Friday, August 31, 2007

South Dakota

Kim and I took a 4-day trip out to South Dakota this week. We spent two nights camping in the black hills, but caught hotel rooms on the driving days. It was really nice to get out camping. We managed to do just about everything there is to do in the area including: Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Hot Springs, The Badlands, Wall Drug, Deadwood, Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake, the Needles, and more. We were busy, but everything was beautiful and the crowds were gone (apparantly we're already past the tourist season there). We really had a good time, and we've got tons of pictures. Highly recommend the trip to anyone. Also, I realized that the ranches of the Western half of the state would be about the best snow kite fields you could find. My mind is already trying to work out a trip this winter... Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Verm Again

Dennis, Paul B, and I headed down to catch what was left of the Verm flow. The water level was only in the 70-80 cfs range (about 1/2 of Monday's level), but was still fun. Triple was in and fun, Railroad had the spin-o-matic groove on surfer's right, and Donut was a real lively and fun time that was perfect for hand surfing. Couple noteworthy events: First, Dennis and I completed the first (to out knowledge) tandem spin in Donut - we were party surfing the wave, linked boats, and got spun around like that; Second, I had a beaver dive out of the grass after fisherman's and swim directly under my boat. On a less cool note, there is now a man's wedding band somewhere in the rocks immediately upstream from the takeout and on the river right side. Nate had taken a friend down the river shortly before Dennis, Paul, and I arrived. Apparently his friend did well, but flipped right before the takeout and lost his ring while fighting to get upright again. If you see a shiny band in the water, grab it and let Nate G know!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hooray for Rain!

Aaah, the upside to a wet and dreary weekend... In addition to relieving all of the drought-related problems, the recent rains finally brought the Verm back to life! It was a great time down there today, with the level just over 200 cfs and around 20 local paddlers making it down for a run. The level was perfect for playboating and it was really great to get to see everybody again. I paddled until my arms gave out, then grabbed the camera for about 10 minutes at Donut Hole. Really great time. Check Nora's blog for more pics.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kite & Kayak

I finally got to take out some of my favorite toys this weekend. On Friday I drove down to Lake Pepin to take out my big kite and see what water kiting is like. Nora was kind enough to show me a perfect kiting spot, as well as to stand in waste deep water (and a mushy clay bottom) for an hour helping me try to get the kite airborne. As usual, the wind was perfect when we were setting up the kite, but then shifted and died once we were ready to go. We did get the kite up a few times and got some practice with body drags, but it was never steady enough to actually get on the board. Next time. Huge thanks to Nora for showing me the spot, helping with the kite, and taking the pictures.

Saturday Graeme and I drove out to Jim Falls for some kayaking. The city of Jim Falls, WI has several recreational water releases for whitewater paddlers each year. The water was mostly class II with one tougher drop, but no play. It was great to get on the water though, and it's always fun kayaking with Graeme.

Sunday was my first time this year out at Wausau, and it was worth the wait. The whitewater course was redone this year to make it both more playable and more friendly. Hats off to the designers because every feature on the river is now a fun spot. Not only are the features better, but because there's more of them the crowds are more spread out. It's great! Despite a very rusty morning, I had a great time in the afternoon hitting a few cartwheels and a loop. Bill, Bob, and Brian J all drove out for the afternoon and it was great to see them again. The only problem is that it seems like those guys have been improving all summer and I've been regressing. Still, it was fun watching Bill hit his loop and Brian trying loops and wheels. Those guys are really ripping it up this year. Definitely good times.