Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Break video

I've been feverishly slaving away at the editing machine, turning the cracks, pulling the levers, and taping all that footage together, and the tireless efforts have finally paid off. It was worth the three weeks spent without any sleep and the hundreds of dollars spent. With no further ado, allow me to present the fully edited Spring Break video to go with this story.

At the end of the video is Jakub Nemec's hail mary to beatdown at Celestial falls. Shit gets intense for a while, and may not be appropriate for younger viewers (Finn... Ollie...). However, Jakub came out of it ok, and we did find that paddle that everyone was yelling about so loudly ("Katrina! Get the paddle!"). Mostly it was Galen yelling, because it was his paddle that Jakub was borrowing. I debated leaving out the beatdown, but decided to stick it in there for a couple reasons. The rest of the video is good clean fun, since I carefully removed all appearances by anyone associated with BDP. I also made the executive decision not to use the GoPro footage that I discovered on my camera after the trip. It was a POV shot of someone reading that porn magazine that was floating around the BDP mansion. Very classy, but I just couldn't fit it with the music.

Anyway, enjoy:

Spring Break 2013 from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

4 days in the Southeast

Last weekend, Natalie and I got to go on a trip to the Southeast US for a Fluid kayaks team trip. This may surprise our more astute fans, because I am constantly making fun of paddlers from the southeast. Well, having taken a trip out there to experience their rivers for myself, I will say this:

I was totally right.

Everything that I said about the east seems to have been completely verified by my trip out there. Paddlers from the east are giant babies about cold weather and cold water, because it seems to always be warm there. Paddlers from the east are terrified of normal rivers because all their rivers are incredibly tiny and have no water in them. And don't try to tell me about such and such from the east who is the greatest big water paddler in blah blah blah. If that person is good at big water, I bet that they are FROM the east, but they did their big watering somewhere else and they now live in Canada or the northwest. Paddlers from the east have bizarre attitudes about rocks, because although their runs seem to be made of rocks instead of water, those rocks are somehow soft and forgiving and smooth. In Colorado, we have real manly rocks. Rocks that knock you off line and break your boat even when you don't touch them. Rocks covered in ice and blood. Mank.

Now, with that rant aside, I will say this: although everything I had thought about the east was true, it still wasn't the whole picture. These tiny little rock-filled creeks are actually really fun to paddle, and maybe I only met a few of them, but paddlers from the east seem to be really nice people. During our trip out there, we had an action packed couple days of awesome runs. (Apart from the Lower Cullasaja. That sucked.)

If you're illiterate (like most of our fans) and just want to look at the pretty pictures, check out this slideshow. Otherwise, read on for more hilarious bigoted one-liners about the southeast.

We started out with the Toxaway, which I hear is one of the better runs in that half of the country. It was ok, I suppose. We had low flows, but the river was so tiny that it was ok anyway.
Toxaway?  More like Tiny-away.

No, in all seriousness, the Toxaway was an awesome run. Natalie and I agreed that we could just about justify the whole trip just based on that single day. There were a ton of slides. It felt like the South Branch of the Feather, except miniaturized and with all the waterfalls replaced with slides. I'd like to go back there some day with more water.
Landbridge.  I won't lie, I was a little nervous at the top of this one.

After the Toxaway, we went to scout out the Raven fork, but it was too low even by east coast standards, so we ended up on the Lower Cullasaja instead. Everyone was saying how we were dropping into a really sketchy and intense run (none of us had done it before), but basically it was just a super rocky jumble of crap. That run was really not very good. Still, it was better than not boating, and there was one nice boof near the end, about 3 feet tall. We didn't take photos of it. To finish out that day, we drove upstream to a steep little 7 foot slide to 4 foot slide combo upstream. It was too rocky for my tastes, so I relaxed on the bank and shot photos and video, and heckled.
I had a whole series of these shots, but they're a little too cliched for my tastes.
Our third day was mostly spent on a nice park n' huck slide (waterfalls are hard to find in the east), followed by an ultra low water descent of some French Broad. In Colorado they make fun of me and Natalie because we're willing to run rivers at just ridiculously low flows (check out these posts for proof). On the east coast, I am apparently a flow snob. Everyone else seemed to think that we had an acceptable flow on the French Broad.
In the east, they tended to call everything a "falls".  This is "triple falls," which is a series of slides.
Seth the canoer.
The last drop on the French Broad.

Of course, we just couldn't leave the southeast without running the Green River Narrows. The Green is like the southeast version of the Little White Salmon, or Burnt Ranch Gorge. It's the go-to classic that everyone must run. We were (as the kids say) mobbing on the Green, with a huge crew of Fluid kayaks. We were pushing more Bazookas than a discount arms dealer. We even had Josh Galt with us, who is THE BEST RIVERBOARDER IN THE WORLD. We got to watch him make the first known riverboard descent of Gorilla. Since we had such a huge crew on such a popular run, I didn't take many photos, I just left my GoPro Hero3 on timelapse mode and caught a couple interesting stills. And because everyone is bound to ask, yes, we ran Gorilla too. I was pretty nervous about the entry, especially after watching Jules Domine flip over there, but Natalie thought it looked good to go, so she fired it up and made it look easy. After watching her line, I said to myself that I didn't bring these shoulder pads all the way across the country just to portage easier (although they do help with portaging) and I also gave it a go. My line was pretty smooth. Seeing the rapid the first time, I think we really focused on the possible problems. After running it, I felt how easy it can be, and I can sort of understand how it would be easy to get complacent about that drop.


I can't believe there aren't more accidents out east.  There were so many undercuts.

Here is a video of Josh running Gorilla:

...and here is another from Adrian Keirnan. Natalie and I are in the background a few times in this video.
Now, in true Leif and Natalie tradition, here are the photos that I found amusing from our trip.
Bobby's face is really amusing, especially when you notice that he's hauling his boat along a flat shelf.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Break 2013 - Hood Classics

This spring break, Natalie had to do some research setup in the Northwest Territories (that's a state in Canada) and couldn't come paddle, so Spencer Mauk, Josh Oberleas and I loaded up and headed out to the Pacific Northwest (that's those states in the US). I had a great time showing the boys down some of my favorite runs around the Hood river area. I'm putting together a video of the trip, but for now enjoy some of the photos we took.

Spencer creepin on my long exposures
We started out by driving through the night and sleeping for about 3 hours in the car in order to make it to the Wind River race. None of us had ever done the Wind, but we knew it was a pretty mellow run. I still had to lobby pretty hard to get Spencer and Josh to register for the race. In the end, I think it was the fact that entry fees covered beer at the takeout that really tipped the scales.

The race was a ton of fun, and about the difficulty I had imagined. It was a mass start, so that we all knew about how we were doing relative to the pack. Josh and I kept trading back and forth during the race, with him yelling to me about how stoked he was to be back on the water, and me trying not to puke from the exertion. In the end, Josh took fifth and I took sixth. My good friend Dan Rubado (Portland local) was just barely in sight in first place. Spencer managed to not swim, but said that he was like second to last. Overall it was a great time.

Josh stoked on a playboating river run.
From there, I was determined to go playboating, so we headed out to the coast and did a little surfing. I'll spare you the details. After playboating, we started hitting the really classic Hood runs, the Green Truss on the White Salmon and the Little White Salmon. We managed to time it so that Josh's first LW run was on his birthday. There was a huge crew on the water that day, because it was also Kyle Hull's birthday. I led Josh and Spencer through wishbone without telling them what drop it was, just the line. They were amused... by the time we made it to takeout. That night we had a delicious birthday dinner with Josh and some of his family over at Full Sail brewery in Hood river proper. It was probably the high point of the trip.
Typical scene in the BDP mansion

Throughout our time in the Hood, we stayed at the BDP mansion. If you spend much time on mountainbuzz.com, you may already know of BDP, since apparently they're a bunch of misogynistic drunks intent on destroying the sport of kayaking and probably doing something unspeakable to your daughter in the process. We had a great time hanging out with them. They were incredibly welcoming, inviting us, practical strangers, to stay in their living room for almost a week. I won't lie, there was a fair amount of drinking and partying, but they were fun people to be around, and I definitely appreciated their careful beta and safety when they led us down the Little White. This whole break just reaffirmed my dislike of rafters and rafter culture.

Josh on Celestial
Toward the end of the trip, we started running more waterfalls. We made the surprisingly short pilgrimage down to Celestial falls, which is probably the easiest park n' huck in the Northwest. Celestial was my second waterfall that I ever ran, back around 2000 or so, and I hadn't been back there in at least 10 years. It was fun to go back. The waterfall didn't seem much shorter, but the little climb down to the water seemed way way easier. Strange which things change. I watched Jakub Nemec throw a really sick hail mary off the waterfall, implode his skirt, and swim into the ledge hole just downstream. It was one of the most savage beatings I have ever seen, but fortunately he was okay and most of the gear was recovered. I caught Norovirus (again), or at least something made me sick, and I had to miss a day of paddling. Spencer and Josh went up and hucked punchbowl falls on Eagle creek while I recovered.
Jakub's Hail Mary Recovering after the beatdown

Spencer on Punchbowl.  Photo by Wes Schrek.

For our very last day, we joined up with Dan Rubado and had a relaxed run down canyon creek at low water, taking our time and getting lots of photos. It was a good reminder. I had hoped to run more new runs during this trip, but even running stuff I had done before was a ton of fun, especially since it was all new to Josh and Spencer. Next trip maybe I'll explore some newer runs and bigger waterfalls. Even the standard runs are worth enjoying, though.
Everyone's doing back freewheels these days.  I switched it up and went forward.  Photo by Dan Rubado.
I think Dan was doing "Blue Steel" here.
Spencer getting splashed in the face

I'm working on a video of the trip, but here is a slideshow of my favorite photos that we got:

Some of the photos in this post were taken by Spencer Mauk. In order to publish those photos on this blog, Spencer requires us to include the following sentence: Spencer exemplifies all the traits I hope for in my first born child.