Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009: Welcomegiving.

Buddha, excited about Skook.

As graduate students, Natalie and I have the best of both worlds: school vacations AND salaries. While most working stiffs got maybe a four day weekend to celebrate american thanksgiving, Natalie and I got a full 9 days, and then we even skipped out a day early for maximum slacking. Life is good. We used these precious days for a trip to the land of awesome; the pacific northwest. (The Slave was frozen over, so we couldn't paddle there.)

First we drove through the night to Skook, and spent four days getting up before dawn to catch the good tides. The first day was particularly special, since we had misjudged the timing by at least half an hour, and ended up paddling in to the wave while it was still pitch black. We made it safely to the eddy above the wave, but even after getting out of our boats on shore it was too dark to see the wave. We paddled with Will Parham, Megan Harpam, and Natalie's brother Russell. Good times were had by all.

Russell practicing the air guitar. Full album

After Skook, the team split up. Megan and Will headed back to Idaho to sit around doing nothing for several days while Natalie, Russell, and I headed to the Portland area to run some creeks. Unlike most paddlers these days, I cannot convince myself that pretending to be illiterate is cool, so I refuse to use any of the following terms in my writeup:

  • treats (treat layer, treat laying, etc)
  • brown (brine, etc)
  • stout
  • fo' (fo' sho', fo' shizzle, etc)
  • mad bombing (bomber, bombs, etc)
  • hyrup
  • serum (syrum, herum, etc)
  • beerum
  • plunder
  • ball (baller, ballin', etc)

Anyway, Russell is new to creeking so we started out small with a quick run down the East fork of the Lewis, which is a class IV creek with a couple waterfalls. He seemed to do well there, so we stepped up to the Green Truss the next day. I was thoroughly embarrassed when both Natalie and I (the "pro" boaters) missed our lines at Big Brother, but Russell, who we were guiding down the run, had an exceptionally clean line. How tactless.

Too far left... Full albumToo far right... Full album

...just about perfect. Full album

After Russell's success on the Green Truss, we figured it would only be natural to run the Little White next. I had been looking forward to the LW for quite a while. We convinced my good friend Dan Rubado and his friend Mike Long to guide us down, so that we wouldn't have to waste time scouting. The LW was every bit as good as I had hoped, and I can't wait to run it again.

However, as you might expect, near the end of the run, when we arrived at Spirit Falls, DISASTER STRUCK! Natalie and I planned to run the falls, and as I was lining up my entry, the worst case scenario began to play out. The photographer (I won't name names) did not have the camera turned on. That's right; no photos of my drop down this ultra-classic cascade were taken. I cried a little when I found out, since after all, why kayak if not to get awesome photos of yourself and brag about it later? On the plus side, there were photos of Natalie's run, just a few seconds behind mine.

I wonder if anyone's ever shot this angle before? Natalie on Spirit Falls. Full album

I'll be back someday. Someday with fewer clouds. In the meantime, here's a slideshow of the photos from our creek runs. Thanks to Mike Long for several of the Little White Shots, and to Russell Kramer as well.

Now we have two and a half hectic weeks of schoolwork between us and Christmas break, which will be a month long trip to the White Nile. Life is good.

Back to the physics grindstone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Natalie can now panam

Attention world:

Natalie has learned to panam. Consider yourself warned.

From Mwave 9/2009

Details to follow.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Birthday Bash: Blugrass Creek

My birthday was last Saturday on August 29. I didn't have anything more exciting planned for the weekend than painting the outside of our house on Sunday with Leif's mom Ann (soon to be my mother-in-law!), until Casper Mike (soon to be Bozeman Mike) had the great intuition to call me to go boating on Bluegrass Creek, WY. I jumped at the idea to run a creek which I have never run before. The trip proved to be just what I was hoping for. The creek was a perfect mix of heady whitewater with some steep drops and a nice long paddle in some beautiful scenery and awesome geology (minus the 20 fences that we had to duck under). Casper Mike put together a little video of the trip so you can check that out at:

The first mile of the creek is totally unnatural rip roaring good time. On Saturday there was 365 cfs being discharged out of Wheatland Reservoir #3 through a manmade rock tunnel and into an ephemeral drainage which probably normally carries about 8cfs at its peak. Below is a picture of the water coming out of the hillside.

Right below the tunnel the current takes off and doesn't let up until about a mile downstream when it hits the confluence of bluegrass creek. Within this mile there are three drops which should be scouted: Stamped, Tricky Ledge and Bucking Bronco.

Top Section Slideshow:

After miles and miles of rowdy flat water, boogie water, cement drop structures, cows, barbed wire fences (15), antelope, incredible geology and beautiful scenery the creek enters a granitic pluton which provides really neat class IV-V- rapids in a mini granite gorge. Finally the creek enters "Main Event" an incredible impressive rapid/gorge all rolled up into one.

Main Event Slideshow:

And finally, for the real main event of the day, we at Angel Food cake with whipped cream, blueberries and peaches at the take out.

Thanks Mike for taking us down, and next time I'll have a roof rack on my truck so we don't have to bring Leif's wimpy compact car and we can drive you all the way back to your truck at put-in.

Oh, and the house painting went pretty well as you can see below.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gore race 2009: 2nd and 4th!

Mist rising off the river just below putin, at dawn on race day

This weekend, Natalie and I headed up to the 2009 Gore Canyon race. I had just finished the three day drive back from the Slave, but somehow I ended up driving late into the night to get us there. We woke up early in hopes of getting a practice run in before the noon start of the race, since neither of us had run Gore since last year. However, the putin was deserted, and while we were hanging out making breakfast, a ranger showed up and politely informed us that there was no parking at putin until after the race was over. We packed up and headed to the takeout, which was a complete zoo. It was probably a good thing that we went to takeout, since we got to attend the racers' meeting and, you know, register and stuff. Of course, there was a lot of sitting around waiting for shuttles and such, but by about 12:00 we were back at the putin again, ready to paddle a few miles of flatwater and then RACE.

The race went well for both of us. The level was somewhere near 1400, which is perfect medium flow for Gore. This made the flatwater sections not too intense, and smoothed out all the rapids. I almost had a little mishap when I came close to blowing the left/left line at Gore rapid (drifted to the right, and hit the big hole in the center), but my line through toilet bowl helped make up some of that time. Natalie had a sweet boof on the Gore sneak, and flipped in Tunnel, but still had a fast line through there. The deciding point in her run was probably when she got to Scissors and didn't know the line (she'd only run Gore 2 or 3 times before racing, and all more than a year ago). She boofed far right into an eddy, and had to fight her way out, which might have been the difference between second and first.

We both paddled Fluid Solos. I was in the Large, and Natalie in the Medium. I was surprised when I measured my Solo and found that it was one of the shortest boats in the creekboat class. That must be why it's so manoeuvrable. However, it still has a pretty fast hull, as the results show.

Anyway, here's how we did:
Leif: 4th in the 8'-10' class (creekboat class) (out of 19 finishers + 5 dnf's), 8th overall (of 40 finishers + 6 dnf's), with a time of 22:54. I was 9 seconds behind Christian Cook, who took third.

Natalie: 2nd in women's class (of 2), 18th overall (of 40 + 6 dnf), with a time of 24:53. Her time would have put her in 11th in the men's creekboat class (of 19 + 5). She was only 7 seconds behind the first place woman (Maria Kallman). The two women were very closely matched, taking 17 and 18 overall, so it wasn't a case of "even last is only second," it was "second happens to be last place," if that makes any sense. Pretty good for not running it in a year, and only running it about 3 or 4 times total. Natalie said she was seriously pissed at all the women who showed up and paddled down to watch, but didn't race! I won't name names...

Since we obviously couldn't take any photos while racing, we staged a dramatic re-enactment of the race on sunday. Here are the photos that we took on that day.

An unidentified friend (wouldn't want him to get fired) "calling in some field work" just before putting in.

Dramatic re-enactment of Leif's line through Gore, with the part of Leif played by Natalie Kramer.

Dramatic re-enactment of Natalie's line through Gore, with Natalie played by Leif Anderson, and Natalie's line played by the Professor

Eric Bissel re-enacting his own line, with the part of his creekboat played by his playboat.

Some random dude working the slower line through tunnel.

Leif's line through tunnel.

Natalie's line through tunnel, except without all the flipping.

Here are the results.

There's a video of the race that features me punching right into the center of Ginger, but making it through, Natalie styling the sneak, and a whole bunch of other people.

And apparently there was even an article in the Denver Post, although I didn't see any references to my name, so it's probably boring.

Next year, we plan to do even better.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Massive Rollercoaster Dump

Rollercoaster is a pretty nice, friendly wave in the Cassette rapids here on the Slave river. It's got some size to it, so large moves are not impossible, but it isn't too violent or trashy. The eddy is a little boring, due to the large distance that you have to paddle, but hey, at least you don't have to hike. We were lucky enough to get quite a few days there this year, as the levels changed around.

Well, I'm not writing a guidebook here. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. Begin photo dump!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Still here - Sweetspot photos

Yes, I am still here. While I've been up here on the Slave, Natalie has been running all over the place, kicking ass at races, and posting libellous blog articles about me. But I'm not taking it sitting down. I've had a few adventures of my own. So many, in fact, that I haven't even had time to brag about them. Times have been crazy indeed. Since it's dark outside, it must be near midnight (since I'm in the Northwest Territories), so I'll just throw up a bunch of photos. Pow, enjoy.

Maybe later I'll throw together some rollercoaster photos. If I feel like it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gnarrows Race 2009!!!

I womped on good number of guy paddlers this last weekend at the Gnarrows Race on the Cache La Poudre to come in 4th out of 18 paddlers. For a complete pre-race to post race shit talk fest visit

The gnarrows race is hands down the best and most fun boater X ever. This low key event is attended by locals and is not an official event. There are no entry fees, no bibs, just plain old fun. The preliminaries are usually held in heats of four or five and the racers paddle from upper narrows all the way down through lower narrows, it is exhausting! The top two paddlers advance. Kevin, whom I call fancy no pants due to the fact that he was wearing a leopard print thong for the event, almost caught up to me on the last drop of narrows, but I eeked through to semi-finals. Semi finals and finals are held just on lower narrows. The key to winning these heats is to jockey for a good starting position. I had crappy starting position for both the semi-finals and the finals. However, I was able to snag second place during semi finals due to Casper Mike's flip to swim, which threw todd offline and allowed me to paddle through. Unfortunately during finals as I was about to snag third place in front of Kyle McCutchen, Marty got stuck in front of me and threw me into some slow water above the last drop. Marty and Kyle snagged second and third respectively. Congrats to Christian for an uncontested awesome champion finish. And great job to Nathan who took fifth after debating whether or not he wanted to race.

Below is a slide show of pictures from the day which my mother took, thanks mom!

The race was awesome and the after party was a new experience for me as we boiled and ate crawfish, and sucked their heads. And of course, I made the party complete by setting off some awesome grease bombs from some fat that I had been saving up for a year. We also broke out the maple whiskey which was a nice touch to the end of an incredible day.

I also had to include a slide show of the crawfish feed. I forgot to get the camera out for the grease bombs so there are no really cool explosion photos, oops.

Monday, July 27, 2009



I am writing this post for two partially related reasons,

1. Nostalgia for my boating partner who has whisked himself away to Northern Canada to do nothing but playboating (what a pansy ass).

2. I feel like our creekboating adventures have been severely under represented this summer on our blog. This is: partly because some person (who I will refrain from naming) only likes posting our kick ass photos on Fluid's site, partly because I am lazy and have not posted them yet, and partly because our two person team hasn't been taking as many photos as we should while running the shit. Apparently most rapids 'are not worth the trouble'.

Unless otherwise noted, all pictures of Leif were taken by Natalie and visa versa.


We often run things in tandem and I am especially grateful to Seth Murphy for snagging these shots of our blitz run down the narrows at four feet. I believe that this was the last run Leif and I ran together before he drove off into the sunset. (either this or the Big South which we have no photos of). And just for the record, I beat the buck in the icecream game on both the Big South and the Narrows. I'm sure he is assuaging his ego right now up on the Slave after I thoroughly crushed it before his departure. To see Leif getting beat down on the Big South see the following video posted on Mountain Buzz (

Whiteline (left) and the middle line in the entrance to Lower Narrows (right). Leif flips about three seconds after each of these photos were taken. Photos by Seth Murphy.

Since Leif has been gone, I have been swamped with field work and I have finally gotten around to cleaning the house and fixing up the yard. The things you can get done when the men aren't around! I have gone out a few times to run the Big South and the Narrows. Thanks Evan Stafford and Nathan Werner for your company, you both make excellent replacement boating partners. Perhaps Leif and I should be parted more often so that I make the effort to expand my boating contacts beyond the bubble containing the person I live with, argue with and, love.


We did this run kinda early in the year when it was just barely high enough to run, or really just barely low enough not to run. We ran the first couple of sweet drops at the put in, went around a few bends and then hiked out for fear we would break our boats on sharp Colorado mining rocks before the season really even got started. Anyway, sometimes short days make for great photos.


Unlike Upper Clear Creek, Leif and I made it down to New Mexico for the high water runs on both the Rio Embudo and the Upper Taos Box. Although we didn't make it for the race, we were there a day or two later and so those of you who were there know exactly what I mean by high, HIGH. Although neither of us had run either of the two runs, we were able to route it down both with our efficient two person, practically non-verbal (because we can read one anothers minds), system. Unfortunately we have no photos of the Box because I don't believe Leif nor I got out of our boats all day. However, the upper Taos Box at really high flows is AWESOME and I highly recommend it if you like BIG WATER and are comfortable in it. We had a slightly longer day with many real scouts and eddy hopping on the Embudo and consequently we have some pretty cool photos.

I really like this photo.

scouting then coming out clean in slots of fun.


South Mineral Creek is a very photogenic short stretch which Leif loved. I usually opt for the longer runs which don't require hiking laps but you couldn't beat the incredible scenery. Apparently none of the rapids on the First Gorge Lime was worth getting our camera out for (even adrenaline falls).

Ice lakes creek



Leif and I went up the Eldorado Canyon to get some early season training in and found ourselves as the source of entertainment for crowds of people. I swear this is one of the most crowded and busy State Parks ever. We managed to get on the South Saint Vrain for its entirety and had an enjoyable experience (no pics). Sadly, I was unable to participate in the creek race on the SSV this year due to work but Leif did and had a good time I believe. This is one of my favorite creek races and I hope I'll be able to make it next year.


and of course, Oh BE JOYFUL

I only was able to get on this run when it was running high at the beginning of the season. What a hoot! Leif and I did two laps and then decided that our adrenaline was thoroughly pumped for the day. It is basically the same run as at low water, but padded and fast, very very very fast. When it is impossible for cars to drive over slate creek because it is running too deep and swift heads up you'll either have a great splashy time or be scared, or both. We only got pictures of our first lap and only of the put in boof, sorry.

I guess I forgot to mention the weather...

Thanks Leif for being (most of the time) a great partner both on the water and off.