Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Year One in the Books..

July 10th came and went with somewhat of a bang as I put a bow on my first year of eclipsed paddling adventure with an eventful paddle down the continuous class IV Ashnola River that ended with a grand hole beatdown followed by a swim that may have put the final nail in the Pure's coffin. In all both days combined I did get to enjoy the entire 21 km stretch of river we delved into before the event however.. :)

I humbly started my paddling career July 10, 2010 having been in the odd kayak maybe 4 times total over my life in lakes, and hating water, it was a big transition. So I jumped in, took the beginner kayak course through Purple Hayes School of Kayaking after learning about it on an initial trip to Western Canoe and Kayak. Following the course I picked up a used boat down the street and an assortment of new and used gear and started getting in the beginner run on Chilliwack River in my backyard and hitting Cultus Lake for rolling practice and whatnot.

September 10th marked my first time down Tamihi, the ominous (at the time, and still with big holes at big water levels) rapid that marks the mid point of the classic run on The Chilliwack. It has been called a class III- to IV rapid depending who you talk to and how conservative and water levels.

September 30th was my first day off Chilliwack River as I bombed down Chehalis and part of Statlu Creek for the first time without even flipping over! The next big milestone was October 21st or so when I got in my first Chilliwack Canyon run...the canyon ranges from class III- to IV depending on water levels, much like Tamihi rapid and can be continuous, and seem continuous no matter what your first time down!

By late November through late December I was hitting some easier creeks (Slesse and Lynn). Mid-January would mark my step up to run Chilliwack canyon at a high 2.4 or so (140ish cms or 5000 cfs) that ended in my worst swim I've had.

My first real creek run on a class IV creek was in mid April when I hit Canyon Creeks of the Stilliguamish and Lewis drainage down in Washington, both successfully, as well as the East Fork Lewis....the weekend prior to that marked my first waterfall (Sunset falls on EFL at 3600 cfs). I have paddled 5 different waterfalls to date that I can think of.

The most difficult thing I've run so far was SAT rapid on Nooksack North Fork Horseshoe Bend section at 1600 cfs. I got a good hole beating on that, but didn't swim. Speaking of swimming...after looking at my run log I notice I've swam on way too much of what I've lately my goal is to improve my paddling skills before tackling anything over class IV or difficult class IV even, tired of swimming, but luckily haven't had what I'd call a bad swim.

I'm a bit of a gearhead I think...I've gone through a few paddles in my first year:

1. Old school 90 degree 191 cm (still have)
2. Aquabound Splat AMT 34 degree 196 cm (sold)
3. Werner Carbon Player 34 degree 196 cm (sold)
4. Werner Carbon Sherpa 34 degree 200 cm (sold)
5. Select W1 adj. degree and length (fixed, current playboating paddle)
6. Adventure Technology Eddy 15 degree 199 cm (current creeking paddle)

....and some boats:

1. Dagger Medieval (sold)
2. Riot Magnum 72 (sold)
3. Pyranha Burn M (sold)
4. Prijon Pure (broken, still have)
5. Pyranha Molan M (current playboat)
6. Pyranha Burn M (current creekboat)

I've had 5 helmets and finally settled on an FNA full face and guide as my normal ones.
I've had 2 PFD's, a Kokatat Rogue drytop and GMER drysuit, at first had a wetsuit.
I've had 2 spraydecks that I still have and use (Snap dragon and Langer), the Langer is my primary.
My best piece of kit is my TEVA Gnarkozy creeking shoes, size 10 or 11, can't remember and my Raceface elbow and forearm guards. The one time I didn't wear them I got a hole in my drysuit banging my elbow off a rock.

Most memorable rivers/creeks I've done in my first year:

Ashnola River: Supercontinuous class IV fun for over 20 km and almost all roadside out in Cathedral Park 3 hours East of Chilliwack...this is a true gem, it's too bad it doesn't run through more of the year. Gets creekier as you go up.

Cameron Creek: Amazingly fun short pool drop at most levels class IV drops, about 40 of them packed into 5 km out on Vancouver Island in Cathedral Grove.

Canyon Creek (Lewis drainage): Ultra classic class IV pool drop creeking with huge pools and an amazing little canyon, 3 waterfalls and nothing but fun except for the 1.6 mile or so flat water paddle out.

Chilliwack Canyon: I can't bypass my backyard run, a fun, cruisy afterwork gem that never gets boring, always different lines to take and challenges to be found, a great way to improve skills and just a good section of river with a short, easy shuttle, class III- to IV depending on levels.

Ingalls Creek: This was an amazing little short run into Peshastin Creek near the Wenatchee which we were lucky to catch with water I think, the top third from the bridge at the park at the end of the road down was an amazing festival of boofs.

Another thing I've developed are some good friendships, there are so many good people on the rivers, I have never met a kayaker I didn't get along with as of yet. You definately need certain skills and a special mindset to be better at this sport of ours. It's all about having fun...and now that almost all of my friends are kayakers, that's a good thing!

I think I've rambled enough, time to get back on the river and into my second year of paddling! :)

The new Burn M

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