Thursday, October 23, 2008

Clean it Up

Most of the kayakers in the southeast are frustrated with our current situation. Serious drought conditions are forcing us to find other alternatives to having fun in nature. Some of us have bought expensive mountain bikes, while others desperately watch the weather channel in hopes that it will rain. With the green race just around the corner, nerves are running high among the kayak community. A base flow of six inches on the green makes things interesting around here. Low water descents of gorilla are now a normal part of life. We're all just trying to make down without hurting ourselves. It is a sad time for boaters here in the southeast, but with rain in the immediate forecast, we decided to go visit one of our favorite runs; The Raven Fork river. This river is one of my favorite spots in the entire world. Dropping 760 feet in its' steepest mile, the Raven Fork runs off the backside of the smokey mountain national park. The small river bed is full of some of North Carolina's smoothest granite drops. The rapids on this river are some of the most amazing drops in North Carolina. One after the other, they drop in succession ending in deep green bubbling pools. With the leaves changing, and the possibility of rain, we figured we would pay the mighty Raven Fork a visit.

A tree in the road was our first obstacle in the steep drive up the road. Adam Bixby with the saw, making it happen.

The hike down into the gorge wasn't the easiest. Stinging Nettle, a summertime weed, was persitant at working its way into our skin. The name sounds just like it feels.

Big pools in such a steep canyon are what make this river so unique. Here is a classic example. Below is Big Boy falls, one of the hardest drops in the east. You can tell, even without water flowing over it, that there is not much room for error.

For most of our hike, the river was fairly clean. Looking for wood, we continued down the gorge. At the last drop of the run, one that is rarely scouted we found a log blocking the line. With a trusty hand saw we were able to knock it out of play almost falling into the river.

All in all it was a great hike, and hopefully we stimulated the spirits to give us some rain. Not just for kayaking, but for also the horrible drought that our forests here are facing. We can only hope, that soon this will all be over.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Work to Play

Recently I've been working on a garage with a buddy of mine. We've been working hard for our next trip, and kayaking the green on the weekends. Life is good when your playing with power tools and kayaking on the weekend. Our drought here has given us a better work ethic, but our rivers are all dried up. Our one rain storm resulted in the loss of a good friend reminding us all how temporary life is. It reminds me to live each day a little more for isac. As kayakers we experience high sensation moments in life. With the loss of isac we are reminded to make all our moments sensational, from our day to day work, to our low water paddles down the green. Drought is a part of life, and while kayaking is one of the most incredible ways to spend a day, every other moment is special too. Whether its nailing in plywood, spending time with friends and family, or kayaking, life is truly amazing, and its good to be alive.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

British Columbia

photo: Baker Davenport

The coastal range of B.C. offers kayakers some of the most unexplored remote kayaking in North America. The diversity of the mountain ranges create a maze of rivers flowing into the ocean below. Glaciers and incredible waterfalls coated the landscape though many of the rivers we paddled. Many of these rivers are in danger from hydroelectric dam construction. It was our goal to go explore some of the canyons and rivers that are soon to be changed due to our ever growing reliance on energy. The ashlu river, outside squamish is one of these rivers. It is truly sad seeing the trucks and saws destroying one of the most beautiful canyons that I've ever traveled through. The turquoise water and gray granite gorges are just a couple facets that make this river so incrediible. While the canyons in B.C. are undoubtably astounding, they are also hard to navigate. Thick floura and fauna along with slick rocks, steep gorges, and ever changing weather make B.C. one of the most challenging places to kayak.

Photos: Baker Davenport
Ashlu River

Checkamus River

On our way home we managed to stop at the Little White Salmon River in Hood River, OR. This run is as good as they say it is. Spirit Falls is a great drop.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Minnesota, California, and home again

photo: Toby Mcdermott

From April until now I've been traveling around the United States seeking out the good stuff.  I accomplished a lot of my goals and in turn learned a lot more about myself.  From the cold rivers of Minnesota to the smooth granite of California it was a spring and summer I'll never forget.  Now I'm back home in the southeast working every day with hopes of doing it all over again.  Here are some photos from the past couple of months all crammed into one post. Hope you enjoy

Kaweah River:  The Kaweah River drainage was one of my first stops in California. Here are some shots of the hospital rock section of the middle kaweah.  This drainage is a must visit.  Warm days, cool water, and easy acess. 
Photos: Baker Davenport

Me and Paul Stamilio

above: entrance into the 420 gorge

Next it was on to scout a creek with Baker Davenport.  We woke up early after paddling across a resevoir and hiked about 6 miles upstream.  It was an incredible place with some great rapids and beautiful scenery.  I never got a chance to kayak it, but the hiking there was stellar.

Photos: Baker Davenport

West Cherry Creek: 4 miles in and two days on the river.  Here are some photos of me, Evan Garcia, Paul Stamilio, Pat Keller and Joe Barkley.  We had a great trip with plenty of water.  We also ran the graceland slide; a monster slide pouring off the mountain at the put in.
above: The monster in the distance
below: Stamilio before the hike

above: This was one of the most beautiful campsites i've ever camped at.  Up on a granite dome, we could see the whole cherry creek watershed, the slide and the divide between the eastern and western sierra.  To our left was the Stanislaus drainage.  This was one incredible view.
below:  Stamilio stomping the Grace mega piton, and Pat running the Charlie Beaver's double drop

Upper Cherry Creek:  Yes it really is as good as they say it is.  Not too many whitewater shots, but it shows how beautiful this place really is.  Below is Evan after the hike; 11 miles with a loaded boat for a two day run on the river.  We ended up losing a couple people, and some showed up the next morning.  We had a great medium high water level, and an awesome crew.  Me, Paul, Joe, Pat, Grattmans, Evan, Clayton, Jason Hale, and Frenchie.  Cherry Bomb gorge should be a destination for every creek boater at some time in their lives.

above: Grattmans brushing his teeth looking at the teacups
below: Keller in the Gorge. 

above: Grattmans and Frenchie in the gorge

above: the crew

Middle Fork of the Kings River:  Ok this one is the one to write home about if you ask me.  This river requires everything out of you.  It demands it and deserves it.  It has every type of kayaking, endless endless whitewater, great kayaking, more kayaking, beautiful hiking, incredible scenery, and five or six days on the river.  It's the best overall river that i have ever done.  Our crew consisted of myself, Joe Barkley, Will Pruitt, Johnny KY, and Jason Hale.  We hiked the 13 miles over the pass in one day, and paddled for four.  All in all i think we paddled 37 miles and dropped over six thousand feet.  Our second day we paddled all the way to Tahipiti dome from the money drop- about 17 miles.  It ended with the Big Bad Beaver a big slide in the middle of the woods.  I gave her a go and so did Dave Fusilli.  The bottom 9 treated us well except for losing KY's boat and gear.  All in all it was the best trip ever.  Thanks boys for being a part of it.
above: south lake trail head for the 12 miles up bishop bass and into le conte canyon
below: Over the pass what a view
Photos: Jed Selby

below: arriving at the put in.  what a view
above: Joe hanging out
below:  KY about to put his boat down after the long trek

above: Will at camp one
below: Day two we came to a big slide with an amazing waterfall pouring in.

above:  The Big Bad Beaver. What a ride. Photo by Jed Selby
Below: Me at Tahipiti Dome
Below: South Lake trail head after the 8 hour shuttle.  Thanks Joe for the veggie oil rig.  I couldn't have made it happen without you buddy

What a summer.  Thanks to everyone i paddled with summer Paul, Baker, Adam, Pat and Joe.  I appreciate you guys carting me around.  It was amazing trip and i hope we can do it again