Friday, October 15, 2010

Upper NF little wind

The upper north fork of the little wind was a great trip and a highlight of the rocky mountain season for sure. I picked up my brother Jim and Kirk at the airport, we headed up to fort collins to meet up with Wigston and Evan, Kirk explained the idea of the 1st D of the upper north fork and they were in, we left the fort around midnight. Not getting to lander until the next morning we got our Indian permits and some food and headed up to find the take-out. The road wasn’t to bad but a truck was need (this take out is only a 15 minute hike instead of an hour on the other side), the road to the putin is only about 30 minutes away (not to bad for a 3 day run! By the time we started hiking it was 1 in the afternoon and somehow we couldn’t find the trail so off we went for about an 1-2 thru the woods before we found the trail. Once on the trail it was another 3 hours of hiking, it was way harder than I thought it would be and again I got dehydrated. Once reaching the twin lakes I stepped in to soak my legs and cool of, the lakes were one of the coolest camp spots I’ve ever been.
That evening we headed up and scouted the raft lake gorge, there were mostly slides and slot drops, totally bedrock and it defiantly had us excited. The next morning we lounged around fishing and just soaking the spot in, around 10 we hiked up the raft lake gorge (1-2 miles). This was the highlight of the trip, probably 5 good drops down to the big slide wigston named wind scraper (after skyscraper in cali). I had a good look at this massive rapid before giving it a go; wigston, jim and I were just kinda looking at each other and one of has to go so I decided to go first, the drop is probably a few hundred yards of slides that drops around 100 feet, we all had great lines and made quick work of the rest of the low angle slides.
We paddled across the lake and portaged around a huge 200-300 foot cascade, I think the last 80-100 feet might be runable but that’s for next time. The next section was kinda crappy with our low water but fun drops kept our spirits up, after a few hours we pulled over and camped on a big bluff.
The next day we had a few hours down to the normal put-in for the lower run that me and Evan had done before, we blazed it pretty quick stopping only a few times to scout and about 4 hours later we were hiking up the hill back to our car.
This trip was sick and I will defiantly be back but with a bit more water next time.
Time for some pics!

Wigston, Stafford, and Kirk on the hike

The Janney Boys, you can see twin lakes behind us and the raft lake gorge above it

Our camp at twin lakes

Wigston on an early slot

Me on the last part of windscraper

Wigston on windscraper, look at that long ass lead in!

Wigston on the double drop

Kirk on the boofington hieghts drop

Jim on the 40 footer

sWigston dropping in

Wyoming 2010 Teaser from Jim Janney on Vimeo.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Black Canyon

Late season boating in Colorado means one thing to me, the black canyon! Gore runs satisfy us through august until it is a bit cooler and we turn our attention to a huge crack in the earth near montrose,co. I first did the black canyon 4 years ago during my first year of class 5 boating with a flow of 1300 and a sweet crew of local black canyon legend milo, christian, rolf kelly and tim kelton. That trip showed me how out of shape I was and inspired me watching Rolf paddle and seeing christian kayaking class 5 only a few months after breaking his back. This last year I felt that it was time for a return trip with only half the flow of my previous trips, me and christian made 3 trips that year and got to fire up some new stuff that was sweet, plus R. kelly fired up the great falls portage that I'm not sure will ever get run again.
This year I have been talking up the black canyon to anyone that would listen, and convinced enough people to organize a big group of 8 to drop in, with only Dan and I having previous experience we took a nice slow pace and enjoyed ourselves for a 2 day run. The first day was awesome with great rapids down to the infamous portage. I assured my buddy and recent Coloradoan Nick Abrams that we should just do the portage in shorts and lather ourselves in dish soap. Unfortunately I brought hand soap not dish soap and a week after the trip me and Nick are still itching!
That night at camp was one of my best nights of the year, great fishing, a few beers and ribs made for a great time. Waking the next morning I was pretty nervous about the drop just after the portage, named next generation that Christian 1st D last year and a spot that my brother had a nasty swim resulting in a torn MCL. We got down to the drop and Sean and me sized it up, the drop consists of a sweet 6-8foot boof then a 10 foot sliding shoulder boof into a tight slot then line up for the 15 foot boof with a tight landing and then you get the sweet few hundred yards of runout, after a while scouting I decided it was time to go. I went back up to my boat and got super focused, The next 30 seconds of rapid dropping 50-60 feet; was an awesome feeling with a styling line had by both sean and me. Dan and Marty ran the bottom half and had equally fun lines, our group was feeling great!
The last big drop of the run is the great falls portage, we just portaged quick due to time issues and decided to scout the bottom 20 footer. Sean and I stepped up to run it; Sean boofed but didn't clear out very far and hit a rock pretty hard. Before they could tell me, I was in my boat and luckily flying off the boof. I love that feeling of hitting a boof so well that you disconnect from the water, pull those legs up so your flying flat and then stomp in down at the last second; having control in the air is a difficult skill to master but so fun when you nail it.
The hike out at chukar was hot as usual, but only a half an hour so not to bad. On the long drive back to boulder I had time to think about this trip and how much fun it was but at the same time it just wasn't the same without Christian in there firing it off with us!
The season should still have another month left down there and I can't wait to get back in there and fire it up, I'll shut up now and post some pics.

Sean lee, looking like wigston

Coming out of the narrowest part of the canyon, the narrows!

Nick Abrams on ball crusher (I wonder how it got that name?)

Marty on the 18 footer that is more like 10 feet

A little something to supplement Nick and my ribs

The canyon at night

Me boofing the second part of next generation

Sean, Dan, Marty dropping the second part of next generation

Sean Lee boofing the shallow 20 footer

Me about to go flying

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Middle Fork Kings

The middle fork of the kings river is known as one of the best multiday runs in the country if not the world, last year I missed out on a trip with some of my good friends. This year I was set that the kings was the one I wanted, originally we had a huge group of 8 from colorado. Due to some scheduling issues are group was cut in half, then half again a few days before the trip when will couldn't get out of work and Rolf jacked himself on the crystal gorge. So it was down to just Tyson and I driving from colorado to meet Jared Johnson and Lizzy English. We left right after my nursing school interview on friday morning and arrived at the south lake trailhead near bishop,ca at about 2am just in time to get some shut eye. We woke the next morning excited to begin the journey, JJ and Lizzy carried all of their gear but me and Tyson split donkeys with a few other people making the 12 mile hike-in easy. The hike-in was so beautiful and amazing I was just gazing around in amazement the whole time up and over the 12,000 foot bishop pass. Due to the others having loaded boats Tyson and I were able to take some long breaks and enjoy it. We got down to the leconte canyon ranger station at about the same time as the mules so we just hung out and talked with ranger rick until jj and lizzy arrived and we just set up camp excited about getting to paddle the next day. Ranger rick decided that he would join us for the first 2 days of our trip to learn more about the kayaker user group, he was a super cool guy.
Only a few miles into the hike

Tyson relaxing on the top of bishop pass

JJ and I hiking in the Dusy basin

Looking down into Leconte canyon (our-putin) a few thousand feet of pain below

The next day we got up and ate a slow breakfast, taking our time getting ready we didn't put on until 10am. The first few miles down to palisade creek are pretty manky but the scenery is amazing. After palisade the rapids start to get awesome with lots of great slides and falls. Near the end of day one is the river transitions into some sweet boulder gardens that is one of the best boulder garden sections I have ever paddled. We camped at the huge devil's washbowl slide that night, I decided to run the slide that night and had a sweet line but got a bit to far left at the bottom, dried out and skipped over the hole backwards.

Tyson on a sweet slot move to slide early day one

Tyson on the money drop day 1

Lizzy killing it

Typical scenery

JJ at the start of the sick boulder garden

Camp night 1

On day 2 we got up a bit earlier and we were on the water by 9 running the big camp slide and continuing down into the waterfall gorge. At this point ranger rick left us to fend for ourselves, and we continued at river level where most groups decided to walk on the trail. We made it a few drops before it really turned into a lot of work and I see why people walk this part. JJ and I fired off into the raw dawg gorge while lizzy and tyson walked on the trail, this was one of the highlights of the trip, it was like vallecito in colorado but with a super stout 30 footer. After the raw dawg gorge the river got into great rapids for the next few miles down into simpson meadow.
Tyson on a big slide for breakfast

Lizzy on the famous waterfall in bad lighting

Tyson firing into a big hole below the falls

JJ sliding

JJ on the entrance to the raw dawg gorge, there were huge boils pushing back from 10-15 feet downstream, spicy.

JJ fighting

JJ on the falls and exit

Me falling and trying to get tucked, it was a super soft hit

View from our camp in simpson meadow

The next day we got a slow start and had a few hours of easy whitewater before the boulder garden action started back up. I was told that this day would be shitty but I found it pretty quality and fun with lots of multi move rapids with sweet boofs and power moves just like a smaller version of the bottom 9. Somewhere in this section is the beaver slide, a drop that a fwe people have run over the years, I scouted it for a bit but ended up walking, this was the one drop I really want to go back and run it just looks so good to me for some reason. We got down into the tehipete dome area and it was like yosemite with no roads, we ended up camping early at the base of tehipete dome our mind thinking of the bottom 9.

the big bad beaver slide, this thing is sick!

Tehipete dome

The bottom 9 miles is one of my top 5 days of kayaking ever, it was 9 hours of sick kayaking, with huge moves, boofs, plugs and just overall sick rapids that leave you grinning from ear to ear. We were trying to make it out through garlic falls that day so no pics but there were more drops than I could count. The next day we got up early and put on a 8, it was already 90 degrees, I really enjoyed the garlic falls run a classic by any measure, with big pushy rapids. Tyson and I dropped lizzy off in fresno before starting our long drive home, elated to have just completed the trip of a lifetime.

JJ boofing a big hole in the morning light on the garlic falls run

Friday, July 9, 2010

Surfing the Flat Lands

Jim Janney surfing Howell Island Wave in Missouri of all places (Photo Chris Janney)

Sometimes, life takes you away from the your normal whitewater stomping grounds in the mountains and sends you out to the wasteland that is the midwest (I grew up there, I know what it's all about). Fortunately, there are some huge rivers out there that don't require much gradient to have some fun.

The first stop on the tour happened way back in March on a business trip to Indianapolis. Fortunately, Louisville happens to be right on the way from Knoxville, and the Falls of the Ohio happens to be about 2 minutes off the highway. Even though I couldn't scare up any local paddling partners before my arrival, I figured I'd go have a look to break up the drive. Upon arrival, I quickly realized the magnitude of the river. The rapid didn't look that big, but then again the eddy was probably 1/4 mile wide and about 3/4 mile long. There was one decent looking but somewhat surgey wave out there and nothing that looked too dangerous below, although swimming would have been life threatening due to the distances involved.

Sun setting over Louisville and the Falls of the Ohio River. You can see some of the waves in the eddy in the foreground. (Photo JJ)

So, I hopped in the boat to paddle around the eddy and go take a look from a closer vantage point. One thing was certain, it was a huge wave, but still didn't look too threatening. So I paddled up a little ways to try to get out there and give it a try. Needless to say I underestimated the power of the water and didn't come close to making it. Next, I headed up near the top of the eddy and cranked out into the current as hard as I could. 100 yards downstream I had crossed the eddy line, but was still cranking out towards the wave. About 30 seconds after I had left the eddy I reached the wave, caught the huge bouncy beast (maybe 12' trough to crest?) for a brief second before surge threw me up and off. Short, but one hell of a ride. Another 1/4 mile downstream I had made it to the eddy and was heading back up through 5 ft. waves for another go. I was pretty conservative out there, but it was epic none the less, even though I only got about 6 rides in an hour. I snapped a few photos on the way out, but they don't do it much justice as I was probably over 1/2 mile away.

This big guy was one hell of a ride... (Photo JJ)

Looking upstream at the interstate bridge and the dam that forms the rapids. (Photo JJ)

Then last weekend, I headed back to St. Louis to see my parent for the 4th. I had heard that Howell Island, a playspot just off I-64 outside STL had been in a ton this year due to good snowpack and hot weather in Montana, so I brought the boat with me (Wish it had been the Molan, but I was selling the old ZG and only had room for 1 boat). Again, I couldn't drum up any locals to paddle with, but this time I at least had my Mom and girlfriend with me to snap a few photos. The level was 25 ft. at St. Charles, which was probably a little higher than optimal, but pretty nice to get a little surfing in. The access was a 10 ft. carry over a low water bridge for every ride, but eddy access might be possible to other features and at other water levels. Anyways, I'll let the photos do the talking about my lack of playboating ability.

Showing my lack of playboating prowess with the not-so-aerial roundhouse. (Photo CJ)

Getting frothy in one of the smaller secondary waves at Howell Island. (Photo CJ)

Landing my sweetest playboating move, the 180. (photo CJ)