Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall on the Ashlu

Following a couple days spent on the Callighan, Josh and I headed South to the Ashlu.  The Ashlu is the site of the new hydroelectric dam that will supposedly be done in the next year.  We were lucky enough to see it before things change....

We arrived on Wednesday morning in hopes that our third paddler would show and some new friends from Squamish would arrive for a run down the Box Canyon of the Ashlu and the Mine Section upstream.  Unfortunately,  our third paddler did not arrive which meant that running the Box was a little sketchy - Dan "from everywhere" arrived and was eager to hop on it, but since two of us had not been down it before, we were all a bit nervous with only three people.  Till next time Box! We will return.  Due to time restrictions, we hopped on the Mini Mine section for two laps- VERY quick laps.  It's a fun run with the final drop called Last Tango....super fun :)

Below- the put-in...note mini dam just upstream...this is where water will be pumped out and downstream to the hydroelectric site

Above-Me on the drop called Last Tango....a pretty beefy drop but eveything's got a somewhat sticky hole at the bottom :)

Stay tuned for photos of the Box Canyon of the Ashlu!

Happy Paddling,
Christina Russell

Friday, September 19, 2008

Holy Canada!

OK. It's official. Im moving to Canada someday- the rivers are epic (and close to eachother), the people are the friendliest Ive ever met, and the wildlife is....entertaining. Bear country=fun country for sure!

Our first day in Canada was spent on the Upper Cheackamas and the Callighan- both are classics in BC that ya just cant miss. This is where I first learned that silty water and contacts make ya unhappy. Ha ha note to self for next time! Anyways, we didnt get any pics of the Cheack but here are some shots from the Callighan- a sweet class 4/5 creek with blueberry bushes all along the side of the river :) Enjoy!

Oh ho! This has got to be one of the best drops....the log drop(below). There has been a log in this drop for a couple years and ironically this year it washed out....only to be replaced by a log falling into the exact same place. River Gods are funny sometimes. Here is Josh giving the ol' log a nice bump:
Photo: Christina Russell

(Below) after taking shots of everyone else, and seeing some manky lines, I fired it off myself with a successful boof next to the log....but not too close!
(Below) Just in case you miss the drop, check it out from farther away....

Just downstream of the log drop is the cleanest thirty footer you could ever run. You cant really portage so one of our friends fired it off as her first waterfall ever! Awesome! :) (Below)This is a shot of me on my second run down.
Photo: josh Mckeown
(Below) Josh on the 3o footer
Photo: Chrisitna Russell

(Below)Our always smiling, trusted guide while we were in Canada- Danny

The Callighan is about 3-4 miles long but that's just a guess. Im bad with distances. We put on around 3pm one day and got off at 5:30 so if you have a guide it makes things go faster. If you knew the run like the back of you rhand I would bet you could run it in just under an hour.

The Callighan was a great run and our group made the trip awesome. Special thanks to Danny and Annie of Vancouver , Dan from everywhere, and everyone we met along the way. It was a privelage to paddle with you all!

Check back soon for pictures from the Ashlu!!!!

Happy Paddling,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Winner Takes All Race - Charlotte Whitewater Course

Saturday, September 13, 2008 - Fergus Coffey and Dave Hepp put together a great event at the Charlotte Whitewater Course What made it so great, you say? It was a fast paced grassroots race with a diverse field of paddlers, reggae music, and good spirits.
Fergus Coffey and Pablo McCandless
photo: robin betz

It was cool because we had all kinds of paddlers representing. We had everyone from charlotte park locals, to creek boaters, to olympic slalom paddlers.

Here's the first heat at the starting line:
photo: robin betz

The race began with about 6 mass start heats at the top of the class IV channel. The top 2 paddlers in each heat advanced to the "winner's" bracket, and everyone else to the "loser's" bracket.
There were heroic 'baddles' for first off the starting line...
photo: robin betz

There was raft carnage sometimes...
photo: daniel windham

And there were elegant lines ;) Here i am, stoked! because I'm about to skip over this hole in my Remix 69 :) I might be slightly biased here, but I think the Remix was the boat of choice for the under 9' regulation. It was fast everywhere.
photo: daniel windham

After the field was split the top two in each heat kept advancing, and also the top five in the loser's bracket had the chance to win there way back in. In the end the top paddler's battling it out in the final heats were 1st place - Fergus Coffey, 2nd place - Butter, 3rd place - Chris Gragtmans, 4th - Pablo McCandless, 5th - Daniel Stuart.

Daniel Stuart chasing Pablo McCandless
photo: robin betz

We all pitched in five bucks to race, and the winner (Fergus Coffey) goes home with the loot. I think there was some kind of stash for 2nd and 3rd place too.

photo: daniel windham

Thanks to Fergus Coffey, Dave Hepp, the timers, and the Charlotte Whitewater Center and staff (and whoever else was behind the scenes) for hosting an awesome event!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Isn't there Cheese in Switzerland?

Ahh. Switzerland, the land of vast mountains, peacefulness, and lots of cheese... or something like that. :-) Here we are, Thun the final of three events in the World Cup 2008. Hard to believe we have all come this far in only three weeks. We all took over the car park right by the wave, every morning locals would wake up to dirty, smelly kayakers sleeping in parking spots. We, on the other hand would wake up to the bells of the Church pictured above, some sort of blow horn or other noise maker, or just someone coughing from the cold that was going around all of the World Cup competitors. Everyone was going out hard. How can't you? We have been together for three weeks and the relationships that you build with these people is amazing. We all knew we only had a few days left. Everyone was thinking about when we were hopefully going to meet up again, Thun 2009 for Worlds.The city had been working hard on making the "perfect wave" for last many years. They change the dam doors shown above to make a wave that people will wait in line for, for hours. Thun was undoubtedly the most beautiful destination in the whole World Cup and also the most convenient, nestled right in the middle of town, meaning all of the action. The water is warm enough to swim comfortably and clear enough to see the GINORMOUS carps swimming below us.This was a typical line in the eddy at pretty much every hour of the day. I heard that at one point it was 3 am and there were still ten people waiting in the eddy for their turn to surf. The wave was flushy so people got as many rides as they could before competition began.A fellow Liquid Logic kayaker doing a round-house in a Scooter.Me, doing what I do best, chatting it up with junior man Maxime from France. Most of the French team was paddling these composite boats called Gui-Gui Prods. They were quite cool and even though they were higher in volume they could go so big because the boats were so light, that's definitely a good idea for a playboat. Oh please don't window shade! I sadly didn't make the first cut again but my mind wasn't really in the competition while I was on the wave. I had found out that a good friend of mine had died while he was kayaking in Tennessee the day before. Isaac, I will always remember you with a huge smile on your face and loving your life. You touched the lives of many and will always be thought of on the river. The river, and the world, is a different place without you in it. May you rest in peace.Oh yea big back surf!
So, since I didn't compete very well, all I had left to do was go to the Losers Party at Cafe Mokka right down the road from the car park that we had taken over. As we all know I love men in uniform, and look, I found some! These guys are part of the Swiss Army and get this, they have drinking uniforms. Nicole and I "borrowed" their hats and wore them around for the night, wow we look good! The guys were really cool and explained that they were mandated by the government to do at least a year in the Army in their life. But Switzerland is known for its talented ability to stay neutral so really going into the Army there means finding more drinking friends.

Day two of the competition the Men, Women and Juniors all cut down to five for finals that would be held on Sunday. After all of the serious competition most of the competitors partook in a Big Air rodeo and King of the Wave. King of the wave was impressive and I'm sure that some people came out of it bruised and battered, but it was sure fun to watch!
Oh, finals day. The Frenchies definitely took the cake for being the loudest crew there. They had a 50 gallon drum that they were bashing on, this dude, and multiple different noise makers like a megaphone. We were lucky to have great weather so the girls were all tanning and they guys were setting up their cameras for the finals. Once the competition started everyone was awake and we all witnessed some of the best kayaking that will be seen.
Stephen Wright came on strong, doing both McNastys, both Phonix Monkeys, and a HUGE big air loop at the end of his ride. This ride put him in second at the end of the day which was great after his last 2 competitions ended with him in 6th place. The next ride that we saw was history. Pan Ams both ways, both helixes, huge Donkey Flips, and one last big Clean Air Blunt, done by the Canadian Nick Troutman. This ride ended up putting him second overall in the World Cup standings.

Huge congratulations to: Emily Jackson, for winning the Womens World Cup 2008 even though she was sick the whole time, that shows a true competitor. Ruth Gordon, who was always right there to remind Emily that she needed to work harder. Nick Troutman, for having the highest score of the whole World Cup and taking 2nd overall. Little Palmer, for getting third in Augsburg. Dane Jackson, for killing the competition that was much bigger than him in both C-1 and K-1. Jason Craig, for making me believe that 15 year olds can fly. Stephen Wright, for finally getting up on that podium and showing that wave who's boss. Dustin Urban, in third overall World Cup standings and on his soon to be addition to the family, Dustin and Katie will be fantastic parents. And to Eric Jackson, for being a true competitor and for his new addition to his family, KC, welcome to the world, I hope it is all you dreamed of, good luck.
I have one special thanks to Clay Wright. For pulling my head back up when it was down. For teaching me what really matters is not how well you do but that you enjoy doing it. He has instilled a new respect for playboating that I had lost a long time ago. If I had the chance to do this again, I would in a second. The places that you see and the people that you meet along the way, those things are unforgettable.
I'm off to the Ottawa in Canada for about a week then back to the dirty south.
Check back in soon!