Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everything's Gonna be Alright...

The 2009 whitewater season starts up in just one month for us. It's been raining and snowing and more storms are lining up to come in to California over the next week and beyond ... and California now has a budget and President Obama's stimulus package is being unfurled.


As we are all aware, the economy is a mess and folks are justifiably nervous about the present and the future ... time for the adrenaline, sunshine, water, good food, and the relaxation that a whitewater trip can provide and without breaking the bank (or what's left of the bank!). A one or two day California whitewater trip feels like a week at the spa...except you get an extra dose of endorphins, adrenaline, and team building. Whether you bring the family group, friends, the office, or just yourself, you are part of a journey team-building and bonding that has no other agenda than to have the best time possible!

The river guides are on the same page and you're rafting rivers with others that share that agenda as well. It's a time a maximize your investment and create a life-long set of returns, benefits, and dividends: memories, friends, rafting photos, emotions, and flat-out fun! Your guides have no other imperative other than to help you enjoy your trip safely, provide you the best meals you've ever had in the outdoors, and make every moment an escape.... You need and deserve a whitewater trip!

As Bob Marley sings in "Three Little Birds"...Everything little thing's going to be all right! Thanks and Praises for whitewater, California, and those wacky river guides....got to love 'em...they're your guides!!!! (Note from WET: lump in my throat watching Connie sing this ...)

Note SpamReminder: Guide School starts on March 14th. Couple spaces are available on 4/4; 4/11, 4/18 & 4/25::

Friday, February 20, 2009

New York City : Kayaking Hudson River

Amazing day on the water today. An opportunity to once again truly become connected with nature. My understanding of the new water (ocean, estuary)  I've been paddling has become stronger, and I keep finding ways to make paddling in the New York Harbor, Hudson River, East River and Harlem River, fun and enjoyable every time. Each time I stretch my comfort zone that much more, and I am remembering what it felt like to be strong in a kayak once again. My weight has dropped and my training for New York City's kayak championship, called the Mayor's Cup, seems real. Today on the water was one of those remarkable days when you feel a boost in your teaching ability. Pardon the egocentric comment, but the feeling was good in a way that made me realize I was contributing in a positive way to those who choose to try kayaking and/or paddling as a sport.

The weather in New York is different. Being from Auburn, CA, where the Middle Fork and North Fork American rivers flow, I'm used to dry California heat. New York is humid and thunderstorms happen in summer. Today, myself and two new kayakers experienced what can happen in the waters surrounding Manhattan. These two ladies were students at Manhattan Kayak Company and had come to do a North/ South kayak tour. That means paddlers head either North or South depending on the currents. First you head upstream, then down, in either direction as the Hudson is not only a river, but a tidal estuary. My two ladies were in a double kayak as they were training for a huge sea kayak trip to Alaska. We started paddling and went North. It was 1:30, and we needed to paddle against the current no longer than to 3:00 PM so as not to have to come back against tidal current. If we headed South by 3:00 PM, we would get slack tide and not have to work too hard.


The energy of the group was to really go for a nice long paddle and get some good experience and I went out in focus of the moment. We crossed the river and paddled up the New Jersey side. That was their first river crossing and they were excited. This was the 3rd time for both of these ladies in a kayak and they had never paddled out of Manhattan Kayak's backyard. A haze hung over Manhattan as we paddled. Strokes were worked on including the forward, sweep and draw. In addition we practiced connection of strokes and paddling style. The decision was made to no longer use the rudder and the two really needed to start working together, and they did, strongly.

We turned around after probably an hour and a half. We had paddled by many of things characteristic of maritime scenery. Pilings, industrial buildings, barges, boats, parks, and Midtown Manhattan. As we paddled back, it began to sprinkle and felt wonderful. I took the ladies out to the middle of the river to experience being surrounded by enormous amounts of CFS flowing. We floated on top of it all and the weather worsened. A Cruise Ship was close to leaving as we passed it and lightening started to hit. We were very close to getting home at that point, within a mile I would say. There wasn't a place to stop and some critical points needed to be passed, including the Water Taxi Terminal, or Ferry Terminal.

The paddle back to the boathouse was against current; we had been out for enough time for the current to switch directions. We were heading back with a slight current against us and a headwind. The rain was kicking and the power of the Thunder Storm became massive. Various streaks of lightening and powerful sounds of thunder, then the wind really increased. It was at this point that we needed to cross the ferry terminal. We waited it out for a moment for one ferry to pass and we charged hard. It was powerful out there and we put our heads down and are bodies in an aggressive position to face the wind and continue moving forward. Nearing the end of the crossing, the worst of the storm appeared and we were hit by a 50 mile per hour gust. My two ladies were blown back 20 feet easily in that gust; just into the ferry terminal. The gust died a bit and we needed to move though while we had the opportunity. It was there that they continued their assault as a team.


Twenty minutes later were back on the dock with a storm that was calming down. I was happy as any teacher watching two student paddlers improve with leaps and bounds, and while pushed out of their comfort zone as beginners, they had the mental strength to get them through. At the end, they seemed full of joy and excitement. I felt this was a positive day on the water.

Theo from NYC 's Tidal Estuary via New York Harbor... paddlers never stop paddling!
Theo is a whitewater rafting guide for WET River Trips; also a bomber kayak instructor!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GUIDE POST from Berkeley (Bezerkeley)

kayaker's view Well, now that I have a little time in between working all day on the river, and writing papers all day for school, I figure I will take a break to briefly document some of last summer’s better adventure rafting trips. The year started off very well for the W.E.T. crew, completing the 2 day run of Generation and Giant Gap on the North Fork American River. Along with several other W.E.T. guides, notably J. Orban and Data Dax, we made the 5 mile hike into the Generation Gap with some Kayaker assistance (Heffe, fem Alex, and The Wolf), and put on at a perfect spring flow on a perfect spring day.


The Generation Gap has been run multiple times before in rafts, but was still a very challenging class V run, involving a few good portages, some quality boxed-in canyons, and Wolf-scouted rapids called “lefty lefty, scrapey scrapey.” (Note from WET staff: LOL!) On the second day we reached the confluence with the North Fork of the NoFo, and got a healthy boost in water to run the Generation Gap with somewhere a little under 2000 cfs. (For the record the Kayakers portaged Locomotive, and we styled it in the raft with Orban guiding). The run finished with no mishaps, a few sketchy backwards moments, and a bunch of tired, cold, hungry, and happy guides.


The highlight of summer boating was without question Wolf and my descent of Upper Cherry Creek. With little argument about attempting to make the six to ten mile hike, and nine mile high Sierra run, The Wolf and I set out in the Toyota searching for steep drops, big hits, and granite super highways. After receiving great beta from veteran rafters such as Guy (“you’re going to die”), we were fired up to check out what the upper Tuolumne tributary had to offer.

Along with us, and central to the success of the trip, was Fem Alex and adventure dog Marley, who provided quality ground support and photography. To my best knowledge, Upper Cherry has been run maybe three other times in rafts in the last five or so years. While we were not the first raft to make it down the run, I am almost positive that we did make the first decent in a bucket boat. The Wolf Special, a 10 foot, superlight, all black, two thwart, PVC bucket boat, was the perfect inflatable to boat this run in.


We set out early in the morning with a heavy load and a long day ahead. Before leaving on the trip I struck a deal with Wolf, where I would carry all gear for the trip (food, sleeping bags, first aid, throwbags, repair, top-off pump, ect.), if he would carry the boat. Good to his word, Wolf hauled the raft with a camstrap like a purse, while I managed the hike in with a hefty drybag load. Without any major incidents we hit the river around 3:00pm, and then made the hike up into Cherry Bomb gorge to begin our run.

Due to anticipated lower flows, we opted out of hiking into the section above Cherry Bomb because we didn’t want add miles of additional portages to our trip. As expected, we had a fairly low flow, which made for a great amount of water for exploring the run. Our first set of rapids involved a 200+ yard slide, into a boxed-in teacup section. Luckily both Wolf and I have had extensive slide and waterfall practice up on South Silver Creek, so we were fairly prepared for how the GI Jane bucket boat would handle down the drops. Even with our foreknowledge, I think we were both surprised at how deep you can go in a raft when you’re full of water going over teacups. After an extremely long first day, we camped just below the drop known as “Dead Bear,” and enjoyed a spectacular high Sierra evening.

north fork american rapids

The next morning we awoke like little kids on their birthdays to about a mile and half of read and run class 4+ slides and small drops. The highlight of day two was probably a 35 ft. off-vertical falls, into a picturesque, Shangri-La pool. This one was so fun, Wolf and Fem Alex hauled the boat back up the granite cliff for another run.

The entire trip went without mishaps. While there are several significant portages on the run, (dependent on flow), we were probably able to boat about sixty percent on the water, which was much better than what I had in mind when we set out. We managed to make it to Cherry Lake around 5pm just in time for a healthy three mile paddle across the flat-water. To top the run off Wolf ran the seven mile shuttle up the ridge to our cars, cruising in to pick us up at 9:30pm, just in time to make the 1:00am Denny’s crowd in Jacksonville, and our 8:00am South Fork American rafting trips the next morning. All in all it was an outrageous summer full of good times on the water.

Hope everyone had a good rest this fall and winter, so we can gear up and go big this coming spring. Also mad props to Wolf’s Tunnel Chute flip for some of the best rafting photos I’ve ever seen.

California Whitewater Rafting Blog

Note: Thank you Alex for the memories! WET crew is ready for rafting! Cya all on the water!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

North Fork American Chamberlain Falls run - NOFO

"We're all just rocks on the beach waiting to become gravel and sand ... life is in the tumbling!" ~~ Words of Wisdom by Big PoppaJah ~~

It's snowed down to 3,000 feet and the W.E.T. River Trip guides are off the couch and just did the Class 4+ North Fork American Chamberlain Falls run at 1,600 cfs! Woot!

take me to the river ...

Country Mike, Heffe, Kyle, Booty, Alex H., Bird, and some other kooks hit the NoFo a few days ago after the big storm. Mack went kayaking on Shirt-tail Creek (Shirt-tail is a little class V run that flows into the North Fork American River right above the NoFo at Yankee Jim's Bridge (about mile 4.5).

So, I reported recently: It's on! The buzz in out there: the 2009 whitewater season is up and running and will just get better and better. The first weekend of this month, we're taking a sprint up to the far North to hit at-least two rivers in three days and do some scouting for Spring Training and Guide school.

Back to the "rock" comment: we just don't realize our potential unless we shake (tumble) it up a bit. We'll never get a polish or become what we are destined to be unless we shift, move, and change. Whitewater does that. Even Stephen Covey of the "Seven Habits" genre, now attributes his interpretation of "Permanent Whitewater" and an explanation of a healthy lifestyle and mind-set.

"Permanent Whitewater: We live in a constant, churning, changing environment. In turbulent white water, every single person must have something inside them that guides their decisions. They must independently understand the purpose and guiding principles of the team or organization. If you try to mange them, they won't even hear you. The noise, the roar, the immediacy and urgency of all the dynamic challenges they face will simply be too great."... Stephen Covey, The 8th Habit (recently released: "Find your voice, and inspire others to find theirs.")

Jump on a river, a mountain, a wave, a trail, or just move. You might get "tumbled" and hopefully you will ... knocking off the rough edges, giving you a balance, and a nice shine! Bring that group of friends! Shine on! Rock on! Keep tumbling ...until the sand won't move anymore!

In the immortal words of Wolf (hanging in Belize right now): 'WHITEWATER!"