Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring in Cali

My good friend Jason Stingl was nice enough to join me for a great "spring break" before I get back to the real world with working and school in Denver.  We drove through a snowstorm along I-70 and drove through the night to make it to the kaweah the next day for a quick hospital rock lap.

Jason going zero to sixty

Dave on the tabletop boof

Jason on Little Niagara 

From there we were able to squeeze in a great overnighter on the south merced with our colorado friend Dave Farkas, which flows through Yosemite and has some amazing whitewater and great camping.   We had a great trip and finished at the perfect window with it starting to snow on us on the paddle out and we got to see the park with a fresh blanket of snow.

Dave on one of my favorites

Jason plugging and boofing

Jason and Dave enjoying the evening sun coming out of a gorge day 1

Jason finishing up the gorge

Jason on a fun slide


We kept our northern movement going and got a great lap on 49-B on the south yuba, but bombed most of it so I didn't get any pictures.  We had a relaxing afternoon after the run and made our way to Orville to meet up with Darin and get ready for the finally of our trip down the devils canyon of the middle feather.

Darin on Franklin falls, it gets a bit pushy at these levels and can be hard to get right if your not online up top, Darin worked it out with ease

Morgan dropping in with a beautiful line

Jason in the pushy lead-in
And following Darin's meat line, unfortunately this didn't work out as smoothly as Darin's

I hadn't gotten to do this run in a few years and it is one of my favorite runs around, Jason had been excited for years as he somehow had always missed out on our crews trip over the years.  The devils canyon has an amazing amount of quality rapids stuffed into its 35 mile length along with such unique geology and beautiful camping.  We had yet another amazing run down the canyon and it was a perfect icing on the cake run to finish our great trip.

I've done this run about a half dozen times and had never camped here, it was a sweet big camp

It had a nice clear creek coming coming in that was a perfect spot to chill our beverages of choice

This view didn't get old

Morgan coming through a fun one early on day two

Darin on the same

Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Peak at Deer Creek

These days there is a very cool phenomenon that happens around the kayaking scene every weekend.  You get a text from one or two of your paddling bros, you make plans, show up at the put in, and without fail there will be 6-10 other bros that just happen to be there at the same time as you.   It happens every time regardless of where you decide to go and its awesome!

So a few Saturdays ago, we drove past Arlington, WA at the town of Oso. Myself, Mike Nash and Nick Hinds sat and waited for the fashionably late to arrive.  We were soon met by Brock Gavery,  followed by Brett Barton, Chipper Maney, Ben Hawthorne, Rob McKibbon, Christian Knight and Joe Howard.  Somewhere along the way Dan Patrinellis and Adrian Wigston showed up. 

This was my first time on Deer Creek and from what I understood about it (and with a group of this size) the odds were in favor of carnage.  The locals often refer to Deer Creek as Robe's big brother.  As in the big brother that doesn't think twice about knocking the snot out of your for not sharing your favorite toy.

Good beta on this run is hard to come by as it can be hard to access and only runs when Robe is in the 7-8ft + range.  We drove toward the put-in hoping the loggers kindly left the gate open for the remaining 3 miles of road past Lake Cavanaugh.  Not so much. Once we realized that we were in for a 3+ mile  long hike, a couple of the bros opted to run our shuttle and drink some brewskies.

McKibbon and Adrian Wigston hiking in

some of the group taking a snack break before starting the bushwack decent to the river

Deer Creek starts off with some pushy class III+ for the first mile or so.  The ominous feel of the canyon, the relentless nature of the whitewater and not knowing the wood situation keeps you on edge.  After a short paddle you come to the first big rapid which can be scouted from the river left.  The following shots are all from the 1st major rapid.

Ben running the right line  
Ben a little further down
Joe Howard on the sam rapid running left
Mike Nash driving hard and boofing to avoid a big hole
Adrian boofing the left entrance

Some continuous class IV and V read and run led the group to an eddy on the river left.  We got some vague beta above a horizon line and ended up blue angling into a pretty big set with some really nice features.  I vividly recall, "there is a big wave hole in the entrance, punch that and the rest is mellow."  So as we approached the rapid the wave hole was pretty obvious and I gathered some speed, took a big stroke, threw my weight forward and popped through.  Whew!  Glad that was out of the way.  What he failed to mention was that immediately behind the wave hole lurked a 6ft pour over with a massive hydraulic that required a crucially timed boof.  I didn't have the angle I needed and did a bit of old school playboating, flushed out and scrambled for a micro eddy on the river right.   

Super Joe from the correct eddy for the 2nd big rapid

Luckily everyone made it through and we ended up catching an eddy on the right above one of the longer rapids on the river.  I grabbed this shot of McKibbon making the ferry to line up for the rest.

Rob McKibbon

More class IV read and run lead to the 3rd big rapid.  Scout from the river right.

McKibbon maybe a little further left than he wanted

and resurfacing....

Kiwi Mike crushing it

and finishing it off...

From here the action continues for another couple miles.  I would grade the run out of Deer Creek as quality class V read and run at its best.  We had some flips and surfs and spins and funky lines but everyone made it through without a hitch.  When in doubt, its down the middle and boof!  This is an outstanding run with breathtaking scenery and solid rapids.  I would recommend it for anyone that wants a little day trip adventure.  

Here is a shot of the bridge at the takeout.  We were thinking this was probably a medium flow at about 1500 cfs.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Upper Wind Race: 2013 Edition

Last weekend marked the start of festival season in the Pacific Northwest. The Upper Wind Race features a mass start format and consisted of around 50 competitors this year, with several divisions. I competed in the Mens K1 division. There was also a Womens K1 class, a long boat class, and a r2 class.

The event is organized by The Oregon Rafting team, namely Tim Brink, and is heavily supported by Next Adventure, along with several other paddling related entities in the Portland area.

Seeing as this event was initially designed as a 'raft race' the course is quite long and a rather large portion of 'flat water' class III after the initial mile and half of IV+ whitewater. All combined, the course is just over 3 miles in length and takes over 20 minutes to complete. Needless to say, by the time you're at the bottom, everyone is pretty tuckered out.

The week leading up to the festival had been uncharacteristically warm for this time of year, but right on cue, we woke up on Saturday morning to rain and cold temps. Spring is in the air! The rain did bump the water level up to approx. 5.8 feet on the Stabler gauge, which made for a nice flow for racing.

After the long boat class took off, the K1 Mens Division was up. All 30 of us lined up along the banks above the bridge at the Stabler put-in. This year, someone decided to have us start with our bows towards the bank, so the first paddle stroke that everyone took was actually a back stroke. We were seeded based on a poker card we had been issued upon registration. Naturally, I had drawn a 7 of hearts and was towards the back of the pack to start.

The whistle blew and the river erupted into a flurry of boats and churning paddles. This was by far the most challenging part of the race for me! Trying to keep myself in the current while avoiding the serrated fiberglass blades of the guy next to me, the first 1/2 mile of the race was overly tiring and seemed to go on forever!

Just as the racers began to thin out and fall into line, we entered the meat of the run. Initiation down through Climax features a nice blend of class III and IV boulder gardens with one obvious crux at a rapid known as Ram's Horn. Having only paddled this river a few times in the past, I focused on keeping an eye on the guy in front of me as we dropped through the goods.

By the time we came to the last real rapid on the run (Climax) I was overly tired and kind of forgot the line through this often sticky ledge hole. Luckily, I was able to orient myself at the last moment and came through the hole in big stern squirt. Just another mile of flat water to the finish line!

I spent the last mile of the race jockeying for position with Jesse Becker and Michael Freeman. Jesse ended up winning the duel and I came in just a nose in front of Michael. After it was all said and done, I finished in the middle of the pack (9th place) and was a full minute+ behind Dan Rubado (1st Place) and Trevor Sheehan (2nd Place). Times were unofficial and haven't been posted as of today, but you can view the standings at

In the Women's class, which featured 7 racers, Kim Becker edged Heather Herbeck for 1st place and had a pretty exciting duel at the finish line with Nicole Mansfield and Katrina Van Wijk, who were charging in the topo-duo. I believe Kim held them off in the end.

Below is a collection of photos taken by Eric Adsit, Jacob Cruser, and my girlfriend Claire, who was kind enough to hike all the way into Ram's Horn in the pouring rain to watch the show. I've also put together a video of my headcam footage.

Hope everyone can make it our next year! And remember, the Northwest Creeking Competition is only a month away!

Until next time,

Dan Rubado, way out in front at the start of Initiation (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

 The front pack getting into the goods. (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

 More K1 Men routing through Initiation. (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

 Dynamic Duo. (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

 R2 Class (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

 More rubber. (Photo: Jacob Cruser)

Nicole and Katrina rocking the topo below Ram's Horn (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

 Jesse Becker, Leif Anderson, Harrison Rea, and Nate Merrill in the middle. (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Random chargers below Ram's Horn (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Dan Rubado trailed closely by Lewis Hooker (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

 Christie Eastman in the long boat division. (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Harrison Rea and Nate Merrill (author) routing through the top of Ram's Horn (photo: Eric Adsit)

 Follow the leader. (photo: Eric Adsit)

The video!