Bienvenido a Costa Rica!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I got the awesome opportunity to head down with the staff of Liquid Skills to Costa Rica and help out with their 10-day supported kayak trip! Chad, Joey, Fran Hitchens, Marzella and I flew down a few days early to enjoy some time at Jaco Beach before we went to pick up the rest of the crew.

Joey shows Marzella how to drink from the sweet coconuts!

It was quite nice to relax for a little while and get accustomed to the culture and weather.

Wheelbarrows anyone?

We did some hanging by the pool, some walking on the beach, some drinking cerveza and Marzella and I even tried to teach ourselves how to surf!!
Marzella's up!

The hottub at the hotel Flamboyant!

Oxtongue Madness

Sunday, October 28, 2007

River: Oxtongue
Level: 3.2ish (LOW)
Date: 29 Oct 07
Paddlers: Me, Cale

OK, it wasn't really madness. After a crazy Halloween keg party, 12 of us loaded up cars and drove north to check out Ragged Falls and the Oxtongue. We spent quite some time checking out the falls and discussing possible lines before a long hike and then a quick drive over to the Oxtongue. This was a short little run, but with a couple of steep class IV's. The level now was a great introductory level for me, but it gets much better a little bit higher. Cale and I geared up and the rest drove down to take photos and watch. The biggest drop was a long one, non-stop with multiple moves. We had to scramble down the shore to check out each section, it wasn't very boat-scoutable.

I was a little nervous at first, as I get when I run anything new, but felt comfortable that the run was going to go well. I am still working on learning and improving these technical skills that you don't gain spending all of your time on the Ottawa River big water. I'm excited to announce that I am getting better; on the Ottawa it didn't matter if you flipped. Here, however, it mattered a lot!

I got to try out all sorts of new gear today, my new creektop (which was very comfortable with great range of motion, considering), my new rescue vest, and my new H2O riverrunning paddle (a little longer than my play paddle with the riverrunner blade - powerful!).

What a great way to deal with a hangover! ;-)

Photos by Rich and John Hevesi!

Peak UK Creek Top How-to (with special cameo by Billy Harris)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I am super stoked to give this drytop a try, especially now that we aren't chasing rain, but right in the middle of it.

Now I'm not a stupid person at all, but when I received my Crick Top the other day my emotions went from 'YES!!' to 'my brain is too fried from a long day at work to figure this out'.

I was staring at a dry top and 5 pieces of unmarked, unlabelled armour.

I figured everyone else who bought a Peak Crick Top had no problems at all putting it together, and that it was just because I was blonde. That is, until I found out that Peak had received MANY emails asking about where the armour pads go etc.

So I decided to do something about the confusion! Write a How-To Article!!

How to get your Peak Creek Top ready for some Gnar Gnar

1. When you receive your Crick Top, you will receive a drytop, 1 small armour pad (fig A), 2 longer armour pads with a flat end and rounded bottom (fig B) and 2 longer armour pads with pointy ends and flat bottom (fig D).

2. The small single piece of armour (fig A) is for the upper spine, and velcros onto the inside of the drytop. Slide the piece of armour between the latex neck gasket and the neoprene outer gasket.

3. The two pieces of armour with the rounded bottoms (fig B) are your elbow pads. They slide into a pocket on the arm, and are attached with velcro to the inside. These ones might need to be squeezed in and then flattened out as the fit is tight.

4. The last two pieces of armour (fig D) are your shoulder pads, and they slide in between the latex and neoprene neck gaskets as well. The are attached with the provided velcro once inside.

5. Now you're done! Your top is ready to go over the gnarliest drop you can find! (Which I am hoping to do this weekend on the Oxtongue River).

6. One final test before you get on the river is to give the rockin' removable armour a go on the nearest test dummy. In my case, a one Billy Harris was loitering around and I had to see if the armour was good. Yes, the armour works great!

* Disclaimer: Billy Harris was not harmed during the making of this How-To Article

H2O Paddle Testing at Pushbutton

Sunday, October 21, 2007

River: Ottawa
Level: -3.5
Date: 21 Oct 07
Paddlers: Billy, Carly, Corey, Me

After packing up all my lawn furniture because I'm leaving for Costa Rica soon, I decided to catch up with my roommates at Pushbutton. I'm not a big fan of PB at this low level, but it's great for Jenny Right-Side front surfing!

Billy and Carly had their brand new H2O paddles and were giving them some vigorous testing. These paddles are just getting lighter and lighter and stronger and stronger. I haven't used any other paddle since I snapped my paddle (by another company) on Buseater in June. I'm really enjoying the feel of the paddles and the power of the blades.

I also brought out my new camera to see if I could figure it out a bit more. I really should read the instruction manual. (Mental note: if you're going to use the Auto setting on a Digital SLR, you might as well spend $500 less and get a little point-and-shoot). I spent some time playing with the shutter speed and aperture, and manged to get a couple of awesome shots!

Enjoy! Next update will probably be from Costa Rica!

Carly Donkeyflips!

Corey's going for a Pepsi sponsorship...

Squirtboats Make me Cry...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

...and wail and shriek and complain about how much my legs/feet/abs/thighs/brain hurts.
But dang it looks cool!

Jeremy is the squirt master.

Jeremy and I took my newly chopped boat out to low-water Halls of Karma on the New, but the boat just hurt too much. So we were on a new mission to make it less painful for me. So what did we do? We altered my neoprene socks, adding a foam donut so the fiberglass boat crushing my foot knuckles didn't hurt so much. We also put a wood block in the bow to try and raise it a little (quick fix for an over-chopped boat).

The things we'll do to fit in the smallest squirtboat....

Resting my everything! The face of a squirtboater right there.

Finally my boat didn't hurt half as much anymore and we were ready to try it out!

Feels good so far!

Low Water Upper Gauley

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What do you do in betwen Gauley releases? Run it anyway!

Jeremy and I decided to run the Upper Gauley anyway at 800 cfs (vice the normal 2800 cfs). We ran shuttle, grabbed our creeky boats and headed downriver in anticipation of low water boof ledges and waterfalls.

Well we were pretty disappointed. The big scary rapids had been reduced to mediocre class II rock gardens. Pillow was a manky slide, the Room of Doom almost non-existent.

Jeremy in the Room of Doom, now with More Room, Less Doom

Jeremy paddled into the Room and noticed that the walls were scribbled with blue plastic. Someone in a blue boat got completely obliterated in there at one point. If it was you, send me an email, I'd love to know the story!

The mail slot was now a slot to balcony (there's a wide rock on the downstream side of the slot), Don't come in here Jen!

Neither of us lost our paddles at Lost Paddle, Jeremy ran the crack at Iron Ring upside down and I flipped on the hole and rolled up in time to run the last drop (a 5ft chute) backwards. Our excitement for the day!

Jeremy scouting Iron Ring

Sweets was a no-brainer, dildo rock was to be avoided, and now we could see why.

Yes! I made it!

The rest of the river we attempted every crack and ledge we could, often getting stuck. At the end, I tried to get Jeremy to give me a high fiiiive (a la Borat) for a successful run down the river, but he just wasn't as excited to make it out alive as I was.

He was even less excited when I told him I forgot the key to the truck at the put-in and when I finally showed him that I had it, he felt the need to push me out of my boat into the water. Not nice Jeremy!

Jeremy and I giving each other a high fiiiive!

How to Enjoy Gauley Season on a Budget

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

$10 for two nights Gauley Fest camping
$10 festival entry fee
free Fri night dinner for volunteering
free beer
free Sat night burgers @ festival
free showers @ festival
$5 showers at Mt Nebo Gas Station
free camping up to 14 days at Summersville Dam
free Internet at Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville
free put-in/take-out Gauley River
$10 all-you-can-eat pizza and salad @ Pies n Pints Tuesdays in Fayetteville
$40 from Summersville to Friendsville
$10/site camping at Garret State Forest
$15 day pass for ASCI whitewater course day pass
free dinner for volunteering/competing at US Nationals
free put-in/take-out Upper Yough

Playboating the Upper Gauley

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Upper Gauley is unlike any river I have ever kayaked on. It is big, fast, pushy and steep. Most of the major rapids have specific make-or-break lines.

I paddled the Upper last year twice, both times scared to death all the way down.
This year, I paddled the Upper 4 times in a Pyranha Ammo, and decided today to give it a try in my playboat. Playboating the Upper Gauley would definately be a step up for me. Jeremy also decided that I was going to remember the lines and lead through every rapid. The lines don't change in a playboat, but you have to muscle your way through each rapid a bit more than in a creekboat or river runner.
All in all, things went well. My lines were a little off; I found the hole in Insignificant, I busted my knuckles hitting VW Rock through Pillow, had a good line all down Lost Paddle, and a fine line through Iron Ring even though it was upside down half of the way. It's one thing to follow someone else's lines, but a completely other thing to pick them out yourself. I was pretty proud that I remembered the lines down the rapids. I can't wait until Friday to do it again!

I also brought my brand new camera with me on this run and got some playboating shots. At Hungry Mother, I pulled a pretty big loop, but Jeremy was helping someone with their backband and didn't get it on film. I'll have to go back and do it again on Friday.