Low Water Alternatives

When the water gets low on the classic runs here in the PNW ya gotta head upstream to the not-so-classic, somewhat-remote, and at times uber-committing "way-up-there" kinda runs. The kinda places bears don't even get into. The kinda places the old timers who  invented  the Forest Service put up signs for. Yep, I'm talking about the box canyons, every mountain's got a few. Some of 'em aren't even survivable. When dropping into a box where the only way out is downstream, scout before you route. That way when you find a stout, there's no need to pout. Cuz you know you can get out!

Mt Rainier has just such a Box
Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz

coulda stayed for days..
 just shootin' shots

 unique unformulated perfection

hard to think of anything out here

Karen Marley works on Oblivion

shooting all things large and small

even the ants make little box canyons
first drops of the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz
terminus of rocky class II

stouts in a box

a box canyon paddler's worst nightmare

Jeremy and I headed downstream to see what other stouts were lurking. I had my Gorge Beast detector set on high... just in case. Hard to see 'em though all that murky water. The Muddy Fork's Lower Canyon is an easier version of the upper canyons, and while still committing much more 'user friendly'. Although one poorly placed log would spell disaster in any of the Muddy's canyons. The upper canyons were much steeper with a kaleidoscope of marginal to unrunnable drops, the main problem being many of the harder drops require different flows for optimal lines. Crushing holes above lethal features have kept paddlers out of many of the Muddy Fork's upper canyons.

bottom of the drop pictured above
*note the severely undercut river right wall
The current exploded at the bottom of this drop, erupting in massive plumes and boils, all going straight into the right wall without slowing or even hesitating. This undercut extended 25 feet downstream and who knows how far under the wall. Just downstream, another amazing wall and bedrock outcrops. The Muddy Fork just keeps givin'!

After several more snakes and curves this happened.

30 feet high?

more raw power unleashed no one ever sees

Hard to see here, but this drop is a beast dropping 45 feet. The river right side falls behind/just upstream of the water pouring off the river left falls. So burly. While there are runnable drops in these upper canyons, access will keep only the most adventurous crews out of here. A crew that's hahdened-da-fukk-up is what it's gonna take. Because rappelling in, running one or two marginal drops, then being hauled back out is the only option.
I'm tellin' ya.. get out to the woods
Jeremy and Karen had to get back. I kept going another mile or so, only to be stopped by a little tributary coming in. Seems like everything in this zone is a box. The 'side creek' dropped into it's own sick little canyon via an absolutely stunning 200 foot entrance falls. No words can describe the majesty in this area. I will be back because one day in here just isn't enough.

more Muddy Fork from waaay up

Box Canyon was still rippin' balls when we were here

panorama of another little canyon not far from the Box

Mt Rainier has some of the prettier places I've found in WA. And I've poked around a bit. If you haven't been I suggest making a weekend of it and if your leaving from the Seattle/Tacoma area, take Highway 169 to 410 east, up to the junction with 123, through the park. It really is a beautiful scenic drive and in the summer months, when those passes are open for travel, shaves about an hour off your time instead of going the long way around coming in on 12 through Packwood. Happy travels y'all.  Enjoy the woods.


Whole Lotta Boatin'

So down in the SE things have been rowdy, chill and every other variance between over the last month or so. Down in the dirty we have been lucky to have high water green runs, Gauley Fest and a bit of rain. I sadly missed the rain but was able to get in on the other two events in. Even breaking in some personal firsts over the past month away from work. Was able to get my pfd on go left and die and Upper Gauley.

Rallying Pillow

Both of which were really rewarding to have under the belt now. That feeling of rallying something for the first time is a rush even when it came to attaining up the lower hole of Nanty Falls. Nothing can beat that feeling when it all falls into place and the line comes out ohhhhh sooooo right. When it came to Go Left I had been shy about the line for some time and never really felt the confidence to be able to tag the line just right so I had never gone for it. However after enough hype and talking with folks it all came together one day when Ty looked at me and asked if I was ready. On the first attempt things didn't go so smooth and I wound up pulling the cord and taking a swim... however on the second rally it went like butter. Then once at Gauley Fest it was decided we were rallying two days to the Upper which was a first for me as well and turned out to be a blast. When it comes to bigger water it scares the heck outta me.
Ty keeping it old school at Pillow
The fact that I was rallying it for the first time in a playboat probably was not helpful either. You can think of it as big guy in a little boat cause even though I love the heck outta my jed I still kind of turn it into a submarine at 250. So even though I was basically squirt playboating the whole way down it was a really fun run and I hope to get out there again at some point. Also about two weeks before then while working attainments at the falls on the nanty I was trying a move up the falls that I had seen done once or twice before by the likes of boaters much better then myself. I decided whats the worst that can happen and went for it. Eventually I wound up making the move and was super stoked to have been able to make something that I had rarely seen happen. The move is in the video down below and there are some shots I took while at Gauley Fest mixed in here.
The tent at sunset
 All of this wouldn't be possible without the help that WRSI and all my friends have provided me in boating so I wanted to give you guys a big thanks and I just wanted to let everyone know what keeps my drive up in kayaking and its not just hanging out with some of the most awesome people in the world. Its also the rush and the feeling that kayaking gives you that makes you feel like all your problems are mundane and you are part of something much bigger. There really is a lack of words to describe what kayaking is to me but hopefully you all just know what I am talking about and hope you enjoy the video and shots... Now get out there and boat!


Chelan Gorge: Church As Hell

A sweet little edit from the boys over at Boogie Water Productions. Testing the limits of what a sprayskirt can withstand. Marco Collela, Alex Podolak, and Brett Barton go deep into the recesses of one of Chelan Gorge's gnarlier drops, Meat Locker. Gorge Beasts salivate at the bottom of this deep, boxed in 20 foot ledge drop. It is imperative to keep it together here as a swim will put you in a swarm of evil beasts with some serious down time. Rolling the dice?? Meat Locker just might be your 'winna winna, chicken dinna!!' Keep it classy, y'all. Thanks to Boogie Water for the sick flick!

Releases in the Chelan Gorge happen this year, the weekend of Sept 15-16, 2012. These releases are part of an ongoing cooperative agreement between American Whitewater, advocacy group for whitewater kayakers, and the PUD for Chelan county. Lots of work and thousands of man hours have gone toward getting these releases, from all sides. We thank all parties involved including Tom O'keefe from AW, and many others near and far, including local town folk who always greet us kayakers with warm smiles as we 'relax' at local watering holes in town during the weekend.

The only way to keep this whitewater opportunity available to.. really, anyone.. is to sign up through Chelan PUD's website. It takes literally one minute, two if you're slow, like me. These releases have been 10 years in the making and are a privilege for kayakers as demand necessitates releases; i.e. no demand, no release. So sign up!!

In the meantime... here's a little somthin' to get ya fired up!!! SYOTChelan