Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Liquidlogic Hits Copper Creek

Copper Creek is a small Northwest gem located near the East Fork of the Lewis in Washington. It's about 4-5 miles long with numerous class five drops. It's just about one of the most beautiful runs I've had the privilege of paddling out here and one I hope to return to. We definitely lucked out this weekend and had sunny skies and 80 degrees! Ah our white legs were bright enough to flag in a spaceship....not kidding. Wear your sunglasses around NM boaters in the spring time!

Early Sunday morning, the crew- Ryan Scott, Keel Brightman, Josh Mckeown, Todd and my sis headed up to Copper for a quick run. Most everyone had partied hard the night before and was still sleeping...ha ha sometimes it pays to just crash early eh?

Photo: Josh Mckeown
Me rockin my new Peak UK gear

Copper Creek starts off with a bang. A class five drop known as Certain Death- encouraging huh? I got the video camera out and filmed while Todd ran it....

Photo: Josh M
Todd on Certain Death

Photo: Christina Russell
Ryan Scott getting in place for filming

The put in below certain death sets you up for some nice class four ledge drops and boulder gardens. We ran Copper at a medium flow so most everything had plenty of water.

The first sizeable drop following Certain Death is Big Falls. When we first got to the horizon line, we were all stoked to see it....but didnt know what the drop was. It's a three foot ledge into an eight footer. The flow then splits as it falls over an 18 footer with a shallow landing. Check it out:

Photo: Josh Mckeown
Conor Ross lookin at the eight footer...the hole was perttttyyyy sticky....

Photo by: Josh M
Scouting the last drop of Big Falls

Photo: Keel Brightman
Me on the ledge

Photo: Keel Brightman
Me on the 18 footer

Photo by: Conor Ross
Eddy flowering at the bottom of Big Falls

Below Big Falls you get to float for a wee bit and enjoy the scenery. Oooo and ahhhh at the class 2-3 goodness that unfolds before you....oh that's poetic huh? ok back to the story. So below big falls you have one more serious drop- it's a series of drops known as the Final Five. They are five sticky ledges...hence the name.

Here's Josh making it look easy....yep, that's the hole I walked no likey that one.

Photo: Keel Brightman
Josh Mckeown on the third ledge

Photo: Christina Russell
Todd and Ryan Scott on the ledges

Photo: Christina Russell
The last drop on Copper Creek

Copper Creek eventually runs into the East Fork of the Lewis which we were planning on running later that afternoon. Most paddlers continue downstream to Horseshoe falls- a 15 footer. Our group decided to split up- half going to the Sunset Falls Huckfest while the other half(my group) went to run the EF Lewis gorge. Stay tuned for the next post on the EF Lewis ....there was carnage mwhahahhaha!

Happy Paddling,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

North to Canada- Part 1

This spring break, we went on a mission to end all to Vancouver Island, Canada. I had never been paddling North of Washington so with some convincing from Christie Glissmeyer, we loaded the truck and were driving to Canada.

Josh Mckeown and I joined forces in his vehicle and welcomed Kim as well....yes in his bench seat Tacoma, we were very cozy. We met up with Todd Baker in Portland where Kimmers left us. From Portland it was roughly a four hour drive to the port just outside of Bellingham, WA. That was four hours with limited music and lots of Wheat Thins!

Photo: Christina Russell
Crossing into Washington

We finally arrived at the port around 10:00pm. It was a LONG drive but we knew it was worth it. The decision was a unanimous one to camp out at the port. Josh and I crashed in the TAcoma and Kim and Todd squeezed into the back of his Subi. We were told by security that we would be woken up at 4:30 am to drive up to the loading dock...from which we would load at 7am. Yep. That was early so we waisted no time in gettin' to sleep.

Early the next morning, we boarded the ferry as an over sized vehicle.... If you are over seven feet high you count as oversize...just FYI.

Photo: Christina Russell
Team Aldercreek happily parked in the cargo hold on the ferry to Victoria

Being that it was very early, we all took our time in waking up. Todd went on a mad search for real coffee, Kim consulted with Todd on said "real" coffee and I walked around in the VERY brisk air on the upper deck. Yep, it worked and dang it was cold.

Photo: Christina Russell
The author enjoying the cold Canadian air

The ferry ride was about an hour and a half long which meant we arrived at our port destination around 8:30 ish. Austin immediately declared we were going grocery shopping so off to the nearest "Canada Costco" we went. Did you know they have "Gas Bars" in Canada. Not kidding.

Our ultimate destination was in Port Renfrew just five minutes from the Gordon River. Austin set us up well at two cabins WITH a hot tub....yeah we felt awkward going paddling and coming back to the hot tub....aren't expeditions supposed to be rough and tough. Not necessarily :) But don't worry, we certainly had a bit of roughing it in the days ahead.

Photo: Christina Russell Attempting to follow Austin Rathman in the infamous FJ cruiser...more on that later

Our first look at what Vancouver had to offer came in the form of a park and huck known as Bugaboo Falls. It is the put in for the lower gordon which we decided to hit on the first day. Check it out!

Photo: Christina Russell
Bugaboo Falls- 30 feet

The falls was perfect and it let directly into a 25 footer! Too good to be true we thought, and we were right. Smack dab in the middle of the second waterfall was a log making all paddling on it impossible.
Due to the wood in the second falls, we were unable to run the waterfalls and decided on paddling the lower Gordon. This section is mostly class 3/4 and ledgy. The canyon walls were steep and smooth as we would later realize is a characteristic of BC paddling.

Photo: Christina Russell
The put in for the lower Gordon

Ah yes....the put in for the Lower Gordon is a good one- steep and slippery as ever. The locals have set up a bomber system of ropes to get ya about half way down...the rest is up to you. DONT slip and fall on ur bum- ya might just break your tailbone (this comes from personal experience. I have now officially broken and rebroken my tailbone three times)

Photo: Christina Russell

A look at the canyon walls on the lower section reveals the thick foliage that lines the creeks. Bring your machete if you want to hike out! he he he the one time I forgot my machete, I really needed it. Of course, that's how it goes.

Photo: Christina Russell
Josh and the author checkin' out a spring

None of us realized how tired we were from the two days of travel but by the time we got to the bottom of the Lower Gordon, we were pooped. Ryan Scott and crew met us as we were hiking out and provided fantabulous refreshments. Thanks guys! Off to the hot tub we went.....

Part two coming soon...Stay tuned!