On the bright side, it sounds like there may be a trip being put together for Thanksgiving, and if I really work at it I may be able to sneak away for a regular weekend. Stay tuned.
My new Shuttle.
The big waves on Lake Michigan. Windy as all hell.
D-Rad's still life from our Canada trip.
Me on the big-ish wave on Pipe Creek.
Zach on the pipe creek wave.
Zach sticking his roll. Woot.
This is a dam/ledge combo that we looked at for awhile. There was a line down the right hand side of the double-drop, but it required some cross-current speed and a boof at the end. I would have given it a run if I had my creeker with, but I didn't trust the Kingpin's speed or ability to get out of the significant hole at the bottom. Next time.
The weir half of the drop, along with a pensive Zach. Fortunately, he is using proper scouting posture, with the hands tugging down on the PFD. Well done.
Saturday morning we paddled the Lower Gualey, a Class III big water run where a good time was had by all. The weather was cool but clear, though a little windy. It was a good run, though I was excited to hit up something a little more challenging the following day.
That night my sleeping situation improved, and I managed to snag a spot on the floor of a hotel room. Much warmer.
Sunday morning brought on the Upper Gualey. The Upper is a legendary run and a Southeast classic, with five big, pushy rapids, Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, and Sweet's Falls. I was a little nervous about the run, since I had heard lots of talk about it, but in the end it wasn't nearly as challenging as I was expecting. I had good lines on all of the major rapids, and only flipped on Pillow Rock. Some of the smaller unnamed rapids in between the big guys still had some bite to them, but our team managed all of them without too much trouble. Al swam below Sweet's Falls when his backband slipped on him, but fortunately he wasn't pushed into the surging, rocky slot benieth the falls.
Hopefully some photos and video will be forthcoming. As for now, it's time to blow the dust off of the old creekboat, as next weekend it looks like I'll be off to the Green Narrows.
I took my first tour of the East Race Whitewater Course in South Bend last Wednesday, and I loved it. I'll be headed back tomorrow. The course looks like a cement ditch, which I suppose it is, but the features, especially the V-Wave, are great, especially considering the lack of gradient. The main features have push and size that I didn't expect after paddling at Wausau, and it's amazing to have something like that 12 blocks or so from my house. I'll definately be becoming a regular in the very near future.
I may have to try slalom paddling once I’m in South Bend; it looks like fun and a good way to become a better paddler.
I hadn't done river runs in awhile; it's been mainly play or creeking for me lately, so it was a nice change, with some good river play features on the way, including a nice loop spot on the upper dells on the Wolf. I ran Horserace on the Pesh 3 times; the first 2 with enders and rolls near the bottom (once doing a crazy kickflip thing just over one rock that would have tried to crush in my skull). The 3rd time was a charm though.
All in all, a good weekend of solid warm weather boating. Hopefully there's more to come.
Paul, John, Chad, Erik and I headed up to the Cascade this weekend. It was running at -12, a good level for us since none of our group had run it before. When we setup our shuttle we ran into John Alt, Jason, and Cliff, and we paddled the river with them. Good thing too, as there would have been a lot more scouting without them. I ran Hidden Falls, which was great; big fast line, and I ran the whole thing cleanly. I think it put a hole in the bottom of my boat though, as things got pretty wet in the usually-dry Phat, and when we took out at the end of the day I noticed a 1/4" crack under the seat where the plastic was wearing thin. Boo.
I screwed up the next drop, Discretion, flipping about halfway down the slide onto my back deck. Since the jagged slide only had a little bit of water flowing over it I had to protect my face with my paddle and my hands; breaking the paddle but fortunatenly not my fingers. As I lost one of my gloves a couple weeks ago my hands took a beating. I brought my split paddle, but as I was digging for it the inside of my boat got covered with blood from my torn hands.
Back on the water, a little shaken, I followed the rest of the crew down the Cascade. It was a great run; lots of fast, curvey slides and fun Class IV-V drops. Everything was pretty bony; good for a first run. We took out above the Cascades of the Cascade, and then John and Jason ran some of the entry drops through Chastity. Hell of a run.
We drove back to Jay Cooke to camp. It was raining and apparntly my tent was no longer waterproof; when I woke up in the morning my feet were in a pool of water. We grabbed breakfast at a cafe near Carlton and then ran the Lower St. Louis. It was a good run; everyone had clean lines through Octopus, and Fin Falls was a blast. We then decided to run The Wall, which was a mistake. The long, technical, bizarre rapid which spread out over 100 yards from bank to bank, was extremely shallow, resulting in hang-ups and pins at every turn. We had to scout often, knowing that there were a couple bony 15 foot falls that wouldn't be any fun to go over blind. Eventually we made it out though, and shouldered our boats for the long hike up Oldenburg Point.
It was a solid weekend overall, giving me a good taste of Class V paddling. Too bad it was so hard on gear though.
We then paddled down and portaged High Falls (unrunnable), then got to Two Step, a set of two waterfalls around 10-15ft apiece. Zinger ran the top step sideways and backwards and hit the bottom hard, pitoning in the pool below. The rest of us walked the first step, though Zinger and I ran the 2nd. After a little more paddling we walked The Cascades (also unrunnable) and ran down some more boogie water and some other fun ledges to the take out in Lake Superior.
After camping at Embeck Campground (on the Baptism) and feasting on veggies and steak, we embarked on Sunday for the Poplar, which runs through Lutsen ski area. It looked good to go, so we ran the boogie water and small ledges leading up to Bialek's Surprise (IV-V), a long slide into a hole at the bottom. We scouted it and ran it, and then went into the fun Class IV canyon below. Aaron swam after one tricky ledge, but we got him reunited with his boat in short order, then ran the rest of the ledges and boogie water to the take out.
In front of Bialeck'sSafety at the bottom of the slide
John and I hadn't had enough, so we did a quick second run of the Poplar, bombing everything without scouting, which was a rush when we hit the big slide and the technical rapids below it. Then it was back to the Baptism for a short run from the put-in to Ilgen; we passed 2 separate groups on our way down as we boat-scouted what they were looking at from shore. That was it for the weekend; they headed home while I waited at the campsite for another boater who didn't show, then headed back to St. John's. A great weekend all around, aside from the wrist gasket on my drytop which tore, but that's a small price for running the biggest falls I've ever done. Not only that, we got it on film
Then I continued north to the Lower St. Louis; sort of the standard advanced boater run in the state. I scouted the whole thing, then met up with Paul, John, Aaron, and Walter for a run. John locked his keys in the car, more on that later. The run went well, though we portaged the lower tier of Octopus. When I scouted it earlier I didn't see any lines that I liked, and the group agreed. The last set of drops near Swinging Bridge were fun, though Walter took a swim below the 2nd ledge. We had a solid rescue though, and swimmer, boat, and paddle were all recovered.
Zinger joined us once we got off the river, and we called AAA to get John's car unlocked. At the same time my car snapped its alternator belt. Boo. We camped at Jay Cooke, and in the morning tracked down belts and bolts for my car, but decided to forgo fixing it until after paddling.
We ran the East Branch of the Beaver; a really fun run with a set of three IV-ish slides not too far past the put in, some great boogie water, and then a set of three big falls. The first looked runnable, but the 2nd wasn't, and since they weren't too far apart we ended up walking both of them. We ran the 3rd though, a really clean 15 footer with a deep landing. A little more boogie water lead to the take-out and the end of a great run.
The rest of the group went farther up the shore, but I decided to limp my car home, since I had to be back for family stuff on Easter Sunday. My car didn't make it though; just before Duluth she gave up the ghost. AAA saved the day again, and I was towed to a repair shop where they replaced the belts, and I was on my way once agian.
I hit the Kettle last Saturday at high water (4,000 cfs). It was real big, real pushy, and real cold. A number of my paddling partners opted out of the main run to surf the green waves at the bottom. I played the big holes and got some good rides. I was in on a rescue too; we got the swimmer to shore before the next dangerous feature (Teacher's) but didn't manage to save his boat. I almost ferried out to go after it until I realized I was in the last eddy before the 3/4 river-wide, chunky, sticky hole that would have kicked my ass. Met some good people though, and ran the river through Triple Drop, which was a solid Class IV at that water level. I got stopped in one big hole and power-flipped a few times, but I kept rolling and eventually worked my way out. I was pretty glad I worked that off-side roll in the off season. Everything else was gravy, and it ended up being a pretty fun 5 hours on the water.
I paddled Sauk Rapids yesterday and today at 17,000 and 19,000 cfs, respectively. Yesterday I paddled on my own for about three hours, though it's getting high enough where I was a little nervous trying to hit loops and blunts since it was pushy and I forgot my skull cap, so each roll ment a wicked ice cream headache. Today there was a good crowd out there, and I stuck some cartwheels and some loops. I even settled a debt of $35 from a year ago, since I owed another paddler for a helmet but didn't see him before I left for New Zealand. It was a great day though, and I had a few of those moments coming down a wave or sticking a loop where I was just like "woo hoO!" Fun stuff; I'm headed back there to meet up with some people tomorrow. Then I'd like to hit the creeks this weekend, but Courtney is coming up from California for the weekend and I figure it would be bad form to go off paddling for the weekend.
There was one point that was almost spiritual, though I hesitate to use that word. Anyway, things really seemed to fall into place.
Since Hoffman and I are both storing our wet gear here, my room is starting to smell like wet neoprene and polypro. Oh, and I chipped my paddle yesterday. Boo.
Rain today, and I'm heading to Saulk Rapids tomorrow, then maybe the Kettle Sunday. I'd love to head to the UP for some creeking, but our road trip to Notre Dame on Sunday prevents me from doing so. Oh well.
I've also been in the pool quite a bit, working on flatwater moves and teaching half a dozen or people or so to roll. Things are going well, and we should have a few new paddlers once things start to warm up.
I also made it to my first Rapids Riders pool session, which was a really good time. It was nice to get into some warm water and see some familiar faces and work on my rolls in my Kingpin. I want to have my off-side roll 100% and to have back deck rolls by the end of the winter. My off-side is almost there; one more session and I should have enough muscle-memory to roll on either side without thinking about it. The back-deck is coming more slowly, but since it's a completely different motion I'm not too worried.
Should be a good spring.