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Showing posts from 2014

Northwest Territories Waterfall Tour

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Greetings, fellow explorers! This week, the Leif and Natalie Show visits the distant NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, deep in the heart of a tiny North American country known as Canada. As always, we journey out in search of adventure and whitewater. Here is the video of this episode:
NWT Waterfall Tour from Leif Anderson on Vimeo. HD! Full screen! Now!

This week's quest was simple: investigate the mythical waterfalls on the many creeks surrounding the Great Slave Lake. These waterfalls are caused by isostatic rebound. The thick ice sheet laying over the continent during the ice age was heavy enough to depress the earth's crust around the Great Slave Lake. After it melted, the crust rebounded upward. The process of rebound continues today. The creeks and rivers in the region began to incise downward into the uplifting terrain, and the usual method of erosion is for waterfalls to form and gradually migrate upriver. Fortunately for us, there happens to be a highway that circles…

Tea Time on the Stikine

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Last summer on a trip report of the Stikine, our friend Dave Spiegel wrote:

“But despite the many, very real challenges of pulling off this run, it seems to me that it’s becoming more and more common as the next generation of boaters begins to paddle at a higher level. The river that was once the biggest challenge in whitewater has become a training ground for those looking to achieve even higher levels.” (full write up)
This summer/fall the Stikine saw many many crews paddle through its steep and committing canyon. It seems that Dave was right on point. It is now more common for a crew of paddlers to go to the Stikine and run it multiple times. First as a three day, then as a two, or even a one day trip. Perhaps one of the most impressive feats this summer was Nouria Newman not only becoming the second woman to run the Stikine (I guess that makes me the third) but the first woman to run Site Zed. Check out the video of her run. After being there and seeing this impressive fea…

Solo paddling on the Slave: a lesson on the value of friendship

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It's getting toward fall up here on the Slave river, and this is usually the time when things slow down. Paddlers go home, the weather cools off a little, and the water starts to drop. Ironically, this is also when one of the sickest waves comes in: Rockem Sockem. I've come up to the Slave 8 different years (or is it 9?) and have not yet been able to really surf this wave.

Until sunday.

On sunday, the levels dropped from just barely too high for Rockem Sockem straight to the low end of perfect, which is even more perfect than perfect. We went SUPpering at mountain for the first half of the day, then packed up all the cameras (not a lot of cameras - ALL the cameras) and rallied the crew to go surf. We took a couple rides at outrageous on the way down, since it was as good as I ever remember seeing it. When we got to Rockem Sockem, I was amazed at how good it was. It was even better than I had imagined. However, having wasted most of the day, we didn't get to t…

The 2014 WWGP Swim Team

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Before we move on to write about our summer trips I thought I'd write a post about the WWGP Swim Team. I (Natalie) got to watch and photograph every event and believe you me there was way more carnage than made it into the videos. Thus, I feel that it is my duty to get the word out. Who else will do it, and... isn't this what everyone really wants to know?

What follows is a list of the members of the swim team and their inaugural feats, to the best of my knowledge and memory. If I left you out, then you lucked out this time. If I wrote that you swam, and you didn't or I mixed you up with someone else then I give permission to slander me all you want in the comments section at the end of the post.

In order of joining membership, I present to you the one and the only 2014 WWGP swim team!

Joel Kowalski: Stakeout day before Stage 2. I'm not sure of the details but I think Kent Bretzlaf has some helmet cam footage of the rescue.Lou Urwin: Stage 2: Big Water Boater Cross and

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 6 - Giant Slalom

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle

After two weeks of traveling and competing, we finally arrived at the final stage of the Whitewater Grand Prix: the Giant Slalom. The event was planned for the Basse Cache river, which is French for "Arms Hat" river. We arrived the day before for some practice, only to find that the ArmHat river was off the Richter scale, way too high. There were a number of steep rapids, and the river had a very continuous character, so that if anything went wrong, rescues would be highly difficult. It was the Grand Prix, so we were pretty confident…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 5 - Freestyle

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle

Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

Stage 4, the big wave comp at Black Mass, had been the low point of the series for me. However, things started to take a turn for the better that very night. Joel came back to the hotel room pretty late and didn't snore at all. Natalie and I woke up bright and early to learn that the day was a stakeout day, which basically meant free day. There had been a lot of talk about a big green wave way upstream on the Mistissibi, which everyone kept saying would be perfect for our surf boats. We loaded up a small crew of the two of us, Tino Spe…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross
Stage 3 - Time Trial

Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

Stage 4 was a "3 trick standard" freestyle comp on the Black Mass wave, in the Hawaii rapid on the Mistissibi river, deep in the heart of real Quebec. This was probably the low point of the series for most competitors.

The scoring was pretty simple. Each paddler had the same number of attempts at the wave. If you caught it, you had two minutes to throw whatever tricks you could. Your best three tricks were scored (with combos counting as a single trick). Sort of vaguely similar to ICF rules, there were point values for each trick, with d…

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 3 - Time Trial

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest
Stage 2 - Boatercross

Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

After the boatercross, we headed north to Shawinigan. As we were packing up, I was a little nervous because we didn't have a phone or really any way to check internet on the road, so I got the most precise directions available, straight from Pat.

"Pat, where exactly are we meeting?"

"Shawinigan."

"Like, at a park, or maybe at a Walmart?"

"Shawinigan."

"Just get there and everything will sort itself out?"

"Shawinigan, Leif. Shawinigan."

Based on this conversation, I figured …

Live from the Grand Prix, stage 2 - Boatercross

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The Whitewater Grand Prix is a 6 event series combining freestyle and creekboating aspects of kayaking. In 2014 it took place mostly in Quebec. In 2012 it was a race series in Chile, and Natalie competed. Check out all of Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix writeups, and here are links to the rest of the stages in the 2014 series:
Stage 1 - Big Trick Contest

Stage 3 - Time Trial
Stage 4 - Big Wave Freestyle
Stage 5 - Freestyle
Stage 6 - Giant Slalom

After the big trick contest, we packed up and headed over east to the Rouge river for the big water boatercross. The rains closed in and the weather cooled off quite a bit. Also, of incredible importance, we drove approximately 5 minutes north of a particular bridge, which meant that all of a sudden, everyone started speaking French instead of English.

The Rouge is a pretty sweet river. We were there at relatively high flows, but I imagine there are good rapids there at almost any level. The river is not incredibly large (for our race, the…