Spring Break 2010: Droppin' Science

As usual, I'll just start this one off with a slideshow so that you don't have to scroll past all the text to get to the photos, you can see them all right away.

Now, here's the deal. Last week was spring break, and in a surprising move, Natalie, who has a break, decided not to go, while Nathan Werner, who has a job, asked if he could tag along. After much deliberation, I gave the reluctant thumbs up. We packed up the car and rocked through the night to Arcata CA. While Nathan was "pushing the whip," (which means driving. I'm so hip.) I put in Fish outta Water By Chali 2na, and we discovered the catch line of the trip:

"I be droppin' science like girls be droppin' babies."

I couldn't really express why this line really resonated with the expedition, but it did. I mean, what does that really mean, anyway? I walk around funny for about 9 months, gain lots of weight, have mood swings, then have an incredibly painful process of... kayaking? Actually that sounds about right. Did I mention that I sometimes crave pickles and ice cream during the school year? But I digress.

We decided to split the trip about half and half between creeking and playing. We started off with some 18 foot surf in Arcata. Nathan was a little worried, and kept reminding me that his only surfing experience had been when he waded out into the ocean once as a kid. I pretended not to hear him. For hours at a time. Sure enough, the surf was awesome. Over the course of our three or four surf days, Nathan's attitude changed from: "Leif, what about all those rocks" to: "Leif, this totally rocks".

Unfortunately, the only photos that we got were a couple scenic shots of Nathan and I walking to the beach, and one picture that Nathan got of me doing a clean. And we don't have copies of the photos of us getting into the water. They were shot by Paul Gamache, who thought I was kidding when I said that the shots of us walking down the stairs would be the best photos of the day. He used Will Parham's camera so that I wouldn't get copies of the photos. It's hard to get pictures in the ocean.

Leif droppin' science at Camel Rock Full Album

Nathan got the full ocean experience. If you wear a drytop in the ocean, you will almost always get the dreaded "gasket rash". The latex gasket of your drytop, mixed with the beach sand, cuts into the skin of your neck, which is ultra-softened by the salty water. It's not uncommon to be put on suicide watch after a good surfing bender, since it looks like you tried to hang yourself.

Nathan's neck after a few days of surfing. Full Album

We also found time to make a run down the classic Burnt Ranch Gorge with Natalie's brother Russell, as well as the Smith river gorges on our way north. I included more photos in the slideshow, but here are a couple of my favorites.

Nathan and Russell enjoying Burnt Ranch Gorge Full Album

South Fork Smith putin Full Album

Brief flatwater stretch at the end of the South Fork Smith Gorge Full Album

While I was out in California paddling, Natalie's sister Stephanie was visiting Natalie back in Colorado. It was near the end of our time in Arcata that we got the awful news that while Natalie and Stephanie were out skiing, Stephanie overshot the transition on a jump in the terrain park and shattered her L1 vertebra. She isn't paralyzed, which is very good, but it was by no means a minor injury. She was flown to Grand Junction to have some pins put into her spine, and she was already walking just a few days after the accident. It looks like she'll make a pretty good recovery, but it's still a terrible thing to have happen to you. It definitely put a damper on our moods out in California.

Dampered moods or not, we decided to head north to do a little bit of creeking. We had originally planned to try to hit the Green Truss, Eagle Creek, and the Little White, but we decided that it would be prudent to take it pretty easy, given the happenings back home. We met up with a crew of Arcata paddlers, and took just one lap on the Green Truss before heading back to Colorado early.

I got some okay photos, but Arcata paddler Ben York got a ton of really great shots, especially of me, since I'm awesome. There are more photos in the slideshow, but here are my favorites.

A photo of Ben taking a photo of Martin Belden (the madman) Full Album

Nathan dropping Big Brother. Leif Anderson Photo. Full Album

Peter the Russian droppin' some science on Little Brother. Nobody told him that this wasn't "the line". Full Album

When we got to BZ falls at the end of the run, I felt like firing it up. The consequences looked manageable, and I felt like I was paddling well that day. Nathan and Ben both got sick shots of me launching a rocket powered boof...

Nathan's shot of my BZ boof Full Album

Ben's shot of me diving into the boiling soup Full Album

...and then they all laughed as I followed the rocket powered boof with a rocket powered beatdown. I didn't drop any science there. BZ falls dropped me, like a heavyweight boxer taking on a 98 pound weakling. I partied a little.

This is what it feels like to have science dropped on you. Nathan Werner photo. Full Album

Well, I guess my smooth style convinced Orion that BZ wasn't all that bad, because after watching me almost swim out, he decided to give it a go. I think it was a case of "it can't really go much worse than that". Where I boofed the hell out of the right side to get a nice photo of me airborne in the good sunlight, Orion focused a little more on running the rapid. His line was to follow the main current down the middle, and tuck hard.

Orion's crazy "the run is more important than the photo" scheme. Nathan Werner photo. Full Album

Well, as you may have guessed from my bitter tone, Orion totally styled the drop. He went deep and didn't even slow down. He resurfaced a good 15 - 20 feet downstream of the boil line and paddled away clean, like a jerk. Way to make me look bad, Orion. Plus the photo of him turned out pretty good, after all.

Well, with the sour taste of Orion's boot kicking my ass, Nathan and I headed back to Colorado to go see Stephanie and the rest of the Kramer family. Even leaving the northwest ahead of schedule, we only got a couple days in Grand Junction. We took a cool hike up onto one of the mesas east of town, where I got this cool photo:

Hiking in Grand Junction Full Album

... and we got to see the sight we had really been hoping for: Stephanie walking. Very carefully.

Stephanie with a pretty positive attitude. Full Album

Now I'm back in Fort Collins, not droppin' waterfalls, but droppin' real science, like the homework and research kind. Like girls be droppin' babies.


  1. hey.... so i randomly found your parents on Couch Surfing, and they said you may have some ideas on paddling. i have been livin in NZ for the past year and just got to cali this week. now im trying to get a car and go boatin'... any ideas on where to find some creeks and some keen paddlers. the photos from spring break look awesome! hit me up next time your headed out on an adventure. ck64930@appstate.edu, 828 371 1148
    Charles King

  2. Hilarious style, excellent reading, congratulations. Nice to hear about my good friend Peter doing ok despite nasty locals concealing the lines from him.
    Oleg another Russian

  3. Leif, you should talk to Will. He's got all the shots from the day you were out there. Sure he wouldn't mind emailing you some.



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