Monday, May 31, 2010

Good Times in the Wenatchee Drainage--2010 PP Ball

The Leavenworth, WA area is one of the best weekend paddling destinations around when the water is running. The list of runs goes on and on including runs such as the "play run" and Tumwater on the Wenatchee, Icicle Creek, Nason Creek, and many more. It's this abundance of awesome whitewater that makes the drainage the perfect setting for the annual PP Ball (that's the Professor Paddle Ball to those who aren't familiar with Seattle's premier kayaking forum

Looking up Icicle Creek, you can really get a feel for the river's continuous gradient and amazing scenery.

The PP Ball (aka Professor Paddle Ball) was an excellent event hosted on the banks of the mighty Wenatchee River. This is exactly what we are talking about—a kayaking festival by kayakers, for kayakers. Besides some fun events (huck ramp, down river race, and rodeo) there is some amazing kayaking in this area this time of year. If you are looking for playboating the Wenatchee between Leavenworth and Cashmere is top notch. Then, there is some great intermediate to advanced creeking on the Upper and Lower Icicle Creek, Peshastin Creek, the Little Wenatchee and Nason. Then, if you really want to scare yourself there’s Tumwater Canyon at high water and Middle Icicle. Day 1 we ran into Brian and Ben who talked us into running Tumwater at 7500 cfs. They were right, it’s totally good, but nerve racking nonetheless. The best part of that run was the Dam Rapid. I really wanted to scout (being nervous about the big water and all) but Brian said “no, don’t scout, you won’t run it if you scout, but I’m telling you, it’s good to go.” So, I trusted Brian and he was right. I followed Ben off the lip of the Dam and held on for an awesome ride. Both the Dam itself and the huge rapid afterwards were some of the most fun times I’ve had in a kayak in 2010! sorry, no photos:(

Darcy navigating holes and wood (2 pretty typical obstacles on Icicle)

Sunday Rob and Ben took us down the Middle Icicle. We started out on the Upper section with some new friends we met at the festival. Due to some time constraints and cold weather, most of them got out before the Middle really kicks into gear. Once we dropped into the Middle, I was pretty wide-eyed. That shit is steep in there! And the water felt super pushy. Even the Legend Rob McKibbin said it was “pretty high.” From Ricochet on down to below the Plunge is some pretty full on boating at higher flows, but Rob was an excellent guide and we had another kick ass day in the Wenatchee drainage.

Besides all the great local whitewater, the PP people organized some fun events as well. One particularly popular event at the PP Ball was the kayaker hucker ramp. It's pretty crazy how much momentum the huck ramps have gained lately...but I have to admit, it's kind of fun to watch--especially with characters like Rob, James, and JP around. See below for some more good ramp photos and a video of the hucking.

Rob M., Index local and kayaker extraordinaire on Icicle

If you like really great rivers, fun people, and a super cool festival, go to the Professor Paddle Ball (PP Ball) someday. One of the better events we’ve been to this season.

Here's event organizers JP and James trying to coordinate the PBR drop off the ramp

James was to drop, and JP was to catch...

And they were!

but fell just a few inches short in the end. T'was a crowd pleaser none-the-less.

And here's a little video of the hucking action that Don put together. Enjoy, and turn up the volume, Rob's commentary is not to be missed.

And, now, for the important stuff...Casey W. didn't claim his 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine so we've drawn a new winner for this prize--Congratulations to Dan B. who we met at the Chilliwack Paddling festival in BC. You'll now be reading cool kayaking stories for the next year.

We've also drawn the June 1st winner who is now the owner of an IR Thin Skin. Perfect paddling layer. Congrats to Katie M., and thanks for being a part of our contest. Don't forget, you are still eligible for all our other summer prizes, so keep up with the blog and website.

Happy Paddling to everyone

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clackamas River Festival

Clackamas River Festival 2010

Don Beveridge, Darcy Gaechter and Jesse Becker rocking their matching IR plaid drytops--looking stylish for the Clack Fest.

After getting skunked on the Upper Middle Consumnes in CA, Don and I hustled back to Oregon to make the Clackamas River Festival. This is a cool event that boasts tons of races and activities for both rafters and kayakers drawing a large crowd from the Portland area.

They had tons of different events ranging from a cataraft slalom to a mass start boatercross, but by far the most exciting spectator sport was the ramp for the kayaker huck fest. For some reason, those spectators just can't get enough of watching kayakers land on their faces off a big ramp.

Here's a nice series of photos of one competitor.

Damn! He was so close to sticking it!

Don and I paddled a couple laps on the fun Class III play fun with our good friends from Hood River Jason Schroeder and Jesse Becker. Here's me and Jason enjoying a little Oregon sunshine at the put in.

No one is too young to enjoy the Clackamas Fest or Next Adventure's kayaking school. If you live in the Portland area and are looking to learn how to kayak, talk to Dave from Next Adventure, he's the man!

The other big news is that we've drawn our winner for the 1 year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine ...Congratulations to Casey W. You'll be enjoying the industry's premier paddling magazine for the next year!

Now we are chilling in Hood River for a few days paddling after work laps on the Green Truss, Farmlands, and Little White.

Next we'll be heading back up north to hit up the Professor Paddle Ball on the Wenatchee.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reno Whitewater Festival and California Boating

Don and I tried to go skiing at Whislter last week, but it was raining so much on the mountain that it really dampened our winter spirits. We sat at the base for a while wondering what to do, and realized we had a bit of free time, and so decided, "what the hell, let's go to California, it's always warm and sunny there..."

Don Beveridge enjoying a low water run down the South Yuba, and psyched to not be getting rained on in Whistler's parking lot anymore!

We drove down to hit up the Reno Whitewater Festival and to do some kayaking in the sun:) Unfortunately, we were so short on time that we didn't get too far afield for our kayaking adventures, but we did hit up a couple of our old favorites: Golden Gate on the S. Fork American, and the South Yuba, 49 to Bridgeport. We also tried to do the Upper Middle Consumnes, but some land-owners got in our way. Read more at the bottom of this blog or at

What the F__! Snow at the Golden Gate put in, this isn't what we came to CA for!

Don stepping up to the Drainpipe

Bill, Taco Bell. Those Beveridge boys made me carry the camera to ensure all the shots would be of them:)

Here's Scott enjoying the South Yuba. Scott is a Reno local who qualified for the pro freestyle event by taking 2nd in the "open" round on Friday. For today, he's put the AllStar away and busted out his boof.

Brent, another Reno competitor. It was fun taking all the playboaters out on the river for a little change of pace (not that the Reno play park isn't a river, it's just different...)

Colin Kemp of Jackson kayaks boofing the heck outta his brand new Villian. Don and I are soooo jealous, ours are still in the mail:(

Colin is an integral part of the Reno Whitewater Festival and the Reno boating community. He's always willing to give pointers and help people work on their play moves, and he's a great teacher at that! He has really done a lot to get people psyched on paddling.

We also went to the Reno Whitewater park for our first time, and this place is a true example of a successful community integration project. There are definitely as many non-kayakers hanging around that place than there are kayakers! It's a true benefit for the entire Reno Community.

The festival was a great ode to this. There were lots of folks enjoying the food, beer, demos, yoga, and, of course, some kayaking.

RENO, "the place where humans and wildlife converge" oh wait, that's RENO, "the biggest little city in the world." This mama and baby duck sure didn't seem phased by all the people flipping around in the water.
Here's Sage (a future bad-ass boater chick) helping Colin hand out prizes Friday after the open freestyle event.

Our rental van, enjoying some Sierra Sunshine

Jackson Kayaks dominated the event for sure. Besides that fact that the Jackson crew was on top of the podium in men's and women's, I think I only saw 3 kayaks in the water that were NOT Jackson boats during the entire weekend. It's amazing how they have really taken over the playboater's market.

And while all the 'rad dudes' were throwing their Phonix Monkeys and Lunar Orbitz, Don Beveridge decided to bust out some old school on their asses. That boy can throw cartwheels like nobody's business. Not that many people do cartwheels anymore, partially because the new boat designs make it a lot harder, but I counted 15 ends in a row from Don in his new little AllStar.

I'm still working on my Wa-Thunks, but I must say, they are coming along quite nicely.

Today was our last day of boating in California and we drove off to do the Upper Middle Consumnes as a nice send off before driving up to Portland. We knew there had been some access issues, but had also heard that the put in road was, indeed, public and we would be good to go. After setting a grueling shuttle (grueling for our low clearance mini-van) we drove to the put in just to get turned away by some local landowners. They have brought the term "neighborhood watch" a whole new meaning. They've literally formed a vigilante group to keep kayakers off their road. They claim whole-heartedly that the road is private, and they might be right, but it seems the outside world believes it's public. Although they started out pretty irate, we were super nice to them and they calmed down quickly and eventually warmed up to us (unfortunately not enough to let us down to the river). I posted the full "denied trip report" up on so if you are interested you can read more there. But, if anyone knows anything about this access issue, it would be great to nip it in the bud now while the landowners are still forming their policies (I guess they did let some people in just last week). So, if you live in this area, speak up, get involved!

Being denied on our last day of kayaking CA, we've got nothing left to do but blog and leave (we still love paddling in CA, just a little bummed about today). As soon as I publish this post, we are heading back north to the Clackamas River Festival. Hope to see some of you up there.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Chilliwack Festival BC

Chilliwack River Festival AND our first winner of this summer's contest!

(We just aren't sure which is prettier, our van or the snowy BC mountains)

Don and I just finished a lovely weekend at the Chilliwack River Festival in British Columbia. The festival is put on by the Vancouver Whitewater Club and those guys and gals did a great job organizing everything from food, to shuttles, to prizes for their raffle.

In addition to writing up this sweet festival, we also need to announce our very first winner in the 2010 summer "boatin n' promotin" tour. Bryan M. is now the proud owner of an IR Thin Skin (A lightweight, tight fitting rash guard. Made with a 4-way stretch a polyester/ bamboo fiber)! Congratulations Bryan. We hope you can put your Thin Skin to good use out there on the rivers.

(Tony and Don enjoying some dinner and a good laugh after Saturday's river festivities)

This festival is unique and very cool in that it is really centered around beginner and intermediate kayakers. The Vancouver Kayak Club is doing an amazing job getting people into the sport of kayaking. And, the beginners themselves are super hard core. It was a chilly weekend, with snow still VERY close by in the mountains. The river water isn't exactly warm either, but there were lots of eager paddlers out there giving it a try. My hat is off to them for sure. Learning to kayak is a hard enough endeavor when it's warm out, let alone when it's springtime in BC!

Don and I met Tony (pictured above) down in Ecuador a few years back. He came on a trip with us when he was just getting into the sport himself, and he's since become an invaluable asset to the VKC. Tony, Philip, Katherine and all the other VKC volunteers really made this a special weekend for beginner and intermediate paddlers by helping them to get out on the water--nice work everyone!

(2 women racing down the Tamahi Rapids on the Chilliwack River)

The festival program includes beginner Class I and II runs with experienced members of the VKC leading new kayakers down. There are also guided trips down the Class III and IV- sections for intermediate paddlers, a downriver race, a World Kayak throwdown (for paddlers of all levels) and non-kayaker activities as well if friends or family of kayakers want to come enjoy the weekend. With boat demos, drysuit, helmet and PFD demos, if you live in the Northwest and are trying to get into kayaking, this is a great place to give it a whirl, you will find tons of support here.

(The shuttle bus dropping kayakers off at various points along the Chilliwack)

(loading up the trailer to head to the put in)

It was really great to see tons of paddlers getting after it even though the weather wasn't exactly "tropical." Don got to try out his new 2010 AllStar with his new IR Comp LX dry deck with Kling On spray skirt. Despite the fact that everyone else was wearing drysuits (it was 6 degrees Celsius after all--that's 43 degrees to us Fahrenheit people) Don paddled in shorts and stayed warm and dry in his Jackson/IR set up. Needless to say, he was pretty stoked.

After a nice weekend of boating, Don and I are heading up to Whistler to get in our last few days of skiing for the season. Then we'll start making our way down to the Clackamas Festival in Oregon stopping off in Seattle and Hood River to hit a few more rivers on the way.