Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money shot

I used to think that if you were going to make a river it would basically be like the Kaituna with maybe some more waterfalls; warm water, easy access, sick rapids and german beer at the takeout/put in.

I was wrong.

There are some places in the kayaking world world which attract dirtbag gypises like moths to a flame. Places like the Nile, the west coast, Chile and California are notorious for the lifestyle and whitewater on offer.

However, there is one river in particular and one section of that river which holds one of the most photographed and iconic drops at least in Cali if not the world. Ever since I started kayaking I remember looking at photos and video of people flying off in a locked in granite gorge and thinking "if I ever make it to that place I will be a happy little chappy"
That place is Cherry bomb gorge on the Upper Cherry creek.
This run doesn't give itself up easily, with a 12 mile walk and a 35kg hunk of the most unergonomic plastic it is possible to engineer on your back, it's pretty much a given that you're going to be hurting by the time you reach the put in.
Once again we found ourselves at a trail head with a huge crew of nine kiwi boaters, three trail support/professional shuttlers, 15 cameras, our chief strategist/ball of enthusiasm/live guidebook and a dog.

I won't bore you with a description of the walk other than to say we started at 5:30 in the morning and it took 5-6 hours. Average.

The put in was awesome though - a huge granite valley with no dirt in sight and miles (literally miles) of low angle, super chilled out slides.
When we finally made it to the cherry bomb entry I believe the quote for the day was "Everyone's running it, it's mandatory, I won't allow anyone to portage!!!"(Garcia, 2010) With that decision out of the way we rallied into the upper cherry bomb gorge. Some cool slides and rapids get you to a lake in the gorge which then gets you to a portage right above cherry bomb.
Cherry bomb itself is a sick slide to kicker that drops you straight into a sick gorge with another ten or so drops back to back. One eddy and then it's into the jedi slides - awesome slides which lead straight into the teacups. Words don't do justice to this section of river at all so I'll leave the essay here and put some pics up.

The walk from the bottom of the teacups, I have no idea how many times we did this walk over two days but it was lots.

Twelve people rolling into the Jedi slides - sick

The bottom teacups

From the other angle... Our camp is on the left of the big pool

The money shot - cherry bomb, glorious.

On a slightly different note... some culture - Mum wedged under the tunnel tree after we all got out and she lifted a little... Not pictured - driving back under at twenty miles "pin it we can fit!!!" ish nerve wracking..

What would you write as a caption here?? Seriously? Heavy petting can lead to unplanned pregnancy? I just don't know.


Lauder - Conspicuously absent, Roil - average to poor, Neilson - fair to above average, Bayly - glorious

*All pics for this post are from Rach and Brad. Cheer Cuzzies.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Belated update

Seeing as I have been busy/lazy and haven't updated anything for a while I decided that you can just read everyone else's blogs for our Dinkey/West Cherry/Hospital rock trips and I will post stuff about our extra-curricular rest day activities which are highly entertaining, informative, all in one, drive in, pre packaged, americanised national park experiences which we then proceed to demolish with a characteristic combination of New Zealand charm and Kiwi mongrel. This can include but is not limited to; Climbing all over delicate rock formations which took millions of years to develop, driving through pristine meadows with the doors/windows open/down playing obnoxiously loud power ballads, stalking wild bears in fields which then turn out to have cubs up the tree you just walked under, drawing a face on a watermelon and carrying it on a public walkway and then making fun of the person in front of you who has their ridiculous pomerian rat dog in a carry harness on their chest....

Oh and we had a fully sick, punky brewster day on the East Kaweah yesterday with a perfect flow. Redemption was achieved after our last misadventure in there at high flow. Here's some photos of all of the above. I have lost my mind with all of the rubbish coming out of my head onto this page.

Garcia styling triple drop. Fancy that.

Sanga boofing in, pre rolling in the boil and doing the second drop upside down

I'm going to eat you!!!

Mr Bayly cruising into the drop that got me the first time around

'Double drop. Excellent.

James Anthony Garrod backflipping off a bridge in Yosemite. Shortly after this several rangers in short shorts felt the urge to tell us this was actually illegal and we were setting a bad example for the "children and families" The same rangers then noticed we were parked illegally and our registration on mum was out of date. Peace ensued as we talked our way out of a fine. See what I mean about the charm/mongrel dichotomy?

*On a side note to this, note all of the rafts in the background. They will put thousands of people down this stretch of river in rafts all year but we get arrested if we kayak in the Yosemite national park. This is America! We're Americans! Retards.

Bayly. Craaaaggggggssss.

Casual mum bear deciding we were too close to her cub and we should probably leave...

Biggest trees in the world apparantly. 1300 tons that fella. Good firewood though.

Team kiwi with token american. And a dog.

Oh and all of the photos were shamelessly taken from Mr J Mitchell's camera. Nice work nug.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Royal Gorge

This has to be one of the most anticipated runs in the whole of California. A sketchy put in, super remote location and some HUGE rapids make it one of the runs which gets spoken of in reverent tones in beaten up cars and dingy bars all over the state. Stories of epic trips come out of Royal every year which only serve to fuel the gossip mill.
This season, like everything else, Royal was flowing 5-6 weeks later than normal and we had been eagerly waiting for the flows to drop into the runnable window (of course this differed for some with a super early trip going in super high and walking all of the big stuff).

It was like waiting for a Christmas day which kept shifting further away and I was getting stressed that I wouldn't get it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. With a little kiwi crew of Brad and Toni we joined up with Evan Garcia, Will Pruett and Drew Duvall. Evan wanted to wait until flows were a little lower becasue he was hatching a plan - more on that later.

Ok bear with me here because I have to set the scene a little bit.
The put in for Royal is on private land and even though it's only for 5 metres the owners/manager are known for stopping kayakers getting on and even having them arrested for tresspassing. For this reason you have to be cunning and get your boat all loaded up and your gear on before you get there. We did all of this at a pull over further up the road and it pretty much just served to make us more and more nervous about the run.

We got to the put in and it was a mad scramble getting boats off, running to the river and putting on before anyone came and tried to stop us. We had a 200m flat to warm up on, a portage around a dam/weir and then it was all on.
Royal gorge didn't muck around with any lead in rubbish - it was straight into some pretty steep, very tight, low volume creeking. With Evan and his photographic memory leading the charge we made good time through the steep, semi mank into a cleaner section (which was still steep). An hour and a half saw us at the first of the biggy's of the run.

Heath one from the lip

The heath springs gorge is the first staunch part of Royal. It starts off with a burly lead in then a 35-40 footer - Heath one. It then carries on to Heath two, a 40 - 50 footer into a pool with a slot 15 footer to exit. After this the river enters the lower Heath gorge which is a staunch set of 5+ rapids in an inescapable canyon.

Me running Heath one.

We all ran Heath one with good times except for Brad snapping his paddle. Evan and Drew were fired up for Heath two so we set safety/cameras everywhere. Evan went first and greased it (funny how he seems to do that a lot..). Drew went over the bars and his deck imploded and he only just made the eddy before the slot drop which would have been savage to run with a full boat. The boys then ran the gorge while we portaged around it.

Drew running Heath two

After the Heath gorge there were some fun rapids and slides until the rattlesnake entry gorge. This had a portage and then a rapid with a rather retentive hole in it.

Evan boofing clear

This lead us straight into our campsite for the night and possibly the sickest campsite I've stayed at on a river. Rattlesnake falls - a 50 footer is right next to it and the boys were fired up to run it as soon as we arived. They all had nice lines and we had a super chilled time at the camp that afternoon.The rattlesnake campsite - sick!

Brad on the rattler

Me sending it.

Day two kicked off with me and Toni firing the rattler up, she greased it and I went over the bars a little but it was still a pretty soft hit. Lots of choice rapids lead us slowly (or actually quite quickly) to the biggest drop in the run. Scott's drop is the stoutest thing I've seen over here so far, a 30 foot drop into a big hole into a slide into a 20 foot drop. It's unbelievably big and scary. Evan was fired up to run it so we quickly portaged around it and got out the throwbags and cameras.
Evan came in and styled the top of the drop but got kicked over the bars at the bottom hitting a rock in the landing and getting ejected. It was a super impressive line and unlucky that he didn't clean it.
Drew's line went a little diferently however.. He went over the bars on the first part but rolled up in the pool, he then had to work hard to get left and he din't quite make it. The same rock that kicked Evan threw him into the wall where he proceeded to get the equivalent of a curb stomping on the wall losing four teeth and getting a concussion just for good measure.
Drew just about to eat it.

This made things a little more serious, being so remote walking out was pretty much out of the question so Will and Drew decided to just bomb out in one day to get Drew to the dentist - no mean feat when you are concussed and juiced up on candy.
We carried on down to the last big drop on the run where Evan wanted to cap off his grand plan - run all of the big drops in Royal in one trip which hadn't been done before. Funnily enough he greased the 70 foot Wabena falls in the same freakish style he had done the rest of the run with.

Evan getting ready to take it deep on Wabena

After Wabena we cruised through some more rapids and stayed at another sick camp where we were mercilessly savaged by mosquitoes until dark.

Sweet as lazy boys even!

The last day was a bit of a slog through about 25 miles of easy rapids to the takeout where the ever reliable MUM was waiting to take us to the closest available fast food outlet.
Next up we are off to Dinky creek and the southern drainages which are coming in left right and centre. I'm fired up!!!!! (in dirty southern accent)

All pics from this run are from the esteemed Ms Toni George, chur!!!

Golden Gate

The last couple of weeks here have been pretty busy, there were a lot of different plans happening at once so it was a bit of a juggling act trying to figure out what to do. After a cheeky run on the Lover's Leap section of the South American with Nick Wimsett and a bunch of Americans I finally managed to catch up with the old boys (they like to call themselves the masters team but we can't let them get too carried away) after a lot of missed communication via roaming NZ phones which don't work that well.

The call was for golden gate - another run on the South American which is supposed to be a long day of super cool rapids.
We got to the put in and found Mr Johnstone dozing peacefully while the others ran shuttle and it slowly transpired that we were going to have ten kiwis on a run in California - sick!

The run starts off pretty chill with everyone cruising down all over the show and then we got to the first scout. After this the gradient just stood up and didn't let up all day, sick boat scoutable boulder gardens interspersed with bigger rapids which precipitated scouts (or probes by John and James..) Everything for the day was ran except for F-111 which has a pretty terrible hole and no one could be bothered because it was right at the end.

Check the photos - this was my favourite 'river' run so far in Cali.

T Pickering on the runout of the first big rapid of the day - drainpipe

Snook probing 'Taco Bell - the last place you'd want to be'

Now I know this is semi bad form but apparantly this is a rare image - Mr Keith Riley getting a little mixed up and going over the main drop of Taco Bell backwards and upside down...

Me on my favourite rapid of the run, I'm not 100% but I think its called 'All Fucked Up'??

DJ in the midst of All Fucked Up

After a sick day we made a plan to do the upper Silver fork of the South American. We lost a couple of people and gained one so we still had a big crew. We had another cool day on another cool run - no photos but that's ok. It was mean catching up and paddling with more crew from home - B is coming soon which will be awesome but in the meantime... shiver.. Royal Gorge was in...