Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Beauties, bootie beers, boofs and bros - the SE Wrap-up

It's been one hellva great year and change.  True, I didn't complete my Southeast tick-list, but a lot of it got ticked.  And I still have a CO tick-list after 13 years of boating.  I guess I just never will get enough paddling done.  Well, I just wanted to post some of my favorite shots from the year and give a shout to the homies who made it awesome:

I gotta start with one of my OGs, Eric.  He was one of my original paddling partners from my first days.  Day one of his paddling career started off in Cataract Canyon where we told him that if he could knock-out 100 rolls in the four days of flat water, then he might survive the class IV rapids.  He made it without a swim!  His triumphant return to the Southeast from CO occurred right in the middle of my time here and it was a blessing to get out and charge with him again!

Eric toobin the Green!

Early on, I spent a lot of time scoping the Green putin for potential paddling partners.  I was lucky enough to find Katie in need as well one sunny day.  Her and Zac will make the next generation of River Gypsies.
Katie likes it Horsey-style

Speaking of the Gypsies, Leland and Andria are still living large.  It is so much fun to see what a life-long paddling career looks like.  Thanks for introducing me to the joys of Fall Dam Boating - I'm addicted.
Leland is still Climaxing

After my soft year in Texas, Jim Janney was so kind to help me back in hard-man's class V. It is hard to catch a good photo of him not because he doesn't fire huge, but rather because he's always rallying off to fast to focus the camera.  I still need more of the West Prong and Raven Fork, so I hope to find myself at his house in the rain again soon.
Jim: N. Chick

This year I was able to wet the appetite of my very favorite River Betty.  Her shuttling skills, while not quite professional like Justin's wife Lori, have become polished.  She's also paddled down the Gauley a handful of times and lit up Bayless' Boof.  Her tick list includes the forks of the Salmon, Rogue and Deschutes.  
Jess representing for the CO 

The 'rado boys showed up to the party as well.  Alex Clayton was first, but we took all the shots with his camera, so I don't have any.  Justin convinced Lori that they should 'vacation' in the SE this fall:
Justin redeeming his frequent flier miles
My other boys rolled out for Gauley season.  Joel just couldn't miss the Green while I was SE livin' and Mother Green didn't disappoint.  We got a spectacular 200% day and Joel got the joy of just rolling Hammer Factor - blind.  "You only get one shot to run it blind" - DD
Damn fine Mank Crew!

One amazing aspect of paddling in the Southeast is the quantity of stellar kayakers.  Meeting big names in the kayaking industry just requires showing up at the putin.  If you want to paddle with them, just pick up the phone and ask.  Toby MacDermontt started by bumming shuttles from me, but by the end he'd shown me the Linville, Horsepasture, and a 200% Gorilla.

Having all of these phenomenal paddlers around also really opens your eyes to exactly what is possible in kayaking.  I watched Pat fire up a new line on Oceana, tail squirt the Triple Crown in pitch blackness, and launch a monster monkey boof backwards while 'racing' the Green.  Dane rock spun the left line at Sunshine.  Lil' A charges so hard that it's nearly impossible to keep up.  I'm just here trying to make the 'classic' class V lines look good.
I've got this shot of Pat at 1am as well.  It was a little to dark to post.

Snowy is the all-around funniest guy I met.  Who'd have thought that a Brit would know the best Mexican food in the Southeast?

Lil' A fighting Gravity

I met Scott Peaches while he was crankin' his Masters in Fort Collins.  He then moved to Disgusta, GA for med school and I followed for my program.  We were able to get out and get the charge!
Pinballin' around the nation

And in the end, there was the Green Race.  It is one of those pieces of paddling lore that I just had to play a part, even if minute.  You can catch the Huckin' Duckie Cape in its full glory here at 3:50 (filmed by Pilot Collective Media).

Cheers to all you boofers out there!  Looking forward to sharing an eddy with you soon!  The Mank Crew over-n-out to the Pacific Northwest via Kiwi land!
True to the 'hood

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greg Parker's Year In Review

My 2012 goals were as follows...

1. Complete 2 months of strength training so that I am ready for the competition season.
2. Top 3 finish in a professional event.
3. Experience 3 personal first descents.

This past year marked a big change in my life.  As the kayaking season was approaching, I was finishing up my first year of teaching as a Physical Education teacher and was going to spend my first summer as a full time resident in Colorado.  I had spent the past 6 summers living and teaching kayaking at RMOC in Salida, but this summer was going to be different.  I would still be receiving paychecks throughout the summer, so I didn’t have to work which would mean more kayaking in more places... or so I thought.

Unfortunately, there was no snowpack in the mountains.  We all knew it was going to be a low water year, but nobody could have predicted how bad it really was.  I remember checking the gauge on the Arkansas on a Monday in early May.  The level has spiked up to 700 cfs.  I had missed the first weekend of boating, but thought it would just be the beginning.  Little did I know, the Arkansas would not hit 700 cfs for the rest of the season.  As a result I didn’t experience any personal first descents.

2012 Events

In February I started a cycle of p90x.  My goal was to complete 60 days, but I was extra motivated and I stuck it out for the full 90 days.  I was strong and was ready to start training in May.  The problem was that there was no water to train in and I went to my first event after just 1 hour of kayaking

1. BV Pro Rodeo- As the bell rang on my last day of teaching for the 2011-2012 school year, I jumped into my car and raced down to Buena Vista.  I was pre-registered and placed in the last heat, so I could make the event if all went according to plan.  I arrived in Buena Vista 30 minutes before my heat, so I had just enough time to get into my gear and take a couple practice rides.  Needless to say, after a 8 month hiatus from kayaking, I didn’t do so well.  I think I finished 11th, just missing the semi-final cut.

2. Teva Mountain Games- After a few more days in the kayak, I was ready for the next event.  I paddled well in prelims and semis and made the final cut to for the first time ever at Vail.  It was exciting to paddle in front of such a big crowd and I was happy to stand on the podium (I was really just next to it) and to cash the 5th place check.

3. Lyons Outdoor Games- Lyons has always been a friendly spot for me to compete.  I paddle well in the hole, there is a slightly smaller field to compete against, and it has a general calmer feeling especially when compared to Vail. I felt great during my rides, but was just squeaked out of finals and finished 6th.
4. Fibark- Salida was my last chance to make a top 3 finish on the year.  I was hopeful that the water level would peak and Salida would be at a great level for the competition.  Instead, I arrived at a small stream with hand piled diversions dams to direct the water over the playspot.  I am accustomed to paddling in these types of features, but not in Salida.  I had never seen the Arkansas so low.  This spot truly was a challenge and I was surprised we could score such high rides.  I managed to finish 5th place.

5. Nationals at KWP- I thought Fibark would be my last event of the year, but I wanted another shot.  I had paddling well all summer, but couldn’t get my top 3 finish.  I drove to Idaho on Sunday night and had 5 days of training before prelims on Friday.  This was very interesting to me, because I went through multiple stages of training for an event.  Typically I arrive on Thursday and compete on Friday which doesn’t leave much time for  training.  In Idaho, I got used to the feature, mentally scored my rides, learned new tricks, mentally scored my rides, changed how I set up to go faster, video taped my rides, scored my rides on paper, edited a video of an “ideal” competition ride, visualized my rides, took a rest day, and then practiced my rides with a timer.  It was fun to work through the process and I could see drastic improvements as the week went on.  On Monday I was getting trashed in the hole and on Friday I was scoring 800 point rides which were good enough for my best finish at Nationals- 7th place.

After Idaho, I made a trip to Glenwood and then it was time to put away the kayaking gear.  I was only mid-July, but the water levels were so low it made Colorado boating nearly impossible.  Instead, I switch my focus to climbing and relaxing before the new school started.

2013 Goals

1. Have more fun and less stress at competitions.  For years I have set a goal of finishing in the top three at a big professional freestyle event.  I would still like to achieve this goal, but I am realizing that it may not be possible unless I am willing to make certain sacrifices.  Years ago I thought about these sacrifices and I made the choice to have a “normal” life that involved kayaking as opposed to a kayaking life.  I decided I wanted the “normal” life because it would be more balanced and therefore more sustainable.  I am happy with my decision, but am learning that I need to accept that I may never be on the top of the podium.  
2. Have a memorable experiences on the river.  Much of my recent kayaking history has been dedicated to training.  I playboat to learn new tricks and to train for events.  This is fun and I enjoy the challenge, but I want to step back because kayaking has more to offer.
3. Create Anybody Can Kayak! River Running.  My dad and I are thinking about creating our fourth kayaking instructional video.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Get the Buzzz back!!!

It has been a rough year to be a Colorado kayaker.  I know. I was there back in 2001 or was it 2002?  I'm still trying to block it out of my memory.  Yet, I'm still heartened to see on the Buzz that people got out and crushed it anyway.

So this post is going to be for those of you who may have forgotten, just a touch, about how unbelievable kayaking is.

Remember the first time you stuck the hell out of a scary rapid or big trick?  John Pilson explains the physiology:

Nailing the left boof at Double Trouble gets me every time.

The Buzz is unreal.  Sometimes after a big day on the river, I'll be driving home just jittery with excitement.  I just can't wait to get back on the water.  Rapid lines will day-dream through my head all week.

Motivation can be lacking.  The Green is 3 hours from my house and the closest goods I've got.  But I have never regretted a single day on the river.  I wrote that last sentence on this very blog, years ago and it has held true every river day since (although I don't know if my wife would agree?).  Speaking of my wife, she has notices every week whether I've been kayaking or not.  I am more upbeat, positive and generally excited about all things when boatin' is part of my weekly routine.

What else can I say?  Some people like kayaking.  Joe looooves kayaking!

Enough of that sappy BS.  What you all need is some stoke to get you talking about your winter paddling trips!!!!  How about this shot of the original doublet, as in The Toby, finishing off Staircase on the Horsepasture:

I think you can call this a Grip of Waterfalls

Everyone in the kayaking community is discussing the treatment of our ladies.  Well, here are some photos of ladies laying Treats!
Lil A' slaying you Marginal Monsters

Taken on the class V Horsepasture... does it get any better?  Katie D

Shannon following Toby down the Stairway to Heaven

Some have suggested that I might be able to take the ladies division this year at the Green Race, which is a compete fallacy.  I couldn't beat her if I was in front of a Duo with her steering in the back.
Gravity cravin'

The prettiest Janney getting out of the Drunk Tank
And there you have it.  Some killer chicks from the SE!

'I love kayaking!!!!'

Rainbow Falls

If I'm gonna post photos of kayaking chicas, I better post shots of their husbands golden stroking:
Now, as you all know by now, any blog post originating in the Southeast must include gratuitous photos of the Grandaddy Green.  Has anyone ever told you that this diamond gemstone runs 300 days/year?  Get out here EVAN STAFFORD!!!!  I'm starting to consider the very real possibility that Evan's nerves have gotten the better of him?
A little 2hunge flow just Left of Death
Our boy Justin caught the plane flight:
That looks like an awkward feeling on the way to a first Triple Crown.  (Justin Merritt)

Parting Shot:
Justin riding the lightening!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Little White and the Colorado Fall Blues

Given the exceptionally dry weather in Colorado this fall and little to no great kayaking opportunities, here is to thinking about the next kayaking trip.  Little White Salmon, March 2012 with Ben Luck and Louis Geltman. Lots of water, lots of wood, lots of sunshine and a whole lot of good paddling.

Nathan & Matthew Klema

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bailey Fest 2012

I've been attending Bailey Fest since it started 3 years ago.  Every year once it's over I leave thinking that it couldn't be any better, and every time I come back it's even rowdier.  Bailey is a class 4+ 5- run. Bailey Fest is a class 5+ party.  It gets wild.  This year there were 4 kegs of Oscar Blues beer at the put in party and camp area and 40 cases of Oscar Blues beer at the take-out extravaganza.

If you go to Bailey Fest you can enter a number of competitions for prizes.  This year I entered the world famous foamie race and won an awesome IR fleece. The grand prize was a Jackson Zen.  BBQ from the local restaurant Hog Heaven for the party at the put-in as well as a hang over breakfast in the morning. At the party Saturday night, they premiered my movie Unlimiting Factor which was really cool to see projected on the big screen.  I made a short edit from Bailey Fest. Juice Sauce.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Upper Upper Cispus

Late August in the Pacific Northwest really means one thing for local paddlers... It's time to make the yearly trek to the Upper Upper Cispus. Most everything around has long since dried up and summer is coming to a close. Just as you find yourself looking ahead to the rains of November. Wham-o, the UUC drops in and we're all treated to a few weeks of summer time steep creeking.

The run itself mostly consists of class IV - V boulder gardens intermixed with some smaller slide and falls. This all changes and the bed rock begins to creep in as you approach the lower gorge. Approx 3 miles into the 5 mile run.

The crux section of the run consists of a steep and powerful boulder garden in the bottom of a vertical walled gorge that is directly above the lip of a 30 foot waterfall called Behemoth. The boulder garden itself isn't too difficult, but it certainly has a class V feel to it with the big drop just down stream. Adding to the suspense is the fact that the entire series is must run and it's fairly difficult to get out of your boat after running the gorge. Go with someone you trust and be prepared to run a 30 foot drop without a scout.

Directly below Behemoth is a sticky 6 foot ledge with a nasty hole on river right. If you run the big one correctly, 90% of the time you're going to end up gutting the worst part of the 6 foot ledge. Paddle hard!

After the sticky hole there is a big pool and everyone has a moment to catch their breath before dropping into the last series. This quarter mile long boulder garden is as good as it gets. Stay right the whole way and keep boofing.

Then entire series combined has to be one of the better 1/2 miles of white water around and something that shouldn't be missed if you're in the Portland/Hood River area at the end of the summer.

I snapped the following shots a few weeks back and have been back in the past two weekends as well. Enjoy.

Cruise Control scouts the Put-In Falls - This drop is a mere 200 yards below the launch.

Headed down

Melting the Put-In Falls

John Edwards on the same drop.

Typical boulder gardens on the upper 1/3

The right line at Island - Boof Early

Dan Rubado finishing off the right line.

Island from below

And again. The bottom hole can be munchy.

That's me running the lead-in to Behemoth

And.. Clawing my way out of the hole right above the lip.

Looking back up the gorge - Standing at the lip of the falls.

It's hard to get out of your boat at the lip, but manageable with the right ninja moves. - Scouting

Looking down into the final boulder garden

Brooks Foster gutting the ledge hole below Behemoth

Cruise Control on the big one.