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Friday, June 20, 2014

Vancouver Island Circumnavigation

One week from tomorrow I will be departing on a 5 week journey circumnavigating Vancouver Island. There will be up to four of us, with various team members only able to make one section or another. The trip is split into three legs, but we will be averaging 20-30 nautical miles per day.  I embedded a map on the blog to follow our progress via SPOT Messenger. I'll be taking photos and some video, but will not likely be able to do much uploading until after the trip. Along the way, I will be documenting Sea Star Wasting Syndrome for an ongoing research project at the University of California, Santa Cruz. See the research here or click here for a map. Big thanks to my sponsors, Werner Paddles and Spot Communications, as well as to the folks who support my in my endeavors, namely Snap Dragon Sprayskirts, Body Boat Blade, MSR, and Kayak Academy. These guys collectively make and sell the best kayaking equipment on the market and all of their gear has been field tested and proven to work. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

South Fork Stillaguamish River: Less Rocks, Fewer Swims!

As part of the Paddle Trails Canoe Club Spring Bash, a group of us ran the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River at 5.8ft. The only previous time I ran this was at 5.2ft which is something I don't think I'll be doing again-too bony and not enough water. With a very strong group we made our way downstream setting safety where needed, surfing when possible, and catching as many eddies as possible. I even convinced one of the more experienced fellows to give me tips whenever possible! My cross-deck strokes were too long, and indeed, once I shortened them, everything became that much easier. Big thanks to Dave Mainer for all the great tips.
Thinking face
Kris lining up for Wiley Creek drop
Wiley Creek hole
Wiley Creek Boof
Dave Mainer setting safety and judging me
Leslie took a great line...
...and styled it!
Bob boofing over a hole
Laughing at my line
Boogie water party
Don't spend too much time under this wall
Bridge Drop with scary wood rip rap
Inflatable OC-2=incredible
Wiley Creek from above
The lead-in to Wiley Creek
Cleanup at the bottom of Wiley Creek
Safety first!
Leslie nailing her line
Always searching for surf holes

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not a bad Saturday (Upper Middle Snoqualmie River)

After my plans to head to the coast fell through, I got in touch with a few friends from the Paddle Trails Canoe Club and we headed WAY up to the Upper section of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. It was my first time running this section, but Tom, Rich and I added a bit of fun by taking out at Island Drop which is on the Middle section. 
The Upper was incredibly scenic-the Cascades rose steeply on either side, and the greens of a forest in spring are unsurpassed.
Erich working his way downstream
Setting safety at one of two bedrock bends
At Island Drop, the take out rapid, the river bends gently to the left before cutting hard right-and the take out is on the left where it cuts back. So to make the takeout you need to work across the river and get out before getting pushed downstream. I tried to cheat and take the left line, which was great until the last section of the drop-my knees took a pounding! Next time I will take the right line, eddy out, and then ferry across to access the take out.
Island Drop (takeout rapid)
Island Drop right line close up

Monday, June 2, 2014

Middle Middle Snoqualmie in an Open Canoe

We had perfect weather, flows and a group with skills to handle the Middle of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River (or rather handle me!) at 1400 cfs this past Saturday. Bob Schneider, John Montegomery, and Adam Walker and I had a clean and safe run down my hardest river yet-lots of class 3 boulder gardens and one very swift, steep and long class 4 House Rock rapid. I felt confident heading out with these guys watching out for me-a good feeling.

Bob's new drysuit
Surfing House Rock
John surfing
Lead in to House Rocks
The best time to go backwards is before your first grade IV rapid in a canoe, right?
Lining up for the boof
Lower House Rock
Adam avoiding the Tight Squeeze
Looking back upstream
Lots of chutes and green tongues
Boulder Gardens
Good Read & Run Practice
Big hole from the side
Big hole from below