I recently travelled to England's national water sports centre(HPP) in Nottingham. You can do lots of different types of water sports but I went over for their white water course which is 700 meters long. It is a great place for freestyle kayaking with 5 quality play holes along the course. You can throw down most moves you can think of. And there is a campsite straight across the road from the entrance. I would recommend people who are into freestyle if they're ever paddling near England to take a trip to this place.
Myself plunging for a loop on top hole.
Myself and Shane Little about to throw some moves.
Relaxing at bottom hole.
Here is a quick video made by Conor Macken of our trip.
Gradient 240 fpm at best
Length 6 miles
Driving into the Cheeseman Canyon is a little erie, the forest burnt to the ground only a few years back and as far as you can see it is burnt trees, baby aspens, and a lot of bed rock. The team, Mike Hagadorn, Casey Tango, Riley Frakes, Jeff Flora, Tom Dohdray, and myself; many of us had never boated together and it was going to be a testing adventure.
Up to the put in; Mike had already contacted the caretaker of Sportsman's Paradise; (Bill 719-748-3212) we drove through the gate, and met Bill. We slowly followed him through the property and arriving at the far property line we handed Bill a six pack of cold beer. What had arguable been the nastiest river access in CO had just been taken care of with a six pack and a smile. Bill locked us out on the far side of the gate, there was only one way out of the canyon from here.
|Bill locking us into the Canyon|
|Tom in Let's Make a Deal|
|Mike Hagadorn on Let's Make a Deal|
|Mike In the hart of the Parfait|
|Tango looking for a way out|
My ankle was allready swelling and I couldn't put any weight on it; after a quick conversation a decision was made. The easiest way to get me out of the canyon was to get back in my kayak and paddle another four miles of class five rapids to the take out. I crawled back in my kayak and we headed down stream.
|Mike at the top of Punji Sticks|
|Riley avoiding the undercuts and sieves in lower Punji Sticks|
|Mike Sliding for Life|
|Riley giving Tango a hand going through a flat water sieve|
|Nothing like a cold one at the take out|
I am writing today from , New South Whales Australia! We left and arrived at our inn . Today we skied for the first time and the course is awesome. It is the equivalent of our January here and they have gotten over six feet of snow in the last week and a half. The training is going to be great and we get to compete the next two weekends.
I saw my first kangaroo and Emu (second largest bird behind the ostrich) today. The scenery is beautiful and the people are great. In the short time I have been here, Australia has been everything I had hoped it would be. Thank you so much for the love and support. I will write to let you know how the rest of my trip goes and I will include some photos and video.
Eight paddlers head into the upper gorge. We are on fire and the group energy level is through the roof. We stop a few times for quick scouts and extensive video and still camera coverage.
|Jakub with a big boof|
|Ross avoiding the undercut|
Then we reach Pine Tree Falls; the last time I was there we endured a massive portage around an equally massive tree that made the drop just shy of deadly. This time the group makes the drop look like an everyday affair. All the paddlers fired up the drop, most making it look a little easy, a couple making it look pretty entertaining. As the cameras are placed back in their cases the group takes off down the canyon towards the infamous Inner Gorge.
|Mike slipping over the log into Pine Tree Falls|
|Riley in the hart of Pine Tree|
|Chris about to enter the curler|
We take a good look at the entrance drop, Zute Chute. It has a new rock in it. (The last time I ran this drop I got pushed hard right into the "bad place." Now with the new rock it looks as if 90% of the flow was heading into the bad place. I am a little scared.) After a solid scout the group gathers up and tal
ked quickly about the protocol of bringing eight people into a micro canyon. I speak up, "Well the group is working really well and the communication has been great, lets just keep it up and have a eight person PARTY down there." The group is overjoyed and as I elect to go first and shoot some pictures, the group's morale is boosted yet again.
|Casey getting his nose down on Zute|
|Ross stomping his boof|
One by one eight in a row the group rallies off of Zute Chute with a myriad of both good, bad, painful, and just plain ugly lines. We are in the Inner Gorge, "the walls are slick with spray there is seldom sun and there are NO RASPBERRIES" I love this place. The group quickly picks apart the drops and one after the next, we move further and further through the gorge.
|Jakub deep in the gorge|
The last two drops must be run back to back and have a tendency to deal out some beatings. The drops give two of our eight a burly hole ride in a slot barley wide enough for their boats. Taylor and Casey Tango swim from their beatings.
|Casey and Taylor repenting with the canyon in the background|
There used to be a log jam at the back of the last eddy but it isn't there any more; after Taylor swims his boat slips through the now open eddy into Millers Falls. Millers Falls is a set of mostly un-runable drops that falls 400 or so feet in less then an eighth of a mile. Needless to say Taylor's boat took loads of punishment.
The team hikes down, pulls the remains of Taylors boat from the river, celebrates an amazing run with a beer, and then disbands as quickly as it came together.
I jump in the car with Jakub Nemec and Ross Herr and we are off to our next mission: the North Fork of the Little Wind. We drive for seven hours, sleep in a rest stop, buy our Indian fishing permits, and drive into the middle of nowhere. The Wind River Range is absolutely stunning. There are gigantic rock domes every where and all our dreams of steep bed rock look like they are coming true. Then we start hiking in; we do not have the best beta but we are determined. Three hours later with a sore shoulder and a million mosquito bites we come to the conclusion that we are on the wrong path. We get skunked after a huge drive, a big hike, and the realization of having to work the next day... and we were so close. We piled back in the truck and drive all the way back to CO.
Once back in CO I check my guide schedule, realize I am not working tomorrow, and immediately start calling folks trying to get a group to go back in for another lap through Crystal.
Todd "Danger" Greenwood responds quickly with a 'I would love to." The next morning Todd, Ross, and I head back into the Crystal. While we were on our big skunk mission to WY it had been raining in the Crystal drainage, and the flow was currently up to 400 cfs. It is very apparent that the water level is on the high side from the telltale signs of not scraping our way from the put in to the first major rapid. With a smaller group we blast through the Upper Gorge and are quickly at Pine Tree Falls. Pine Tree looks to have a full set of teeth with more water, and it is ready to bite. Both Todd and Ross have entertaining lines; Todd even pulls off the new school technique of running it "switch." We blast though the next section and, again, stare down into the Inner Gorge.
We take a second to show the lines to Todd and as we peer over the edge, the consensus is that the water level is HIGH. Todd graciously bows out of the Inner Gorge, and set safety for Ross and I. Zute Chute is still big and it leads directly into the Inner Gorge at an amazing pace. Ross and I have solid lines on Zute and quickly find ourselves tucked up into a small eddy and talking about how we are now deep in the shit. We peeled out one right behind each other and cleanly race though most of the Inner Gorge, stopping right before the last two drops. Again there is a quick dialogue about good lines and staying mentally strong. I watch Ross peel out, have a great line off the first rapid, a little submarine action on the last drop but clear it, and make it through the mighty Inner Gorge.
Now it is my turn. I peel out, move right to left, and moving through the crack drop a boil off the wall grabs my boat and flips me upside down, opposite of the side I was bracing on, right into the rock wall. I quickly swing for a rodeo roll and miss. I start to set up for another roll and felt my paddle wedge between the walls. After a quick jerk it comes loose. Setting the paddle back up for another attempt it snags again, and this time it makes that horrible sound: KABOOM. I grab the longer piece of the paddle and try two more rolls to no avail.
The last drop is nicknamed Perfect Piton; it is a six foot drop with a rock in the landing zone. Not wanting to land on the rock with my head I kick out of my boat, roll over and take rocks to the shins and knees. One more shallow ledge and the six foot drop is right in front of me, I give it a huge dolphin kick combined with a gigantic butterfly stroke, trying to launch my body past the shallow rocks in the landing zone. I clear the rocks, but the sticky hole draws me right back into the seam. I go for one quick recirculation and popped out. At 400 cfs there is a tiny eddy on the left before all the water rushes off Millers Falls amd certain death. I windmill my arms, furiously kick my legs, and leave a wake off my ass as I swim into the mini eddy and watch my boat start it's decent into oblivion.
|busted up gear|
|good to the last drop|
A little cursing later, we all agreed the Inner Gorge of the Crystal is an absolutely amazing place.
Today I played in Baxter Jack's Old School Beach Volleyball Tournament in Louisville, KY. The heat was in the mid 90's but with the humidity the heat index was well over a 100 degrees. The tournament started at 9:00 AM and we did not get done playing our last game until 7:00 PM. Fatigue was a huge factor today, especially as the tournament wore on. We were able to win two games against better teams simply because one of the players was so fatigued we were able to expose him. My partner and I were able to stayed fueled on Powerbars' Ironman Performance drinks and Apple Cinnamon Energy Performance Bars while the other teams ate hot dogs and drank water. Thank you Powerbar for providing the products that allow me to perform at my highest level longer! We ended up getting 5th and Powerbar was very much a part of our success!