Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's in a Sunshine photo?

It finally happened.  I sacked up and ran Sunshine at a normal flow of 100%.  It's not even close to being the most difficult rapid I've run or the most dangerous.  Not the most remote, not the tallest, not even the most challenging of that day.

But Sunshine has a mystique.  Every hard paddler has seen a photo.  A 10 foot falls that crashes down on a rock shelf, which causes a claymore mine explosion of water into the air.  There is exactly one boat-width of salvation on the left or the right.  Either direction is a classic cross current move to the lip. Losing your angle risks losing your legs.

The stories are legendary and relentless.  Millions of tales from the first D to attempts at 'gapping' the shelf and onto the discovery of the left line.  Crashes have occurred backwards, hairy side down, and pancake flat onto the anvil.   Over the years, nearly imperceptively the pillow shrank, the little wave got bigger, and the right eddy became stronger - or so I've been told as I'm no local.  The left line became the new right line.  Legends echo up the gorge and through the foliage on a summer day.

I have seen scores of paddlers fire it.  Some slick, some grating.  Hack jobs and Olympians, kids and old-timers.  Three strokes in either direction and you're a hero or a zero.  I watched, watched, and watched.  Several times I tried to force myself into the boat, only to find myself clipping the rappel rope yet again.

Finally, one day the sun was shinning, which means nothing as the drop is named Sunshine for glaring reasons.  But rather, it was finally sunny in my mind; I was smiling on the inside.  The day had come.

Your's truly

Sure, it's not the best photo.  After years of dirt-bagging photos on the blog, my wife finally surprised me with a SLR camera.  I'm slowly discovering that this shot is a little over-exposed with two slow of a shutter speed causing motion blur.  Yet it is a really neat personal photo.  It places me into the legends of the water along with uncounted others.  It's one of those photos that never get old to the people who are in them like boof shots of Double Trouble, Entrance Falls or Oh-Be-Joyful.  The photo gives a moment of pride in accomplishment and reflection on a long successful journey with rivers.  

My skills have equaled this drop for a long time.  My first Gorilla spanking was in 2004.  I had boofed my way down the Green at midnight with just slivers of moonlight in the weeks before this photo. I have been paddling class V for 10 years on three continents, 5 countries and 17 states.  I guess all of the experience gave me the patience to wait for just the right day and I was able to truly savor the flavor.  Or maybe it just makes me a pansy?  That is a razor thin line that never gets clearer with age.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Acobamba Abyss section of the Apurimac River, Peru

The summer issue of kayak session features the Acobamba abyss section of the Apurimac river in Peru.  We never did a write up on that particular part of our trip two years ago so we though we would share some pictures.  Amazing river and amazing canyon.  With Matt Wilson, Evan Ross, Ryan Casey and Ben Luck.

Photos: Matthew & Nathan Klema

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On the Road (part 1)

For two weeks I got to travel to Missoula, Montana and Cascade, Idaho. We left Salida and headed to Wyoming, where we surfed Lunch Counter. It was pretty insane! After a fun time there we headed to Missoula for the USAFK championship. When we first got there, we had to adjust to the fact that it gets dark at ten o'clock. It was pretty nice. On the other hand, the wave was changing constantly. At times the whole wave would turn green, and other times it would have a nice pile. After a couple days of training, and eating ice cream at the Big Dipper, it was competition time. The first day the junior women just receded. The wave was unattainable and after our four rides I ended up in a tie for second with Lauren Burress, but the tie broke my way, which put me in 2nd behind Sage Donnelly. The next day..... it was finals. Out of the three rides my first ride was the best. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to beat Lauren's third ride. I ended up third behind Lauren and Sage and third in the point series. It was a pretty successful and fun event!

Jackson, Wy

Lunch Counter

Lunch Counter

Willow Slide into the Clark's Fork 

Big Dipper Ice Cream w/ Kady Kellogg and Sage Donnelly 


Brennan's Wave


Monday, July 16, 2012

Mini expedition warm-up

In the amazing guidebook to the rockies (WWSR) there is a section on the back of the book that has lists of check-offs, such as best after work runs, best hike in runs, most likely places to swim and expedition test pieces.   The list consists of the best 5 runs to test your expedition skills on and consists  of:  Hellsgate of tonto creek (AZ), Black Canyon (CO), Rio Brazo (NM), Bull lake creek (WY), The box (WY).

This year was a pretty dismal snowpack for colorado with most runs not seeing enough flow to boat but lucky for me I just moved to Durango.  This year was amazing down here if you like running valliceto and pandoras box (and who wouldn't?), they were in for 3 months at great levels.  Together with being the top runs in the region in both difficulty and quality, they both make you work for your whitewater or as the local boys say "keeps the rif raf away".  Expedition boating along with great skill takes two main factors, being in shape and mental strength to paddle all day, two things living in durango with allow you to practice.

Having already completed 3 of the 5 runs on the list this year looked like the year to check em all off.  Lucky for me I was able to have a good combination of flow and access to get to the rio brazo and find another person to hike 18 miles into bull lake at high water.  And I was also able to do another run on the list (Black canyon) twice in one day and complete a 3 day mission on the north fork of the little wind.

Expedition paddling is what drives me (and lots of other boater) because it gets you away from the world for a few days and allows complete focus on just kayaking.  The list in WWSR is a great spot to look for anyone looking to test themselves and to get on the best whitewater the region has to offer.  Maybe someone can get them all done in a season, that would be fun wouldn't it.......

Enjoy some of the pics!

Tom Janney Brazo falls

Will Rawstrom hiking into the brazos

Freemont Shieds exiting the brazos canyon

Food for 5 days (note the peanut m&m's, a must have)

sunset on bull lake

deadman's lake, the putin for bull lake

Scott dent on bull lake

a family of fuzzy friends on bull lake=glad to have bear mace 

Jim Janney black canyon

Painted wall black canyon

Monday, July 09, 2012

Low water blues? Go Stand Up Paddling!

It has been a bleak year for h2o in Colorado and New Mexico. A lot of the classic runs never really had any run off to speak of. Never fear, SUP is here. Even with the low water, Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a total blast. If your running a class 2-3 drop, you will get a class 5 feeling in your gut without the consequences. Surfing waves on the river or in the playparks is a total blast. Go to your favorite lake and enjoy the quite and the scenery while getting a great work out.
Just down the road from CKS is the Buena Vista playpark in South Main. Staircase wave is a total blast once you have your surfing feet under you. For beginners, the wave just below it will give you hours of surfing bliss. All this is a blast at these lower flows. The low water class 2-3 Fraction section of the Ark just upstream of BV is a great training ground for SUP river running. A weekend spent doing these SUP activitys in BV will have you grinning ear to ear.
Top off your surf sesh with a cold pint at Eddyline Brewery and the trip will be complete.
Colorado kayak Supply has SUP rentals and all your SUP needs dialed in. Call 719 395 8653 x 2 for rental packages.
I'm loving the new wetsuit from NRS. It is priced right and keeps me warm and protected when I hit the water. Astral makes a PFD called the Sea Wolf that is perfect for SUPing. The NRS leash system works great for SUP and ocean Surfing. I'm also digging this pricepoint adjustable SUP paddle from Accent.
South Main also just finished a new Beer garden area called the Beach. Music will be had every Saturday through out the Summer. Pretty cool.
If your in New Mexico, hit up the local class 3 Racecourse run on the Rio Grande or head over to the Chama for some of the best SUPing around.
Get out and try Stand Up paddling. It is a blast. See you out there......

Aaron Koch on Staircase

Aaron doing his best John Wayne

Mariela tearing it up on Satircase

Rach and Aaron tandem surfing

Atom chillin

Atom throwing away the paddle

Praying for rain

Atom and Aaron doubling up for a surf sesh

Atom on the Racecourse, NM

Atom trying stuff

I might need to buy property in BV

Nate enjoying the Chama, NM

Nate and the Chama's beauty

Not only can Rach SUP, but she owned the Pimp and Ho party in BV

Proof that there is more than just kayaking. Josh Bechtel SUPing

Mariela showing how its done

Nate on the Racecourse, NM

SUP legend patty B!

Rach and the Sesh

Rach enjoying a longboard

Rach on Staircase

My morning view on the Rio Grande