Saturday, May 31, 2008

Catching up...

Since nearly a month has past since the actual events of my last post I am going to make an effort to catch up with things and post a whole bunch of pictures to tell the story…A brief run down of how things have gone though:

  • Hurt my shoulder a bit on the Cal Salmon, so boating for me has been day-on day-off style.
  • Left the Cal Salmon for the South Branch of Middle Fork of the Feather AKA “South Branch”
  • Fired off Big Kimshew creek
  • West Branch of the Feather
  • Break and back up to Corvallis for a week
  • Back down to Cali only to get skunked by flows and weather for a while
  • EF Kaweah
  • 3 day Royal Gorge

And here are the pictures

Gear Explosion

South Branch Put in with at the best flows we got it at

Jono's O-Face

The Run starts off with some boulder gardens, hits one bedrock rapid and then goes into this manditory mini-gorge and then falls off the face of the planet.

Do you see the planet? Do you see it falling?

Chris K Thinking: "Do you see this? Do you see what i am doing here"

And then we boofed

And Boofed

And boofed more

And then we fell

And we fell more

And then it goes too steep and we portaged. This was one of the cooler seal launches you could serve up. The falls would occasionally explode and envelope you (see picture) and you dropped into a tiny little eddie next to a curtain that was falling 120+ ft, and then you ferried in front of it and just down stream was the 50 footer.

View from my boat at the top of the portage

Boat fixing by the campfire on the island below the 50 footer and just above the three stacked 200 footers. This campspot was incredible.

We met some locals at a take-out at 11 in the morning and they were getting deep into it with their Budweisers, they loved us so much they gave us beer and invited us to their BBQ later that day with the promise of "hot bitches, beer and meat". I mean honestly, itd be rude to say no to an offer like that!

Paul's a roofer, work ends at 10:30am when the roof gets too hot to walk on, paul needs a beer, paul had 6.

The local dinner crew!

So ya, thats the South Branch more or less, we did a few laps of here, Jono Chris and the Knight brothers ran the lower section and i stayed dry trying to heal the shoulder.
We moved on to the Kimshew next which i will post about in a bit.

Cali Boating

From Vegas we headed 8 hours north on a brutal drive towards Reno. We took the scenic route through Death Valley and then up the eastern side of the Sierra's. We departed with Kate in Reno and she took off to LA and eventually onto NYC while the rest of us headed towards Sacramento to meet up with Chris Korbulic who had driven my truck down from Oregon to start the summer road trip in California...and so it began.
With Jono still in tow since work wasn't too eager to have him back yet, the three of us headed north to the Cal Salmon for a river festival over the weekend.

Home for the next 6 months

This little guy came to investigate

We started off with a bit of creeking warm up on the South Fork of the Salmon. What a change from Oregon - notice the shadow under the boat - Finally the sun was out!

We moved onto the Cal Salmon Proper to watch the "down river race". More people watched than competed but it was still good fun!

The rafters provided a good majority of the entertainment.

And carnage was definitely to be had! As well as plumbers cracks.

The trio styling the drops of the salmon...

We spent 4 or 5 days in the area and did some mtn biking and some 1st D scouting and Korbulic did some waterfall running and we checked out some low water mank creeking and then we were done with northern Cal and it was time to hit up the Sierras so off to th feather drainage we went.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Unload the loot

We left the beach of dreams and headed into Vegas for some more dreaming...eer drinking and eating. There were plenty of sights to see and things to be done so we got right down to business and found a hotel room at The Stratosphere for $8 a person and immediately indulged ourselves with some pool side G-n-T's. We got our party shirts sorted, found some grub and made our down the strip...

Strip For Liquor? Ohhhh there's no "For" in that sign...hmm, we're getting it all wrong then - but it felt so right.


Watch our Vegas, the party shirts have arrived.

We left Stratosphere in search for a cheap all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. As it turned out if you become a Saraha VIP club member then the buffet if half off. And what does it take to become a member of this elite group? 1 valid drivers license - simple as that. And then we ate.

And we at a lot...infact, we ate so much that...

Shaun almost spewed

Jacqui and I got pregnant

Kate sacrificed herself to the food gods

And Jono fell asleep

So with full belly's and waning intoxication we hit the streets to see what the strip had to offer us...

Lots of lights

Even the Golden Arches got into things

Stripping for burgers

Sin City trying its hand at Green Design. They claim that Crapless Craps will save water and toilet paper - I'm skeptical.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beach of Dreams

Some days you're lucky, some days you're really lucky.
The scene was set:
1 bottle of Gin
1 bottle of Tonic
5000 feet of hiking out of the grand canyon already accomplished that morning
5 very dehydrated hikers
1 very nice beach on the side of lake Mead
1 beautiful sunset...

Sounds amazing doesn't it. You really couldn't ask for anything better, but just then, almost like we were watching an infomercial for the Ronco Food Dehydrator and they had just offered to throw in an extra set of steak knives for free and cut the price from 4 easy installments of $29.95 to 3 easy installments luck struck again. You see we weren't alone at this beach, we were in fact sharing it with 2 other girls dressed in very small bikini's and one other dude who was hanging with the girls...our jaws dropped when one of the girls - the one in the itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini walked over to us and invited us to come over to their truck and drink their beer out of their beer bong . You'd have to stupid to say no to an offer like this, we weren't stupid.
All's well that ends well - we drank multiple beers each, enjoyed our own concoctions of gin and tonic, had a massive pork-chop feed and went to bed happy and stuffed - Happy Days for sure.

Hows the serenity

Enjoying the sunset pre-Beer Bong

Early morning lite at the Kiwi Catcher Campsite

Finally dropping into the Canyon

After 2 days of moseying around the rim, it was time to make some footprints below the canyon. The rim of the canyon is a pretty amazing place with the amount of signs, warnings and pictures all offering advice about what not to do: Do not attempt to hike to the river and back in one day, do not feed the animals, do not hike on a hangover, do not drink alcohol while hiking, hike only at a pace where you can still talk comfortably and so on and so on…They even listed all of these things for us and upon inspection we were amazed to find we had already accomplished a good number of these “don’t do” feats. Well done Team Extreme. Needless to say it was amusing to people watch and see the various types making an attempt at “hiking the grand canyon”. It seemed as though all who read the warning signs were already prepared and well educated, yet those who walked by without notice to them were the ones who would benefit from their advice the most.

If the sun doesn't blind you, shaun's nipple may.

These guys packed in an out a lot of asses, and i dont mean the 4 footed kind

Down Down we go. Walking some ridge half way to the river.

All the cacti were in bloom

The hike down was easy enough and we were soon at our campsite in 95 degree weather and ready to take a dip in the Colorado. Nice cold water, a nice sandy beach and a hot sun – hard to beat that. We even hiked in a bottle of Jaeger to celebrate finally making it down to the bottom. We spent 2 nights at Phantom ranch with our layover day being spent exploring the Phantom Creek side canyon, and a good day it was. We scrambled, hiked and swam our way upstream through the narrow deep canyon. We spent an hour trying to get past one bit which narrowed to 8 feet or so and contained a serious of ledge drops. Eventually we persuaded the ladies to follow us through the drops and we managed (through the use of some human chains) to get up and past the obstacle. In the interest of keeping our backpack dry, Shaun had one of the most amazing feats of athletic brilliance I have yet to see. A 5 foot sloping drop fed into a deep narrow pool with fast water in it. Shaun stood perched on river right on the slope with feet planted in the fast current. I walked the pack up the pool and managed to find an underwater shelf to keep my head above water and held on with one hand while I tossed the pack to Jono who was on the river left just opposite shaun (both of which were holding on with only one hand as well) the bag swung its way over to shaun who then lost his footing and began the nail biting fall into the pool below. Like a true Gary shaun accepted his fate, went with gravities persuasion and sailed over the drop and into the deep water below – the brilliant moment came with the hand off of the bag – as shaun passed me mid air he managed to pass/toss the bag in my general direction and saved the day by keeping the bag dry. Shaun was not as lucky, he was instantly eaten by the man eating creek and we never saw him again – we named it“Shauns Canyon”. What a Gary.

Well actually he just swam to shore and then swam back up the drop again and with a second more organized attempt we were all above the drop with a dry bag. Well done team.

Mid-day swim on Phantom Creek.

Shaun sacrificing himself for the team

Wiiiiiicked fun

We spent that following night at a “Critters of the night” presentation and learned all about scorpions and skunks and snakes and other critters that come out at night in the GC. At the end of the presentation, the women brought a small blacklight with her which causes the exoskeleton of scorpions to glow fluorescent green. We gathered around her just a foot off the track as she searched for one of the buggers…4 seconds after she turned the light on she found one, another 4 seconds later she found the 2nd, this continued on for about 2 minutes and we soon realized we were more or less surrounded by scorpions – it made for a bit of a restless night as the 5 of us lay on our tarp trying to sleep, waiting for a scorpion to crawl into out bag looking for some warmth.

Shaun scaring away the scorpions amongst other things.

We rallied early the next morning and were on the track by 6:15am in an attempt to reach the top before the noon-day sun cooked us. 5 hours of hiking and 5000 vertical feet later and we were celebrating at the top with Popsicles.

Up at the crack of Goon on our way out of the canyon