5.25.2010

Black Rock, Gilman

Got some more boating in this weekend.  Saturday was Black Rock again, at getting-to-be-respectable levels, around 375.  All of the lines went pretty smoothly, including my second run of Rigo.  The canyon was really busy, probably due to the sunny day and good flows.

Sunday was a run on Gilman Gorge on strong medium levels, in the 450 neighborhood.  A few from our group ran Homestake Creek as a steep and somewhat manky start to the gorge.  Preston continued to have a rough start of the season with a broken paddle early on. With only a somewhat flimsy breakdown, he ended up walking the best rapids of the run.  The fall creek trio of drops was a lot of fun; I had a great line on the boof rapid (twice), and managed to get away with a somewhat marginal line on the biggest of the 3.  Only Ian ran Slurry Pipe, which had a beefy guardian hole and a junky run out.  Nice day all around.  The in-between stuff on the run was a lot more fun that I had remembered, and everything turned out to be a little more forgiving than it looked.

5.22.2010

Prijon Pure First Impressions

I've spent a couple of days demoing a Prijon Pure, first at Confluence Park through some pushy eddylines, then on the Black Rock stretch of Clear Creek at low flows (275 cfs).  As for background information, I weigh around 175 lbs, and past creekers include a Perception Phat, Dagger Nomad 8.1, and a Liquid Logic Jefe.  Most of my comparisons will be relative to the Jefe especially, since it was my most recent creekboat.  Note that the Pure is longer than the Jefe, but has a similar volume (assuming that the companies calculate their volume similarly, which is doubtful).  My favorite style of boating is IV+ to V- boulder gardens, with the occasional big (to me) drop thrown in for good measure.

Performance: the Pure feels like a sports car.  Between the Nomad and the Jefe, I always felt like the Nomad was better in a straight line but hard to turn, and the Jefe was turn-ey but didn't have the same ability to hold a line.  The Pure is faster than the Nomad and turns quicker than the Jefe.  I still need to get used to all of the speed it carries.  The chines make eddy turns snappy, as long as you use your hips.  The combination of nimbleness and speed rewards someone who is paddling hard, but I think you can run into trouble if you're not paying attention, needing to throw in a big draw or rudder in order to correct a bad line and work against all of the speed.  Likewise, the edges can get caught in eddylines if you're not actively driving the boat.  Because of the speed and agility, I don't know that I'd recommend the boat to a beginning creeker, since I think the boat will punish you if you enter rapids without driving the boat where you want it to go.  If you decide where you want to go though, the boat GOES.  

The boat boofs well, and the big upturned bow gets on top of the water quickly.  Though I'm near the middle of the suggested paddler weight range, I had a fair bit of boat out of the water, and rode high for the most part.  The boat seems to have more rocker in the water than it does on photos; on flat water the tip of my bow was probably 3 inches out of the water or so.  A little bit of boof stroke goes a long ways.

The bow and stern are both slightly peaked, which makes resurfacing and rolls easy, though I haven't rolled it in heavy whitewater yet.

Design/Build:  One of the big reasons I was interested in the Pure was the plastic.  Blow-molding makes a much more durable boat than rotomolding, but the molds are expensive and it takes the blow-molding companies (Prijon, Eskimo) a long time to recoup their costs on a boat. As a result, most blow-molded boats on the market are a few years behind the design curve; take a look at the Prijon Hercules as compared to the Nomad.  The Pure is the most modern blow-molded design.  It has no pillars, which makes it comfortable and easy to load for overnighters.  The plastic is tough, and warrantied for 5 years.

Outfitting:  Prijon took pains to make the outfitting easy to adjust, and used a lot of moving parts to do so.  The backband is the standard snowboard-ratchet setup found in many modern boats, and works fine.  Hip pads are held in place by a ratchet system as well, which seems overly complicated, and which I'll probably replace with foam and duct tape.  Knee/thigh braces are comfortable and adjustable.

The footbrace system is particularly complicated: the brace slides forward and back on metal railings that move freely and are attached to the sides of the boat.  It's held in place by a 2" piece of webbing on each side, which is slack when you're out of the boat, and tightens against the pressure of your feet.  You can easily adjust the position of the footbrace by tightening or loosening the webbing straps.  The downside is that the whole system feels loose in the boat, is overly complicated, and is topped off with an aluminum footbrace, which feels heavy (though tough).  I'll likely try replacing the system with the guts of a Nomad, ad I don't need to adjust it once I have the footbrace where I want it.

Overall: At my weight and ability level, the Pure is the sportiest boat I've ever paddled, and I think it will perform well if you tell it where you want it to go.  It's my new creekboat, so look for another review down the road after I get a better feel for its performance.

5.18.2010

Esca

Loading up for the drive to the west slope

Escalante Again

Got another weekend in at Escalante.  This time around we had a little less water, but we were still on the good side of low.  I got one lap in on Saturday, and two in on Sunday, hitting the inner gorge (minus the falls) all three times.  The inner gorge was quite a bit easier than I had expected, though I think the lower flows were somewhat responsible.  We had a couple of swims at waterslide again, which seems to be racking up some victims.

There were probably 20-30 boaters on the water over the course of the weekend. We camped with about 15 of them at a big campsite, which was a lot of fun.  It seemed like one person from each small group knew someone else in another, and so on.  Rainy weather on Saturday, but a 75 degree bluebird day on Sunday.  Aaaand I'm sunburned.

5.12.2010

Escalante

Had a really fun weekend out at Escalante last weekend.  Escalante is really the beginning of the colorado boating season.  It's a desert run out by Grand Junction in a beautiful sandstone canyon, which contains a more intimate granite (I think) canyon.  The upper canyon is full of class IV, with a couple of V- drops to keep things interesting.  Then, if you're feeling saucy, you can run the inner gorge, which contains a couple of unportageable, soft-ish Vs and Escalante Falls.  I didn't fire up the gorge last weekend, but if I go back this weekend it'll be on my list if I'm feeling good.

The camping and weather were both beautiful.  We had a couple of swims in our group the first day, but nothing too major.  I felt good on the first day, and great on the second day; on day 2 I was right where I wanted to be in all of the major rapids.  The water was medium on Saturday, and medium-high on Sunday.  Lots of plastic in the canyon, but we managed to get on the water early on Sunday, so we were even home with daylight left.  Hope to get back this coming weekend.  Photos coming soon.

5.04.2010

More Spring Training

Got in a little more spring training, this time in the playboat.  The playpark at the confluence is only about 4 minutes from my house, handy since I forgot my drytop when I headed over there on Sunday.  The park was at a decent level, with a couple of fun, bouncy waves to be found.  I could use a little more roll practice, but I kept a dry head both days due to the lousy water quality.  Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the creekboat next weekend.