Wednesday, August 29, 2012


BURNING MAN part 3 was written a few years back when Big Poppah and Maggie hit the playa for this California Whitewater Rafting blog.

The American Dream was the theme of Burning Man the "BMC" held on the Playa of the Black Rock Desert in Northeast Nevada. I went with Maggie and we stayed for four days out of the six (we had to go to work!). As the theme of "the American Dream" was imprinted though the layout of clock-wise (there is no "counter" at BMC) by naming those avenues after Iconic American Cars: Corvair, Falcon, Dart, Corvette, and even Hummer. Additionally, this year's costumes mirrored the theme with scatterings of flags and a plethora of red, white, and blue cloth, skin, and lights.

The American Dream is essentially the realization that you "have everything": cars, clothes, houses, food, entertainment, friends, family, etc. The Playa provided that: no one went hungry, art cars were everywhere, music never stopped, there was plenty of housing, people were surrounded by friends and family (real, constructed, and evolved), and entertainment was always with eyesight and arm's reach. The American Dream came to fruition on the inhospitable soil of the Black Rock Desert. Everyone was from somewhere and the indigenous people provided the venue (through the BLM). The gates of the BMC were our Ellis Island and the Playa succumbed to the Manifest Destiny of those who had conspired to stage this American Dream. The citizen's of the world were present with representatives from most continents (Antarctica didn't have a contingent; however, the others did!). So the World was represented by folks from England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Russia, The Ukraine, Israel, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Fiji, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, and even Oklahoma! Many others were there as well…we just met folks from these Countries.

Our founding "fathers"…yes, the old, dead, white men who allegedly "constructed" our constitution and Declaration of Independence (based upon their readings and interpretations of Locke, Hume, Payne, and others that they plagiarized freely) would have thrived: B. Franklin by creating electrical madness and Art Cars, T. Jefferson would have raged the Deep End and Domes while hooking-up the hotties, and G. Washington would have piloted the largest of land-yachts across the Playa day and night. The rest of their posse would have created a killer theme camp (colonial columns, wheeled ships, exploding muskets made of L-wire, and rivers of rum). All in all, they would have approved.

Not a bad "Dream". No one went hungry, thirsty, un-sheltered, optionally clothed, and un-transported (in the real and imagined senses). The American Dream lives through our excess, excesses, and Burning Man '08 was just that: a celebration of our collective and global excesses rammed at hyper-speed through all of the available senses.
Big Poppah Jah

Big Poppah wrote this Burning Man story while on the playa a couple of years ago. He and Maggie hung out with several of the other whitewater friends there for a few days enjoying the art, music and social escapades while squinting through the gusts of wind, dirt and sun. A good time was had by all!

This year's Burning Man art theme is Fertility 2.0

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Troublemaker Rapid 2012

Google groups has an interesting setting for paddlers, and Big Poppah saw this post that he wanted to share with everyone who paddles the very popular South Fork American River in Lotus Coloma Valley. Caution! Everyone!


***Please Read Kayakers***

This last Saturday, I was running troublemaker rapid in my playboat.  I decided to take the beginner line, which is to clip the very left edge of the hole and then paddle left of gunsight rock.  I have done this line over 20+ times and hit the hole in the same spot.  It seems that there is a new rock directly after this that will either flip you or put you on enough edge to shift your boat into the downslope that leads into the peanut gallery.  I did not flip but had to switch edges quickly, which lead into an instant loss of momentum and my stern slipping down.  I paddled as hard as possible to make it back left of the "guardian rock"  which is the left rock of gunsight.  I made it to the very top of the guardian rock but the current was so strong that I could not pull my weight up and over the tip.  In turn I slid backwards down the rock and into the peanut gallery.  I luckily pushed my weight forward and slid down flat, after a few more hits, I flipped over.  I tucked immediately and started going through the peanut gallery until my helmet hit a rock and my body was pressed up against the rock as well.  I knew to get my knees out immediately and to pull skirt but the water coming off the pillow pressed my boat against me.  When I realized that I was pinned, I remained calm and started to kick and push the boat off of me.  After a few tries, the boat released and I was able to swim out.  Besides a good crack in the helmet, a few solid bruises and a sore neck- it all luckily worked out.  For those that do not know me, this was not a simple push of the boat.  This was an intense push/kick from a well conditioned, strong boater who paddles over 250 days a year.

After I came back from running film on the gorge that night, I looked at pictures of myself and others going through troublemaker with the same line.  Most people flipped, the others had the same "edging" issues but in a larger boat were able to pull it off.  There were many swims that followed.  I watched an ugly swim 2 weeks ago and know of another well conditioned, strong, class 4/5 boater who swam as well.

Please take caution when running this line- clip the hole another boat width right, eddy out and ferry across or be ready for the rock.  I do know this river extremely well as I have worked on this river for 11+ years and have kayaked it at almost every flow.  This rock was not there early July when I did the exact same line, multiple times- I have very specific markers and line ups as I count on my line as a safety boater and instructor.

If you have any further questions or info- please let me know.  In the meantime, please be safe and aware.  Please pass this along to any other boaters, outfitters or instructors.
Thank you, 
Julie Mitravitch

Thanks much to paddler, Julie Mitravitch and Google groups for allowing us to share the group's paddling information to everyone!
Coloma Lotus News at Google Groups

This blog belongs to California Whitewater Rafting W.E.T. River Trips blog.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Writing, again

Phone is ringing. Again. And, the rings are blurring into a musical cacophony of tunes echoing a distant song. Turn your computer down, please. The sounds are confusing and filling my head with a noise that is distracting for my work. I am writing again.

I've always written. I love words. The sounds of the words and the rhythm of their music have always filled me with a joy that is hard to describe unless you have a soulful presence in perhaps, art? All who write know what I mean. I dream and then I write.

Just me
Why have I not written in so many months? What has stopped me? Blogs are quick and dirty writing. Perhaps the pressure of this whitewater business and the job it unfolds was too daunting for the artful words to flow. I don't know why a writer stops writing, or why we write at all. Something compels us to write the words from our head and heart. Something mysterious and profoundly unjust at times. Forcing me to write is like having a chef cook with spoiled ingredients and tainted meat. The end result is always bad, no matter how finely tuned the knife is executed or how creative the chef. Bad is bad, always.

The minutea of every part of my life comes in clear focus. I haven't felt like writing for a long time. And, every time the urge starts, I wonder why, but then I write... and write... about nothing. Just thoughts that drift aimlessly in my mind producing words on the screen forever more in the digital expanse.

I look outside my window this morning to a clear blue sky. The cool breeze drifts in making the curtain shimmer with the same rhythm of the music of words that I type. Life is very good. Perhaps, I will sit here all day just writing.

~ EL aka RJ
This blog belongs to California Whitewater Rafting W.E.T. River Trips blog and all the contents and images and my heart, too.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Magnificent Wolffe

"Geezus Christ!, " he screamed as he poured over the whitewater photos online this morning.

"I'm going to kill him... I swear to god, I'm going to kill him."

I went back into my thoughts while wondering why Big Poppah was yelling. What made him so mad? I kept working as I could feel and hear something in the background of this morning's river drama. Sigh... back to work.

First day of August and the living ain't easy. Discounting and dealing with the public has worn us all out. The reservation staff is waning as many of us get ready to go back to school. Whitewater trips are happening everywhere in the west from California to Arizona and also, West Virginia and all the way over to Pennsylvania. Whitewater outfitters provide dreams. A solitary river dream that flows inside all of our heads. We dream of rafting and kayaking. It's in our blood. Our life source flows on this planet much like it does in our bodies... the river of life.

Ok. It's hokey, I know that... but what made Big Poppah so mad?

I got up from my chair and walked into the other room. Peering over Big Poppah's shoulder, I could see the photos of yesterday's Middle Fork American river trip in front of me. Big Poppah was hunched over the computer and typing furiously. Tap tap tap clicky tap tap tap... like tiny soldiers marching on the hardened ground.

I saw Wolffe jumping from the cliff into the bottom of Tunnel Chute rapid. OMG! What was he doing? At least, no one else was in that gear raft in the ugly maw of Tunnel Chute.

Wolffe is a senior headguide for W.E.T. River Trips. He was manuevering the fully-loaded gear raft on the river that day with a large group on our 2-day wilderness trip. Why did he do that? What was he thinking?

Big Poppah was yelling and talking about company liability and why was Wolffe doing that and what was he thinking and how do we get it through his head that he can not do that? I listened to him ranting about Wolffe for quite a bit as I stood there nodding. My thoughts were drifting as Big Poppah's words were just a lacey decoration of a million times I had heard this similar rant about another guide, another river, another place in time.

This company is old. Really old. And what we do now is just survive the vagaries of life and all the bullshit that comes with it. WET has survived drought, economic downfall, guide revolts, back stabbing within our own industry, and sometimes even our friends!

August is coming up next... and then finally September. I am counting the days when the phone is quiet and the trips are only good memories on someone's facebook page...

The river. What more is there to say?

RESOURCES for Whitewater Photos:
Sierra Nevada Photos: 530.295.1873
Hotshot Imaging:

This blog was written by staff member EL who has been writing here since forever.
California Whitewater Rafting W.E.T. River Trips blog is the oldest freakin' rafting blog in the world!