Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Middle Kings River

The first thing necessary to say about the Middle Kings is it is a LOT of work. It is rewarding, but it is a long hike with a heavy load, many demanding rapids, committing gorges, and you are way out in the middle of nowhere. It takes not only skills, but a strong body and mind to run this river.

Even though we both have kayaked over ten years, I knew David was ready and I was not. So I backpacked in...I carried about 45 lbs, including the food canister, a big frozen steak for a surprise dinner, and eventually David gave in and handed me his fullface to carry. It was a long hike for one day. I remember thinking when we got over Bishop pass and to the bottom of Dusy Basin, "I see the river down there. We'll be there in an hour!" Not hardly! It took over four hours to descend the remaining 3000 feet. Lots of blisters for me. Many take 2-3 days to hike in. It took us 9 hours total to hike the 12 miles up, through the snow, over the 12000 foot pass, and into Leconte Canyon on the Middle Kings. But what an amazing journey. The Sierra is a rugged place.
While David kayaked his way down the Sierra Nevada via the Middle Kings, I spent three days hiking in the part of Kings Canyon National Park that has no roads. Eventually, Karin (from Switzerland- her boyfriend was with David) and I made it out, spent another day in Yosemite, and drove the 350 mile shuttle to the Western slope of the Sierra to pick them up at the bottom of the Garlic Falls section, which is below 1000 feet in elevation. The were whipped and hungry.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chawanakee Gorge of the San Joaquin

This is a wierd run...starting with the confusing shuttle, putting in below a powerstation in the San Joaquin River Valley filled with a maze of water tunnels and power lines. Then you get out and walk across this huge dam with water going over it. Very sketchy. Its a great run that rarely runs...and its in a committing gorge. Big holes and boulder gardens.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Upper Cherry, Cherry Proper, and the Lower Tuolumne

California is amazing!

We spent over a month there,
hiking, paddling, and visiting

historic sites. While David
hiked into Upper Cherry with

Ben Davis, Rok Sribar, and

Bryan Kirk, I paddled the

lower sections of the Tuolumne.

This river is a blast...similar to

Idaho's South Salmon run.

David running Double Pothole...

David running Cherry Bomb Falls into the gorge...

After seeing what I missed...I wanted in! So David and I paddled and hiked up to the bottom gorges of Upper Cherry at low water so I could see it. We will definitely be back!

Friday, July 10, 2009

2009 - Competing in Freestyle Again!

Winter 2009 I spent quite a bit of time at Rock Island surfing the Brave Wave and trying to learn from the Jacksons, Clay (Wright), Nick (Troutman), & Billy (Harris). (I'm totally name droppin'!!) EJ commented one day I should go to Team Trials, and it made me feel pretty good that someone I considered the best kayaker in the world would say that. So I decided that no matter what, I would try out for the US Freestyle Team. I began to train pretty hard, but in the spring there were several setbacks that included shoulder impingement, physical therapy, skin surgeries, stitches, and a lack of training for 6-7 weeks. Despite this, four days before the event, I drove from Chattanooga to Colorado by myself and gave it a shot anyway. I paddled well in practice, was 4th in Prelims, and flushed in Finals, finishing 8th. But I had never tried out before and was glad I finally did! It left me determined to paddle my best and make it next time.
I thought about trying another event. Fibark on the Arkansas is a favorite, so I decided to go there and work on hole moves. I concentrated on getting bigger front loops, consistent back loops, and learning phoenix monkeys and mcnastys for 2 weeks. Water came up and the hole was waving out. Flushy, but with loops and felixes, I managed to finish 3rd, ahead of the other US Team members, but behind Ruth and Emily...both world champs. I couldn't complain too much about that.