Monday, July 25, 2011

Opening Day of South Silver

Sorry for the massive delay. I can't believe that its been almost a month since I've been home from California. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I havn't really been in the mood to make a funny or entertaining blog post. Alas, I really want to share my adventures with everyone that enjoys reading my posts so here we go.

Another post with not many photos but I think that comes with the territory when the only eddies to stop in are all washed out... South Silver is known for one of the "most forgiving class 5" runs in California. At high water I wouldn't call it forgiving at all. There's no eddies and there's some really big holes. Toby being a stud while running the extremely stacked up "teacups" section. Ross, being a good boy and standing at the bottom of the Teacups holding a Speedloader rope making sure no one goes accidentally floating into Skyscraper. Skyscraper at this level was definitely runnable but it also had a terrifying pocket on the right at the bottom which would be a really scary place to end up.Ross Herr amidst the 4th teacup in the rapid. Alongside him, his amazing girlfriend who hiked in to take photos.
Myself, enjoying the sunshine and the heat of South Silver. The rapids in here (at this level) are large and in charge for sure.
Telling Toby thanks for the grab into the eddy so I didn't drift into Skyscraper backwards. Also telling him how much fun this river is!!! We headed downstream to the portage and then gave Plastic Surgery a good look over before blue angeling down the meat of this stacked up set of rapids. I sadly have no photos of this rapid since we were all so excited about it!After that awesome day at South Silver, Toby and I drove to the Sierra National Forest. It was dark by the time we made it out there but the moon was so bright that Toby told me where Dinkey Dome was. I had dreams about granite slides all night long. I woke up in the morning and looked out of the back of my car to see the view above. I knew there were good things to come out of this day.

Up next, Super Dink! Also known as the "Infinislide". The name says it all.

The Wedding of a Century

Yea I know this is a kayaking blog. But there are no kayaking photos on this post. Sorry. This post is to show what I saw through my lens during John Grace and Chelsea Christiani's wedding. As most of you know the name John Grace as the maker of LVM and Penstock Productions I know him as my big brother and a huge inspiration. Being able to be present during this union of people was really special.

So I got to stay at the Grace/Christiani wedding venue pretty much the whole week coming up to the wedding. I got to see the stresses of planning a wedding and making sure it goes off without a hitch. The venue was Chelsea's parents house nestled in the heart of the High Sierras outside of Auburn and every day it looked more and more ready to host a beautiful wedding.On the day, we made sure John Grace was on time (this time) and ready to say his vows. He even waited patiently for his perfect bride to walk down the isle.Chelsea and her father Larry walking down the isle. The hug that they shared before he handed his daughter over to John was a tear jerker for sure. Norbert (the dog) came in shortly after the emotional hug because he was the ring berrer. John and Chelsea exchanged rings and they were married within the hour! :-)The newlyweds sharing a kiss on the "fertility egg". Who knows... maybe there will be some baby Grace's in the future.I feel it 100% necessary to just say that Tommy Hilleke is still a bad ass. He is so good at kayaking but he is also a pro at making kids! Specifically boys! This is his absolutely amazingly cute (and handsome) family. From left to right, Polly (one of the most hardcore women I have ever met in my life), Bodie Green (the baby, 1 year), Tommy, Dax (2 years), Daniel (4 years), and Kelly (the old man, 5 years). Thats right folks, four kids in less than 6 years. All of the kids have their own little attitudes and they are all so so awesome!!!!!!!Every table at the wedding had a different river name or waterfall name. Instead of it being table 4 or 6 it was Royal Gorge and Cherry Creek. A very genius way to mark tables.
Before dinner I found a real live cowboy!The couples first dance together.And we all danced the night away!Just want to note that my perfect boyfriend flew all the way across the country for the wedding and we closed the dance for down! I was so happy to see him for the weekend right in the middle of my three week California tour.

Hope you all enjoyed the photo's even though they weren't of kayaking.

Up next... South Silver!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

East Meets West

So we decided a few days before the wedding to go on a mission to Loves Falls on the North Fork of the Yuba outside of Downeyville (which hosts one of the most bad ass downhill trails to ever be ridden). We figured it would be a quick, easy, fun day. Little did we know, Love's was still pumping high and we weren't about to go in there with a crew of 7 that we had. Even though we were all relatively good paddlers...Some of the crew was pretty fired up, until we saw this "little" guy waiting for us in the middle of the scouting trail. You can see it (staring straight into the camera) in the middle of the photo. Very well camouflaged too. We all felt like this was an omen and that we should go elsewhere for our kayaking ventures through the day. We hastily grabbed the dog and turned around to head back to the cars. After a few hours driving (over the mountains and through the snow!!) we found ourselves standing at the side of the Upper South Fork of the Yuba, The Summit Run. I thought this was an interesting place to put a house, right in the middle of the river.We had gathered the river was a bit high but not un-runnable by any means. The first rapid, Three Blind Mice, straight up kicked me in the ass. But really it kicked me in the ankles when I petoned so hard at the first drop that I lost my paddle. There I was, in a huge rapid, with no paddle, and what I thought, no hand roll. Alas, I flipped over and somehow ended up in the smallest eddy on river right that a girl my size could find and I rolled up. Grappling onto the rocks, I watched the whole rest of my crew paddle past me and I was left all alone. That was a lonely feeling. I figured out how to get out of my boat and climbed out of the mini gorge we were in only to see Tommy Hilleke's smiling face at the top asking me if I was ok. It was the hardest hit I have ever taken and I was definitely shaken but good to paddle still so we headed downstream.

Pictured above is Jeff Paine the Freight Train entering into a rapid I can't remember the name of. I just want to note, it was July 5th and there is still snow on the mountains in the distance. There is lots of snow out there this year people!There are so many good rapids on this river but all I had heard about was this one rapid called East Meets West. Jason Hale, styling this rapid down to the "T" for sure. It has a great lead into a waterfall about 20 feet tall into the mandatory melt all the way to Taiwan. The Freight Train taking the boof line, in the new Black Ops Liquid Logic boat, but still ended up somewhere in southern Australia, I am pretty sure. The one and only, Tommy Hilleke, seconds after his swim out of East Meets West. I was sadly sitting upstream (because I was going to follow him) and all I could see was him going off the lip and then everyone on the shore scrambling for their ropes, I knew that he had just swum. Needless to say, I was really scared then!!!So I finally got my guts about me (after I cleaned my shorts out) and I headed downstream, here I come!Looking like its going to be a good line!Oh gosh, maybe I can save it from here!!Nope, there was no saving it. I pretty much freewheeled the bottom drop. It was so soft and nice to land in it was like a pillow under there. I rolled up and paddled out partly laughing partly sad because I didn't get a huge boof!
After the slightly scary and kinda fun run I came home to find the bride to be mowing the lawn! Even while shes doing yard work shes still good looking!!

I got to ice my ankles and sit at the computer the rest of the day. :-(

Coming up next..... some wedding photos!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bachelor Party

Not many photos of this one, since the crew we were with was pretty well known for their straight up mobbing downstream. This photo is of John and I hanging out at the camp where we spent the night on the Rubicon. That is the look of a big brother.

The Bachelor party crew consisted of Jon Grace (the groom), Tommy Hilleke, Jay Moffat, Jeff Paine (the freight train), Little Dave, Toby McDermott (budget) and yes... myself... I know I'm a girl. But Grace thought it fitting that I come along on his bachelor party.
We were all hoping to get onto Royal Gorge for the Bachelor Huckfest but the water didnt drop out until the week after the wedding so we were left with only a few options. Since the takeout was so close to the house we were all staying at we chose to head to the Rubicon. We had heard a lot of different things about this run, one saying that it was a nice class four run, another saying that there were a few mandatory portages and it was big water class five. The latter was a bit more correct.

Rules for the Rubicon: 1. If you can see the bottom, run it. 2. If you can't see the bottom, have someone get out and scout, then run it. 3. Bring your Toby. 4. If Toby doesn't give a double thumbs up, walk the rapid. 5. Bring a pressure cooker. 6. And a huge bottle of Correlejo tequila. 7. When you swim, make sure its in a pool. 8. Always look ahead of you. 9. Dont make blind right turns...blind... 10. Don't fall in the river.
We were all super stoked on this run. Big water and some massive holes. We had four swims out of a pretty solid crew of paddlers. Jay swam twice, once because he made a blind right turn. Toby swam out of the most rowdy pocket hole after a solid thrashing. Freight Train just plain swam.

On the last portage of the day John forgot his camera sitting on the side of the river and didn't realize it until 5 miles downstream when we got out for lunch. So him and Tommy did the ultimate and went straight back to the put in and ran the whole run in 5 hours the next day. But it won't go unsaid that Tommy broke his paddle and John Grace swam out of the last hole of the day.
If you ever get a chance to get on this run at 1000 cfs, do it. The run is awesome. There are four portages that are pretty mandatory and one that we did was terrifying. But all in all the run was awesome and a great way to celebrate the amazing union of two super cool people.

Next up, photos of the big day!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cali Goods, Part 1

So I got to head to California after an awesome trip to Colorado this year to not only do some awesome creeking but see one of my good friends, John Grace get married to the most awesomest woman ever. Toby McDermott and I loaded up my trusty Subaru and headed west into the sunset.
I think at this point I was almost sleeping and Toby woke me up from my slumber to see this amazing view... over the Oklahoma flatlands...
We took I-40 West the whole way, somewhere around 2300 miles later we found ourselves at the put in to the main Keweah. Everything was still pumping so Hospital Rock and the East Keweah were out of question, but there is nothing wrong with running some big water class 4 after an epic 40 hour drive.
We added to that drive by going further north and heading to the Whiskey Flat Bridge, the takeout to the Secret Stash on Big Kimshew. We had heard the flows were right and that it was going to drop out pretty soon so we rallied to get on it.
This was the end result of our load onto Jason Hales truck. Which also included 8 people. We ended up having a crew of 11 on the river with us.
People in California are so smart!! They all use Werner Paddles!!
Since the day was pretty much just full of mad bombing and making sure that we made it off the river before sundown there aren't many pictures of kayaking. Sadly. This is the Island Drop its the first (of very few) portage.

Since we were looking from above these were the only rapids that you could see on the drive up to the put in. To scale, that slot on the left was somewhere between 8 feet and 10 feet high. You roll around the corner and head right where you are sent off your first very nice 20 footer of the day. There was much more where that came from.
The only time that we really stopped was to hang out at Frenchies Forty. We ate some food and rehydrated. We were planning on going straight into the Secret Stash after we finished the run and we knew there were some big rapids in there.
Jason Hale, our fearless leader.
Myself, stoked at the end of the trip. Happy to be with such an awesome crew of people and stoked to have just run some of the biggest rapids of my life, blind. "You can only run a rapid blind once."

Big Kimshew into the Secret Stash is like starting on a micro creek way up in there and then you end on a full on river with some massive holes and some really rowdy lines to be made. There is no other river that I have ever been on that has given me this much bang for my buck. Super sick run.