June 18, 2007

A little cut and mix of some boating adventures we've had so far this season in the U.S. Enjoy!

June 16, 2007

Cherry Creek

With a week off from work in was back in the Suby, onto I5 (big arse freeway) and heading south. We headed back down to Coloma to catch up with some mates, drink a few beers and looking at doing some kayaking.

I had my fingers crossed for the two weeks previous that we would be able to get onto one of the harder to get Californian runs. Word on the street was that Cherry Creek was on the way in (at a paddlable level) but was still pretty high.

Driving in California... it's what we do

It turned out that timing, weather and the lack of a suitable team meant that I wasn't to be getting on the Upper Cherry creek run this season. Due back up at Otter Bar on the Saturday meant timing this was going to be too much.

With the decision made for me it was time to get into some serious relaxing. With a few days around Coloma sorting 'things' out and drinking those beers with those mates the call was made.

Rumour has it the Hefe is fast... Zak Shaw testing the theory

Dragging our still toxic and reeking bodies into the vehicles we charged out the gate at the crack of 11am and headed further south to the regular Cherry Creek run. Joe Bousquin convinced us to take his short cut. Instead of the usual three hours to the river managed to roll in a little over four hours later. For any descent kiwi, this is a long time to be sitting anywhere, especially when you're feeling a little under the weather. It's funny how 'shot gunning' cans of cheap beer seems like a good idea at 2am in the morning.

To cut a longer story shorter, we managed to get on the river just after 4pm.

Cherry Creek is perhaps the most popular class five (class five is pretty tough kayaking) in California. This is probably due to the reliable water levels from the dams up stream coupled with pretty good road access at either end.

The 'other' Ben early on in the day

Some how the river god's (more like power companies) were smiling on us as we had pretty good water levels for the time of day it was.

Most of the paddling on Cherry Creek is class 3 (technical and fun, not too hard) and class four (harder, more fun but with some consequence if you mess up). This makes for pretty good challenging kayaking but never gets too carried away. Rapids of note are Mushroom, Lewis’s Leap and Lumsden Falls. Tucked in there is also what is known as the miracle mile. These rapids are all a step above the rest of the kayaking on the run. Most of the kayaking can be done from the boat but every so often it is necessary to get out and have a look a rapid more closely.

The crux rapid in the run is pretty much at the very end, with less than a kilometre to go. This is Lumsden Falls. The river is backed up by hundreds of boulders and drops rapidly (no pun intended) and almost violently into the pool below. The amount of gradient that is lost in this rapid is very impressive. Most elect to walk this rapid because the water pushes hard into what is fondly known as ‘decapitator’ rock.

Only Zak and I made the call to run this because we were both feeling pretty good on the day. Zaky fired up first and had a pretty good line only to get pushed right and get smoked by the lateral (strong crashing wave) coming off the wall. Unconvinced I stepped up and made sure I was well left at the bottom. I managed to stay pretty centre and crashed through the big hole at the bottom. All good. From there it is a relaxing paddle down the take out. Now, because we were so late in starting we hadn’t set a car at the take out so we had an hour hike up the hill to the cars. All in all, we didn’t finish until after 10pm. Most of the boys elected to head back to Coloma for some strange reason. Zak, Joe and I found a camp and settled in to telling tales over some freeze-dry food and few warm beers.

Slacky on Sky King.. no idea on the name, just don't get stuck in the hole

The next morning Joe headed off to take on the Upper section and Zak and I meet Ben and Cody who were keen to head back down the regular Cherry Creek section. Some super nice random guy offered to drop us at the top so all our logistical problems had been solved.

With a little more water and fresh knowledge from the previous day we made short work of the run stopping only take photos and some video.

Cody giving the centre line a nudge on Sky King

Zak and Cody stepped up and dialled in Lumsden stomping the centre line good and proper. I elected to take it easy as I had such a nice line the run previous I felt as though it would be tempting things. The calls you make at the time.

With all the team sorted it was back to the cars and into the drive back north. It wasn’t exactly what we had been trying for but good times were had and we all left pretty happy with life. Nice one.

June 11, 2007

Otter Bar

Being on holiday is tough for a kiwi...

The last couple of weeks have been filled with teaching kayaking and eating amazing food. There has been a kiwi invasion of northern California over the past month here at Otter Bar. We currently have four Kiwi instructors teaching at Otter Bar this week meaning that we have a 100% NZ instructional team. The locals (Americans) must get a bit of a shock when they drive more than 8+ hours to Otter Bar and they are faced with a group of foreign nationals for the week.

Otter Bar... hard place to relax. yeah right

Teaching kayaking in California is very different to the NZ style of teaching. First off, instead of being in the pool at 8am and teaching rolling we sit down and eat a cooked breakfast with clients and relax into the morning. From here its kind of the same but at a more relaxed pace. After packing our gourmet lunches its off the river for the day to kayak the pristine
waters of the Salmon River and soak up the days warmth (usually around 30 degrees).

Back at base around 5.30pm to wash the rigs down and then it's time to enjoy the evening before yet another delicious cooked meal prepared by the fantastic cooks. Ahhh, better do it all again tomorrow.

staying in touch with the world, go wireless

Well, I may have glazed over some off the actual work that we do here but, teaching kayaking in the Salmon River is a pretty good way to make a living.