This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is kayaking facing ourselves... or running away?

I suppose this has to start with another question: What does it mean to face yourself?

Asking this question leads to another cascade of questions:

What is yourself?
Are you your thoughts? your actions?
Where is the thought coming from? What is its root?

When I have questions like this I turn to Buddhism
Cody questioning
Meditation, in buddhism, is the way that we face ourselves. In this mindspace you put yourself in a place to be with your own thoughts, to see what pops up.

Buddhism breaks beginning meditation into two parts
Samatha: Peaceful abiding
Vipassana: Insight

When you let the mind rest, and remove objects of attention from your mind, you are left with what the mind has in it. I think that at first your mind starts coming up with things, many things pop up, but after awhile you can let them go through you. Your mind rests and perhaps insight comes into your mind rather than just pop ups of random stuff. That is a breakthrough. These intuitive moments can be about the world, a relationship, or a thing, but they always are a way of facing yourself; you face your beliefs, your thoughts, your history, and your habits while in this mindspace.

Now does kayaking have these kinds of traits? During the kayaking experience you certainly are not rid of objects of attention, in fact you have an overdose of this kind of input. By the end of a day of kayaking your brain wants very little to do with more stimulation, and this is when kayaking allows you to face yourself, to reflect. These opportunities are magnified on multiday trips where you are in wilderness with nothing but time a few friends, empty minds, and a fire. These times are normally quiet and thoughtful times. The moonscapes inspire empty minds, the sounds of water lightly wearing away rocks sets a tone for deeper thought. We can have insight in these places, if we choose to.

Some say action is not meditation. Chogyam Trungpa has an entry about those who claim that they meditate, just not in the traditional way. He describes a man who comes to meditation once in awhile, but who claims that he likes hunting ducks more, so that is his meditation. Trungpa lets the man believe what he will, but quietly questions what one can really gain insight about while hunting. I agree with his lament for this mans delusion. I do not believe one can meditate while doing anything but thinking, but I think that a person who needs to move their body can meditate and think even more effectively after releasing the bodies energy. The mind is clear, they are satisfied and not filled with desires and attachment.

There have been times when kayaking has not felt like meditation, when it has been a way to get away from myself.  I did't have to deal with anyone or anything other than the river while I was out there. I let the fear and anxiety run my mind, take me away from the moment. This has changed over time though. As I get older I see it as a regenerative force in my life, as a thing that I do to find myself, to come up with a fresh direction or idea about what I should be doing with myself. It inspires me, it leads me to insight about myself and my life.

I do believe we can face ourselves through the actions of kayaking. It is a purifying thing. You let the fear and excitement of kayaking clean your mind and soul, then you have a clean slate to work from. You have a mind that is primed for thinking, it is no longer distracted, it is satisfied, saturated, sometimes overly stimulated.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Palouse Falls

Ever wonder how fast Tyler Bradt was going when he hit the water off of the record 186 foot Palouse falls?
Today we find out.

We have two knowns. Distance and acceleration. Like any sensible person I will convert everything to the metric system, duh. The metric system is sweet.

distance=186 feet= 56.6928 meters
acceleration= gravity= 9.831 m/s^2 (meters per second squared)

Then we start with what we know.
Velocity is equal to acceleration times time.
v = a t
Acceleration in this case is gravity so
v = gt
Then you integrate with respect to time and get
d=1/2g t^2+c
c is a constant that tells us the starting point of his falls, we will set it to zero. c=0
then we substitute the known values


solving for t we get

The we put it back into our original equation to determine his velocity upon entering the water
v=33.386 m/s

which translates to 

74.67 MPH

That is really fast! Much faster than I would ever like to go in a kayak.

Is this the limit?
This section is highly speculative and not meant as an endorsement for running waterfalls of any height, let alone those above 186 ft.

Two percent of people survive the 245 ft leap from the Golden Gate. This is a leap into completely green water, there is no aeration to soften the impact. Now saying that there is a 2% survival rate is not a strong argument for running a waterfall that is that tall, but it goes to show that it is possible to survive a fall of 245 feet into water. There are certainly other problems with the idea. First of all, it will be difficult to find a waterfall that is that tall that shares all the characteristics of Palouse: The big pool, the minimal risk of going behind the falls, the relatively flat entrance, and big flows all contributed to its appeal. All this aside it is possible to survive, and if the possibility alone doesn't inspire you, I just don't know what else will. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Upper Indian

Upper Indian is a Quincy local class V classic. It is rarely talked about. It is one mile and drops something in the range of 200-300 feet. It is all runnable to varying degrees, that being said it is a rare day when you run the whole thing through, if you do you can do this run in less than 30 minutes, but it is a lot.

First Drop

Then on to one of my favorite boofs ever: Slack jawed yokel. Kurt styling it.
Continuing downstream leads to the steeps with more quality rapids: Nuclear Meltdown
Morgan Koons enjoys The Wall

The lineup after the wall is Big Girl Panties, Colorado Classic, the Chief, then Monkey Boof.
Kurt scouring the section for viable lines.

Morgan on Monkey Boof
Then the exit of the main gorge. This photo doesn't do it great justice, but it is a face full of fun: Kumbayardsale.
The final rapid: Indian falls, a 15 foot waterfall. Cody enjoying it in multiple ways.

That is an awesome 1 mile of whitewater. We are supremely lucky to have such a run out there for us.

Cheers to local classics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My first attempt at a first descent

First descents are nothing but sheer glory. They are always super clean, classic runs that will forever be etched in your memory. This was my first and I will remember it as one of the most amazing days of my kayaking career. Crossing that first horizon line to find nothing but California's finest will be in my memory forever.

The put-in. A modestly willowy and rocky endeavor.

Then it started to get good

Wait no... that was a log portage into a significantly willowy seal launch. Then it got classic.

Wait... that turn went right into a junky boulder garden. The goods were downstream...
hmmmm... this is where we hiked out. That's right! The put-in adumbrated the run, unfortunately not enough for us the eschew the whole episode. It was junky, piled up, pig sized boulders with logs jammed in there for extra fun! I think I may have portaged half the run. Perhaps first descents aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Better luck next time.


"All kayakers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Kayaking a river is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can kayak nothing worthwhile unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality."

George Orwell in the essay Why I write. I have replaced anything to do with writing with a word related to kayaking. You can read the whole essay here

His essay is all about his motives to write. Which succinctly are:

1. Egoism 
2. Asthetic Enthusiasm
3. Historical Impulse
4. Political Purpose.

Surprisingly, all these reasons have a great deal to do with why people kayak, at least at higher levels.

1. The first is obvious. Egoism. At this point I feel a tremendous need to just move on because it seems as if this goes without saying. I would be surprised if kayaking was started by anything but the egotistical need to seem cool, be talked about, feel hardcore, etcetera. It is a joke if you believe you kayak hard shit without this reason, especially if you are involving media in any form. I don't mean this as anything negative. I believe the ego is necessary to achieve things. If people didn't have an ego, why would they try to discover, create, or do great things? Kayakers, like many others pursuing their own limits, use their own ego to their advantage, and thrive off what it gives them: confidence and purpose. 

2. The second reason resonates as well: Asthetic Enthusiasm. A clean waterfall is a perfect example. This is a strange thing about kayaking: Beautiful waterfalls are the easiest thing to run. If the fifty footer on the south branch were pool to pool, you could send anyone who had a roll off of it, yet we all flock to do it. It is precisely because it is one of the most beautiful rapids in the country. Runs are named after their one beautiful drop, like Fantasy Falls. Everyone I know gets excited about a beautiful waterfall, no matter how easy it is, even if they are only willing to run class V all the time. Kayakers are enthusiastic about beautiful rapids as much as they are about fun, challenging ones.

3. Historical impulse, Orwell says, is "To see things as they are". This is a tremendous impulse for kayakers when scouting. We truly want our vision, the vision in our head, to match what would actually happen. This is a huge motivator, we will ignore danger to align our vision with reality, to see if it is as it seems. Kayakers derive great satisfaction from knowing that they see things as they are. If things aren't as they seem, and things go horribly wrong, from my experience I get really frustrated and look harder, wanting, from some unknown place, to known where my vision betrayed me, where I did not see reality. I will run it again to make sure I see things as they are.
Galen seeing things as they are. 

4. Now upon initial inspection, kayaking would have little political purpose, and perhaps it is a stretch. But upon reading his description of the term political it seems that kayaking could have everything to do with politics, the politics of kayaking. Orwell states that he has the "Desire to push the world in a certain direction". This is precisely what kayakers are doing all the time. Even if we look at the evolution of the word 'classic' over time it has changed from relatively low gradient runs with very few to no portages with a long season and somewhat large flow window to what it means now: Clean Granite,  steep drops with some waterfalls, can have huge portages or tons of work(hiking in, paddling in or out), and almost no flatwater or slow sections. This was someones agenda to change the face of kayaking, to change what people perceive to be "Fun".

This is merely the reticent agenda of the top 5% of kayakers disseminating their media to the masses, whether it is video or blogging, or hearsay. And of course what they are doing makes what is cool to the rest of us, then we all want to go do it. I have friends that like nothing better to bash down rocky, high gradient creeks but since it isn't 'cool' we don't do it that much. It is not glorified or hyped, so we strive for clean drops and beautiful granite, despite the fact that many other styles of boating are really fun.

There will never be a correct answer to why we kayak, but it is worth searching. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Middle Feather Explorations

As paddlers we engage in a battle between perception and reality. The better you get the more that line blurs. What is possible? What is safe? What is reasonable and prudent? What is fun? These are all questions that are answered with action. We portage or we do not, we put on or we do not, we hike out or we do not.

These battles are especially present in a big water year when you have a choice to go kayaking at precipitous flows or back down and not go kayaking much at all. Many runs open up at higher flows with a few rapids getting much harder and many getting simpler but bigger. It is easy to commit if you can see the river from the road.

These concerns grow further when considering remote, steep canyoned, multi-day runs. The middle feather is 34 miles long, typically takes 2-3 days, and has two foot bridges across it. It was one of the original rivers designated to be wild and scenic in 1968. The hike out is at minimum 18 miles with a section through 8 foot deep snow.

The MF Feather has lost lots of allure in the new school paddling era. There are no waterfalls greater that 8 feet. The shuttle takes three hours. It just doesn't have the hype it once had as "The best multi-day self support trip in California". Now there is Dinkey, Upper cherry, Royal Gorge, etcetera. It is a shame, because it is like kayaking 49 to Bridgeport for three days straight.

There is much heresay and mythology in the kayaking community. We had heard of people running the MF at 4-5 thousand with some swims, some say it was between 5-6. Some people said that people casually ran it at 4500. We had to find out for ourselves.

The highest that I had run the MF Feather was 2000 cfs. On the day we put in it was at 3700, nearly doubling my highest ascent. With the thought that it is our life and passion to push our own boundaries we put on, hoping for the best.

Morgan drops into the first distinguishable rapid.

We pushed through the first gorge and it was great. Normally a bumpy, pinny, slow stretch was turned into a fun, pushy, fast day 1.

We had some problems on day 2, turns out that hole is stickier than it looks.

One of the best boofs on the MF.

Great rapid not to tell people about. I call it secrets.

Helicopter. The easiest flow yet.(sorry about the blurry photos, at this point I had water on the lens)

The flow was amazing, it was big, channelized, and pushy. Now we are one step closer to know the true flow window for the middle feather.

Now it is time to do it again 1000 cfs higher.

Monday, May 23, 2011

UCSC Kayak Club Trip: a celebration on all levels

This was the 5th annual spring kayak club trip. Each year the trip brings the spectrum of boaters together to celebrate where we came from and where we can go. Several people put themselves in the current for their first time, including Darrow Feldstein, Devin Peyton, and Meggan Wenbourne. Many others brought a wealth of knowledge and skill to those beginning their kayaking lives.

Graham Giving an excellent safety talk to get everyone on the same page. 

Learning to kayak is hard, and it is a testament to the human spirit that we endure the hardships of learning whitewater kayaking. The mental crucible begins immediately with swims, lack of oxygen, rocky flips, and uncomfortable boats. Beginning to kayak is always hard because the gear never fits, helmets are too big, wetsuits are hot, all the boats leak and have missing parts, and the rivers are typically too high or too low for beginners to enjoy safely. At this level you can't really go by yourself unless you already know the run and have all the gear, which is why the kayak club trips matters so much for beginning kayakers. I remember my first time in a kayak in a current. I swam 7 times in a quarter mile. I quit before the end, switching to an IK. I remember thinking, "I am never going to make it in this sport, currents are crazy and  water doesn't make any sense". And yet you press on, admiring your teachers and always looking for mentors and lessons, and thanking them for keeping you safe.

Teresa teaching rolls, he almost had it. A few more roll sessions and he will move onto the next thing to learn: paddle strokes and perhaps other roll techniques. 

Then there are people who have made it past the initial hardships of the beginner. They flounder in the lack of community for class IV, because those who are really passionate have normally made it to class V, so finding dedicated class IV paddlers is difficult. You have enough skill to run some class IV safely but maybe not all class IV, class III is fun but not challenging enough to get you to the next level. Here you stay unless you are able to find a mentor that can safely guide you to appropriate runs to hone your skills and keep you safe and excited about kayaking.

Ben, a long-term member of the club, hitting a hand roll.  We had roll sessions and hand roll sessions, challenging anyone out there on the water to better themselves. 

Once you pass the class V threshold a world opens up to you, you can boat with almost anyone, but the exchange is that you now have to endure real danger and fear. You may think that you have dealt with the worst by the time you get to this level but now brushes with death no longer seem unrealistic. They seem to happen a few times a season. "If this had changed I would have been gone, or if I hadn't rolled at just that spot things would have been so bad". Perception and reality are hard to distinguish at this level because people do hurt themselves and have serious accidents. The payoffs are that you have very few limits as to what you can paddle and see. It becomes even more mental at this level. The sweet thing is that class IV is still really fun and there are many easy class V runs that are enjoyable without much fear.

Galen enjoying one of the rewards of making it to class V: clean waterfalls. 

The Kayak Club trip has all these different levels come together to share an experience and each year it reminds me how much I respect anyone for trying. This sport is hard and the solidarity that comes with seeing everyone at there own unique level is inspiring. We are all in this together. This post is about gratitude towards the sport, the humility it brings, and struggle that it is. I am grateful to be able to help those just beginning, that they remind me of the journey I have made. I am grateful to have the kayaking community, the passionate people it brings together, and the river as the venue to share our personalities and fire.

Darrow showing the fire. This is what kayaking is all about, on all levels. 

The Kayak club has come a long way, the first year or two felt like the instructors where just there just trying to keep it safe, and now there is so much experience that everyone takes care of and enjoys everyone else. Congratulations to the UCSC kayak club and all involved for putting themselves out there.

Spread the skill, spread the joy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flow Trends

Kayakers are always trying to figure out how temperature and precipitation are going to effect the flow of rivers. This is my stab at an explanation. This is where the mathy side of me comes out so if you don't enjoy problem solving and understanding things, don't continue. I am so excited I can hardly wait!

Okay, this is a blog, not the journal of hydrology so I am just going to eschew a methods explanation all together.

So the obvious place to start from is that temperatures and precipitation are going to be the driving factors behind changes in flows on a river. So that is what I played with. I made some assumptions, like that celsius is way better than fahrenheit. Also, it is only the change in flow that matters, that snowpack is constant, that rain and snow precip are the same, and probably a bunch more, whatever.

Reading the graph: Look at the blue line first, those are the temperatures. The flow line(red), should follow it perfectly because as it heats up, the more snow should melt, right? If you see a grave difference, look at the green line, that is precipitation. If flows jumped and temps didn't, I bet it rained.

Here is the result: Beautiful beautiful graphs. Who can say hip hip hooray for algebra 1 and some calculus(since essentially we are taking the derivitave of the flow chart for the middle feather)

Units: On the y-axis(the vertical axis) we have some number that represent celcius, change of cfs by the hundreds, and precip in inches, if I changed it to cm the data would look even more compelling.

Red: Change in hundreds of cfs
Blue: Low temp in Celsius
Green: Precipitation in inches

Except for the precipitation jumps the graph follows the low temp closely. There is some variability but for a three hour project it is pretty good.

Conclusions about what effects flows:

1. It does not matter how hot it gets during the day. It only matter how cold it gets. If it stays above freezing all night that is going to impact the flow of the river much more than if it freezes hard then is 70 F during the day, it is much harder to melt a frozen snowpack than it is a slushy one. 

2. All things environmental take a day to hit the river, so the precip and temp are from the day prior, but that way the bumps line up on the graph. You will know that if there is a precip and temp high bump and a positive flow change, that is was actually hot and wet the day before that led to that positive change. 

3. Precipitation is way more powerful but only lasts about a day. If you get rain for a day, it will be gone by the end of the next day.

These data brought to you by Wolfram Alpha and Dreamflows. Thank you for keeping such excellent records. 

Probably more to come on this. I will try to relearn some statistics so we can get a measure on the factors by which precip and and temp effect flow. I sure everyone is just drooling. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I have been portaging this rapid for years. Ever since I was a young, callow lad. This is a precipitous drop. It has six consecutive ledges that are stacked onto one another, making control very limited. You have two moves that you can actively control and then the rest is decided by what happened in those moves.

On the particular day that I ran this rapid, people got wind that I was thinking about it. By the time I arrived at the cascades there was a small audience drinking beer with cameras and throw bags.

no pressure

I pull out on the opposite side of the river, take a scout, like I had a dozen times before. That day I had a hard time putting my skirt back on due to the cold temperatures, but such is kayaking.

Dropping in

Getting to the boof. Feelin' good here.

From there you just are blasting through holes and whitewater and just kind of waiting to see what happens...
and now I am facing upstream!(not part of the plan)

I made it out! I'm free!

That is the day I put that demon to rest.

Cascades @ 700 cfs

My buddies Cody and Edgar had what are thought to be the first and second descent on this thing at 300 cfs. Also, my friend Galen ran it at 1000 cfs a few days later with a less successful line. This is my first video and I didn't realize that the landscape and wide backgrounds are actually for storyboarding so if that is weird, my apologies. I will correct that on the next movie.

The mental

Holy moly it is snowing outside. I am not going to equivocate and say that this blog makes sense if you are in right mental state; it may not. The next line says it all.

This whole kayaking thing is a mental mess.

Decisions are hard to make,
Waterfalls are fun, Waterfalls are dangerous.
Big water is scary but sieves are scarier.
Portaging sucks but sometimes the best thing you can imagine.
Sometimes your friends back out on you, sometimes you back out on your friends.
They run shit you don't, you run shit they don't.
No one is necessarily right.
Seeing that other people are running cool shit and you are sitting at home watching it snow is lame.
Rain sucks, 80 and sunny is awesome.

There are people out there that are better than you, people that are worse, people that talk it up, people that don't, people you can teach, people you can't, People that can teach you, people that can't, people that scare you, people that are scared and people that are crazy.

It is hard to get a crew together that you can vibe with
It is hard to meet up with them.

And most of all:
Gas is expensive.

One day I am gonna figure all this stuff out: when to ditch a trip, when to portage, and who to call, and when, and feel solid about it all.

Richard Montgomery once said "Sometimes I feel schitzophrenic, here I am, a professor at UCSC but sometimes those kayaker tendencies come up and I just want to ditch it all to be in the woods and run some rivers." and I think that is the game we all play. At some point we all come back to society to play the cultural game. Some stay longer than others, but we all have the real world to deal with. Injuries, money, responsibilities all mock us with there needs. In our minds kayaking somehow is a viable escape, but it is within this balance that the beauty of both is revealed, that the balance increases the joy of each. The safety and completeness of home and friends, lovers; the clarity and singularity of purpose of kayaking. Each more beautiful in the contrast of the other.

These balances change and shift as we burgeon as people and athletes. So will the game. I don't have any answers to these balances, I am just writing to shed light on my own mental struggle and perhaps move forward one more step.

Move on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


If I had a dime for every time I heard someone in an adventure movie try to explain why they did the things they did I would still be poor, but I would have at least a dollar more than I do now.

Stay with me.

Look, my point is that we(humans) must have some innate need to justify our decisions, especially to a random audience who undoubtedly thinks we are crazy. So it seems that trying to explain our own decisions, especially when we feel so far from the norm, is ubiquitous because I see it in almost every adventure movie I watch.

I, of course, am not pardoned from this type of thought. Here is one explanation for why we go into the wild:

By 1964, two research laboratories proved that the morphology and chemistry or physiology of the brain could be experientially altered (Bennett et al. 1964, Hubel and Wiesel 1965).

This is true of mammals of any age. Okay, so what? Basically the way that our brain looks and functions on a physical level can be altered by the environment that we are in. As we live in a highly autonomous and affluent society, we have choices as to what environment we immerse ourself in. So if we have the choice, what environment should we live in? Darwin speculated that the reason why wild rabbits had larger brains than domestic rats is that they lived in an "enriched" environment: the wild.

So the wild is an enriched environment and the environment can have an impact on the morphology, physiology, and chemistry of the brain. Therefor people that go to the wild are actually increasing the functionality of their minds by being in an enriched environment.

I don't want anyone to read too far into this line of reasoning. I am not claiming that kayakers are necessarily intelligent. I am just suggesting that being in the wild is a rich environment and anyone that is exposed to that must feel the power of the wild and be drawn to it as an enriching experience. It is addicting, the problem solving involved with navigating a canyon, the sights, smells, sounds, and social dynamics create mindful environments that invigorate the mind and body in ways that other situations cannot.

Kayakers and all other adventurers must be aware of this, and probably feel bored and unengaged by the city life because of its relatively austere feel. I can say from personal experience that solving problems in a small group during rescue situations, portages, and scouts are incredibly enriching, satisfying, and engaging experiences. It is hard to create that same type of environment in any urban situation because it is the safety of all involved that is on the line when in the wild. I just don't derive as much satisfaction when discussing learning objectives from algebra I, or how far apart to plant the beans. Those things are satisfying, but just not as dynamic.

So this is my first stab at explaining why we do it; we are actually physically altering our minds by being out there.

Get out there and alter your mind.

Mill Creek

Mill creek is a tributary to the Kings river. It runs from Squaw Valley down to Wonder Valley.

Paul Martzen has a nice write-up on AW.

The goods on this creek are memorable but lack challenge that would inspire boaters to drive long distances to run it. Also only about half the run has rapids, the other half is all about tucking through forests of willows and getting pinned on small rocks in 8 inches of water. Perhaps if you are from the east you will really enjoy it(they like rocks right?).

Scouting the first gorge

The goods all come in pretty quick succession. The run is only three miles of whitewater(three mile paddle out) so it is stacked up in there with a some mank in between. Clancy dropping in.

That drops leads directly into this drop:

And yes that is the bottom of his boat. It is best to link the two rapids so you have enough speed not to let this happen.

This section is definitely classic. It is stacked and granite.

It even has a beautiful waterfall that is tempting, has been run, but will be portaged by all but those in there at high water or with a supreme confidence.

There are a few more rapids after lunch that are well worth remembering: Galen looking good

Here is the final rapid before the mank and cow-chasing. 

Unfortunately, the second half of the run consists of tucking your paddle, ducking, and jousting your way through willows. Well worth doing in the area, well worth not doing if you are more than a few hours away.

two beers to three skulls. Both out of five. 250 cfs. 
Beers is the enjoyment of the run, skulls is how much suffering you have to endure to run it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Middle Cherry Adventures

Middle Cherry is rarely run. There is sparce information on the internet about its contents. A quick search of it on google reveals little.

We were headed down to run the S. Merced on April 29th, hoping the water would hold. On our drive the water spiked. We fumbled around with a new plan, Galen checked the gauge at the dam on middle cherry. 750. Hmmm... "I think I ran it last time at 550" "It was great! we hiked in at a bad place but I know where to go now. It will be a little high but I think it will be all good. Lets head out." With some trepidation but mostly temerity, we left El Portal at about 8 am.

Cherry Lake. 4 miles from put in.

"I have never seen this gate before"
"Yeah, we are still quite a ways from put in, should we hike on the road?"
now driving
"There is a road, it will get us closer to the put in"
"Wow that creek put a huge gap in the road, do you think we can fill it?"

We spend about an hour filling in this trench and move forth with our journey. Around a few bends we reach the end of the road.

2 hours later:
After fighting viciously with manzanita we decide it may be best to go down to the creek, to attack at water level. We all decide this is great plan, not due to its merit as a plan, but rather that the other option is to combat more manzanita bushes. Down it is.

Now we are on a dewatered cherry creek, eagerly anticipating the Eleanor creek confluence. We hike, kayak, and portage our way to the confluence. Woohooo!! We made it! There it is, the beginning of 7 miles of whitewater bliss, or fear, or whatever, but we are here. Geez, sure seems like a lot of water, like a lot but hey, were here. Hmm, and it is 4 pm. That is late.


4 pm

We get out and scout, looks hard but doable, we better get going anyway because we have about 100 more rapids like this. We all get spun and pinned and make to the bottom in fine fashion. Grinning, and hoping that our grin hides our fear of what lies below, we continue on. We run another drop that Cody portages. Then Galen is somehow on the shore scouting the next one. He gives me a few words and I am off on a 10 foot twisting boulder drop with a short lead in. Cody portages.

I eddy out and look at the next one. Looks rough but doable, but I can't see the bottom. Cody comes up to me "I don't want to have anything to do with the rest of what comes. I am out" "Okay" "Don't worry about me. I will make it out, and I am not worried about you" "Cool, let's have a meeting and get going". We exchange fire making stuff and make an exit plan. Tomorrow at the bridge at 1.

I get in my boat and push off into the partially unscoutable drop. I am driving toward the boof and fall a little short of what I want, land on a rock and start going backwards into an eddy halfway down a 15 foot slide waterfall, I think it is sieved out but I am not sure. I flip over, my paddle is on one side of the rock and my body on the other. I let go and roll off the rock with my hands, putting a huge gash into my finger as I go. I am getting worked in a hole at the bottom and claw my way out.

I look at Cody and shake my head, already questioning my decision to continue paddling. "This is not a great way to start" I think to myself. I am bleeding a bit and cannot hold the paddle aggressively anymore. Cody comes down and gives me his paddle before he begins his trek out.

We continue through huge boulder gardens, alernating scouts, and working towards camp. But as we work our way down the gorge walls become vertical and suddenly cramped. A horizon line quickly approaches and as we see the the mist floating beyond its edge we catch an eddy. This must be it. Freebird. The forty footer beckoned below. This vertical slide leads directly into a class V rapid with a hole that is backed by a huge flat boulder. We determined that if we could catch an eddy on the left we could make it through the left side of this rapid. The problem was that off this waterfall you would be going 40 mph directly into the right channel and the only way to catch the eddy is to use a huge pillow off this wall and surf your way into the eddy.

"How are we going to set safety?" "If you see me swimming, come after me" and off I pushed into the horizon. I blow through the bottom hole with my paddle tucked, I must have had the correct angle because before I know what is happening I am in the eddy getting crashed around, waiting for Galen. Galen pulls up looking dazed. "Lets get out of here" and as he places a stroke he gets sucked into the hole at the top of the next rapid. He surfs it all the way across the river, gets out and drives left, moving towards the only viable line: boofing the corner of the ledge. He makes it clean, to my great relief.

I paddle down for pats on the back and congratulations all around. He is bleeding profusely from his nose. "I think I broke it" "What? How?" "I didn't tuck my paddle" "Oh, well, lets eat dinner then."

We paddled through more boulder infested whitewater labyrinths. Soon we made it. "Ohh, I know this place. We can camp here." and so we did.

Next day

We wake up to a frosty morning. I suppose we didn't wake up, the hour just arrived where it was appropriate for us to sit up and start talking rather than just lay on our backs heating the half of our body that was closer to the fire. We had a long night.

We begin again, keeping in mind the "Mandatory portage" that lay downstream. Sweet rapids ensue. Then the portage. The falls has been run, and looked runnable, but not by us, not this time. We suffered through the 90 minute, 50 yard long portage. We roped our boats four separate times, we almost lost one boat, we swam, and grasped, and worked our way to the bottom.

Worst portage ever.

Finally the canyon opened up.

A few more rapids and we were at the dam that marks the beginning of the final gorge. We took a look at the beautiful entrance falls and hoped that one day we would return with much less water. With our boats on our shoulders we hiked 30 minutes out to find Cody had left us food and water. Cody had return to the jungle early that morning to "break his boat out of jail" as he phrased it in his note to us. It took him 5 hours to hike back in and out. He finally meets back with us at 1 pm; boat in hand.

Galen called his friend Jared to talk to him about the epic we had just experienced. Jared informs us that Galen and him had run it at 350, not 550 as Galen had remember. 350. not 550. So much for Galens memory, but when you have kayaked as much as he, can you really blame him? I can... I can.

Thankfully this adventure was done. I plan on going back someday. Hopefully to half the water, half the hike in, and a beautiful run on the final gorge.

First Post

The possibilities are infinite at this very moment.

This is where reflections will go, thoughts on decisions, ruminations, and whatever else. This is the journey. Our lives are not consumed by merely our actions, our products, our experiences, but the feelings and thoughts that create them. This will not be about kayaking, or love, or work. It will be about moments, moments of exploration. Explorations of ourselves, each other, and our world.