Wednesday, July 16, 2014

White Salmon is the place to be! Spring 2014

The constant view of Mt. Hood from White Salmon! This picture was taken off my front porch!
As 2014 ushered in yet another great year of life, I fulfilled a long time goal of mine and moved to the town of White Salmon, Washington in the amazing Columbia River Gorge.  Change is the only constant and this year I chose to concentrate my paddling rather than running around looking for lots of  variety. However, the quality and variety of the Columbia River Gorge are unmatched by any destination I have traveled to in my kayaking career. Not only does it have the best river in the world, The Little White Salmon, but there are so many quality runs and amazing waterfalls this area boasts! Moving to town I found myself surrounded by the worlds best paddlers. Whether they lived there themselves or they were just passing through for a short stay, the presence of this elite crowd is unmistakable! The best thing about this is these are my friends, my motivation, and best of all my community! To run with the wolf-pack on this level is a unparalleled opportunity and undoutably I am a much stronger paddler for it1 I have found home in The Gorge!

Oh no! We ran the Little White too much and missed the flow on the Stout! Get it next time with Kyle Hull and Eric Parker.
I am more happy with life right now than ever! I have strengthened my mind through doing what I want with out exception and I feel that those around me are stronger for it! I have been eating healthy and truly feel this is maybe the base of success as good fuel in equates to good energy out! Through constant activity and stretching I feel more in tune with my body than ever and see the importance of this practice for future longevity of my active lifestyle. I feel more spiritual than ever but could never be farther from typical religion and philosophy. I take what I can from the two but at the end of the day I inherently know what is right and true and I strive to live a life of honesty without regret! We can learn the most through observation and connection with nature!

Running Spirit Falls on the Little White is Spiritual! Here I am in the L-Dub race - shot by Wes Schrek
The Little White Salmon is a blessing beyond compare! (Maybe the North Fork of the Payette) This river flows for the majority of the year but for those that choose to paddle it regularly above the level of 4ft truly know of what a valuable asset this river is to the world of extreme kayaking. I am not trying to be cocky and elite but this is the SHIT! I ran this river 85 times this year finding myself hucking Spirit Falls 70 of those times. I couldn't get enough and best of all it was only 15 minutes from the house to the river. Most days we would run the river twice, once in the morning and then again in the evening. I have a fond memory of one day when Mike Peacher and Myself ran the river in the morning, returned home and put a leg of lamb in the oven, went back to the river for another lap and returned home to cocktails and a perfectly cooked leg of lamb - Damn that's Lifestyle!

Kyle Hull, Todd Wells, and Yours Truly headed out on one of the many waterfall missions! We be going to Church!
Toketee Falls is an amazing destination and has been on the top of my hit list for some time now. It is an elusive waterfall as it is very tricky to find the right flow window. We made multiple attempts at this stout before the stars aligned for us to run it. It was super cool to have Chris Korbulic with us on the huck as he made the first descent a few years ago and even cooler to see him reunite with his stout amongst a rad group of 10 paddlers! We sent the beast and then headed to close by hot springs for celebration! While in the hot springs, half the group decided it would be a swell idea to camp out and send it again in the morning! And thats just what we did!

Eric Parker had a Jah line!
Geoff Calhoun was stoked on all of the waterfalling  the PNW has to offer!
Fred Norquist had a sick waterfall season as I saw him stick it every time! Way to shred!
Fred lovin some Toke-tree!
Oh Yeah! Got it! This was my second lap on the falls and it was Titz on Ritz! Shot by Geoff Calhoun
Eagle Creek seems to be a staple these days of people trying to go vertical in The Gorge. I am not a super big fan of the lack of control it takes to run Metlako Falls and the attitude of less experienced paddlers flocking to this destination but it is epicly beautiful and I definitely had to get a slice of the pie for myself! I believe baby steps or running waterfalls in increasing ten foot intervals, such as starting at ten, twenty, thirty, forty, etc.. is the best way to approach the waterfall realm. And really I feel there needs to be a movement back towards hard rivers with big and challenging whitewater- Truth!

 Clay Lucas getting steazy on Punch Bowl Falls
Metlako Falls and Eagle Creek are a beautiful place to visit! It is the number one spot that kayakers in White Salmon take girls on dates! Either that or they borrow the duo from Rush and head to the Lower White Salmon! More Ladies need to move to White Salmon! Plenty of eligible young men! 
Graham Seiler looking good going down the gut of Metlako Falls
Outlet Falls is maybe the best waterfall I have found and ironically it ran for a solid five weeks this year! I mad four visits to the stout. Outlet was high on my hit list and it felt really food to get it checked off! This waterfall is only 40 minutes from town and saw a crazy amount of descents this year! One notable day it was running real juicy and we had an epic amount of media including the Shifted Cinema crew operating RC helicopters through the gorge. Six of us stepped up this day and I was one of them. I ended up having a sick line and am pretty stoked to see the final edit from Substantial Media House.

Fred Norquist rolling in hot!
Fred Norquist on one of his many laps of the stout!
Hannah Kertesz bagging the second female descent of Outlet Falls.
Galen Volckhausen slaying as usual! This kid needs more props! Amazing talent!
Seth Stoenner waterfalling with snow on the ground!
Yeah! Thats me peeling out of the elusive eddie for one of the biggest boofs of my life! Yep thats right my first lap was a boof!
Having a sick line on this one!
If it looks stylie thats because it was! Stoked on this line! Pat on the back!
James Byrd getting buck! I really like this shot!
High flow and Ben Marr was the only one to catch the eddie on this day!
Hesh Master Kyle Hull spreading his wings!
Todd Wells - not scared! Straight product of the PNW!
Galen has sent this thing so many times!
One of the gnarliest drops in The Gorge is Upper Bridal Veil Falls and this year it saw a few descents. Notably it took strong man James Byrd out of the equation for a bit. It was sick to see him make a quick recovery and get back to his bad ass self.  This drop is a major tourist attraction and an easy 40 minute drive from White Salmon! Props to Kyle, James, and Galen for firing up the beast this year!

The bottom drop of Bridal Veil is run pretty often but the top is  around 70ft  with a kicker flake to reconnect at the bottom! Stout drop!
A glimpse of Galen flying down Upper Bridal Veil
The New Jawn Stout was the new new shit in town this year. First descents still to be had , even in The Gorge! Funny fact of the matter is that it was named something totally different to begin with but it didn't stick. Funny man, Graham Seiler, called it the New Jawn and before you know it, everyone was calling it the "New Jawn"! Makes no sense but many things that Graham says make no sense and we all just go along with it. The Shifted Cinema boys also made it out to this drop and grabbed some sweet Heli shots.  It is a pretty unique drop as it stands about 60 ft tall with a reconnect a little over half way down.  It also has two mining cables coming out of the falls, one of which lies in the flow, a bit concerning to the kayaker looking for a clean line!

Chris Stafford on the New Jawn!
Eric Parker grabbed this sick shot of me firing the New Jawn!
Amongst other notes in the Gorge this year were many super high descents of the Wind River. I showed up not knowing the full extent of how awesome this river could really be! I was apart of the group that bagged a 11.5ft descent and can't wait for my next chance to get into this high water extravaganza! The river at this high level was comparable to the N.F. Payette but more constricted. Super powerful and absolutely no place to swim! Pretty wild to have such a high water river amongst all the steep creeks and waterfalls.

Super stoked to have been published in the first two issues of Kayak Session for 2014 spring and summer. Thanks to Eric Parker for the shot on the left from Fantasy Falls in California and Barney Young for the shot on the right from the Kokatai River in New Zealand!
Here is a short video the boys at Shifted Cinema put together of our huck on Outlet Falls and New Jawn! Look for more to come in the upcoming PNW edit from Substantial Media House!

Kayaks, Waterfalls, and RC Helicopters - Behind the Shot with Shifted Cinema from Shifted Cinema, LLC on Vimeo.

Here is a link to one of my previous blog posts on the PNW:

This Spring was my best yet and I have fallen in love with the PNW! Best spot to be a kayaker in the country! Feeling so strong from it and amazed at the quality! I have since moved to Idaho and am currently sessioning hard on the NF Payette. I am not seeing as many rivers this year as years past but damn it feels good to ware out the best ones I know of!  Truthfully I am seeing more Class 5 than ever and am able to push myself harder as quality oozes from the Little White and NF Payette!

Jah Bless to you - my rad community of beautiful river people!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mexico 2013

In the beginning of November I traveled to the notorious whitewater town of Tlapacoyan in Veracruz Mexico. I found an amazing accommodation at Aventurec and will definitely be returning for future missions.  I knew the area had high water and figured I would be able to get a variety of water levels. The water stayed high for the duration of my trip and did not allow me to tackle some of the stouter drops I had my eye on. 

Bloodied by a swinging GoPro! Pretty much the last time I wore one!
Hucking San Pedro in flood! Pic by Seth Ashworth
The area was beautiful with quality bassalt canyons running through lush rain forest.  The waters ran brown and high and I constantly heard stories of normal lines buried beneath an extra six feet of water. I enjoyed the cultural experience and have taken many mental notes and am ready to return and crush. Luxury logistics and hucking to be had in the Alsaseca drainage!

Jake Greenbaum is a pretty good kayaker! 
Jakub Nemec on San Pedro
Mike Peacher through the tree on San Pedro
I love the Nomad 8.5 in the creek! I can maneuver this boat so well in the steeps!
It is way better to be friends with the police than enemy! They were stoked to watch the Gringo's huck!
Greenbaum heading for a hole. Typical filled in high water line. 
Yours truly sending!
Routed this drop blind on the Upper Jalacingo and was reminded of the first time I ran Wet Willy on the Raven Fork! Super steep and then it just kicks you out at the bottom!
Greenbaum taking it down the gut! This actually ended up in a super scary swim where  Jake experienced some serious downtime!
A view from the bus!
Phillip looking at a much higher than usual San Pedro! The lip filled up and added at least 10 feet to the drop - Pretty Wild!
Damn! Life as a Myan must have been Crazy!
We had plenty of water!
Two thumbs up for the Alsaseca drainage! I will be back!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Saturday, December 21, 2013

California in the Fall - Festivals, Fun, and Granite

Summer/Fall hangin out on the granite beside the play wave on the S.F. American pic by Nate Calhoun
I have been hanging out in California for the last 5 summers and every year I seam to make my stay a little longer. This year was no exception as I first arrived to Cali back in April not to leave until the beginning of December. The scene is laid back to say the least. Hanging out in the Coloma area I was able to surf on the South Fork of the American and soak up sun rays on a daily basis.  California also has 4 annual races held on some of the dam released sections that flow in the fall. The festival/race season starts with the Cherry Creek race. Will Pruett took first place at this years race and tied the course record- congrats to Will!  Note - this year we were forced to relocate the party shortly after the race due to the Rim Fire that would eventually become one of the worst fires in California history. The damage from this fire will have a big impact on the 2014 whitewater season in California as access to Upper Cherry, West Cherry, Middle Cherry, Cherry Proper, South Tuolomne, and Clavey will not be available due to park closure.  

The Rim Fire was one for the books!
Kayakers will not be able to access many of the rivers affected by the rim fire.

The 2nd Festival was Feather Feast held on the Tobin section of the North Feather. This festival is always a good time and is the biggest Whitewater festival on the west coast. It is a big fundraiser for American Whitewater and a good chance for all skill levels to meet up and party down.  The river is not the hardest but has a definite California feel to it with high canyon wall and smooth granite boulders.  For most this dam release represents the first time back in a creek boat since the last of the snow melt. This year Isaac Levinson took first place and learned why winning the Tobin Race has a heavy trophy that can make feel more like you've lost! All of the winners had great attitudes as they were forced to drink victory cocktails that may not have been anywhere near desirable. Tracy Tate placed high on the overall standings at 5th and came in 1st in the Women's division.

Sky view of the N. Feather taken by Shon Bollock
Good to be in the Green Boat on the Tobin pic by Sara James
Charging pic by Wes Schrek
The winners of the race had to spin this wheel to decide which cocktail they would receive! All of the choices were pretty gnar! You have to lose to win at Feather Fest! All include MacGregor and some sardines! 
Hangover paddling the day after the party- railgrab! The run is really good for downriver play! pic by Sara James
This year the 3rd and 4th festival had scheduling conflicts and Burn Fest of the Burnt Ranch Gorge of the Trinity was held on the same weekend as Gnarlfest on the South Fork of the Feather.  Both events are always fun and have a good race.  I had been hanging out in Humboldt and chose Burn Fest as it was considerably closer but as the name hints I believe Gnarlfest is a little more heavy of a race.  I was super stoked to claim 1st place at the race and then more stoked to hear Will Pruett had done the same at Gnarlfest.  As these two festivals wrapped up the festival/race season it was clear that it was either time to move on or get amped for skiing or snowboarding- change is in the air! 

As a mass start race I was able to get prime real-estate at the finish line! 
Celebrating my first place victory! My trophy - this beautiful beer stein! 
Here is a video put together by Robby Hogg of this year's Gnarlfest with Taylor Calvin giving a wonderful spin on the history of the race: 

In California you always have to keep an eye on the gauges as dams may spill or divert water into a river bed at any time.  Hell's kitchen of the N. Stanislaus will typically have a super short and unannounced flow window in the fall. With the low water of the last two years it would of been completely rational for the run to not see water this year. But Will Pruett kept the faith and checked the gauges regularly, allowing himself, Thomas Moore, and I to cash in on the super short flow window of 48 hours.  Hells Kitchen is aptly named and is a hell of action packed run for being a dam release.  Certain runs have big rapids that have seen few descents and for Hell's that rapid is known as Portage 24. For the second time now I have indeed portaged the behemoth but it haunts the back of my eye's and hopefully one day I will fire it up! The big one aside we had a great fall day traveling through the deep granite gorge- gotta love some granite.  Highlights from the day were knowing where we were going (Last time we had an epic!) and ticking off the quadruple drop which we had not run 2 years before. 

Thomas Moore stepping it up on the Quadruple drop!
Heading for the seam! pic by Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore on Mini Curtain
Everyone likes a good horizon line! pic by Thomas Moore
Will Pruett on the Curtain
Here is a short video Will made of our day on Hell's Kitchen: 

Hells Kitchen 13' from Charge Productions on Vimeo.

Once again under the watchful eye of Will we caught a small flow window on a diversion into Deer Creek near Grass Valley. It was a short run but any creeking in the dryness of fall is more than welcome!

Will Pruett and Mike Peacher making their way down the river on a beautiful fall day!
Mike Peacher getting steazy as he flies down the slide on Deer Creek!

 Catch you on the Rio!