Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Asheville is back!

Ok - we all know the south east has been in a horrible drought for the last 2 years, and while it might not be over yet, Hurricane Fay has offered the rivers and our spirits some incredible relief.... Here is Clayton Gaar geeking out as we check out the Garden of the Gods section of the West Fork of the Pigeon.

photo: robin betz

Then we rolled down to the bridge above the 'runnable' section and look how scary that looks!! Yes, the scale is a little hard to make out but this is continuous, 10 - 20 foot drops with uniform holes and no eddies, rushing up into the trees.
photo: robin betz

Haha!! Then we ran into Sam Morgan at the put-in. Look at those eyes tweaking out! photo: Robin Betz

Sam had put on at reasonable level about 20 minutes before and he and his crew had to hike out because it flashed to flood stage.
So we went up to highest elevation run we could find nearby to see if we might be rewarded. But the Big East Fork of the Pigeon was stomping as well, and I kept expecting to see double wide mobile homes floating down the river, but nobody lives up there!!
After that disappointment, we thought to ourselves, well, there is always the Green River!! So we hydro-planed our way down the other side of Pisgah and stopped to catch a glimpse of Looking Glass Falls - we called Pat Kellar and Chris Graghtmans to let them know they could log another descent if they wanted to.
photo: Robin Betz

Looking Glass Falls - get out your batman cape!
photo: Clayton Gaar
We heard from Shane and Woody that even though there was no release, the Green River was running at some unknown level....
When we got to the take we figured it was a little higher than 200%....
When we got to the put-in Chris Graghtmans met up with us and we decided to check out Big Hungry Creek which flows into the Green. It had the same amount of flow that normally fills the Green at 100% release, in other words it was HIGH!! We thought we might have to hike out. But we got to the confluence and realized that the narrows would be scary, but really really fun, and Graghtmans predicted 21-23 inches.....and he was right.

Here we are portaging around the Gorilla and the slides, sorry for the dark photos, it was literally getting dark on us.

photo: Robin Betz

I knew we were going to be fine when I styled my line through Frankenstein. Yes, we were punching through holes in the lead-in, instead of scraping over rocks, and we were boofing off the top of the pyramid rock, but it felt great! This ended up being one of the funnest and scariest runs down the green for me ever, and I do not recommend doing this if you've never run the green at 200%.

Sunshine was another highlight - because you go straight through nut-cracker, into Groove Tube and straight off the middle of Sunshine (which is always a treat). I ran through the tube and hit some strange warp zone... when I landed I got sucked through the hole to right and was lucky to be let free - I would recommend avoided the Tube next time.

This is what Gorilla looks like at a regular 100%:

photo: Robin Betz

In case you wondered, this is what Gorilla looks like at 23 inches, whatever percent you want to call that. It was scary high and getting dark on us....
photo: Robin Betz

By the time we got to Toilet Bowl, it was pretty much pitch black. I eddied out below Toilet Bowl, and portaged around Hammer Factor. I'd like to say it was simply because I didn't want to risk losing my camera (and these crazy pics), but quite frankly I was just not feeling as manly as Daniel Windham, Clayton Gaar, and Chris Gragtmans who all ran Hammer factor at 23 inches in the pitch black.
photo: Clayton Gaar

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dude... It's Augsburg

Not really.... We got stopped by border patrol after we crossed from the Czech to Germany. I didn't have my passport so we had to sit on the side of the road for an hour to wait for the police to come. All that they could do was laugh at us. There was a Brit (pictured above) a Swedish dude and three American girls all packed in the same car. They gave me a 25 euro fine and then they handcuffed Pringle for a picture. You know these police went home and told their family about us.....We made it to Augsburg after the longest "4 hour" drive ever. Back to camping land. It started raining on friday again. We had three days of sun and then it rained and everything was not only wet but really really muddy. It was very frustrating. Mom and I got a chance to go tour around the city for a day and we got to see many things. The thing that really caught my eye was the Gold Room. Which is the town hall. That is a picture of the ceiling just to let ya'll know. :-) Friday we started the competition back up. Junior women, junior men, and pro men. Pro men cut to 20 and junior men cut to 10. On saturday the women got to go. I didn't compete so well but Emily Jackson, Devon Barker, and Ruth Gordon made the first cut. In semi's Ruth and Emily both competed well and on sunday was finals. LP, my favorite 17 year old boy that I have ever met. He went into semi-finals in 7th place, came into finals in 5th place and ended up 3rd, only due to his great third comeback run. But he was fired up about getting a cute little medal.

The junior men finals winners. US in 3rd, France in 2nd, and the German in 1st.
Ruth Gordon going for the gold, doing one of her perfect loops.

Even though Emily had spent the night in the hospital due to an everlasting illness she still got up and showed that she is really one of the best playboaters in the world. In third place was Maria from Sweden, who had an amazing last ride, Ruth Gordon from Canada in 2nd, and Emily in 1st.
Where are Eric Jacksons pants? Thats what everyone was asking at the award ceremony for the mens finals. He had a speedo on, him and Nick Troutman (his future son in law) have been wearing absolutely hideous speedos every time they compete. But really... when can you get a picture of EJ without pants on?Eric had three amazing rides, he never once stopped moving it was great to watch. Comming in from behind though, once again, was Dustin who absolutely made the hole in Augsburg his bi*ch on his third ride and took the gold. Dustin, along with a lot of other people, were fired up that he took the gold and he had to celebrate by soaking everyone with Champagne.Adios from Augsburg, off to Thun now.
Happy Paddling
p.s. I am praying that the south east gets some rain, even if I'm not there!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Checkin in from the Czech

Greetings from Prague Czech Republic. Where the 2008 World Cup Freestlye Championships is well on the way. The buildings are all huge, and the hole is trashy. This is a three weekend competition. One in Prague, one in Augsburg Germany, and one in Thun Switzerland.

This is going to be short due to minor complications (I want to take a nap before I compete again tonite), so here is the run down. My first day in Prague, we had beautiful weather, 80 and really sunny, so we went to the zoo. Ill post about that later, it needs its own post, it was that cool.

It was like that for two days, untill Friday, when the skies opened up and it just started raining. Emily (Jackson) put it in good words, "When it gets cold, it gets really cold here." So raining and cold has been the thing for yesterday and today. Clay is just embracing the rain in this picture. Paddler: Dustin Urban, killing it in the hole as always. On day one of the competition, the Junior Men and Women went along with the Pro Men.
Eric Jackson is going into semi-finals sitting in first, Nick Troutman is right behind him in second. Clay Wright is holding down a strong fifth place, Dustin Urban is in eleventh, Jed Selby is in twelfth, and Stephen Wright jumped in there at seven-teenth. The US men killed the first round, 77 men competed and they cut to top 20.

Everyones gear is hanging up in the campground, and since its been raining for 48 hours its all soaking wet. Everything is damp, and the only warm thing is a sleeping bag. My mom took the following pictures and she didnt know that her camera was on blue mode, so they are all blue, oh well, better than no pictures at all right?I went into this competition with 30 other women from around the world with no expectations to get into the semi-finals. We had a good european night of drinking last night and Nicole Mansfield and I got into bed at 1 am. We both woke up at 7am to warm up. Mostly hungover, but still feeling strong.After my first ride in my first ever international competition I was very happy, I did air loops and even did a left cartwheel!! I knew that I did well when Clay looked at me from the judges stand and smiled. My last ride (of the two 45 second rides) I knew that I had to step it up to at least get in top ten. I felt good, strong, and on it. I was happy with my rides. My mom came in last night so I hung out with her untill they posted results. Nicole came up to me and told me that I got 3rd place overall. So I am competing again tonight in my nice little Vision 44 in the semi-finals where they will cut to five women.

Emily Jackson is in 1st, Ruth Gordon is in 5th place, and Jessie Stone got a strong 8th.
Are ya'll still with me on this? Its all complicated. Prague is a beautiful city, the water is really dirty and everyones been getting sick but other than that all is well. In the long run, Nadia, Nicole and myself are still looking for a ride to Germany!! So we made a sign and posted it up on the board.

Other than that over and out from Prague Czech Republic, where it rains and its cold. :-)

HAPPY PADDLING!!!! Will check back soon!!