With fall approaching and the days growing shorter, I know the trips to river will soon be replaced with trips to the slopes. Reflecting back on the season of '04, it was another great season as I share some of the highlights. We had a warm spring up here in the NW which brought our snow down early and got us off to a quick start. Early on in the season, Bryan Urakawa, showed me a first descent he had been scoping out. My excitement for this run became apparent as I would not leave Bryan alone with daily emails. Eventually, we gathered a crew to attempt Eagle Creek. Due to the steepness and continuousness of the run, we were forced to scout long stretches at a time. This resulted in more scouting that kayaking. Nevertheless we descended a little more than the upper 1/2 mile before deciding to hike out and return for a 2nd attempt. Unfortunately word got out, and another team led by Tao came in and poached the next couple miles. On a positive note, the last mile still remains...
The next big mission was to Wyoming (again with Bryan) to meet Todd Gillman for some hopeful first descents. For the most part we were shut out due to hot weather and flooding rivers. I managed to bag one first descent of a waterfall on the The Upper Cascades of the Middle Popo Agie River. After that we scouted out many potential missions for the future.
On the way home, we hit the N. Fork of the Payette River @ 4000 cfs. Thrilling to say the least. We followed Ryan Casey, Conrad and Simon down the run as we completed the 15 miles in under 2 1/2 hours.
Over the 4th of July weekend, Bryan Smith, Andrew Oberhardt, Erik Schertzl and I set our sights on the Grand Canyon of the Elwha. The Elwha presents a very deep gorge with several unportageable drops, and one unscoutable, unportageable drop (with a big douglas fir visible from the eddy). The other major obstacle of the Grand Canyon is the 8.5 mile hike in. This can be made more difficult by taking a wrong turn if you feel like going for seeing some extra scenery. After camping half way up the trail, we woke, up finished the hike and were quickly rewarded with one of the most beautiful canyons I have ever passed through. The rapids are spread out enough that you can really take in this most beautiful place. The floods of Fall '03 cleaned most of the canyon out (of wood), and even placed a log jam about 40 feet above the water that provided a glimpse into the unscoutable drop. The Grand Canyon went smoothly, and after hiking around an enormous log jam at the top of Rica canyon we all survived Goblin's and quickly found ourselves at the lake. A few more steps up the hillside, a rejected hitch from the stereotypical american and eventually we found our shuttle.
The next big mission was up to BC (British Columbia) for Skookum Creek. I heard about this creek shortly after I moved to the NW, and its been on my list ever since. Skookum features a 60 foot waterfall at the end of the run. While normally this wouldn't attract me, this waterfall has some training wheels--the first forty feet are vertical and the last twenty feet are an 88 degree slide. Its just enough to set up your angle of entry. A twenty footer at the put-in, thrity-five footer in the middle and a few blind box gorges make this one pumping the whole way down!
After recieving the news that I would not be admitted to law school this fall, I made the decision to produce a kayak video, so it was off to the OR show. On the way I met up with Johnny "Utah" in Idaho. After realizing the flows on the Main Salmon were off, it was back to the N. Payette. Our goal quickly became the Vertical Mile. One mile of gradient can be achieved by running the North Fork three times (plus an additional lower three at the end). Thats 51 miles of class V. After a 7 am start, biscuts and gravy after lap 1, bubba burger and fries after lap 2, and a short chill session we finished at 7:30 pm. More boating than I have ever done in one day...AWESOME!
The latest highlight for the season was running Tatlow Creek, towards the end of August. For all of you boaters who don't know, BC has amazing whitewater in August and September!! Tatlow was first descended only days before our descent. This creek is amazingly steep and beautiful with several big, clean drops. You will most definately be seeing this one in videos to come. So come on up and run it with me before it gets spoiled.
Some more eye candy:
Bryan's Sea Kayaking Carn @ Skooks
The Callahan and The Ryan (British Columbia)
Tumwater @ 8000
Not bad for a 30 year old, eh? Can't wait for year number 31....right around the corner!