Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip

I know everyone out there has come to love my amazing poetic style, but I don't have time now for a full exploration of all the different aspects of the Thanksgiving break trip that Natalie, Brent, and I went on. As a brief outline, we left two or three days early and drove straight from Fort Collins to Skookumchuck without stopping, then gradually worked our way back down through oregon and washington through the rest of the week-long break. We surfed the ocean for a few days, had a great T-day run on the North Santiam, and squeezed in a Farmlands and Green Truss run on the last day. We couldn't find the putin, so the Farmlands part of that run was accidental. I haven't had time to go through the photos in full detail and write cunning captions for every one of them, but enjoy the slideshow below.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Glenwood Rodeo

Conor Flynn during warmups. Photo by Leif Anderson

Head Judge Gary Mullins and head announcer Ken Hoeve. Photo by Joel Shute.

As you probably already know, there is a whitewater park in Glenwood Srpings now, and it kicks ass. The thing that really sets the Glenwood park apart is that it's on the Colorado River, so (unlike certain other spots that usually host Freestyle Nationals), this park will be good all year long. This means that just when everything (and I mean everything) else in the state is starting to wind down, the Glenwood park is still as good as ever. So, on the last day of summer, Glenwood Canyon Kayak and the town of Glenwood hosted the last rodeo of the season. The weather cooperated until right at the end of the competition, at which point fall officially settled in, with a chilly rainstorm.

I had been waiting for this rodeo for a long time. I was very excited to finally be able to compete in my home town. Natalie had a field trip on saturday, so I spent the day running the Big Thompson with Conor. We got some great photos and put together a run description for But at the end of the day, Conor started waffling about the rodeo. He whined a bit about how it was such a long drive, it would be cold, and on and on. I told him that the town needed him. I said that this was the first annual Glenwood Rodeo, and that it was not just our privilege but our RESPONSIBILITY to make this even the best event possible, by showing up and putting on a kick-ass show. He eventually caved in and decided to go. So late that night, Natalie, Conor and I headed over the pass to my mom's house.

Sunday, we got a little practice in, and found the hole as good as ever. It was a little lower than the last time that I'd been there, so it was a little stickier, but the pocket that gave up the big air was still pretty touchy. This gave all the local paddlers a big leg up. I was nervous, since I'm not really a local anymore. Also, Jed Selby and Jon Meyers showed up, which put me out of the top spots right off.

It was all going so well in prelims...
Photo by Joel Shute

I won't string out too many of the details, but I managed a really nice ride and an alright ride in prelims, which somehow put me in first place. It was really suspenseful waiting for finals, wondering if I'd be able to pull it off again. Turns out I wasn't able to keep it together. Conor came out of nowhere and had a stellar ride bringing him up to first. Jed and Jonny showed us all why they're as famous as they are by bringing the A game when the pressure is on. This left me in fourth place. I keep analyzing my last few rides, trying to imagine if I had tried a space godzilla instead of a backloop, or if I'd stuck the mcnasty, maybe I could have had top three. Oh well. I'm glad that Conor did as well as he did.

So... tired... But Conor is totally fine. Wonder how this will turn out?
Photo by Joel Shute

The person in the circle of spray is getting his ass kicked.
Photo by Joel Shute

I'm also super psyched at how well my friend Phil Nylund did. Phil isn't old or anything, but he's no teenager. However, over the past few years, I've watched Phil really progress with his paddling. He came really close to winning the expert class at Fibark last year, but couldn't quite keep the lead in finals. I'm pretty sure that this was his first time competing in the pro class, and he finished strong in 5th place, nipping at my heels. Keep your eye on this guy if you see him in other competitions.

Phil cleaning up in his backyard.
Photo by Joel Shute

Between all my personal excitement, Natalie was also having a pretty intense competition. She sold her playboat recently, so she's been borrowing different boats to try to decide what she wants to paddle. In prelims, she borrowed a Rev from Glenwood Canyon Kayak, since they're right up the street. This might earn me a slap, but her prelim rides weren't very good. This hole is hard to be consistent in, and she got unlucky twice in a row. Fortunately, she kept it as consistent as possible, and managed to get a couple points on the card each time. A lot of the Pro Women were focusing really hard on the loop and godzilla, but the judging was highly exact. This meant that there were only a couple loops given out, which led to a big division in the scores; there were the women that got the loop, and there were the women that didn't. Natalie came out at the high end of the low bracket, and just squeaked by into finals. In finals, she borrowed a Specialist, which she'd never tried before. She got a couple practice rides in it before finals got under way, and on her first ride, she launched an awesome loop. It was the most spectacular loop of the women's class, and better than most of the men's loops (including most of mine). That loop was more than enough to assure her a first place finish.

Natalie's huge loop. Highly impressive.
Photo by Leif Anderson

So on the ride home, I was the only one in the car with no first place medal and no prizes.


Enjoy the photos while I cry myself to sleep.

Phil Nylund helping set up.
Photo by Leif Anderson

Ali... "Danger"... Wade
photo by Leif.

My good good friend Joel Shute
photo by Leif

Natalie, excited for the competition
Photo by Leif

Chris Vogt, the boss over at Glenwood Canyon Kayak
photo by Leif

Hobie, the head announcer for this event.
Photo by Leif

Once you pass a certain level of experience, every time you swim from your boat, you must appease the river gods by drinking from your bootie. This is the youngest bootie shot I've ever seen.
Photo by Leif

Natalie cartwheeling in warmups
photo by Leif

Conor during warmups.
Photo by Leif

Conor again
photo by Leif

During the competition, some unlucky beginner didn't keep track of their blue Wavesport Project, and It slid into the river. Ali had to rescue it.
Photo by Leif

In unrelated news, here's a photo of Jed Selby airwheeling his blue Wavesport Project.
Photo by Leif

Like Conor, Steve-O wasn't going to compete. But then after Hobie heckled him over the loudspeakers enough, Steve-O finally registered, and ended up taking first in the Master's Class.
photo by Leif

Steve-O again
photo by Leif

Charlie MacArthur of Aspen took second in the masters' class.
photo by Leif

Natalie practicing her loop before prelims
photo by Leif

Ali Looping
photo by Leif

Jonny Meyers Airwheeling the hell out of the Glenwood feature
photo by Joel Shute

Leif backlooping in prelims
photo by Joel Shute

Now, people looking awkward:

I think this is Coulter, from Aspen.
photo by Joel Shute

photo by Joel Shute

Jed Selby looking awkward
photo by Joel Shute

Jonny Meyers getting some air...
photo by Joel Shute

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cheeseman Canyon

I'd wanted to run Cheeseman Canyon for a long time, ever since I saw it in the CRC, many years ago. So when I heard that it was in, Conor, Natalie and I jumped at the chance.

Planning a sunday expedition, we spent most of saturday night trying to find the takeout, working off some rather sketchy directions. We finally found a really great spot to camp near the takeout, and got some rest. To anyone else trying to do this run: the road that the New Testament refers to, FR211, is also the road to the Stage Stop Campground. See for more details.

Knowing that the access situation was strained, we planned a ninja strike putin. As far as we knew, this was all okay, due to the great work accomplished by AW in their 2002 agreement with the Sportsman's Paradise, which is perched across the putin and has historically tried to block access. We put in, and made it halfway through the infamous anti-kayaker "paradise" before a polite gentleman (who turned out to be the SP caretaker) pulled us over to the side of the river and brought us up to date on the AW/SP agreement. Apparently, there is a new agreement every year, and the 2008 agreement was considerably different from the 2002 one. We had basically violated every term of the new agreement. We were supposed to call ahead. We didn't. We were supposed to put in between 8:00 and 10:00. We probably got to the SP border at about 10:15. We were supposed to have a minimum flow of 275 cfs. The flow was 235. Fortunately, the caretaker was very understanding, and after a discussion of the details of the current agreement, he told us to hurry through and try not to bother anyone else. We promised to update the information on

With that bit of nervousness behind us, we busted it down to the canyon. The flow was indeed low, and we had to portage an otherwise sweet-looking drop right off the bat because it poured into a 6 inch wide crack at the bottom. Fortunately, the next drop was good to go.

After a quick scout, we decided that I would go first. I ducked a log on the drop in, and got spun around almost backwards in some shallow water right at the lip of the steep part of the drop. Fortunately, because it was so shallow, it was slow, and I was able to straighten 'er out and bounce down to get this sweet shot. (Photo by Natalie Kramer)

Conor went next. I told him (obviously) not to get spun around in the top part. Basically, this meant planning the log duck a little better, and maybe getting a little farther right on the way out. He did exactly that, and it seemed to be going great, but the fast exit from the top section meant that he had no time to boof the next part, so he ended up in a huge backendo in some 6 inch deep water. I have no idea how that worked, but it sure looked epic. (Photo by Natalie Kramer)

On the exit of this drop, Conor got bounced off the flake he's about to hit in this photo, and ended up flipping real fast, and losing the ice cream game. It did make for another great photo, though. (Photo by Natalie Kramer)

The mank didn't let up for quite a while. The creek seemed to be dropping off the face of the earth. There were plenty of scouting eddies, but there was never any flatwater between the drops. Just my style. The next rapid that we got to was Slap yo Mama falls. Also just my style. Not the mama slapping. The waterfall. (Photo by Conor Flynn)

After Slap yo Mama, the rapids decreased in photo-ability, but remained fun. There was a lot of good read and run, a couple log portages, and quite a few rock sieves. The next thing that we took photos of was this cool little slide. (Photo by Leif Anderson)

Somewhere below that rapid, we found a pretty large portage around a pretty gnarly rock sieve. It reminded me of a mini Black Canyon of the Gunnison. At the end of the portage, we spied this nice little drop. It was a 4 or 5 foot boof onto a rock landing, followed immediately by a left or right choice. Natalie had the best line, harnessing the bounce off the rock to carve directly into the left channel, hardly taking a stroke for the whole rapid. (Photo by Conor Flynn)

I explored the river right channel. (Photo by Conor Flynn)

The next major rapid was a cool slide. It was also the last rapid. We relaxed for a while here, since we had plenty of time left.

Natalie on the slide. Photo by Leif Anderson.

Me on the slide. Photo by Conor Flynn.

Conor on his second run of the slide. Photo by Leif Anderson.

Conor and Natalie enjoying the day. Note Natalie's dorky helmet visor. Photo by Leif Anderson.

After this last slide, there was a surprising amount of boogie water, followed by some debating about where exactly the takeout road was. We eventually decided that we had found it (it's right downstream of where the power lines cross the river), and started the 3 mile hike out. It was rough. Fortunately, the weather was nice, with rainclouds keeping the temperature down without actually raining until the last half hour or so. (Photo by Leif Anderson)

Another great day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Long Drive Back from the Slave

Louise Falls

The slave is far away. Like, real far. The drive is not that exciting on its own. So As Natalie, Conor and I drove back, we looked for entertainment on the way. This entertainment took the form of Louise falls and Lundbreck falls.

Louise falls is the little sister of the famous (former) world record Alexandria falls, first run by Ed Lucero, then later by Tyler Bradt and Rush Sturges. I believe that the current record is held by Paul Gamache. Anyway, we looked at Alexandria, and decided that we were not up to it. However, Conor and I have been curious about Louise falls for a while. On the drive back, we scouted it out, and it looked good to Conor. I was scared (there, I said it) and opted to run safety.

"You see, Conor, you want to go over there."
"Thanks Leif."

Hiking down to the falls

Conor ran the slide on the left side of the falls. We decided that the water was low enough and the view bad enough that we wouldn't try the straight drop. The pictures tell the story just fine, but in case you're blind, the line is about a 20 foot drop onto a pretty flat slab, then a big water slide into a crashing wavehole. The overall drop is about 40 feet, more or less.

Conor was very modest about the run. He says that since it was so easy, there's no way that it was a first descent. I think that it was a first D. If anyone knows for sure, please speak up. Conor's run was late in the afternoon of 8/18/2008.

Checking out the vertical drop after Conor's run

After Louise falls, we drove for a full day, and camped out at Lundbreck falls, which is near Calgary. This was a 30 foot park and huck. The water was a little low, but good enough. It was a chilly morning, and overcast, but we were lucky enough to get a couple breaks in the clouds for some awesome photos.

I think the story is best told with pictures.

"It's a hard landing. Watch out for your nuts."
"Thanks Leif."

Pow. Right in the nuts.

All photos by Natalie Kramer.