Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bear Creek High Water Fun

"So, how's  she lookin?" I ask Matt as he walks back up from the creek's bank. He chuckles, and replies, "Well, it's not low. That's for sure." 

Not low. Huh. Now there's an understatement. 

We gear up in the parking lot, attach our boat backpack systems, and begin the trek upstream. After hiking for around a mile, we reach Brave Bear Falls, the culmination of the run, and the take-out point. Looking into the meat of the slide, a normally prominent rock is now fully underwater and invisible in the massive pillow forming upstream. My sphincter tightens. Matt and Zach laugh nervously. Yup. It's not low. 

Unabashed, we continue upstream, scouting the major drops as we go. The "Tijuana Crack Whore" looks spicy, with a nice juicy lead-in. The nice thing about this flow is that the crack that runs down the middle of the slide, notorious for smashing elbows, is now covered. Around the corner, we take a peek at the Money Slide, Log Drop, and Airplane Turn. It all looks good to go, minus most of the usual eddies. 

We finally make it to the put-in slide, the Big EZ, and peer downstream. We all seem to take our time at the put-in, and after a few minutes longer than usual, we are ready to rally. 

The paddle down was awesome. After all the anticipation, it was nice to be on the water and let instinct take control. The Big EZ flew by in a flurry of splashes and giggles, followed immediately by the Jedi mank of the Swiss Chute. We managed to catch a small eddy before dropping into the Airplane Turn, and launching a sweet boof in the center of the creek. Below this was some fun to be had at Log Drop, and then the Crack. 

The Tijuana Crack Whore, or TCW, is a tricky slide with a boulder garden lead-in to the main drop. The idea is to run the slide straight, either forward, or equally as common, backward. At this point in the season, I am 4 for 5 on keeping it straight, but on this day, I ran about half the drop stern first. 

After catching the eddy below TCW, we all decided to call it a day there. To go beyond this point, with this much water would necessitate running Hotel California, a slide into a massive hole. You can check in, but you can never leave. If you do make it through the hole, then you are pretty much committed to running Brave Bear, which looked heinous. We decided to play it safe, and save the lower section for a day with less water.

Two days later, I returned with Zach, as well as a few others, and ran the same section at even higher flows. Definitely sporty, to say the least. 

Enjoy some of the photos Rosalynn took!

Brave Bear Falls, the top third.

Matt and Martin coming through the bottom of Airplane Turn.

Money slide. TCW is right around the corner from here.

Martin about to go backwards through the bottom hole. Good times...

Zach Campbell making it look easy in the Crack Whore.

Log Drop. Best to watch your dome at this flow.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bear Creek, Bitterroot Range Montana

This past weekend we made a trip up to Bear Creek in the Bitterroot Valley. A warm spring day coupled with fantastic whitewater and good company made for an awesome trip down this Western Montana classic. 

To gauge the flows for this run, the difference between the gauges on the Bitterroot River at Darby and Victor should have about 600 to 800 cfs difference. On this day we had a flow difference of 800 cfs, which seemed like a great level. 

The drops were nice and padded, but not pushy and there were plenty of eddies available. The section starts off with a great slide, the "Big Easy" shown in the video. Below here there is some classic Montucky mank that plummets down a narrow chute, before reaching Airplane Turn. After this is another fun boulder garden, and then you are off to visit the Tijuana Crack Whore, which goes surprisingly well. Below here are some more fun low angle slides before Hotel California, which we portage this run, and then the grand finale of Brave Bear Falls. Matt decided to fire off the falls, while I puckered, and opted for a nice lil portage. 

Here is a short video from the day that Rosalynn was nice enough to film for. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Springtime in Montucky! Finally...

Winter has finally decided to ease it's clutches on Western Montana, and with the warm temps, we finally got out boating. This spring has been one of the craziest in my life, but unfortunately not due to paddling. Between school, an EMT course and teaching swiftwater rescue classes for the Whitewater Rescue Institute, it has been all I can do to keep my head above water, no pun intended. Luckily, during the first week of April I was able to get out a bit during spring break, and the flows cooperated for some Bitterroot creeking. With the flows up a bit, we headed down to Kootenai and Bear Creeks, and made a dash over to the Lochsa, only to be greeted with a blizzard.

Kootenai Creek is a fun, short blast of creeking joy, located about an hour south of town. The run is a continuous set of mank, with one nice boof and a little slide to finish up with. After paddling Kootenai creek, we decided to head a bit farther south to Bear creek the next day. From the trail head, flows looked low, but adequate, so we geared up and started hoofing up the path. Once we got to Brave Bear Falls, the largest, and last rapid of the run, we were disappointed by what turned out to be a mere trickle of water. I guess we mis-judged flows from the trailhead. Oops. Undaunted by the dismal lack of water, we decided to tromp a bit higher up the trail and run some of the fun slides that Bear creek has to offer. Too bad the camera was forgotten in the shuttle rig...

Even with the low flows, it was great to be out on the river again with good friends. It's amazing how much fun you can have bouncing a little plastic shell down rocks. And yes, sometimes that plastic is in the form of a helmet. But seriously, who really pays attention to those minor details?

And now, for some photos.

 The view looking up Kootenai Creek. Jesse Dagle Photo.

Jason Shredder running the Kootenai boof. Jesse Dagle Photo.

Martin running some nice Montana mank. On the first lap, one of our buddies and I both ran the right side and flipped over on a hidden nub rock. The rest of the rapid was a mix of head ruddering and body bashing into the eddy. Good Times. Jesse Dagle Photo.

Rosalynn dropping into the Grim Reaper, Lochsa River.

The Pipeline wave was in prime form this day. Too bad no one had playboats.

Martin going for a blunt in the gloaming. Downtown Missoula, MT.

Drew Hossle surfing Brennan's Wave on a warm Missoula evening.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Metlako Falls

This past weekend, Drew Hossle and I rallied from Missoula, MT over to Hood River for a quick trip out of the frozen tundra and into creeking paradise. After a 10 hour drive, during which we consumed about five times the recommended servings of caffeine, we pulled into White Salmon, half cracked out of our minds to meet up with Orion Meredith, Dustin Stoenner, and Will Stubbelfield.

With the Little White and the Green Truss turned into a beaver's wet dream of strainers, we decided to head up to the Wind River next morning for a nice warm up run. I picked up my new Magnum, finally, in Portland that morning and we headed out. After driving in circles for a good hour, searching for takeout, we arrived at the river to join the growing crowd.

We had a great paddle on the Upper Wind with a crew of around 15 people, and then rolled back to Hood River, where we were fortunate enough to stay with the Airborne Athletics crew (Kyle Hull, Kristina Van Wijk, and Devyn Scott) at their awesome house up on the hill. That night, in a flurry of shit talking and PBR drinking, we decided that the next day we should head up to Eagle Creek. I had been wanting to run Metlako Falls for about four years, but had never been their with a good flow or a motivated crew. This time however, it all came together beautifully.

Our friend Xavier Engle met us at put-in the next morning, and after he and Will fired off nice lines on Punchbowl Falls, we cruised downstream, through a gorgeous canyon to the lip of Metlako. We arrived at the drop, and I popped my skirt to extract a delicious PBR, which I enjoyed while sitting in the eddy, waiting for the camera crew to get set up. I retrospect, it may have been foolish to not scout the drop from above, but deciding that I had already seen it from the overlook, and that the only way down was through the crack in front of me, I opted to chill in my boat.

With my empty can in hand, the camera crew signaled that they were ready. I stuffed the crushed can in my vest and made one last smart ass remark to Xavier and Will, then turned and peeled out of the eddy. Rollin off the lip, I think I was a little too far right, and as I tossed my paddle, my bow deflected off the right wall curler. Looking down at the impressive height, and realizing I was going to land a bit crooked, I tucked up tight and enjoyed the float down, bracing for the hit. Turns out, that falling that far without the proper angle ends with an impressive  hit, and I was ejected from my boat. Ironically enough, I popped up right next to my jettisoned paddle, while my boat proceeded to go behind the falls and then get worked against the right wall for ten minutes  or so. Oops. Will followed with a beautiful line and a skirt implosion, but made it into the eddy in his boat. Xavier followed him down, opting to hang onto his paddle. He had another great line, and popped up on the pillow grinning. The impact, which he reported to be less than soft, sheared his bulk head screw clean in half on the right side of his boat, resulting in a worthless foot block.

With our little crew reassembled at the bottom, we cruised downstream, stoked, to the takeout. Thank you to everyone for the support, photos and safety on this trip!!

Enjoy the photo, courtesy of Katrina Van Wijk.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thank You Astral Buoyancy!

I would like to give Astral Buoyancy and Bryan Owen a HUGE Thank You for their continued support during the 2012 season!

In this day and age of sink or swim, Astral provides the swimmers amongst us a means of staying afloat!

Burnt Ranch Gorge, Race Day.

Be sure to check into soon for updates from Montana creeking expeditions!