Saturday, May 31, 2008
OK, here's the rest of the blog-bound Sturgeon Pics. I'll put more up on the "my web Albums" link on the right if people want to download them. Otherwise, if you want a CD with all 600 on there, email me and I'll make sure you get one.
1) Bill K dropping in
2) Graeme in Chameleon
3) Evan running the waves
4) Brian J sending up a wave of his own
5) Evan catching Triple S full force
6) Tommy, Craig, myself, and Graeme on the Couch
7) Graeme and I chillin' on the couch
8) Craig throwing down a huge air blunt on Scary Wave
9) Tommy with the best seat in the house
10)Craig on Surfer's
11)Natalie catching Triple S
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Here's the first batch of Sturgeon pics. I'll have the rest posted this weekend. I also got one more video up on YouTube.
1) Tommy working on blunts
2) Me, about as happy as I can be
3) Me getting a back bounce off Surfer's
4) Craig showing how deep the Trough on Surfer's is
5) Mike J picking his line
6) Tandem surf - notice how much lower I am
7) Graeme in the foam pile
8) Craig looping Chameleon
9) Nora and Mike chasing waves
11)Nora staring into the jaws of Big Mouth
12)The headless cartwheeler rides again
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Graeme, Nora, and I headed North to Sturgeon Falls in Eastern Manitoba. Once there, we met up with Craig E. and Tommy. We ran into Natalie and Mike J the next day, then Bill, Brian J, and Marie came up that night. Sturgeon (and nearby Whitemud) is known for huge waves, deep water, and safe wash outs. These factors make it one of the best playboating spots in the world. The water was relatively low this weekend (about 40,000 cfs), so the features were not as big as they could be, but were still really fun.
At Sturgeon, Chameleon was 4-5' tall and playing more like a wave than a hole. Craige was able to hit some loops, Graeme nailed an entry loop, I managed a few cartwheel ends, and just about everybody got some spins and bounces on it. Surfers was bigger (approx 7'), with an extremely steep foam pile. Despite it's thrashy and intimidating appearance, I found it to be a very smooth and controlled surf. It instantly became my favorite feature there. Huge bounces, fast water, and you had the added bonus of surfing in a trough that was about 4' below the surrounding water. It was quite a trip to be surfing the wave and watch someone drop into Chameleon above you. It did give Graeme a slight trashing on one ride, but otherwise proved to be pretty harmless. There were two other good surf spots (Triple S and Learners) that provided some great surfs and spins. All in all it was a very fun level.
Whitemud was slightly bigger and much faster. The water flowing into the rapids was as fast as any I've seen and made for some challenging ferries. The couch was great - just over head high, fairly retentive, and very bouncy. I nailed my first true blunt there, but then got a bit to excited about it and got flipped immediately after. At one point we had Craige, Tommy, Graeme, and myself on it at the same time with room for more. Craige and Tommy also spent lots of time on Scary Wave hitting huge air blunts and bounces. Scary was somewhere in the 8-10' tall range and when it glassed up the boys were going huge. Fun to watch.
The weather was warm and Sunny on Friday and Saturday, then we got an inch of rain Sat night and things turned cool and cloudy. Thunderstorms Sunday afternoon/evening and cold temps convinced us to forgoe the leaky tents and rent Yurts that night. The Yurts were amazing - electricity, heat, 2 beds, a futon, and a table and chairs inside sitting on nice hardwood floors. Beat the heck out of standing around in the rain.
We also got some cool Wildlife encounters. We saw fox pups playing, lots of eagles, watched an otter fishing, drove right past a black bear, and lots of others. Good times.
I'll need a couple days to get the pics up. I loaded them onto my computer last night but haven't even started sorting them. I did manage to get a couple of videos up on YouTube, so hit the link on the right side of this page. I'll get more vids up in the next couple of days too.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Pabst-A-Palooza was an awesome time! Nora, Graeme, and I headed out to Pier's Gorge on the Menominee River to meet up with 20 or so other paddlers from WI, MI, IL, and IN. The water level was pretty sweet at about 2500cfs. There wasn't much play, but if you wanted Big, Fast, downriver fun, it was the place to be. Friday night included Paddling movies and socializing, Saturday had a boatercross downriver race and inflatable race followed by 2 live bands, and then Sunday Nora and I headed back, but Graeme joined some of the WI folks at Peminee (spelling?) Falls for some wave action.
The river was intimidating, but fun. Running Misicott Falls was like being on a roller coaster in a tornado - fast with huge rollers and spray all around you. Volkswagen was getting poured-over, but was reasonably easy to dodge. Chicken Ender was big and transitioned from wave to sticky hole. Nasty to play in, but you could punch it by running either hard river right or hard river left. First Sister was big and nasty. Those who didn't make the line on hard river right were punished heavily for their mistake. Second sister was big and dynamic, but not retentive. Terminal Surfer lived up to its name, recycling paddlers and boats alike.
The events were loads of fun. There were two different boatercross heats: The beginner/intermediate class and the expert class. The b/i class started in the pool below the falls and ran the rest of Piers Gorge down to Terminal Surfer. 3 of the 5 people in that race flipped and swam before Chicken Ender. The 4th swam in 1st Sister, and only one made it to the finish. It was great fun for those of us watching, but I'm sure the people that had to swim a big, meaty rapid would have a different opinion.
The Expert Class started above the falls and ran all the way down. There were many flips, but no swimmers. This is doubly impressive because one guy missed the tongue on the falls and wound up in surf-for-your-life kind of situation, but made it out eventually. I think Craig E. won it.
The inflatable race was probably the best part of the day. The only rules were that 1) your team didn't finish until all members reunited with your craft below Terminal (notice below terminal, not just in it) and 2) no boats allowed. There were blow up dolls, kiddy pools, air mattresses, and more going down. Nora, Graeme, and I crammed onto her air matress and headed down expecting a long and painful swim once we hit the big waves. As it turned out, our airmattress made quite the vehicle, somehow finding all the right lines through the river and keeping us (mostly) onboard. In the final stretch we were in 3rd place, but the team in front of us couldn't avoid Terminal Surfer and wound up in there recirculating for a couple of minutes. That gave us the chance to sneak by and take 2nd. Great time.
There were loads of people with both still and video cameras, so stay tuned because some of it's gonna be really funny. Huge thanks to Chevy and Andi for taking pics during the Expert race and the Inflatable race. Nora also has some great ones on her blog, so check those out.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Wow, that was fun! There were a whole bunch of us that met up at the Kettle yesterday. Though it was cool, overcast, and became rainy, I don't think I've ever had a better day on the river. The level was about 1800 cfs (3.4 feet bridge gauge) and just about every feature on the river was awesome. We had big waves in Blueberry, great hole action at Teacher's pet, and 4' wave trains through Mother's, Dragon's tooth, and Hell's gate.
To make it even better, I think just about everyone hit some sort of milestone today. Aaron and Caleb were really putting Teacher's Pet through it's paces, surfing, spinning, and nearly making their cartwheels. Props to both of them for throwing it down like that. Kim, who was making his second descent of the Kettle ever, not only rocked in the big water, but proved that he actually has a scuba tank tucked somewhere beneath his PFD. He definitely gets the award for absolutely refusing to swim. It was cool to watch him fight it out and come out rightside up! Nora was looking great in the big water and came through the whole day without even getting flipped. Nate had some sweet flatwater moves and laid down some sweet video commentary - can't wait to see it. Bill was rockin in the Flip-stick; surfing up everything and working on flatwater ends.
As for me, I had what was quite possibly my best paddling yet. Everything was just working. I hit a couple ends in Teacher's, managed my first successful wavewheels, and managed to get locked into an inadvertant bow stall that went on all the way through the lower portion of Hell's gate.
Between the water level, the amazing luck I was having on the water, and the awesome company I was with, I really can't think of a better day on the river. Can't wait to get out again.
These pics are all from warm up wave and Blueberry, but Nora's got some great ones on her blog from further down so check 'em out!