Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moab and Gooseberry Rocks!

So It has been a while since I promised pictures - lots has been going on at the brewery. Anyway I wanted to get these up from our trip to Gooseberry Mesa and Moab - both of which provided some of the most fun/unique riding I've ever had.

On the way to the Great American Beer Festival, we decided we deserved to have a little fun. First off was a stop at Gooseberry Mesa just outside of Zion Nat'l Park. Neither Rebecca or I had ever ridden on Slick Rock before. We started off on the practice loop to get our toes wet; turns out slick rock is really not slick at all. Gaining confidence we headed on for a loop out the South Rim to the viewpoint (seen above) then back along the North Rim.

The first few minutes was pretty humbling on a section called bowls and ledges - everything was so different from what we were used to. Not only did it look like there was no way to climb up this stuff, but it really looked like it would hurt when (not if) you fell.

Part of the frustration was that we were on a trial marked as moderate, and we knew we wanted to head back on a trail that was considered difficult. Thoughts of mangled bikes and bodies mingled with amazment at how fun and pretty this place was. It wasn't until we actually hit the Yellow Trail (marked as difficult) that we began to get some confidence that we might actually make it. It turns out that confidence is everything on slickrock, since the rock can handle much more than you think it can.

Pretty soon we were comfortable that not only was slickrock much easier than the type of riding we were used to, it was a frickin' blast!

It was so much fun, that we decided to camp out that night and do the loop in the other direction with an addition through hidden canyon the next morning before heading out to GABF.

Skip ahead and we were on our way home after a very eventful and fun few days in Denver. What better way to break up the long ride home that another stop, this time in Moab to meet up with some friends and ride there. Our first day was on Porcupine ridge - a bit more like the riding we were used to with bombing, ledgy downhills and some impossible moves (for us at least). I didn't have the camera with, but we had a great time riding with Corey, Lisa and Steve. The next day we were on our own and were pretty much required to ride the Slickrock Trail.

Having spent a few days on slickrock now, we were comfortable enough to enjoy the amazing scenery this ride has to offer. If you were going to build the perfect mountain bike park, you would be hard pressed to top this place; Amazing views, fun riding and some kick-your-butt hills made this ride unforgettable.

I have to say, I love my local trails, but I really can't wait to get back to these places for some more good times.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Little Slickrock on the to and from GABF

It's been a while since our last post, but we are still up to no good. The latest was a trip to Gooseberry Mesa and Moab on the way to and from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. We've never ridden slickrock before and man was it fun (and different than anything we've ridden before).

We'll try to get up some more pics soon, but while I've got time I'll throw up a couple of pictures from the i-phone

Rebecca and Lisa on Porcupine Rim

Eric doesn't need no stinkin' bike for slickrock

Rebecca enjoying the spectacular camping in Slickrock State Park

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dudes (and one Dudedette) Paddling Faster Than Normal

So you've done Cherry Creek, big deal. Have you done it in a non-stop fashion while paddling faster than normal from the confluence to the leap? Have you then gone on to run Lumsden with the peanut gallery in full effect? Have you then gone on to party for 12 hours straight? Have you then gone on to paddle the creek the next day in a state somewhere between extremely hungover and still intoxicated?

If so, you've officially earned your Cherry Creek Badge of honor. If not, you have something to aspire to... or is it perspire to...


If you have been to the Captain Kirk Cherry Creek Memorial Race, you know what it is all about. If you haven't... Well if you haven't it is kind of hard to describe, but I guess I'll try to explain what it means to me - it's about being with your paddling brothers and sisters and celebrating how lucky we are to be able to do what we do.

It is also about boating hard and playing hard.

Screw this Green Boat! The Captain (aka Charlie Center)

The Man, the legend - Noceti

A sober (I think) Joe Bosquin

Tim Hagan - the man behind the curtain
Eventual Runner-up Macy Burnham (check out the Dancer Pro...)

Keith and Rebecca (left) planning out their race strategy). It went something like this:
Keith: "If I get hammered, you have to keep going so that someone can time the race"
Rebecca: "If I get hammered you better save my ass!"

If you look closely you can see people talking smack

The intensity at the put-in. Feel the tension?

Safety boats getting a head start - they should get to Mushroom by the time I do...

The race itself is about 40 minutes long; from the confluence of the main down to Lewis' Leap. I have to say that you start to feel pretty exposed about 15 minutes into the race when you are already extremely tired, are headed into Mushroom, realize you are probably passing the last of the safety boaters and come to terms with the fact that you will be paddling the remainder of the class V run on your own.

To be honest, I'm guessing that there were folks past Mushroom to help out a racer in need - the problem was the lack of oxygen and tunnel vision prevented me from being able to see them. Keith and Rebecca, on the other hand were completely on their own; they raced as a team, ostensibly providing safety for one another as they made their way down to the finish line. This is certainly one of the more thankless jobs during the weekend and a big thumbs up to those two for sucessfully escorting the time clock down to the leap!

This year's race sure seemed to have all the makings of a good one. There were 5 Green Boats, yes 5 (I think that must be every single Green Boat on the west coast). Macy Burnham, Tim Hagan and Ben Wartburg were the only ones that "manned" up and paddled old school boats (the Dancer Pro, Animas and a sinking Dagger boat of some sort). I rounded out the class with my stubby Remix 69 - but like I told everyone, it's not the size that matters...

Sure enough, It was one of the more competitive races in recent memory (except for Charlie blowing away the field for the win). Here are the results

Long Boat
1. Charlie C., Green Boat, 36:40
2. Macy B., Dancer Pro, 37:44
3. Guido, Remix, 37:52
4. Taylor C., Green Boat, 37:53
5. Robbie H., Green Boat 38:07
6. Jared N., Green Boat, 38:38
7. Thomas M., Green Boat, 38:50
8. Tim H., Animas, 40:30
9. Ben W., Sinking Response, 1:01:34

Short Boat
1. Ben J., Mystic, 40:25
2. Aaron S., Nomad, 41:03
3. Kurt S., Nomad, 41:15
4. Joe B., Nomad, 42:11
5. Sean M., Nomad, 43:04
6. Chad D., Nomad, 46:43
7. Roman N., Fluid Solo, 55:10

1. Rick S., Habitat, 44:46
Jim B., Jefe
2. Rebecca G., Remix, 45:37
Keith K., Nomad

Highlights of my run included a mostly-capsized run through Jawbone, a sweet boof off the center rock in Mushroom, a complete flub of Unknown Soldier, getting lost in some boulder garden, survival through Sky King and a nice boof at Christmas Tree Hole. Other highlights include, but were not limited to, Ben W mostly sinking his way down, Roman's heroic surf in Richard's Hole and Dave and Kevin's equally heroic rescue of Roman in Richard's Hole.

As racers finish their runs, they congregate on the rock overlooking Lewis' Leap and talk smack about how much faster they could have been as well as make fun of other folks as they make their way down. Comments like "Is Joe racing or is he safety - it doesn't look like he is racing..." or "Where is Ben, we are about to loose light on the sun-dail".

Charlie explaining exactly how he smoked everyone

So who's setting safety for the safty folks...
Rebecca looking bad-ass

Ducklings headed down the leap

One of the highlights of the weekend is when the race is done and everyone fires up Lumsden. The peanut gallery is always in good form and you get to see just about anything that can happen on Lumsden. We were a little late getting down this year and only got to catch the tail end of the action, but here is some of it (mixed in with a little pre-race day footy).

The scene...

The parking lot below Lummy

Is that Joe's boat?
Is that Joe?

After the fun at Lumsden, it's time for some serious lounging and swimming time before the late night party scene...
Lounging on the rocks

Who says pool toys are for kids

Taylor achieving terminal velocity

Something funny happened...
After this, things got a little hazy, something about a killer BBQ, the Big Creek Shot table, keg stands, men in dresses, not one but two bands, and a whole lot of dancing. Maybe we'll round up some pictures for a later post. Until then.

A little vidy of the Lumsden show

In memory of Kirk, Kenny Gould, Deb Martin, Larry Berg, Lars Holbek, Jon Burnham

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun on Fordyce

If you are looking for a run that has all the feel of a High-Sierra run without all the work, you'll find it on Fordyce Creek. Recreational releases in the late Summer/early Fall make this a destination spot for most Class V boaters in California once many other runs are done. We made the 6 1/2 hour trip from Kernville to see what all the fuss was about - was it worth the trip? You bet!

400 cfs of Fordyce - portage #1
After getting back from Upper Cherry Creek back on July 4th, things have not gone very smoothly at the ol' work place. Without getting into details, we were more than ready for a couple of days off after about a month and a half of mostly work and very little play. We were so ready, in fact, that we left Kernville at 8 pm and drove through the night, ending up at Lake Spaulding at about 2:30 am with no paddling partners, no pre-arranged shuttle, and basically no plan. The thought was that there had to be people there - it was the only thing other than Cherry Creek running in the Sierra.

As usual, our optimism for hoards of California boaters was ill-founded, and a couple of hours after waking up at 7:30 am (so we wouldn't miss anybody), our attentions were turned towards having to spend a day in Truckee being tourists. We had heard that Fordyce is a fairly long day and thought that certainly by 9:30 the hoards would have arrived - they hadn't, so we packed up and reluctantly drove off to check out the Tahoe area. As we were pulling out of the parking lot the cavalry came to the rescue. Two cars with boats! Chris was in one car - a Nevada City resident who had done the run a few times before, and Serge - a Russian born paddler who, like us, was a newbie on the creek. After a brief conversation, we agreed to paddle and off we went.

I had heard various reports on the shuttle - long, 4-wheel drive, easy to get lost, etc. I'd also heard various reports on the run - Class V, remote, scenic, etc. In retrospect, I believe someone can do the run reasonably without having someone who has done it before (certainly beta on walking around the last couple of hundred yards would help). I'm not so sure I would take on the shuttle without someone who has done it before. Needless to say, it is 4-wheel drive (any reasonable 4-wheel drive will do), and you can get lost (take the unmarked right near the top of the hill!).

The next day things went a little smoother, the hoard (two other cars) appeared earlier (9:00 am) and we had picked up an additional paddler in our party (Jason flew in from Utah just for the occasion). Since we knew the river and the shuttle now we had a fairly leisurely day

Once you get to the river, things start off pretty much right away with a fun slide.

Rebecca rubbed out in Eraserhead

Rebecca, Headless?

Immediately after there is a series of peton-potential read and run drops (far left, not too far right not too far left - got it?). Then there is a scenic drop into a pool in a rapid known as Old Man's. All the while in this first half-mile you are still marvelling at the surroundings and the crystal clear water. Soon the river basically tells you to quite taking it all in and pay attention dammit. As you leave the pool of Old Man's and round the corner you notice the dropoff that is Insanity Falls. Now every rapid on Fordyce has been run, two in particular on not what I would consider "classics" and Insanity Falls is the least "classic" of the two. Don't get me wrong, there is a legit line and it looks like it could even be fun, but for some reason, the serenity of the trip to that point just throws me off any desire to run this...

The Scenery coming into Insanity Falls

After insanity, the whitewater stays fun for about another mile woth a fun boof, bishops balcony another fun boof and then Rotator Cuff

A super-fun boof below the falls

Of the classic drops on the run, Rotator Cuff is probably the one that grabs your attention the most (along with split falls). There is a nice long lead-in ramp into about an 8 foot falls with a hole that is nicely backed in on the right side. Of the two days I ran it I had a super clean sky-boof (on the first day) and a deep melt-down (probably taking it for granted on the second day).
Rotator Cuff - glory boof or melt-down...

Jason rotating the cuff on day 2 (don't ask me how...)

After this the river mellows out noticably for a few miles; beautiful class I-II stretches occasionally interrupted by fun class IV drops or gorges.
Rebecca Cruising

Lunch - eating it all up
In this middle section you'll find yourself alternately oggling the surroundings and grinning at your paddling companions - an absolutelly amazing section of river.

Wolf on another fun boof

Where's Barry? Sliding on the sweet left line of course...

Jason pinned again...

After you cross under the green bridge, the whitewater picks up again. A fun gorge (rattlesnake?) and some more drops until you get to the highlight section of the trip. Fordyce Falls, Split Falls, The Hole that ate the Donner Party and more...

Fordyce falls is a fun 15 footer with easy lapability and a couple of different lines to try (including yet another melt down just right of where Jason is in the picture below).

Jason on Fordyce Falls
Another classic on this run is split fall - not quite 20 feet from top to bottom, but if add the distance traveled underwater after you hit the pool, it has to be approaching 25'
Alex on Split falls

Wolf taking on the Split

Jason about to go deep

After all this, The Hole that Ate the Donner Party really doesn't look all that bad, but I can attest that the hole at the bottom is sticky and has enough juice to enduce a couple of ends in a Jefe...

The hole that is about to eat Eric (green jefe entering on the left)

A little vid of Rebecca...

There are about 3 or 4 more fun drops after this until you reach a boulder garden that gradually gets more and more choked off. On the first day we tried to work our way down until we ran out of space. The best approach is to hit the trail on river left when you see a giant rock. Stay on the trail a couple of hundred yards, it will go back down to river level and you can finish the paddle down to Lake Spaulding. Once you are on the lake you get to paddle a couple of miles back to the parking lot where most folks get to hang out and drink beer while a couple of unluckies get to do the 2 hour round-trip shuttle...

Overall I would have to give this run an A+ rating (above 400 cfs) with the only downside being the shuttle (and maybe the lake paddle for some folks). We decided that Fordyce Creek is the bastard child of Upper Cherry Creek and the Headwater of the Kern. The fractured granite domes that surround you and the cedar and sugarpine forrest that try to block their view are, in my opinion, the highlight of the trip. I would easily do this trip as an overnighter just to hang out and enjoy the scenery a bit longer. I think it is one of those runs where higher water is definately better - with 500 cfs feeling better in every way than 400 cfs. We'll definately look forward to making the pilgramage again next year...