"Poorly Planned... Badly Executed"

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Royal Gorge

Chris G getting his plug on

The last week saw us get skunked by the combination of weather, weather, and weather. The cold snap in Cali which we endured (not by choice I might add) not only made camping uncomfortable but also ensured that Dinky Creek dropped out on us and stranded us in Kaweah land with not a lot to paddle. A quick check of internet river levels revealed that Royal Gorge, a sweet three day trip, should come into a good level the next day and so we rallied north to where we had just been… three days earlier, dam this driving all over cali chasing water.

Chris K at Heath Springs

Evan same

Still at least we were going to get to paddle Royal Gorge… or were we?!? Waking early in the morning we rallied to the put-in but never quite made it. With persistent rain and temperatures hitting the high thirties (Fahrenheit not Celsius) we turned back at the top of the pass on the premise that camping in the cold and rain would be horrible, plus actually being able to start a fire was up in the air.

Royal Gorge has some cool box canyons and funky holes but Evan wasn't even going to give this hole the time of day.

However only the car I was in did so… Justin and Corey let determination get the better of them and decide to go paddling without us, rain or no rain. They even managed to rope Lizzy in on there shenanigans and so they started paddling while we drove back to Justin’s place and lined up an Indiana Jones adventure night out to make up for the lack of real adventure. We were not to make it to the movies… instead Corey’s girlfriend Aim arrived back at the house with news they had put on. Well we certainly weren’t going to be upstaged, “looks like we’re going kayaking boys!”

Lizzy getting her sideways boof on

Chris G deifying gravity

After some Colin McRae rally driving (in which we lost the boats not once but twice) we were putting on Royal Gorge at the crack of three thirty. Moving quickly to try to catch up with the lead group before dark we arrived at Heath Springs few hours later to find Corey with a massive crack in his kayak and Justin without a kayak at all. Although Justin he did have some very sore ribs from running a 50 foot water fall without much elegance. His boat got stuck in on a log in the gorge just down stream from the horrible boiling pool Justin ended up swimming in after being ejected from his kayak. Lucky Justin was able to climb up a crack to get out of the gorge although I’m sure he would have a different take on how his luck was going.

Lizzy heading to the lip of yet another waterfall

Over night the river gods were nice to us, gracing us with stars instead of rain and so we were all in reasonable shape the next morning. Justin without a kayak had no choice but to hike out while the rest of us continued on our merry adventure. Evan and Chris K fired off some sweet waterfalls while the rest of us were happy to walk… crazy basted Corey managed to put two new cracks in his kayak and Lizzy, Chris G and I ended the day at about par.

Evan taking his time to scout Rattle Snake

But while he wasn't looking Chris K snuck in and beat him to it

Evan was happy with Chris' line but past on his landing (and bloody nose)

The final day was not to be Corey’s favourite. His boat repairs barely even made it a mile leaving him to limp down to Giant Gap and hike out while the rest of the tired kayakers straight lined it for the finish. All in all it was a pretty sweet trip even if the river was low and two members didn’t make it all the way. Time for beer food and merriment I reckon. “Here Here”

Oh my... (photo Lizzy English)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Dam That's A Big Tree

Photos sometimes make things look small... don't be fooled this tree is over three hundred feet high

So not a lot new to report from 'merica' but I did go and see some big trees, biggest in the world in fact in the Sequoia National Park. It was really foggy so we almost couldn't see the top of the trees but this probably only made them more impressive as the towered over us some three hundred feet high. Lucky for me I had my fisheye lens with me or you would only be looking at pictures of the bases!

General Sherman, the worlds largest tree by volume

To them we are but a blip as they live to over three thousand years old

And sometimes the camera makes things look huge... but it wasn't (well maybe a little bit huge). Evan trying to reach mach 10 while paddling in the park

Monday, 26 May 2008

"Go Where I Go... Don't Go Where I Don't Go!"

Who said girls can kayak... See here Lizzy doesn't even know how to hold on to her paddle

So there have been some more adventures mostly involving far too much water and no photographs. Oh and even some rain... I know, in California!! But for you're enjoyment I have some more pics from The South Branch of the Middle Feather. Enjoy

Josh at Split Falls

Monkey boof... I wonder who that is?!? Evan working on a new style of kayaking

Justin and Even chilling in the sun

Well ok maybe girls can kayak some times... Lizzy showing the guys how it's done... again

Where's Josh?

And again!!

Justin firing off the normal portage

Oh there's Josh

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Big Kimshew

Chris K firing off Frenchies

Here are a couple photos from the Big Kimshew river which we had a quick two and a half hour blat down today (including stopping to take pictures). It was our second time down this week so we had the lines mostly down which made for a reasonably low stress day... until I boof half a foot to far left on one of the bigger drops and landed my left butt check square on a rock... 'I've been tenderised'. Fortunately it only really hurt for a few minutes and then came right, not that I really got to take a break. I guess sometimes you have to take the good with the bad... or some other cheesy metaphor. Actually today was the first time I have taken my 80-200mm f2.8 lens on the river which is why the shots are cropped tightly. It certainly won't be the last though so look out for more sweet shots framed like these to come in the future.
T'was a good sized crew and only one van required - not to shabby

Travis at Big Kimshew Falls

Trip at the bottom of The Tripple Drop (and not in the eddy of death... ask Chris K how that goes)
And last but not least... what a way to finish the day

Monday, 12 May 2008

And Then There Were Three...

Chris G firing of the first waterfall we came to

Having already tasted the delights of the first day of the South Branch of the Middle Feather we though we best see what the second day is like, I mean it would be rude not. Plus doing the two day trip involves camping on ‘The Island’, not quite as interesting as the one on Lost and the only ‘others’ are the masses of ants who were more interested in abducting our food than messing with us but that still didn’t make the prospect of camping on an island any less attractive.

More waterfalls... Chris G still enjoying the action

Yes you guessed it, still more waterfalls... this time Chris K in the action

Yep... more falling water, it just doesn't stop. Chris G attempting take-off

We rallied a big crew of eight keen contenders all set to dominate the abundance of falling water and one large portage at the start of the second day. The reality however was that most were dominated by the river and out of the eight that started all intending to paddle both days, only three actually made it to the water below the portage to start the second days paddle.

Now for the big stuff. The first day we paddled the run there was a bit more water and it was a bit softer at the bottom... Chris G was over heard saying "maybe I should have just got someone to punch me in the head and walked around it"

Chris K bracing for impact... or maybe just getting all the sponsors clearly in the shot?!?

The first casualty was Chris G who was in doubt from the onset. He fell victim to Riot Kayaks who didn’t send him his new boat when they were meant to and after hearing there was some ‘mank’ on the second day he was out. Then to push things beyond all doubt he shoved stick an inch into his foot while collecting firewood… ouch!! He at least managed to camp for the night.

Take that falling water... Chris K stomping his authority on yet another unsuspecting waterfall

Beware Chris the water remembers... and it's about to exact revenge

Darrin took and hit to the chin with his paddle on the fifty footer (and last drop of the day) which required some patching and Matt decided to join him although I’m not sure why?? Garrett took a hit on the fifty footer as well but mainly to his pocket when he broke his paddle. That also become the reason he walked out in the morning after having nightmares about having to paddle big rapids with a break-down.

Our campsite on 'The Island'

And perfect place for some boat repairs

Ryan only survived about forty feet of the two hour portage. The next foot send him downhill about ten feet hurting his shoulder in the process… ‘dropping like flies’ Chris K, Devin and I thought as we soldiered on.

Chris K and Devon inspecting the three two-hundred foot water falls we portaged around

Don't want to go off there aye Chris?!?

The second day was pretty sweet although not quite as brilient as the first days action but worth it if for no other reason than you get to camp on ‘The Island

Day two action. Chris K styling the line all the way into the hole!!

Dev using his kayaking like a glider

See anything good in there? Chris inspecting the inside of the curtain.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Hanging with the Rednecks

Our new friends Jeff, Paul, and Mike

One of the best parts of any kayaking trip to a different country is that you get to meet the locals and enjoy their culture… in this case the locals were a group of beer drinking rednecks and there culture, well… that’s drinking beer.

Mike had had a few that's for sure

We arrived at the takeout to Ben & Jerry’s section of the West branch of the Feather and while waiting for our buddy Darin we started chatting with some guys sitting round drinking beer… well actual they started chatting with us and we simply failed to resist. They were offering beers thick and fast though so we were more than happy to find out about there world.

Hanging out at Jeff's place for a bbq.

Three or four beers later Darin showed up and we went boating but not before being invited to a barbeque at one of the guys places. It would be rude not to attend I reckon so after paddling we enjoyed the company of our new friends while having one of the best meals of the trip to date. Bloody good show if I do sat so and in the end a ‘uniquely’ classic night.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Rock is Dead… Long Live Paper and Scissors

Wow... pretty much that's all I can say

With funds for us extreme travellers running dangerous low (not actually but I think it builds a bit of tension so just go with it for now) we embarked on a grand plan to make our millions and rid ourselves of all those pesky pennies we had acquired… the bane of my American existence. Vegas here we come… look out.

All big money making plans require the right code of dress and I think Shaun and Chris really nailed it… party shirts with a twist – ’party glasses’!! So all was set for a million dollar night and because it was such a sure thing we though we might celebrate early with a banquette feast… error!! The over-consumption of food rendered us incapacitated with barely the ability to crawl out the door let along rage a million dollar night in Vegas. The crew put up a valiant effort cruising the strip, stopping at all the big casinos, but in all reality we were doomed from the onset. Oh well better luck next time we all though as we skulked away from Vegas, tails between our legs. At least I achieved my goal of leaving Vegas ‘penniless’.

Yes guys, looking good. Shaun and Chris ready to create a storm (in a tea cup) in Vegas.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

She Wore an Itzi Bitzi Teeny Weenie Yellow Poker Dot Bikini

This is a wee story I just had to share… particularly with Luc. There has been a long running joke that the Swedish Bikini Team would be waiting at the takeout… or pretty much wherever we were going to be. Actually maybe it is just wishful thinking. Well we didn’t happen across the Swedish Bikini Team but we found a very close second while camping just outside Vegas. Not long after we arrived at our poached campsite for the night a cute bikini clad girl, form the only other group staying there, came over and invited us to join there group and do some beer bongs (skulling cans of beer out of a funnel of sorts). With jaws hitting the floor we graciously accepted… and so began another good night.