Sunday, October 12, 2008
Fall Kettle Day
Nate G, Bryan and Sarah K, and I headed up to the Kettle river to take advantage of the recent rains and fall colors. We were greeted with warm weather, warm winds, and banks lined with gold and red leaves that would rain down whenever the wind blew. The level was around 3', which is high enough to be fun, but not high enough to give us anything to worry about.
For Nate, it was a return to paddling after a summer filled with work, training for the Twin Cities Marathon (way to go!), and loads of other activities.
For Bryan and Sara, it was their first time on the Kettle since just after Canoe U, and their first time seeing it at anything other than scrapey low water.
The Kettle is one of my favorite midwest rivers, largely because it's so different at every level. Today was great play at Blueberry (the wave/hole in the middle of the rapid was just like a 15' wide version of Donut), followed by some good-sized wave trains in each of the lower rapids. I was able to hit a nice wave-wheel in the wave train below Dragon's tooth, and we got some cartwheel practice in at the nearly-washed out Last Chance Ledge. Everyone also got to practice their stern squirts at the rock outcroppings between the Tooth and Hell's Gate.
Sara Had a big day, getting her first taste of bigger water and hitting 12' Wolf Creek Falls! She ran it twice, with a perfect landing on the second one. She used my boat for the drop, so don't let the green color fool you.
Bryan K had an awesome day as well. He was snapping up combat rolls with confidence and leading the group run-and-gun style down some of the rapids. He also made two good runs on the Falls and had some surfs on the glassy wave at Blueberry.
I had a good day surfing blueberry and playing in the wave trains, but my cockiness got the better of me at Wolf Creek. I have run the drop many times and have never had an issue (except coming up in the middle of a tree once). This spring I decided to run it backwards, and it went great with a soft and smooth landing. Tried the same trick today, but with very different results. I went over the falls and hit the pool pretty vertical. I felt the impact of hitting the water, but in the commotion of landing didn't notice anything too strange. I bobbed up vertically and the boat flipped upside down. I rolled up and heard Nate saying how I'd Piton'd and what a loud noise it made. I disputed that, saying that the noise must have been the boat hitting the water. Later I looked at my boat and saw that the back left corner was bent upwards about 15 degrees from what it should be. No cracks, no creases, just a slightly different shape than it was before. I guess Nate was right about the Piton. The good news is that it basically just gives me more stern rocker on that side, so left-handed spins should be even easier now!
Bent boat aside, it was a great day with surprisingly great weather. Hopefully we'll have a few more before Old Man Winter takes hold. Thanks to everybody for taking the pics, and especially to Nate for sending me the ones from his camera so quickly.