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 eddyflower.com 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 eddyflower.com.

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.