"Poorly Planned... Badly Executed"

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Grand Canyon Adventures

Go little guy, you can make it.

For the last two weeks I have been living a day to day (kayaking) existence while waiting for work to get in touch, probably with short notice plan tickets to Poland… however it never happened. Not that this bothered me too much as the are still paying me so if they feel I should stay on holiday instead of doing some actual work then who am I to argue!! However I did get a little frustrated at not knowing so I sent them an email to find out what was up… “We are a little delayed at present; you will not be required until June 11th… sold!!

Typical rock formations in the Grand Canyon

Sunset view from the canyon rim

With that little development I started scheming plans… the best of which was to catch back up with Shaun, Jacs, Chris, and Kate who I hadn’t yet seen since her arrival in the US. Bumming a ride with Chris K to Medford (in which our kayaks were stolen during our stopover in Corvallis – stink au), I caught a flight to Las Vegas“vive las vagas”… to meet up with the gang on route to the Grand Canyon (some sort of big canyon I guess?!?). The way there took us over the Hover Dam which they are now building a massive bridge beside so the road doesn’t have to cross the dam anymore, and by massive I mean ‘massive’. The dam itself is something to behold as well considering it was built in (insert date here)!

The view of our campsite by day

And by night!! (fire added for effect... really... I mean who would be silly enough to start a fire in the middle of a tinderbox)

The Grand Canyon was pretty dam cool too except for the temperature which was hitting 25°C at the top and 35°C at the bottom!! We got a little shot-down on our first day when we tried to go for a day walk down a trial that was only accessible by a closed road although not all was lost. Walking back form where the shuttle bus had drop us off near the canyon rim we overheard someone exclaiming “the longer you stay here you really start to feel the tranquillity”… just as the bus was gronching its gears and revving its engine only 30m away - classic, some people have no idea. Stilling chuckling to ourselves we cooked dinner and watched the sun set from a good vantage point at the canyon rim.

The newly painted roof box... none to shabby

Having obtained the necessary permits we had a day to kill before we could start our walk so Shaun and Jacs decided to paint their roof box (under the expert supervision of Kate who’s an ‘artist’). Their roof box is now sporting a picture of New Zealand, the Southern Cross, some waves, a big yellow sun, and several stick-figures doing various extreme sports. Nice work guys… now lets go tramping (hiking to those living in the United States of Freedom’).

Shaun checking out the view during our decent into the Grand Canyon

Spot the trampers!! Shaun, Jacs, Chris, and Kate standing on the ridge line.
One of the many cacti in bloom

The Grand Canyon is… well…’grand’ to summarise in a single word and to date I think it is the only ‘hike’ I have been on where the first day is solely down hill and the final day solely uphill. We stayed for two nights at Phantom Ranch camp ground so had a day to explore Phantom Canyon, a small side canyon which doesn’t see much action due to lack of a trail. That however wasn’t going to phase a bunch of Kiwis (and an American we would almost claim… you know, if we had too).

Walking up Phantom Canyon

When the going got tough... Chris when straight up the middle

Shaun enjoying our game of keep the pack dry... good work buddy

Kate takes an unintentional dunk while doing some impromptu canyoning

Even when the bush bashing turning to climbing straight up the centre of waterfalls we charged straight on through while playing an interesting game of catch with the backpack we had with us. The back stayed dry… not so all of us and Shaun’s valiant effort has to be commended. Right so long story short, Phantom Canyon was well worth the effort and it was nice to get away from the crowds (we had it all to our self) and the hike out the following day was an effort and very hot but as we started early to avoid the heat of the day we were out before lunch. Nice work guys… next stop Vegas - “vive las vagas”!!

Sunrise at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

A squirrel running down the trail with us. These guys were all over the place on the way up to the canyon rim.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Little White Race

Coming in hot!! Chris K going big at Spirit (photo Keel Brightman)

Here are a couple of photos from the weekends Little White Race action. The race starts at the top of Getting Busy (the start of the run) and finishes after Wishbone Falls, only three hard rapids before the end of the run. The river is solid class 5 and racing down it solo is a little intimidating. A good time is sub 16 minutes but for me survival was the key because if you can imagine that paddling one class five rapid is hard enough then think about paddling that same rapid exhausted!!

Look it's me not behind the camera for once at Wishbone Falls and final drop of the down river race (photo Bo Wallace)

The waterfall, Spirit, was not included in the race but we all ran it anyway just because the sun was out. The race was sweet times too… maybe a little to long for me and as I still can’t remember all the lines there was a few times that I approached horizon lines still unsure where I should be headed. Fortunately I (and everybody else) made it down in one piece so no real dramas, just tired kayakers to fly off Spirit.

The finish line and one very happy to be done kayaker (photo Bo Wallace)

Lots of people boofed Spirit but landing flat off a 30 foot drop is not for me so I rocked the plug-it line. The only problem with the plug-it line is that I was rolling the dice with the boil at the base of the falls… and I lost. The boil stool my paddle and sent me into the cave behind the falls. Not a bad place to hangout but I would rather be still holding onto my paddle. Determined not to swim for the second time in a week I hand rolled, found my paddle (which was circulating laps of the pool I was in) and reappeared from the curtain to the side of the falls – hurray.

Me paddling Spirit (photo Keel Brightman)

On Sunday they had a slalom down a super fun class five rapid Bolder Sluice with one very hard to make gate (not helped my all the partying the night before). I had the first run of the day and completely missed it however kept everything clean on my second run to move into a middle of the field 10th place overall. Not bad considering I only entered for the fun of it. All that was left to do was paddle out form the slalom course – down almost the entire length of the Little White (and drink some more beer).

LJ and Chris K at Chaos just after Spirit (photo Bo Wallace)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Party Party Party

A cold one anybody?

Here is a nice wee collection of pictures from a party I was at last night. The main reason for the shindig was to celebrate Chris Gabrielli starting his yeah long trip of North America and Clare coming home for recent surgery. All in all it was a dam good time but I think the pictures speak for themselves so I’ll let them do the talking. Enjoy

Dress-up time... As you can see the photos start from later in the night!!!

"Look at what you're wearing!!"

Alanore looking stylish

Looks like these guys are having a good time.

Time for ice cream

Man down!! Chris K doing his best sea otter impression.

Channey lead the way to the fire

Wouldn't be a party without a fire

Or a banjo?!? Jeff keeping it red neck

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Canyon Creek Race

Looking backup to the last few drops of Canyon Creek (and the race)

After a week lapping the Little White and with same Green Truss and Farmland runs thrown in for good measure Chris Korbulic and I were good and ready for a change of pace on (and weather for that matter) so made our way to Washington’s Canyon Creek. Not that the prospect of a one last Little White lap wasn’t awfully tempting, we did try but nobody joined us for the shuttle and the walk was looking just a touch too long. Besides I really would like to have a run down the class four river I was to be racing on the next day (not that it helped… read on)

Chris Korbulic lining up for air time on the final boof of the race

We were joined by some buddies from Corvallis at the takeout where we were gratefully enjoying the sunny blue skies and warm temperatures, something we had not seen much of the previous week. With big smiles on our faces and the shuttle set we got down to the business of paddling the river (and scoping out the race lines). The run put an instant smile on my face which was only made bigger by the first box gorge and beamed form ear to ear by as I launched over the last three boofs on the run. The river also boasts probably the nicest 20 foot waterfall I have ever run (blind might I add… heehee, so soft and fluffy).

Chris Gabrielli leading the random facial expressions campaign (click on the photo for a bigger version)

Not to be left out Jeff doing his best 'ooh rapid' facial

Mean while I was hiding from the paparazzi "hee hee can't shoot my face"

With race day eve upon us we quickly got down to the business of drinking malt liquor (carbo loading for those in the know). Ok so only I was drinking malt liquor as Chris Korbulic left his bottle conveniently in the car… I guess we can’t all drink like Kiwis eh Chris. Well that’s the performance de-hancing drugs dispensed (and an uncomfortable nights sleep in the car) time to race.

Half naked boddies everywhere... it must be a good day ;-)

The guys getting their tan on

Not everyone was a fan of the sun however... Jacs hiding from the sun, or maybe she is hiding how red her skin was from the camera?!?

Then there were some who just didn't like the camera. Too bad Nick the paparazzi is everywhere

And there were even a few who just plan didn't know what was going on... "Who are you? What are you doing... You're not even my real mother!!"

The weather on race day was nothing short of stellar and we quickly found more people we knew including a bunch more form Corvallis and Shaun and Jacs. “It’s going to be a good day”. Eventually we all got ourselves to start line and did our best to beat each others times (none of us were taking it that seriously) although not all of us made it to the bottom in one piece. Paddling the run only once before racing down a class four river seemed like a good idea at the time but my memory of the lines was lacking one small but significant detail… the line through a sticky hole half down the run. Yep… as you have probably already guessed I got thrashed and pulled out of my kayak while fighting the beast. Well that was my race over, much to the delight of all my friends who are still letting me know about it… can’t blame them really I would certainly be doing the same.

Rafters at Champagne styling the line

Conner and Chachi not doing so well though - 'but I don't want to go over there!!'

Casey enjoying the action at champagne

A pretty sweet day all in all (even if I did swim for the first time in quite a while) and the after party was no let down either. In fact that statement doesn’t really do the party justice… it was up there with the best kayaking shindigs I have ever been to. So how to make a great weekend even better – paddle the Little White at 3’5’’, so that’s what we did. All that was missing was the petrol station pie on our way to the river ;-)

Dusty wasn't in the race but that didn't stop him getting some air time

And I think he's pretty happy about it

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Little White Mission

Chris Korbulic firing a nice line off Spirit

Well the pace of adventure in my world hasn’t slowed down at all. It turned out that I was ‘hard’ to contact by work and so instead of sending me back to rejoin my old crew for one last trip before I swap crews they simply found someone else. By the time I called work back they told me to ‘keep enjoying my holiday’. Maybe that’s Norwegian code for you’re fired or something but to me it simply means what it says and that’s what I have been doing. So after arriving back from Vancouver Island I made my way to Corvallis for a couple of days catch back up with Shaun and Jacs and everyone else down that way that I know. Shaun and Jacs had just purchased a stylie wee gas guzzler V6 van and were in the process of fitting a bed into the back of it. No worries guys, I’ll document and direct… actually just document (and drink beer of course) while you are hard at work. What a good friend I am ;-)

Shaun and Jacs working hard while I supervise

No power tools for these guys... Jacs doing it tough

I tell a lie... they had a power drill

The daffodils were enjoying the sunshine too

Job done... yet it needs a bit more charm, can never have too much charm

Right that’s the van done lets go kayaking… destination Hood River. A break away mob of four of us left Friday morning to get a sneaky wee run down the Green Truss, a beautiful class 4 run with a couple of bigger drops thrown in for good measure. It was also the perfect opportunity for Shaun to reacquaint himself with kayaking, it’s been a while aye buddy. It was also a chance for Richard to go 0 and 3 on Bob’s hole (he has swam out of it the first two times he has run the drop) but he wasn’t as keen on swimming as the rest of us were on seeing it happen and decided to walk… poor form Richard.

Moss covered trees of the Little White

EJ getting straight amongst it at Bolder Sluice

With a successful run of the Green Truss under our belts we were rejoined by the rest of the group from Corvallis bringing to total number to nine… Hood River had never seen the likes of it (well actually it has, many times even - the place is often descended on by large groups of kayakers and/or kite boarders but never let the truth get in the way of a good story aye Dave although I kind of just have… sheit). Right where was I, oh yes nine kayakers ready to paddle the shit but first they need a place to stay. Lucky our new buddy LJ let us use his house and we were set with a good nights sleep ready for adventure.

Chris Gabrielli getting air at Sacriledge

And I think he likes it

Chris K isn't so sure though (of what however, I think only he knows)

Maybe it is how many kayakers are on the run. Believe it or not, that wasn't all of us ;-)

Well all the rivers round Hood River are pretty well documented and get paddled all the time so it is not a true adventure in the sense of the word but we didn’t let that stop us!! Leave it to us to turn a hour long Little White run into an all day mission. First of all you need to start the day with the biggest groups you could imagine (so even the biggest eddy’s on the river wont hold all of you), then make sure there is a good ratio of people who haven’t paddled the river before and finally and perhaps key bring along pre-cracked kayaks with dodgy repairs and not enough split paddles.

Richard not missing out on his chance for air time

And sticking the whole line to boot (first time on the Little White and paddling it like a seasoned pro - nice going Richard)

Jeff searching for fish... I guess you have to go deep to find to best ones

Well we already had some dodgy pre-cracked kayaks and not enough split paddles but we felt that the group wasn’t quite big enough… no problem we’ll just find some more people!! “Job done” as my boss at work would say. So our expanded group of eleven put on the Little White for our wonderful adventure… five and a half hours latter the last of the tired cold hungry kayakers took off the river. Some egos had taken a bit of a bruising and a few pockets had taken a little hit but fortunately all bodies were still intact. Actually I’m making it sound worse than it really was but it still had to be described as a mission.

Eli doing some impromptu underwater caving... his buddy lost his kayak in the cave under the rock wall and Eli swam under there to get it back... what a good fella

The spectators enjoying the caving action. If you look at the bottom left corner you can just see Eli!!!

Right so here is the breakdown…

1) EJ got pinned at the first drop and swam. His boat made a much nicer platform to boof off than the rocks that trapped him. Way to take one for the team EJ!

2) Richard dropped his camera while helping to retrieve EJ’s boat. Lucky for Richard the camera was waterproof and five minutes duck diving saw him and the camera reunited.

3) I re-broke the kayak I was paddling just before S-turn rapid and so enjoyed some extra hole punching weight in my boat, at the expense of manoeuvrability. The trade was later described as ‘fair’

4) Shaun had a token swim and nice self rescue might I add, at Wishbone Falls. When you’re already in the eddy after the drop you can probably just roll up eh Shaun.

5) EJ lost his paddle at the top of the narrow gorge above Horse Shoe hole but managed to paddle the gorge and eddy out before the hole. A pretty good effort and it turned out the paddle he was using was one that we found that day anyway… easy come easy go eh EJ.

6) Rick broke his paddle at Spirit Falls and although he managed to roll up he ended up behind the curtain, got sucked back into the falls and went deep. He came out but his boat decided to stay… until we went and got it. That little break turned into over two hours of fun for everyone (except the half the group who bailed so they could return a demo boat in time).

7) The remaining group pull out some Macgyver tricks and fashion a makeshift paddle from a couple of pieces of paddle blade found at the bottom of Spirit Fall (while retrieving Rick's kayak) which Eli nominates himself to use.

8) The Macgyver paddle disintegrates at Master Blaster rapid and Eli swims... bugger au.

Rick flying off Wishbone

Nick going deep on the same droop... both lines are sweet, trust me I have tested each out (and a couple of other variations for good measure)

Jeff ready to rescue people from Horse Shoe hole... thankfully his services were not needed

Richard threading his way though a maze of holes in a cool narrow gorge above Horse Shoe hole

Shaun sticking the right side of Horse Shoe

Moments before disaster... Rick just before he breaks his paddle and goes deep at Spirit

The boat retrieval in full swing. Nick jumped at the opportunity to abseil down and get Rick's boat... the rest of us stood back and let him go to it... 'sure Nick I'll take pictures'

Well as you can see lots of little dramas but nothing to scary to really that serious… just another day on the Little White.