US National Championships

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I won't talk about placements in this update.

Jared Seiler (Pyranha) is very easy to photograph...

It was a good event, the features were equipped with spotlights for when the sun went down. First time we've had an event where the sunset didn't matter!

Jeremy Laucks (Pyranha) goin' big

I helped Kristine all day with scoring and tallying. During the finals rides I got to sit up at the front, take the scores from the 5 judges, knock off the highest and lowest, then relay the middle three to Kristine. At the end of each round, the competitor order was reset according to score (highest scoring paddler going last). Once they figured out the system it seemed to work well.

The scribes I sat with were US Army Veterans who had gotten involved in the Team River Runners. Part of their rehab was provided by kayakers who volunteer their weekends to teach vets how to kayak. These guys had lost limbs in Iraq. I was honoured just to be sitting next to them and scoring with them. If you live in this area and can help in any way, look into this:

Seth Chapelle (Fluid) looping his C1

There was an after party with $1 beers ($0.99 beers for us Canadians!) and prizes even given out to non-competitors.

Today is also the day I became an official Regional Team Paddler for Jackson Kayak. Look for my bio and cool write-ups on their website soon!


Dane Jackson making the grown C1ers cry...

Steppin' it up on the Upper Yough

Friday, September 28, 2007

River: Upper Yough
Level: 2.1
Paddlers: Me, Rich, Matt, Jeff, Carl,
Date: 28 Sep 07

I have had my eyes on the Upper Yough for a while now, but not sure if I was ready for it. The majority of my experience has been with big water like the Ottawa River, and the Yough is steep, continuous, rocky class IVish.

Normally I only would have trusted Jeremy to lead me down the river, but unfortunately today was the beginning of the US Nationals, including the Squirt Competition (which saw Jeremy as the 2007 US National Squirt Champion). I was getting desperate, and knew that while I was here would be the only change I'd have to paddle the Yough. I posted on the Monocacy Canoe CLub board, and with the help of Rick Roberts, who assured anyone willing to take me down that I was cuter than a spotted puppy under a red wagon, I ended up receiving an email from Jeff, whose group was willing to take a beginner down and show her the lines.

Rich wasn't sure if he would be able to paddle with a bum shoulder, but after an 'EJ Cocktail' decided that he would be fine.

We ran shuttle and put on. The one thing I really liked about the YOugh was that it started off slow and then began to pick up pace. I was able to get a good warmup before the steeper drops. Once they started however, it was full-speed ahead until the river tapered out again at the bottom of the mountain. Few sections of flatwater between drops, and do-or-die technical lines. OK, so maybe it wasn't do-or-die, but there were a couple sketchy spots on the river.

I barely remember any of the rapid names or the lines, and have no photos as the river was non-stop, hardly scoutable, but I was definately ready for it, and it was definately a step up for me. I'm glad I was able to get on it, and that I made it down without any major mishaps!

Now I'm back at the ASCI Whitewater Course at the WISP Resort in Deep Creek, MD getting ready to volunteer at US Nationals tomorrow.

Disneyworld of Kayaking

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I was lucky enough to get a chance to paddle on the whitewater course at the Adventure Sports Centre in McHenry, MD.

The course in located on the top of Marsh(?) Mountain and uses the same water from Deep Creek Lake as is used on the Upper Yough.

Pikey hanging on for dear life
Some neat facts about the ASCI Course:
  • the ASCI Course is 1700 feet long and drops 24 feet
  • the course has 6 waveshapers that are able to change the character of the features at each location (these waveshapers form wave and hole features
  • the rocks dug out of the mountain-top to form the whitewater course were then reintegrated into the course to form the artificial river and provide a natural river-like setting
  • there are squirt seams for serious downtime
  • the course was designed by folks from McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group and received active input from the likes of Jimmy Blakeney and Risa Shimoda

The eddies in the course were super swirly and the flow in some places felt rather unnatural. This seemed to be due to the flat concrete riverbed. On a natural river, the eddies have rocks and plants in them to slow the recirculating flow. There are no such "speed bumps" on the ASCI Course.

Once at the bottom pool of the course, you paddle up to a conveyor belt, which takes you back up to the top pool for a restart of the course. There was no sign, but apparently 30 foot spacing between boats on the conveyor belt is required or a dude at the top stats hollering at you. Rich and I sitting side-by-side on the belt and throwing punches at each other just wasn't cool...

The course can release two pumps for a class II-III experience, 3 pumps for a class III experience, and 4 pumps for a class IV experience.

The waveshapers could also make any surf feature more or less difficult.

This was a pretty exciting spot, fun rapids, lots of friends, no take-out hikes, and super surf features. It was like spending the day at Canada's Wonderland in your kayak!

Ha Ha Raft Carnage, even on a concrete river

Park n' Huck @ Valley Falls

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

River: Tygart (Valley Falls state park)
Level: low
Paddlers: Me, Rich
Date: 26 Sep 07

On our way from the Gauley to the Yough, Rich and I stopped at Valley Falls to park n' huck a couple of small waterfalls.

Nothing exciting, but apparently I have discovered something quite disturbing. I noticed it first when I ran the Seven Sisters section of the Rouge River in Quebec. When I boof or go over a waterfall, I get an utterly horrible terrified-type look on my face. I don't know why it happens, I've even tried smiling over the drop, but as soon as I focus on trying to boof, the smile turns into a grimace/about to get killed kind of look.

Luckily a few of the photos that Rich took, you can't see my face, but can still tell it's me.

Lower Gauley

Monday, September 24, 2007

River: Lower Gauley
Level: 2800 cfs
Paddlers: Me, Rich, Paul, Amy, John
Date: 24 Sep 07

Jeremy and others were running the Upper Gauley Animal Race, so we decided to run the Lower Gauly. Paul had run it once and the rest had never run it at all, so I was kind of appointed as the trip leader. I had never lead anyone down a river before.

After it taking me a while to remember the put-in, we finally got shuttle set up. Rich Paul and John were off to the take-out while we gathered gear. The hike down to the put in of the Lower Gauley is a bit of a steep go, with some rickety stairs. Luckily, one of the rafting companies busses was there and the driver offered Amy and I a ride down with all the boats. This was going to be fun! The guys would come back and think that Amy and I carried all the boats down for them! We through all the boats into the school bus and headed down to the river. When the guys came down they were psyched to see they didn't have to carry their boats. Rich was thanking me for carrying his boat and I made a point of complaining how heavy it was!

We headed on down the river. There were only 2 rapids that I thought Amy should look at, the first one was Kuntz's Flume at the beginning of the run, and the other was the last rapid of the day, Pure Screaming Hell. Yes, the one I knocked myself out on 2 years ago and had to be helivaced out. We looked at Kuntz's and I showed the danger on the right. We headed down, played for a while on the assortment of waves, and then kept going.

I told Amy about Mash, how there's a huge standing wave that you don't see until the last minute and it will crash you. I couldn't remember when Mash was coming up though, and when I saw it, it was too late to tell her. She went down, right into the face of the wave and got powerflipped! Awesome roll though, she was back up in a second like a pro!

Paul led us down a few little boofs and cracks. One that we did, Rich followed, and then me. I went over on a bad angle and got tooled for a few seconds in the pourover. My buddy Rich loves to see me get beat down and couldn't stop pointing and laughing at me. Thanks a lot Rich!

The river is fun for all levels. When we got to Pure Screaming Hell, I wanted to get out and look at it. I was nervous. I had never actually seen the whole rapid, all other times we simply ran it blind. I expressed the importance of knowing where the dangers were on this rapid, and John and I took a close look, picking out our markers. The tricky part about this rapid, is it's really not a big deal! It's a class III rapid, but has class IV-V consequences. A ledge hydraulic on the left called Purgatory, and a huge munchy hole on the right called Hell Hole. There is also a huge rock sieve on the right side. I went second and followed my markers through. It was a piece of cake!

When we got to the take-out, I was relieved. It's about a 2 mile flatwater paddle after PSH to the take-out. Lucky for us, our cars weren't at the take-out but at another parking lot a mile downstream!

On the way back to the put-in, I found out that Amy couldn't tell a lie to Paul and had told him the truth about bringing the boats down the hill in a raft bus. Rich didn't think I was so cool anymore when he found out!

It was a great day on the river for all of us.

Back up at the Animal Race, Jeremy finished 2nd place in the Speeder class (11 seconds behind teammate Jared Seiler) and 5th place overall.

Summer of Discontent

Monday, September 17, 2007

Only because I didn't get out in my kayak as much as I would have liked to.
I will update with a couple of trips (including one to the Seven Sisters on the Rouge), as soon as I get photos from friends, since my computer hard drive crashed so bad I lost every photo of my kayaking. :-(

Yesterday, I took my friend Jaron down to the river in a borrowed boat, determined to teach him to roll. He was doing awesome and his first roll attempt he was all the way up, but lifted his head first and ended up falling back over.
I took him down the Middle Channel at -2 on the gauge and he had a blast! We managed to get him down the whole river, only swimming once, having never been in a kayak before! He was even able to punch the hole at the bottom of Butterfly and the hole at the bottom of the Garvin's Waves with ease!! I was so proud!

On Wednesday I am heading down to West 'By God' Virginia for 2+ weeks of kayaking, chillaxin', camping, hiking and maybe some disc gold. Look for my next posts live from Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville, WV!