a thousand ideas out there about what the cutting edge of our sport is, but I don’t think there is a ton of debate as to where the soul of our fine sport lies. I believe, without question, that it lives on wilderness rivers. It’s not about the difficulty, the craft, the length or the gradient. It’s the incomparable feeling of freedom while floating through a canyon that has escaped the long reach of civilization, the clutching hands of “progress,” the fate of too many rivers worldwide.


ES Harris Creek put-in, Vancouver Island - photo Todd Gillman


When you embark into these special places for a day of freedom here’s a list of what EXTRA to bring:


1 breakdown paddle per two paddlers

2 throw bags per paddler, at least one of substantial length (75’ or greater)

1 first aid kit per two paddlers

Sample contents: Gorilla Tape, gauze, super glue, ibuprofen, Benadryl

1 emergency extended stay kit per paddler

Sample contents: Cliff bars, Lara bars, lighters, fire starter sticks, bivy, dry layers, water purification tablets

1 repair kit per two paddlers

Sample contents: bituthene, Gore-Tex patch kit, needle and high tensile fishing line

1 basic pin kit per paddler

Sample contents: 3 carabineers, 2 prussics, 1 sling

1 full pin kit per 4 paddlers

Sample contents: 4 carabineers, 2 tiblocs or acenders, 2 slings

1 water bottle and water purification tablets or 1 filtered water bottle, per paddler


ES, Laramigo River Canyon


What most of the stuff on the list is for, should be fairly obvious, but you may be wondering about a few things. In the first-aid kit the Gorilla Tape is for everything from attaching a stick as a splint to a primitive band-aid. Super glue is for stitching without stitches and Benadryl is for allergic reactions. Take a wilderness first-aid or first responder course and decide for yourself what is most important to bring and how to use it.


Freddy Gnarquist, Harris Creek - photo Leif Embertson


In the repair kit, the bituthene, otherwise known as “ice and water shield” is for patching your boat. In the Gore-Tex repair kits there will be a patch and some sun curing Aqua Seal, which allows you to quickly repair a drysuit or drytop. The Aqua Seal can also be used in combination with the needle and fishing line to repair a skirt. If you don’t know what the stuff in the pin kit is for, it’s time to take a swiftwater rescue course here.


Nick Wigston, North Saint Vrain


What you wear becomes more important on a wilderness run and should even be considered a part of safety precautions. Dressing warm is almost a necessity even when daytime temperatures are hot. The water is generally cold and when the sun goes down, or hides behind some clouds, the temperature can plummet in a hurry.


Temperature plummeting in a hurry, ES, Christopher Creek, AZ - photo A. Woody


Think about wearing some of the equipment on the list, so that if it’s your boat that’s pinned you still have a pin kit to work on getting it out. The Astral Pouch bag, or a waist throw bag is great because you never have to remember to grab it when you are portaging or chasing your buddy downstream. It’s never a bad idea to have some food tucked away into the front pocket of your PFD for emergency walk-a-bouts and carrying your pin kit in your PFD could save you from having to embark upon said walk-a-bout.


Proper footwear means that your shoes are not only good in the water and comfortable in your boat, but that they are tough enough to portage over rugged terrain, sticky enough to grip polished wet rock, and comfortable enough to walk multiple miles in. A fuller coverage helmet, Kevlar skirt and a rescue pfd are also recommended.


Austin Woody, Harris Creek - photo Todd Gillman


It is important to choose the right boat for the job. Selecting the right boat for the difficulty level and the extra gear you’ll need to carry will make your experience safer and more enjoyable. The boat your most comfortable in is usually the best. When in doubt take the big boat.


The new Liquid Logic backband makes it sure a lot easier to get all this stuff into your boat!


Knowledge of the details of a run is another essential component to successful wilderness paddling. Bringing maps of the area is always a good idea, but at the very least a pre-run map consultation is a necessity. Understanding where escape routes are, which direction the river travels in at easily detectable landmarks, and where the closest help might be could save someone’s life, including your own.


Wilderness rivers require an ability to detach one self from the conveniences of everyday life and to be prepared for the wild. It’s not too hard, and most of all it simply requires experience. Going with experienced wilderness paddlers is a great option for novice explorers, however new to wilderness paddlers can, and should get out on their own in small groups, but just at moderate difficulty and remoteness levels until they are comfortable.


Cutch, Big South


Finally, exploring wilderness runs requires a strategy. Putting on a wilderness run with people you don’t know requires a pre-trip meeting to share knowledge and discuss communication techniques, boat scouting and expectations. Nick Wigston wrote a great article on river running strategy which you can find here. Many paddlers may not have thought about river running as having a strategy but there is a fairly universal set of tools that experienced paddlers who’ve never met before will still be able to use to communicate and run a river effectively and efficiently. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, grab the list of ingredients from the beginning of the article, read, understand and share Nick’s article with your crew and get out there and dive into the soul of river running.


Mummy Range, Little SF Poudre

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gore Canyon 1650

Gore Race is the final "real" kayaking that I get in the season. It is a weekend packed with excitement, where people come from all over to celebrate a great love for the sport of kayaking. When I was told that the Gore Race was cancelled this year due to high water I was devastated. But I decided to go to Gore anyway and it was really fun. We met lots of other people who had come to run the river, which was at a sweet level, even though the race wasn't on. I ran (or tried to run) the left-left line on Gore rapid for the first time and wound up face surfing in ginger (much my happiness it was not a very long surf and I didn't have to swim). Anyone who is in CO next August and wants to run an awesome river and meet some psyched boaters should check it out.
video



Gore Canyon 1650

Gore Race is the final "real" kayaking that I get in the season. It is a weekend packed with excitement, where people come from all over to celebrate a great love for the sport of kayaking. When I was told that the Gore Race was cancelled this year due to high water I was devastated. But I decided to go to Gore anyway and it was really fun. We met lots of other people who had come to run the river, which was at a sweet level, even though the race wasn't on. I ran (or tried to run) the left-left line on Gore rapid for the first time and wound up face surfing in ginger (much my happiness it was not a very long surf and I didn't have to swim). Anyone who is in CO next August and wants to run an awesome river and meet some psyched boaters should check it out.
video



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Royal Gorge

3 day, 30+mile trip down the North Fork of the American River in California. Some highlight pictures are below. The video can also be viewed above.

http://vimeo.com/27816625">Royal Gorge on NF of the American from http://vimeo.com/user3727198">Rolf Kelly on http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.


Scott Baker on perfect 20


Havier Engle on Wabina Entrance


Rolf on Rattlesnake


Andy Blakesley on twisting 20

Havier Engle


Kiwi on Heath 1







Monday, August 15, 2011

Cascade Idaho (way late)

This year my brother and I got to take a trip out to Cascade, Idaho for the Kelly's Whitewater event as well as the USACk national freestyle event. We went for my brother more but I tagged along for the ride. It took us two days to get there. And we stopped in Boise to see the blue field.

We got there and got our hotel room which was about a block away from the whitwater park and pretty much everyone was staying there in a room, or in a tent. I got my gear unloaded and headed over to the park. The water was so warm! The feature was nice and easy, besides the one up above which had a good wave on river left, but a pretty meaty hole on the right. The girls and cadets got to have the competiton in the friendly hole and everyone else was up above.
I have been working on loops all year and was hoping to pull one off in the competion, but that didn't happen. I was bummed, but every competition I get super nervous and nothing seems to come togther. Though every comeption I always had people giving me tips on what I should do better. (Thanks guys!) I ended up placing second out of three in the cadets. The whole trip was a blast! It was great to hang out with everyone. The lodge had a pretty awsome game room! I met new people and was able to paddle in the warmest water Iv'e ever paddled in.



My brother didn't place so well in the KWP event, but ended up second in the point series behind Dane Jackson. We watched Halo Effect and hung out before heading home the next day. Definintly one of the best trips of the summer for freestyle!



































































































Monday, August 08, 2011

The Garbarator




SLAP! My stomach drops out from under me as I fall. Before I even realize I'm falling I hit the water hard, tumbling completely out of control like a rag doll in a washing machine. I bounce around forwards, backwards, sideways, upside-down, clinging to my paddle, half blinded by the foam. Then forward stroke and rudder- I'm in a semi-controlled front surf. The water flies under me at what looks and feels like a zillion miles per hour. Part of me is screaming "Get off the wave NOW!" but another part is thinking, "OMG, this is the craziest, wildest, most fun ride I have ever taken!" I lose control again and flush off the wave. I roll up and immediately want back on. I eagerly wait in the line-up. Thus goes my first surf of Garb.







That was two days ago. Today I, and the rest of the Keeners, spent an hour and a half surfing it at prime level. Every time I peel out of the eddy with apprehension, looking over my shoulder and leaning into the curler, then waiting for the entire foam pile to crash down on me. I'm in and going for an insane ride. I bounce around in the wave, maneuver towards the curlers that bring me to the top of the foam pile, and then drive/fall down five feet. Today I fell on my left edge, was thrown up into the air as I simultaneously transferred my edge and threw the bow under me into a massive air blunt. I stuck it on the wave screaming with joy and adrenaline. That blunt saw to the achievement of one of my two main goals of my time with Keeners and was one of the most fun things I have done in my time on the Ottawa.

Ottawa River

Last week was packed with fun, exciting, and wild adventures with the Keener program

on the Ottawa River. We began by meeting 19 new people from around the world and giving ice breaker speeches. Monday and Tuesday were spent getting to know the Ottawa and our fellow Keeners. Wednesday rolled around and we raced down McCoys and then had a no skirt race down the Lorne, which resulted in quite a few swims. It was insanely awesome. Then, it was Thursday. I was terrified that morning because Thursday is Big Water Beat-down. We ran through Phils (a very large hole/wave on McCoys) and then I went for a couple of surfs in left side (the more mellow side of Phils).



















Hand surfing Left Side



Later we ran the boof on the Lorne. To my amazement I did not get chundered in either, and Thursday is now my favorite day of the week! Friday was competition day and half of the Keeners went to S-Bend hole and had a super low key competition in the most encouraging atmosphere on the planet. Over the weekend some of us took first aid and paddled in our free time. Today I participated in a swiftwater rescue course and got some good re-cerc time in the boof on the Lorne. It was actually not scary and felt pretty much like a water/amuesment park ride or a Jacuzzi. I have never been this tired in my life, but rarely in my life have I been this excited for upcomming adventures.


















Surfing Big Joe on the St. Lawrence, Lachine rapids

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

4th of july in Feather Country

Its been a bit since our quick trip out to California over 4th of july this year. We had a huge crew of 9 out there for a 3 day weekend. We were originally planing on the royal gorge but flows were still a bit too high, so we settled on starting the trip out on big kimshew creek. We didn't end up getting shuttle figured out and getting up to the putin until noon, we decided with such a big group that we should pack for an overnighter in case we didn't move fast enough. We ended up making great time down the classic run and made it to the takeout about an hour before dark.
The crew hiking down the cali slabs
Getting western
Sean lee firing up big kimshew falls
Ross Herr on big K falls
the 20 footer below the big k falls
Andy Blakslee on frenchies 40

From Big kimshew we decided that we would stay in the Feather area and hit up the devils canyon on the middle feather. I had done this run 4 times before this and ensured the group that we could do it in a day and a half. We put on at 1 or 2 in the afternoon the first day and mad bombing commenced, I only had the group get out and scout one drop the first day. We stopped after about 5 hours of boating at an awesome beach camp about halfway through the run.

Great beach camp

The next day we got up early knowing we had about 5 hours of boating and that a lot of us had flights to catch. We continued our quick pace and only scouted a few times the second day as we made our way through the devils canyon. This run is so amazing, it is 35 miles of class 4-5 boating with only one real portage that gets run at lower water. Due to some work being done on the milshap bridge our shuttle drivers had to take the long way and come in on river left making for a long bumpy shuttle. We raced to the airport and just made our flights home, the whole time thinking of when we could return to feather country.
Sean Lee scouting in the devils canyon

JJ getting pushed around in helicopter

Here are a few videos that Sean put together from the trip: