Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Back on 2008

My year started off with a "bang". January and February gave North Carolina good rain, which meant good water. Ravens Fork is in the Cherokee, right by the Smokey Mountain National Park. It runs even if there is only an inch of water in the watershed. This picture is of John Grace running a rapid called Right Right. This river is stacked with rowdey rapids and some priceless drops, it just never gets old.

April, just as always, gave us more rain and more kayaking!! This is the lip of Big Boy, the 35 foot waterfall on Ravens Fork. The danger of this waterfall is a rock in the right side that sticks out a little into the landing. There is only one other woman in history to run this rapid and its the Norwegian hottie, Mariann Seather. I decided to run it after much deliberation.

This is a horribly great picture of me at the bottom of Big Boy. I was the happiest girl in all of Cherokee that day, even though when I landed I hit my face on my paddle and broke my nose. The next morning I flew out to Bozeman Montana for 2 weeks to go snowboarding. When I got back I could still not breathe through my nose so I went to an ENT doctor and sure enough had to get surgery to fix the deviated septum and broken nose. That ended up being the most expensive day on the river that I hopefully will ever have.

This is the day that I (we) ran Big Boy. The whole crew; Billy Jones, Drew Duval, Eli, Dave Fusilli, and myself all ran Big Boy, thus we ate dinner at Big Boy we felt it fitting.

Around the same time the Toxaway ran. The Toxaway is located near Brevard North Carolina. This river is known for the biggest, longest drops in the southeast. It is filled with huge slides, big holes, and some great vertical drops. This rapid is called Energizer. Drew Duval is at the bottom of the rapid, that just puts it in perspective.

This is the same rapid from the bottom. Not only does it show how much it drops but also how much water is in there.

Billy Murphy entering at the top of a rapid called Feeding Trough. It gets really walled out in there, and you are just hauling when you hit the holes at the bottom.

The last "big" rapid of the day is Wintergreen. Its about a 20 foot vertical drop at the top into a pretty soft transition which sends you down a huge slide and at the bottom it was the fastest I had ever gone in a kayak, it was amazing.

In May, I got asked to go on a kayaking trip with Jon Grace. He wanted to go to Idaho to film some big water runs. The exact opposite of what I am good at. :-) This is him, doing his job, on the South Fork of the Salmon, at really high water.

We all acted like lemmings heading down this river. It was an absolutely amazing trip and one of my first over nighters on a river. We had a great crew and an awesome time.

This was taken at the takeout to the South Fork East Fork of the Salmon, by Yellow Pine Idaho. From the left; Ryan Casey, Myself, Jon Grace, and Freddy Coriell. I was honored to be able to spend a night in Yellow Pine with the fantastic crew that we had. While in Idaho I was also able to paddle the North Fork of the Payette at 3000. What a priceless run. Go if you get the chance, really.... Woody Calloway, Jon Grace and myself also made a few trips to Bladder wave right outside of Boise, its a fun surfing wave.

After I was done with my trip in Idaho, Shane Benedict (who got one day on the North Fork also) came to pick me and Jon Grace up and drive to Colorado. While we were there we did some great runs like Daisy Creek. The last rapid is pictured above called Rip Your Face Off. What a great name for a rapid, really makes you want to run it right?

We also got to surf Big Sur the wave on the Colorado River that only comes in at really high water. Jon and Shane had a fun time watching me window shade because I had never surfed a long boat in my life. After flipping like 10 times, Shane took pity on me and helped me figure out how to surf a long boat. It was such an amazing feeling.

While in Colorado I also got to compete in the Oh Be Joyful giant slalom race. There were great people, great rapids, and some of the gates were very strategically placed. I think that this is where creek racing will go at some point. It adds a whole new element. And just to brag a little bit, I took 7th in the slalom out of like 20 people. :-)

Also while in Colorado, I was able to compete in the Teva Mountain Games at Homestake Creek. We also went to Salida for Fibark and competed in that. At that rodeo I got 3rd place and earned myself a spot on the US Freestyle Team for the World Cup in Europe 2 months later.

So that brings us to; Prague Czech Republic, Augsburg Germany, and Thun Switzerland.

While on this trip I got to travel with Nicole Mansfield, a fellow Astral teammate. We got known as a the American Girls and we were always causing trouble somewhere.

This was a great trip and I was very happy to be able to go to new countries and represent the USA as a team member. I met so many good people and friends that I will hopefully paddle with elsewhere in the world.


When I got back to the States I was asked by Shane to travel to Canada and test out the new playboat, the Biscuit. Myself, Jesse Wilinski, and Marlow Long traveled all the way from West Virgina to Montreal to surf the Lachine rapids and then to the Ottawa to surf a few smaller waves.

Contemplating the next move I am going to make.

On the first of November at high noon, for the last 13 years there has been a monumental race called the Green Race, in Saluda North Carolina. I was able to race for the 3rd time and tied for 1st place in the long boat competition.


Just like the beginning of my year, the end of my year ended in a "bang" also. Me and about 5 other people decided to drive to Mexico from North Carolina. We headed to the Micos river and myself and Adam Bixby proceeded to run the biggest waterfall of our lives. Not once, but twice.

The put in drop to the Micos is about 50 feet on one side and about 60 feet on the other, Adam and I ran both sides once.

So, hopefully, everyone had a great year and I hope to everyone that the new year will bring new rivers, bigger waterfalls, less pain, and a better financial economy :-)

Ive got some huge thanks to some people that have helped me live my dream in the last year. My mom always has to come first, she is my right wing, I couldn't fly without her and even if I got off the ground I would have to fly in circles and that would suck. Shane, Woody, Allen, and Obie at Liquid Logic, for.... well.... everything....the laughs, the help, the dinners. Yonton and Brian at Astral for the awesome life jackets and the oh so comfortable Green Vest. Oh yea and for the lunches and dinners too. Jon Grace at LVM for believing that I can kayak, and for kicking me in the butt when I really need it. Roger at IR for being entertainment both on and off the phone and keeping me warm and dry while I am on the water. Tom and Patrick at Shred Ready for protecting my oh so important face and head. Last but not least, Danny at Werner, for always coming through at the last minute when I really am needing some help. You all are awesome and I don't know how to thank you all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Lets make 2009 the best year yet!!!

Peace and love

1 comment:

Christina Russell said...

Nice post girl! Looks like you had a great year! Im hoping for lots more paddling this year....looks like there may be a few trips in the works....