Monday, April 27, 2009

A good walk spoiled


Amongst other paddling this past week I got on the South Tule, a rarely run little creek on Reservation land outside Springville. The beta we had was that you needed a 'trespass' permit from the tribe in order to reach the river. And it took a group of expert boaters who knew the run six hours to do the three miles the day before. So we were expecting an adventure. And while it started out fairly easy with great drops and short portages, it quickly turned into a portage fest involving roping boats up granite cliffs and bushwhacking through nettles and poison oak. It's a gorgeous steep canyon and has some awesome kayaking but overall I'm not sure it's worth the effort. But check out the pictures and video and see if you think it's worth carrying a 50 lb. boat on the hike.

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Then yesterday I hiked back into Dry Meadow creek with a couple friends to run the teacups again. Another couple hours of hiking a boat but the beautiful location and great company made it all worth it. We actually ran into a couple hiking back there to check out the view and the guy turned out to be a kayaker who had run Dry Meadow several times before. So after my run down the six drops I let him borrow my boat and gear for a run of his own. It felt good to give someone such an unexpected happy surprise and allowed me to shoot more video - which I hope to edit in the next day or two. But for now here are some pictures from the day.
UPDATE: Here is a link to some high quality Dry Meadow video.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dry Meadow Success


Just a quick note to say that I got on Dry Meadow today with a good group of Canadians down on a road trip. There have been several incidents and some tragedy on the run lately but our trip was smooth, if a lot of work. It's good to keep the perspective that the huge amounts of fun we have on these rivers come with real risk - that's the trade off we accept.

UPDATE: more pictures and a little video:

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A good time was had by all


The 45th annual Kern River Festival wrapped up yesterday after a jam-packed weekend of paddling. I got into Kernville on Friday to help set up the Slalom gates and get in some practice in my borrowed plastic slalom boat. By Sunday I had managed to borrow a nicer composite boat which helped me finish a respectable third place in my class.

Saturday was the Brush Creek downriver race and giant slalom. The downriver part started fine until I got broached and pinned temporarily in a rocky little channel of no consequence. It took about 15 seconds to free myself but also used up all my energy. The eventual winner (Brett Duxbury) was right behind me and I just managed to avoid getting overtaken on the course. The giant slalom, more of an obstacle course, went better though I missed one gate by accidentally hitting it out of the way with my paddle. The final part of the Brush Creek Triple Crown was a run down the slalom course in the same boat (my Rocker for me) and that went quite well - though once again the eventual winner was right behind me and pushing on my heels).

I have tons of photos and video but today I'm off to run Dry Meadow with some Canadians so I'll try to get things sorted out and posted shortly.

UPDATE: Video:

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Teamwork


The main thing that draws me to kayak polo is the team aspect of the game. Kayaking is generally a very individual activity - even if your friends are around it's you alone in your boat. But kayak polo is a very team oriented sport. In fact, I would say it requires more teamwork to really excel than any other team sport I've ever played.

So it was great to spend several days with the Canadian under21 women's team who were in Southern California for a training camp. As young as 14 y.o. these girls already have the skills and knowledge to play some serious polo. And the dedication to drive 30 hours (each way) to spend their spring break getting up at 6:30am to run and staying up till 11:00pm to review video. That's the spirit of sport that is fun to be around and something that doesn't happen in most kayaking activities. And special props to Scott, who is on the Canadian men's U21 team but became an honorary member of the women's team for the week.


Some more Californian polo players showed up on Saturday for a day of friendly games and ferocious winds. Enjoy the pictures and video:

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reconnaissance


So I had a Monday at the Kern with no one to paddle with. So time to scout out Dry Meadow Creek which I can hopefully get folks together to run next week before the upcoming Kern Festival. This is one of the most spectacular locations you will ever see. Truthfully, I’ve never run it because it isn’t that great of a kayaking adventure. Just a lot of work for six drops. But it does make a nice picture so I’ll be coming back to get my run on film.

Then on Tuesday I hooked up with Kern local Geno for a couple laps on Brush Creek to work on some lines for the Brush Creek race at the Festival. The water was low (below 1 on the bridge gauge) but I'm hoping it comes up before the race. At this flow we took a little beating, especially running the normal portage, so we called it a day after two runs.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Giving Back



I learned how to whitewater kayak from the generosity of others. In particular a couple of Kiwis: Paul and Katherine Macey came to UCLA from New Zealand where they had been part of the Christchurch University Kayak Club which ran annual beginner trips for up to a hundred new paddlers each spring. I met them through the UCLA Kayak Polo club (but that's a story for another time) and shortly after that they took me and two other newbies on the first UCLA beginner weekend

Every year since I have come back to help them out and even ran the event one year when they could not make it. This year we had about 24 rookies and eight experienced folks to guide them down the river. It's a crash course on river running geared for the adventurous, starting in flat water Saturday morning and ending on a class III rapid Sunday afternoon. There's lots of fun, lots of learning, and most importantly lots of carnage. Enjoy a sampling of the weekend below, or the pictures, or check out the unedited complete video.



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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It goes

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Typical scenario: you're paddling down a river with friends (or even strangers) and come upon a horizon line. You can see that the river goes over a drop, but that's it. No idea what's below, if it's runnable, how hard it is, or even how long. So your buddy gets out to take a look at it while you sit in an eddy trying to guess what it looks like. Your friend comes back and reports: "it goes". That's all you need. As a simple but profound act of trust you peel out and run the rapid. As you do so there is always a little doubt in the back of your mind, that rational fear of the unknown that warns you you might be heading for trouble. But there is a moment as you are going over the edge, well past the point of no return, that you get to see the drop and exactly what is happening and you realize that it does indeed go.


At least, that's how it's suppose to happen. Sometimes to get to the lip and what you see in no way implies that it goes. In fact, it clearly does not go! But you've committed and you just have to make the best of whatever horrendous route lies before you. That happened to me a few years ago on Brush creek and I ended up running the normal first portage. But it can actually be run and I recently got some pictures of a friend running it quite successfully after due scouting and deliberation. My run started with my worst moment of sheer terror while kayaking and ended with me being pinned on the tree at the bottom (though I did actually run the drop successfully). A near dislocated shoulder pulled me off the tree and I rolled up fine, if a little sore. So maybe it does go...