Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ashlu - Box Canyon

On Joe's cue I thought I would post up some more pictures of a run of the highest quality that is still flowing just fine and likely will until the first snowflakes fly. One might even say this run inspired my motivation to leave the high desert that is Colorado for the land of plenty of water and mushroom foraging if you're into that sort of thing. The Box needs no introduction if you paid any attention to TRL the past few years and while its dammed and it breaks my heart every time I see the lake when the box is flowing (read most weekends in (April/May/August/September) its still as good as it always was and as a consolation we know have a gauge for the run so we know when to stop drinking our mocha frapachino double tall skinny latte and go kayaking...Enjoy.

The opener 50/50. From my observations the double waterfall is more like 30/70 in the less desirable direction.

This guy should teach a boof clinic for RiverWrangler

The preferred outcome to Kernage

The less preferred outcome to Kernage

Entrance to the second canyon and cross current boof bliss.

The Green may run 300 days out of the year but you don't get views like this the Southeast

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Finally Kayaking (off)Season!

As many of you loyal Colorado Kayak Supply Squad blog readers may know, I missed nearly all of the now legendary Summer of 2011 kayaking season.  I was stuck in Texas.  I know, you just threw up in your mouth a little and I'm sorry too.  But I must have built up some pretty good Karma somewhere because I now find myself in a place that I have always wanted to be for a year.... The South East!  

Now is my time to gloat because as you all sink into winter, I'm going to provide you with some impetus to get off your booty and go exploring during Colorado's off-season.  We're just warming up down here.....

After unloading, but not unpacking all of the boxes from our moving truck, I did what any legitimate creeker would do.  I loaded up the wife, dog, tent and paddling gear for a journey directly to Green River Adventures where I picked my very own Green River Access Key!  
$60 entitles you access to the Shit, year-round!

And the beauty of the Green became mine.  Sunshine, big boofs, warm water, and a ridiculous number of rapids deep in the Green River Gorge.

Gone Left, without dying even!

 I know, I know.  You have read about the Green.  You have seen pictures of Sunshine and Gorilla and know they run 300 days each year.  If you haven't been here you still can't appreciate how good the Green really is.  There are still so many rapids and great boofs that people don't take the time to photograph.  The depth of the entire gorge and the thick foliage are impossible to adequately capture on film, but I'll try for a few shots.

Mmmm....sorta reminds me of California - relaxed 8 foot boof.

The Groove Tube.  Definitely one of my favorites.  First you disappear, then you fall 10 feet.

The Southeast is of course home to many of the best creekers the world has known.  I pretty much only hang out with the sickest, like Pat Keller and Toby McDermont.*
*Pat did not know I took this photo of him at Sunshine and has no idea who I am.  I did give Toby a shuttle ride once and I think he even drank one of my PBRs.  
Sunshine and clear water heading into the Factor

A smooth ride through the Hammer
One of the possible alternate lines at Hammer Factor
Looking down into the sweet sticky goodness of the Polk County Welcome Center

So there is another taste of the off season for all of you jonsin' Colorado kayakers.  Be sure to get out and get some paddling done this fall and winter!  I plan to keep assailing you with Southeastern classics, so you'll be really aching if you don't.  The Russell Fork is this upcoming weekend, Gauley after that and the Talluah Gorge following.  And those are just if it doesn't rain!

I did manage to get one photo of me in Colorado this spring.  And sure enough, it proves once and for all that I do have 3 'o's in my booof!  Furthermore, this shot also proves that if I had been able to make the Race then the Buckle would be inscribed with Huckin Duckie.
Kirk, a fellow SE boater and last year's winner, agreed that this stroke alone would have guaranteed a win.   Also note the awesome CKS stickers!

And I leave you with a great parting shot that you will have a hard time finding in Colorado....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grand Canyon Kayak Trip, 2011

Two years ago a was lucky enough to be able to be a part of a trip down the Grand Canyon with a a group of German Kayakers. This group/school/club/team came over to experience one of the greatest river runs in the world and I was hired by Arizona Raft Adventures to be a safety kayaker/instructor for the group. They had such a great trip in 2009 that this year they came again and I was lucky enough to be along in the same capacity.


More Surfing

The group contained the full spectrum of skill levels, from expert expedition/creek boaters to play-boaters and racers to some who had been kayaking less then a year and were just solidifying their combat rolls. It was great to be able to share one of our greatest rivers with them and see everyone support each other as they learned how to boat in class III big water.

Flatwater Games

An extra bonus (and challenge at times) was that we had some extra water this year. Because of complex water law and politics, the storage systems between Lake Mead and Lake Powell were going through "equalization", giving us a constant 25,000 cubic feet per second. This was about 10,000 cfs more then normal summer flows and the flows on their last trip in 2009. The surfing was not quite as good overall as in 2009, but being able to see the canyon and its rapids at this water level was a treat.

Basalt Rapid

The S-rig rafts carried our gear, beer and all the food and equipment for the trip and all we had to worry about was kayaking all day everyday for two weeks and then eating good food and visiting some side canyons and waterfalls when we took a break from the water. We worked on surfing, squirting, rolling and how to read water in these kind of conditions. Everyone helped and learned how to rescue others.

Yes, that is all beer.

A lot of them were intimidated at first but everyone rose to the challenge and made big strides in their boating. I remain convinced that a Grand Canyon trip is one of the best ways to progress from a class III to class IV boater. There is nothing like spending that much time paddling in relatively safe, but challenging conditions to make you feel more comfortable in your boat and with your roll.

Granite Falls

One of the other highlight was being able to paddle some of the tributaries. It was good to mix things up and get some micro-creeking in for the better paddlers to contrast the river experience.

Tapeats Creak Gorge

Tapeats Creek Gorge

Havasu Creek Fun

Beaver Falls, Havasu Creek

At any water level Lava Falls is amazing, but at 25K it was awesome, especially the crashing wave/hole that was the ledge hole. It was a great way to spend two weeks of the summer. Forgetting the outside world existed and just concentrating on helping people progress their boating, getting some good surf, and playing in the big water hydraulics.

Jens finishing off Lava Falls

24.5 mile rapid

Matthew Klema

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Middle fork of the San Joaquin, Devils postpile

I was lucky enough to get a week of from nursing school in the end of august and some how the middle kings and devils postpile were still in a good 1-2 months after normal, we had all done the middle kings so we decided on the postpile (I had done part of it a few years back but had to hike out, but tyson and rolf hadn’t done any of it). Driving out from Denver I picked up Tyson in salt lake and then we rallied out to sac to pick up Rolf and rallied up to Mammoth to get a few hours of shut eye.

Day 1

We were lucky enough to get a shuttle set up from a local climbing shop that ended up saving us 10+ hours of driving. We got dropped off in the national monument and began hiking down to beautiful 80 foot rainbow falls around 9am (if you can try and get into the park before 7am so it wont be open=less hassle). Putting on to a creek with about 150 cfs on it we paddled for about 30 minutes before starting an hour and a half portage on river left around some serious mank/sieve piles. Putting back in we were greeted by great low volume boulder gardens for a few miles before we got to the first gorge. The gorge started with a few marginal drops that get run but that we decided to leave for next time due to limited safety options. Lower down in the gorge we got to run some fantastic drops in the locked in gorge. Below this gorge the river opened up into some great slides for about a mile before dropping into another gorge. It was getting late so we decided to camp early at an amazing camp spot (something that was a constant throughout this trip).

The team (Me, Tyson, Rolf) at rainbow falls happy for an adventure

Rolf on our putin drop

Me on a great triple drop

Tyson on the same

Rolf riding it out switch

Rolf on a great slide in the first gorge

Tyson on a big drop in the first gorge (the pothole above this is scary)

Looking upstream from our camp

A downstream view

Day 2

We got up pretty late after a cold night of good sleep and didn’t put on until late morning. The gorge below our camp was short and sweet ending in a great 20 footer. The next few miles were mostly class 4-5 boulder garden read and run rapids until we got to the start of the boof-a-matic gorge. This gorge contained one unscoutable and unportagable rapid that we had good directions on from Kevin Smith. The highlight was a 40 foot sliding falls called boof-a-matic falls, after that I was able to scramble up to the gorge rim and get a look down on the last few drops that looked pretty full on but I thought we could run them. When I got back to the group I gave them beta and told them we could all go scout if they wanted but they said that I looked to nervous for them want to scout it. The last two exit drops were pretty full on but went relatively well but could be a bad spot to make a mistake. After the gorge we took a nice long break and watched a bad ass helicopter pilot get water out of the gorge to fight a fire in the fish creek drainage. After our nice break we ran a few more miles of great rapids before finding a nice campsite a few miles above millers crossing, we got to sleep early with our minds on the crucible that we would be paddling the next day.

Tyson happy to be on this side of that hole

Tyson dropping into a sweet slide

And in the runout

A badass heli pilot showing off

Rolf boofing

Rolf riding it out

Rolf on another fun one as Tyson looks on

Day 3

Getting up a lot earlier we were on the water by 9 am making good time through an amazing gorge with great read and run class 4-5 before making it to Cassidy crossing around 11am. Below the crossing we began making numerous portages in pretty gorged out conditions for the next few hours before making it to the crucible proper. We were able to do some friction climbing and get a look at the first two drops but we couldn’t see the last two rapids of the gorge. It is a very interesting feeling doing a run where you know that your going to have to run rapids without being able to scout them, this was the situation we had put ourselves in and it had me pretty scared dropping in. Once we were locked into the gorge below it was all business and all of my fear melted into concentration. The third drop of the gorge is the crux drop of the gorge, we knew that we could run the double drop right-right but that it pushed into a sieve just downstream. We had been told that a middle-middle line came in a higher water but we were having trouble seeing the second slot that was in the middle (most of the water was going left into a sieve) finally I got close enough to the lip that I could see the middle slot and went for it, we all ended up having great lines and were glad to be below that drop. The last drop of the crucible is a 15 footer into a pothole I set safety as Tyson and Rolf ran the drop, then portaged the drop in the middle due to a lack of safety from below. Below the crucible granite creek plummets a few hundred feet off the canyon walls into the river and we took a long break to soak in this amazing place. Back on the water we boated for another hour or so before setting up camp on a huge gravel bar. We wondered what the next day would be like thinking that there wouldn’t be to much more and that we could make it out by early afternoon (we were wrong).

Portaging our way closer to the crucible

That pool is only 4 drops away but feels o so far

A beautiful falls on granite creek

Our camp fire and sunset

Day 4

We got up early yet again and were on the water by 8 am, starting of with some good drops with a few portages thrown in we made it to the south fork confluence in a few hours. Taking a break we decided that we wouldn’t be too long from the bottom, but below here the portaging became more complex and more frequent. Our moral kept getting lower and lower as we kept portaging finally getting to the lake at 6 pm, our hopes of finding a ride out were dashed when we realized how late it was. We paddled across the reservoir in 2-2.5 hours and made it to the boat ramp just at dark.

Rolf loving life after a portage

Rolf on a great boof

Looking down into more gorges below the south fork confluence

Driving back to sac we didn’t get to an airport hotel until 2am, just in time for rolf to get a few hours of sleep before his 6am flight back to the real world and his job. This run is an amazing adventure in every imaginable way, great rapids, huge gorges, scary portages.

Here is a short video I put together of our trip:

Devils Postpile of the middle fork of the san joaquin from Tom Janney on Vimeo.

For a great write up and of course great pictures go to Darin McQuoid’s site: http://www.kayakphoto.com/darinmcquoid/middlesanjoaquin.html he calls the run the hardest multi day in cali which I tend to agree with.