Definition for Kayak :-)

Kayak [] n. 1. an oblong banana shaped boat with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant dangles. Can be propelled the wrong way up by experts. (definition courtesy of Pete Knowles)
(And I've got this one from Chris' Kayak Lexicon)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paddlemania! Slot Machine Showcase

Here's what I went up to Paddlemania for: The Slotmachine carnage! I drove up with Nora who was going to run the St Louis, which at 2800 cfs was still a bit much for me. But then I had paddled 4 times in the last 7 days, so I just had a day off for bumming around outside.

Joerg Steinbach (often referred to as the devil), Joel Becker, and John "Kiffy" Kiffmeyer (gotta love those side burns!) looking into the abyss that was their destiny...

Rock, paper, sissor had decided who was to go first and since I don't see Techno Tommy, he must have already gone down to put in as the trail blazer.

Here's what he was facing: Slot maching from above. (Even climbing to a good viewing spot was scary enough for yours truely, but I did, what had to be done :-)

Here's Kiffy, who refined his line after watching Techno Tommy's first run. Check out Nora's pictures, you can see there much better, how steep his stern angle was right down there.

You could clearly see, how they were refining their lines with each run they had been able to watch before them! I'd say, it takes quite the paddler to make such small adjustments to the line!

People expected to have a carnage ratio of at least 50/50. As Peter Noren said: It's just a craps shoot. But, there was only one swimmer, who only just missed his roll at the bottom after going a little too far right in the slot and getting churned. Awesome!

Thanks Tommy, Kiffy, Joerg and Joel for throwing yourself down Slotmaching for us!

Thanks Midwest Mountaineering for the party! I love my new Sex Wax gift :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Minnehaha at 135cfs

Sara, Bryan and Art.

Since I had such a hard time with this new boat compared to my creek boat I was looking for some partners in crime to get a better handle on it in moving water.

Art took pitty on me and Sara and Bryan joined us to go to the Minnehaha. Still quite a bit of swimming, but towards the end of the run I was starting to get a bit of a feel for those edges in ferries and eddy turns, which made me very happy. Did a couple of unplanned bow stalls.

It was another exercise to appreciate those really little achievement like. I leaned into a rock! And I hung on to my boat every time I swam! I leaned the right way during a bow stall! :-)

For my river log: Looks like something two people can do at this level easily as long as you watch those strainers!!!

The journey is the destination! But thank you so much Art, that you had sooo much patience with me!!! :-) And thanks Sara & Bryan for the company and rescues of water bottles :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vermillion at 95 cfs

Nora showing us (Sarah, Bryan and yours truly) how it's done!

Nora surfing Donut.
Sarah surfing Donut.

This was the first time I took my CR 250 playboat on moving water, which made for a bit of a SwimFest :-) Gotta get used to those edges in smaller water first. My creeker is sooo forgiving :-) But my creek boat is just killing me, every time I try to get it down to the Verm and then back up again, so I need to get those edges sorted quick!

I still had a blast and got to the take out with a big smile on my face, just like Nora, Sarah and Bryan. For me, that's a successful time on the river: fun times!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Life is Good: Kettle at 3000cfs & Dinner Party

What a perfect run! The only thing: It was over so quickly, because the current was pretty swift at this level. As David said, "we weren't afloat, we were azoom!" In fact, I caught myself attempting my first backward ferry in my desperate attempt to catch an eddy that was zooming past me and to slow down at least a little.

What a wonderful group of people! I didn't know anybody of them, but have I ever met paddlers who weren't good folks to be with? There was Susan & Rob, David, Carol, Charlie & Nancy, Dean & Sarah & Emma and Ann & Scott.

Lunch time at Big Eddy with Nancy's scrumptious "Canoe Trip Brownies". Yumm!

Scott and Ann surfing their IOC2 an inflatable canoe they clearly had a lot of fun in!!!

The water was fun, some nice big waves to bob in, no rocks to worry about. (Actually I was glad to see a rock at some point. Had to have an eddy behind it :-) Quite the contrast, when I ran this stretch last year, when it was an arrid bone yard with hardly a channel to keep afloat in for any length of time and my kayak only needs about 8 inches... I also ran it a couple of weeks ago at a mid level and was surprised, that one eddy line on river left behind a sharp cliff I thought would be unpassable at that level for me was really very mild, where another I hadn't even worried about on river right after a cliff had developed a white border between the water directions. Nice and visible as that line was, I did not follow Ann & Scott into that eddy but joined the others on river left.

In an eddy, enjoying the river beautiful and nearly at the end of our run.

What a nice experience meeting new paddlers and seeing how canoists do it. The group dynamic is a little different than I was used to from kayakers, but fun and good to see, that such a mixed group works well too! But I do appreciate, that there was Susan and Carol with their kayaks, so I wasn't the only one so close to the water. You gotta love Susan, she makes the cutest little seal noises, when she launches :-)

Inevitabley the run was at it's end at Kennedy Landing I was off to catch a dinner party with some friends! Luckily I had brought the dessert along in my cooler...

Frank was hosting at his lovely townhouse, which eventually I actually found after several phone call. I am suburb impared, what can I do...

Laura and Frank laying on some finishing touches.

Tom, Roxanne and Frank. (Not sure, how Courtney got out of having her picture taken... sneaky!)

Ah, you can't beat sitting down with a bunch of good friends with good conversation and good food! Everything was absolutely delicious and mediterranean goodness: Courtney & Tom's Antipasti with cheese, prociutto, olives, fire grilled peppers and asparagus and caprese salad as well as a very surprising grilled corn nibble with a kick. Then there was Franks fantastic chicken dish with a chunky mushroom tomato sauce complemented by Roxanne's flavor rich oven roasted ratatouille and Laura's creamy risotto. I brought up the rear with one of my greek favorites, strained yoghurt with walnuts and honey, which everybody seemed to like as well.

I can't wait for our next dinner circle installment in 2 months :-)

Now doesn't that dinner table look dreamy :-)

Look at that!

Did I already mention, that live is good?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Scouting the Lester

The Lester is a creek that feeds into Lake Superior at Duluth. Nora wanted to have a look at it and here are some pictures from scouting. A lot of the lines look pretty obvious and although I am not quite at that level yet, I liked what I saw. It just felt like a fun friendly creek to me at this level, justified or not. But then again feeling comfortable or feeling "it" is a big part of a good river experience. Aaron did run it the next morning and reported, that he had a very good run, but that he could see how missing a line in certain spots could get you into a bit of trouble.

Here I tried to capture the contrast between the rapids and a very calm eddy right next to each other. The more I get a chance to look at he water the more I can see features and lines. Not all boating improvement happens on the water.

Frowning face whole on the left and smiling face whole on the right.

This waterfall is called "Almost Always". I asked Mike M if it's called that because it almost always flips people. Nope it's because you almost always walk this fall. Bill suggested to rename it to "F*cking Never!" There is another feature above it that's called "Oh Sh*t, Oh G*d". I just love this name! Sorry don't have a picture of it.

I don't have any pictures of the creeking on the Knife River Sunday due to a camera problem, but check out Bryan's blog, he's got some awesome shots that Ole took!

Lower St Louis at 5000cfs and Upper at 7000cfs

Two stroms this week bumped up the Upper Louie from about 1350 cfs to about 7000cfs! Too intense to paddle for me, but a great challenge for Nora and Aaron. So while they were riding rapids I was taking pictures, which I love, no doubt about that! Also, the more I look at whitewater, the better my river reading gets and seeing lines and danger spots to avoid in the midst of what used to be just one white mess.

Thomson Dam upriver of the 210 bridge. Midwest white water = cola fountain.

"Slot machine"

The back of Slot Machine.

I had been going with Nora and as I was approaching the bridge going East she told me to take a look left immediately when I got on the bridge and it was a literally breathtaking moment of awe. I remember two times in my life where I had that kind of immediate reaction to an experience. One was the first time I looked through the Algau Gate at the Bavarian Alps. The Algau Gate approaches after a long drive on the autobahn going South through a canyon of pine forest, which produces a kind of dark green tunnel vision. Then suddenly at the Gate the panorama opens to reveal the mountain range of the Alps from one corner of the eye to the other. I saw it in early December and the range was bright and snow covered, which made the contrast to the dark green tunnel that had narrowed our vision for what seemed hours to open up to a landscape of rock and snow. The second time I had this experience was surprisingly enough walking into a man made structure: Lincoln Cathedral. If I believed in a personified interventionist God, this would be the man made place I would have felt his/her presence the most profoundly.

Looking downstream on the 210 bridge.

At Jay Cook on the swinging bridge looking upstream.

The swinging bridge at Jay Cook.

Looking downstream.

Quite the contrast, here the calm and tranquility of the reservoir above the dam.

When Nora and Aaron came back from their run of the 7000 cfs Upper Louie the were still hopping with adrenaline despite their cool down time paddling across the reservoir. They'd definitely had had a good time. And I definitely had had no business paddling it at the level. So good decisions all around.
Back to the Louie for paddling another time.
At 7000 cfs? Time is on my side!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Canoe U 2008

What a fun couple of weeks we had!!!

We all fulfilled our growth potential as kayakers and did a smashing run of the Upper Kettle thanks to an auspicious combo of instructors, safety boaters and paddling buddies!

Here a video of Bea running Blueberry Slide with Megan in the lead. Megan's quite the racing star, so watch her form and her strokes, aren't they graceful!

I'm having a spot of trouble uploading videos at the moment, but once I've got that fixed there'll be movies of Sarah, Lynn, and Jim as well with some more of our instructing godesses: Natalie & Tina.

But getting to the point were we could run the Kettle with confidence and style was a fun journey too:

Jim & Kathy with Lynn and Megan just getting started!

Here's Jim, a kayaker and a gentlemen with a COMBAT roll after only a few days on the river!!!

Here's David "Hoss" and Josef "Little Joe" in the front. Even at the danger of loosing a couple of fingers there was no holding our Hoss back!!!


Little Joe having fun on and off the water!

Mike and Natalie, who had never instructed together but who were working together like a right and a left hand! Or two paddles on one shaft! Or a fork and a knife! You get the picture :-)

Still doing some technical stuff on the lake.
Little Joe.

It takes a village to raise some kayakers.

Ah and here's what goes with kayaking like carrots go with peas: the cameraderie!

Ya can't beat sitting around a camp fire after a satisfying day on the river and the tummy full of Bob Dodd's or Jimmy's sterling cooking!

Now what is that? I can see a UFO checking out what all this fun is about. It's clearly hovering between Natalie and Jim who are standing. You see, there's no kayaking on Mars because we have it all :-) Between them a very smiley Megan Lynn and Bea. Bea's evening seemed to have turned into a bit of a blurr there. On the left sitting, Dan "monkeyboy" Monskey, who is regularely featured on telly and Oggie, who had an offside roll even before getting out on the water.

Jade in the middle, soon to be boofing off the highest waterfalls.

It's a dog's life!

The Kettle, isn't she beautiful! (Just under Blueberry)

In between rapids, enjoying the scenic river.

Here's Nora in the middle! She was our safety boater for the second year running and she is just a great mentor for kayakers in general. I have a great movie of her seal launching herself, which will be posted here as soon as I can get this @#$% movie upload working properly :-)

I just love that picture of Megan so relaxed floating to the next set of rapids!

I can't wait for Natalie's pictures of our seal launches!!! Now those were fun!!!

Hey and check out Nora's blog! Her blog is wellread all over the globe and she's posted some FUN pictures of the run :-)

Here's to the survivors party on Thursday!!! SYOTR