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.


  1. Sounds like an amazing 9 days! The PNW rocks. Be sure to give me a shout next time your in town. I live in downtown PDX now. Peace- Bryon

  2. Hell Yes! That's awesome dude, nice work. Natalie looks like she's killing it!

  3. Hey Leif,

    Rad post. Skooks is pretty fun. I had my shoulder surgery 3 weeks ago. It is healing up nicely. I am already getting excited to get back in my boat. Keep the stories coming!


  4. finally, I mean I am glad that Natalie can pan am and all but I wanted to learn that she is better at creeking than me too.


  5. Who's the Jerk who forgot to turn on the camera? Got to figure out how to post that video....
    -Russell Kramer


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