Thursday, October 24, 2013
10:15 AM | Posted by Eric | | Edit Post
The last time I went kayaking, I walked off the Upper Upper Cispus. And about a week before that, I landed very flat off 80+ Metlako Falls. As much as it sucks to bail off a river, I was pretty happy to even be able to walk.
The Cispus is one of those rivers that got a bad wrap after a few groups had some rough trips, and now holds a slight connotation of menace. While there is no doubt the boulder gardens have their fair share of pin spots, and the only alternative to running a 30-footer with a cave behind it is an "involved" portage requiring roping boats at least twice, the Cispus is actually a really fun run and a great stepping stone between the Green Truss and the Little White.
|This run starts with a bang|
A 15 footer waits around the first bend, and plenty of class IV-V boulder gardens follow. The river has a continuous feel, although there are pools dispersed throughout the boulder gardens pretty regularly.
|It's also incredibly scenic|
|Ryan Cole finishing up one of the tighter lines.|
Many of these boulder gardens have tight lines to hit to avoid pitons or pins. It's advisable to follow someone who's done the run a few times.
|Our fearless leader Nate Merrill winds up for a boof|
We had ventured on despite other groups avoiding the river for fear of high water. At the put in, and coming through the first few rapids, the level didn't seem much higher than my previous trips. After coming through a particularly pinny boulder garden and thinking, "man, that was fun, not nearly as scary as I remember it..." I began to realize what we had gotten ourselves into.
|The crew regroups below the steepest section of the river, shortly above Island, the second major drop.|
Despite a feeling of general discomfort about what the added water would do to the crux drops downstream, we had driven a long ways and decided to continue downstream. When we reached Island, it became clear to the group that we'd be portaging Behemoth. We deliberated for a short period and decided to save ourselves the effort (and the potential beating in the massive hole at the base of Island) and hike out above the drop. It only took us 10-15 minutes to reach the road, and although steep, the climb was short.
|Andrew "Jah" Bradley was even smiling at the end of it|
We decided quickly as a group to avoid a potential suffer-fest, and I really appreciated how quickly everyone realized the potential for the trip to go downhill if wee continued down river. It's always hard to walk away from a river, whether it's your first time down, or your seventh, but recognizing things are getting out of hand before they get over your head is skill that will not only allow you to keep boating, but prevents a river from getting a bad reputation.
Thanks for keeping the trip positive Andrew Bradley, Ryan cole, and Nate Merrill!
Labels: 2013, boulder garden, Class V, high water, hike out, Kayaking, Upper Upper Cispus, Washington, Whitewater | 0 comments
Thursday, June 20, 2013
9:57 AM | Posted by Eric | | Edit Post
Disclaimer: This is a literary post, if you just want to see people hucking their meat and where they did so, just scroll through the photos and read the captions.
|Chris Peck, hucking his meat. Knife's Edge, Bottom Moose, NY.|
We are aliens. Our boats are our spaceships.
Dramatic? Yes, but no less true.
In the strictest sense, our boats transport us through space and time. That they travel only linearly and with roughly the same velocity as most other things through time will do nothing to discourage me from calling them time travel devices. Even the shape of a kayak is similar to the rockets we often envision time machines taking on.
|Nate Merrill, blasting off. Split Falls, Salmon River Canyon, OR|
And if we loosen those restrictions to account for the perceived shift in the space time continuum, you might just start seeing what I'm getting at. It's said that time flies when you're having fun, and quite often I end long river trips wondering where exactly the last 6 hours have gone. Mental playback of the day happens at high speed, skipping by at a blur.
|Crystal, Bottom Moose, NY with an unfortunately foggy lens|
When things go wrong, or get committing, time slows down. We plan our strokes in slow motion, gentle smooth strokes fill our minds eye when we know our paddle blades will be spinning like a windmill. When we watch a friend getting beatdown the seconds stretch out and settle in, like unwelcome guests oblivious to their transgressions. When you're the one in the hole, it's twice, three times as bad. A minute feels like an hour.
|I imagine Jacob Cruser experienced a bit of time dilation here. Final Falls, Salmon River Canyon, OR|
And then there are the golden moments. They happen most often at the horizon line, when the world you know is suddenly expanded, abruptly made real. Those instants stay with me, paused, or running loops over and over again. Groundhog Day with no opportunity to make right the wrongs, just plenty of time to observe, acknowledge, and accept. And improve the next time. It happens in the slow moving pools, too. When the light bounces down the canyon wall, or the massive bull moose steps across the river like it's a small stream.
|Cruser's golden stroke.|
Frustration Falls, Salmon River Canyon, OR
And how many times do we find ourselves in the heart of a foreign wilderness, feeling just as at home as our local backyard run? Or on that backyard run and feeling as out of place as we would on the moon? Even roadside runs can feel committing and remote. No matter what our physical proximity to town or even the next person is, the river can sweep us away into another world.
|Chris Peck and Danny Mongno at Agers Falls, Bottom Moose, NY|
So there you have it, our boats are our spaceships. And what does that make us?
We could call ourselves astronauts, or simply travelers. But I prefer to think of myself as an alien. Alien, at least, to "those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators" that Ed Abbey struggles so hard to tolerate.
|Tony Gianfagna making the move at Fowlersville, Bottom Moose, NY|
We wear our specialized space suits, our harnesses and safety equipment. We probe, discover, document. We choose to live in a different world. As we leave the remote river, it feels less like coming home and more like immersing ourselves in a strange, sometimes hostile planet. And when the humans reaching out, making contact with our world in their own ways, encounter us, it's usually with surprise, even shock. They wave from shore, staring, wondering how we got there. They rarely speak, as if they believe we speak another language. And we do. Our lingo may as well be gobbledigook, and we read the river like a book.
|The Space Suit|
|Jarred Jackman on Vanishing Falls|
Salmon River Canyon, OR
So you can keep searching out there in the void if you'd like. Maybe you'll even find something. But I think I'll keep my focus on these aliens that call themselves "Normal." There's plenty of them around, and they're pretty easy to observe. Not much travel involved. And as long as I can make it back to my planet every once in a while, I think things will work out.
|Dave Gardner stomping Fowlersville, Bottom Moose, NY|
|Will Crimmins with the Steeze on Knife's Edge, Bottom Moose, NY|
|Dave Gardner and Tony Gianfagna finishing up Agers Falls, Bottom Moose, NY|
Labels: 2013, Adirondacks, Bottom Moose, dirtbagging, Falls, Kayaking, New York, Oregon, Salmon River Canyon, Whitewater | 0 comments
Saturday, June 1, 2013
11:22 PM | Posted by Eric | | Edit Post
What is there to say about Idaho that hasn't already been said?
But it's a place that seems to actively defy description. It's a place between two places, sandwiched somewhere between the ragged mountains of Western Montana and the high desert of eastern Washington and Oregon.
|Middle Fork Camping|
The rivers are likewise unsure of their identities. They flood, dry up, and flood again. I've only been on a handful; the Lochsa, the Payette, the Middle and Main Salmon. But I've read about them, watched them in videos, and heard about them. My first impressions have always been glazed with the excitement of new friends and adventure, but the rivers are always at the core.
|Katie Chapman in the core of Lochsa Falls|
They are true rivers, flowing with the combined rush of many mountain streams. Somehow, they constrain their volume into narrow, boulder choked riverbeds. An ocean in a streambed.
|Michael Jorgenson in Dagger Falls, M.F. Salmon|
Even the rocks can't seem to hold still. I'm no geologist, but I know someone who is, and if I had a dollar for every time she said "woah, these rocks are so WEIRD" or just stared at the canyon walls slackjawed on the Salmon, I might just come out of this trip breaking even.
|The canyon walls were worth the staring. Adam Michel early on the Main.|
What I saw was admittedly just a jumble of rocks, but a jumble of rocks that shifted in hue and texture , until one day on the Main, there was no more jumble, just a big blank face of dark rock.
|Bedrock on the Main Salmon|
In Idaho, you drift, or the world drifts around you. Time stops, or passes by too quickly. Alpine meadows, burn zones, and austere high desert. Wildflowers, sage, and ponderosa.
|Myself finishing out Boulder Creek|
Katie Chapman Photo
It's a place to be surrounded... by people and canyon walls.
By waves and nothingness.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
9:28 AM | Posted by Eric | | Edit Post
Yesterday was the last day of finals for a lot of my friends. Not just for the year, but for their entire undergrad career. It was potentially the last "Final Exam" many of them will ever have to take.
Congratulations to all of you!
Recognizing this got me thinking about where I am in life versus where I would be if I were with them right now. Having a minimum of a year and a half left of school while my friends are moving on to careers and the questions that come after graduating is daunting and a little discouraging, but looking back I don't see any room for regret. I may have stopped going to school (temporarily), but that doesn't mean I stopped learning.
While most of my exploits since I left the traditional undergraduate pursuit behind can be found in the archives of this blog, this post serves as a photodump/chronicle of just some of the highlights.
Dec. 31, 2011: Inspired by Scott Martin and with the help of several other talented paddlers/photographers/designers I released Issue 1 of The Dirtbag's Guide to Whitewater
May 18, 2012: After returning to the PNW to set eNRG Kayaking up for a successful summer season, I took my first lap down the Little White Salmon River. The level was 3.7 feet. I was more gripped than I had ever been on a river and ended the day with a skirt implosion and far more flips than I felt comfortable with.
Days later I spent an extended weekend in beautiful British Columbia with Kate Daniel. The highlight of which was easily Captain Holiday's incredible hospitality.
May 28, 2012: A return to the Little White Salmon where I snapped a paddle, followed by a scout of Metlako with Steve Fisher and crew for the now infamous Contour duo drop. 2 days later, I paddled over the lip, tucked up tight, and fell 80-something feet.
|Ethan Smith Photo|
June 14, 2012: I returned home and embarked on my first source to sea kayaking expedition. It would also be my first overnight self-support kayak trip. I had far more food than I needed, and there was much less water in the river than we expected. Despite this (or perhaps because of it) the 2012 Source to Sea Expedition of the Cheticamp River in Nova Scotia is a mission I will never forget. Thanks to Ben Schott for the invite, Mike Mainer for joining us, and Catharine Hull for driving shuttle and convincing her mother we were worthy of sleeping in the gorgeous camp!
|Mainer finding the line (I was dragging WAY behind at this point)|
Ben Schott Photo
August 2, 2012: Amidst a low water summer filled with raft guiding at Whitewater Challengers Black River (A place I will always consider my second home) and Bottom Moose laps, I found my way to the Ottawa River and learned that, given a big enough wave, even I can get some air.
|Garb+Jed+Me= Still mediocre at playboating|
Chris Morelli Photo
Somewhere in the transition of late summer to early fall, I got my first laps on some long coveted ADK classics. Great Falls on the Black, Twin Falls of the Grass, the Raquette, and the Moshier Spillway.
|TAV doesn't paddle down the river, the river carries him wherever he wants to go.|
Grass River, NY
|Dylan Cobb entering the Tubs on the Raquette, NY|
|The water pretty much pushed you where you want to go, but that's hard to trust at this point...|
Moshier Spillway, NY
Ben Schott Photo
September 19, 2012: Alan Panebaker drowned in a sieve on the Upper Pemi in NH. While this day will always be filled with a great sadness, it also will always remind me of the incredible and inspirational life Alan led. From the start, he was one of my favorite people to paddle with, and every time I reach a milestone in my life, I remember his advice to "remember the little people."
|Alan finishing up the Moshier spillway in style. Thanks for all the memories.|
September 20, 2012: I packed my car and headed south, then further south, then even further south, and finally west and gradually north. To sum it up nicely: 3 days on the Upper Gauley, a week in the Nantahala Gorge, 1 lap on the Nantahala Cascades, a busted paddle, 1 lap on the Ocoee, first legal beer El Rancho in Durango, CO, sunset in Arches National Park, sunrise over the Bonneville Salt Flats, Sunset and rise over Crater Lake, a scout of Toketee Falls, and too many hours in the car.
Mid-October: Joined Steve Fisher for the PNW Congo Premiere Tour, rallying from a HIGH water trip down the Hood River to Boise, to Jackson, and back to Boise. Let's just say that Jackson was cool, but Boise knows how to party.
Thanksgiving 2012: An incredible feast with Kate Daniel and family. I really can't say enough good things about these folks.
December 21, 2012: My first run over Celestial Falls, followed shortly after by my second. It was at a great flow and Adam Elliot and John Edwards were probably the best people I could have done it with. Plus a sweet crew of photographers was on scene.
Christmas 2012: My first christmas away from home couldn't have felt more at home. Katie Rogers and family is another group of people that are truly indescribably kind and generous. Plus an East Fork of the Lewis paddle!!
New Years Day, 2013: Despite an extraordinary hangover, I joined John, Cat, and Mike for a celebration of the new year on a very snowy and cold Middle White Salmon.
March 27th, 2013: The sun popped out, and we all got bold. I joined forces with Harrison Rea to take Gus Kilgore and Kyle Gnarsper down Celestial Falls. Things didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, but no one was injured. As far as I know, Gnarsper is the first to go for a half hail mary in a creek boat...
|Harrison lining it up on his second lap.|
Easter 2013: Escaping from work early, I met Harrison Rea and Dan Phillips for Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek. Harrison 45ed and bloodied his nose, I got twisted midway down and wrenched my shoulder pretty badly. Metlako looked too good to pass up though, so I headed down to the quiet pool above, this time alone.
|Harrison Rea Photo|
April 13, 2013: The Dirtbag's Guide Issue 5 is released. It receives over 5,000 hits in under a week.
I was out of paddling commission for about 3 weeks waiting for my shoulder to heal, and decided to test it at the Northwest Creeking Competition. April 20th and 21st brought with them an incredible sense of relief as I got my shoulder back into the swing of things. Plus Canoe & Kayak published my coverage of the event!
|By Canyon Creek the second day, I was feeling pretty good...|
Adam Elliot Photo
|John and Johnny headed for the put in boof.|
Kim Becker Photo
These highlights say nothing of the great people I've met along the way, the satisfaction of overcoming the challenges of the "real world" college no longer shelters me from, and all the awesome things I don't have exact dates on. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, bought me beer, let me sleep on your couch/guest bed/floor, and listened to my ridiculous rants.
Stay tuned for a Lochsa trip report this time next week!
|This view will never get old. Mt. Hood from WA.|
|Eli Nicholson surrounded by the kind of canyon the PNW is famous for.|
|Steve Fisher gets rowdy off the water as well as on.|
|An hour and a half from Portland, might as well be another planet.|
Mike Braun Photo
|Kay, Megan, and Willa underneath North Silver Creek|
|Mike Braun going for the fun line at Alder Creek on the Sandy River|
|The sea is a good place to reflect|
|Adam Elliot perched above the East Fork of the Lewis, patiently awaiting the shot.|
|Follensby Pond, NY|
|A tough hike on its own, the loop to Kings and back up the Wilson River trail was the hardest hike I've ever done.|
Mike enjoying the pain train.
|Sunrise on Saddle Mountain. Do it.|
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