Friday, June 22, 2007


Since I won't be doing much paddling until after the bar, I figured I'd have to go through the archives to find some cool blog stuff. I remembered that I have a bunch of little clips from kayaking trips, so I decided to open a youtube account. Over the next week or so I'll be posting a whole bunch of cool stuff. For now, I've got footage of me, Nate and Dennis running Big Smokey falls. I've got lots more footage of other people doing other things that I'll post in the next few days. Check it out at:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lake Superior Scuba

On Sunday Zach, Sam, Adam, Jason and I all went up to the North Shore to dive the shipwreck Madeira. The madeira was an old or freighter that went down after crashing into the cliff below split-rock lighthouse (thus inspiring the state to install the lighthouse). The wreck is now in two sections. The bow is standing in 40-50 feet of water pointing vertically toward the surface. It sits right at the base of the slope of boulders that have tumbled off the cliff. 110' farther offshore sits the wheelhouse and part of the midsection of the ship. This section of the wreck starts in 60' of water and slopes down to nearly 100'. The dive would be simple, except that the water temp is in the 30's and you have to snorkel about 100 yards from shore to get there.

On our first dive, we split into two groups. Zach and I went to the bow while Sam, Adam, and Jason went for the Wheelhouse. Zach and I had a good dive, making a complete circle around the bow and checking it out thoroughly. When we had finished poking around, we headed back towards the beach. We were slowly rising with the bottom contours when my BC decided to malfunction and wouldn't release any air. As a result, I found myself floating towards the surface against my will. I wound up making a semi-bouyant ascent but nothing bad came from it.

Meanwhile, the other guys were fighting their own bad luck out on the other section. First, Adam had problems equalizing his ears and didn't get past 30'. Then, Sam's regulator froze and began to free flow shortly after he made it to the wreck. Jason was still on his way down and surfaced with Sam.

We made a second attempt to see the wreck, but between underwater navigation issues and another free flow, it wasn't much more successful than the first. Zach and I logged about 25 minutes of bottom time from the day, Sam and Jason logged a whopping 16 minutes, and Adam was somewhere in between.

In short, the day was fun and interesting, but luck was definitely not on our side. I guess the Madeira just wasn't in the mood for visitors that day.

Big thanks to Zach for the pics, especially since my camera met a wet and untimely demise.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lovin' the Lower....

Yesterday Dennis, Dan, Aaron, Arthur, Andy, Swails, Dave, and Myself all ran the lower St. Louis. For most of us it was either the first time on that section or the first time to run the whole thing. We made a fast trip through the tongue, the 210 bridge, the ledges, Twisted Sister, and second Sister all without stopping to scout. All went well, with a bit of a heart stopper when Dan flipped upon entering Twisted Sister and ran it upside down. Much to everyone's relief, however, he rolled up in the eddy afterward not too much worse for the experience. To his credit, he just shook it off and continued downstream. We did get out at Octopus, which was looking even more gnarly than the last time I saw it. Swails and Andy both ran the beak twice and both spent their share of time upside down in it on each run. Swails took the cake, however, by getting the bow of his creek boat sucked down into a perfect ender, then doing a 1/4 rotation before flopping over forwards. I think Arthur got it on video, and it would be really cool to watch.

The Lower 1/2 of Octopus also had its share of drama with Dan getting hung up on the Rock above the last pitch, getting flipped, going over the slide upside down, rolling up and getting stuck in the hole at the bottom. While he was alternating between fighting to get out and rolling back up from repeated flips, Aaron came down (unaware that Dan was still in the hole), flipped in the same spot Dan did, ran the slide upside down, somehow managed to miss Dan being recirculated in the hole, and made it into the eddy where he was able to roll up. After a couple minutes in the hole, Dan made it out and we were on our way again.

The Swinging Bridge Drop was my favorite of the day. It starts with a 25' long, three foot wide chute that the river gets channeled into. It's a steep, splashy ride that's too narrow to use your paddle in. It was crazy fun to go through and spits you out into a hanging pool. To get out of the pool we took a seven foot high "slide" into a narrow eddy. The only problem was that at this level, the "slide" was a vertical falls with a sticky seam at the bottom. I didn't know this, so I went over the horizon line quite leisurely, only to go perfectly vertical into the seam, pop right back out the way I came, and wound up in a side surf with the bottom of my boat on the curtain of the falls. I was able to get out before anyone else came over the falls, but it was a nervous moment. I think Arthur also got that on video, and I'd give anything to see the look on my face.

We all made it over Snakebite without issue and took out at the swinging bridge. Andy, Swails, and Arthur went on to Finn Falls, but the rest of us called it a day. It was a really fun trip and I'm glad to say that I've finally run the lower louey!

The only problem was that I didn't get any pictures from the trip. The pics I have posted here I stole from Nora's blog from a trip she made a couple days prior, or from other places on the web. The paddlers are different, but the rapids are the same.