Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Water Fun in Idaho

(Don seeing how the new Superhero does in big water.  The verdict?  Pretty damn good it seems)

Don and I just finished an amazing week of kayaking here in Idaho.  I never knew how awesome the paddling is in this state—especially at high water!

We rolled into McCall and were immediately hooked up by the great crew of locals with beta, a place to stay, and paddling buddies.  They gave us an incredible 6-day tour of the finest whitewater within a hour drive of McCall.
(Fall Creek Rapid on the South Salmon.  This was an awesome rapid with huge holes to dodge.  There was a good line though, you just had to punch through some big waves to be on it)

Day 1:  peak flow on the Little Salmon.  Big fun waves, a few holes to dodge, and a bit of floating debris to watch out for.  A great warm up for the stuff to come.

Day 2:  North Fork Payette at 4100.  Crazy big stuff!  Thank goodness we had Ryan to follow.  Screaming Left, Jaws, and Cruncher were some of the biggest rapids I’ve run.

(Freddy styling the line at Devils Creek Rapid)

Day 3:  Setting shuttle for a South Salmon into Main, and paddled Little Salmon again on the way back from Riggins.

Day 4:  High water East Fork South Fork.  Flight Simulator was a hell of a way to start our day!   After a couple hours of paddling on this river and a long, lazy lunch in the sun, we loaded our boats with overnight gear and put in on the South Salmon.  We ran through Devil Creek rapids and then set up camp for the night.
(Ryan, our incredible North Fork and Secesh guide, showing us what smooth paddling is all about)

Day 5:  Mule Kick and Elk Creek Rapids for breakfast.  Then Fall Creek for lunch.  Then a 20-mile paddle out on the Main Salmon.  I think the river was around 7.2 on the gauge, and was just pure big water fun.  As Freddy said, “it’s about as much fun as you can possibly have in a kayak.”

Day 6:  Secesh at 57 on the gauge to float back to our van which was parked at the put in for the South Salmon.  I’ve never done a run with such continuous HARD whitewater.  I guess this river is more chill at lower levels, but it was pretty full on for us.  It was a great cardio work out to paddle Class V for miles without an eddy!  Sorry, no photos of this one—I was too busy staying out of holes.

(The gang at camp.  We had a big crew of 11 boaters, all great characters, which made for lots of fun around the campfire)

Now we are in Boise visiting my Grandpa and resting up for the infamous 4th of July festivities that are rumored to take place in Crouch, ID…

Friday, June 24, 2011

Schedule of the rest of the Awesome gear you can win from Small World Adventures

(Don enjoying some scenery after the portage on the South Tuolumne)

So far we are off to a great season of paddling!  After spending time in Colorado and Washington, we headed to California where we found very odd spring weather which foiled some of our plans for the “typical” spring runs, but did allow us to get on a few new and obscure runs that don’t usually have water.  But, after a few weeks there, we felt the need to move on once again so we headed east.

 (Bill Beveridge on the Upper Middle American--End of the World Run.  This was a new one for all of us and it turned out to be quite a fun run)

Now, we are out in Idaho now enjoying some seriously big water and realizing that the kayaking season (at least in the Western US) still has a long life ahead of it.  A huge snow pack and cold spring have made conditions perfect for a long run off that should keep us kayakers happy well into July and August.  And, luckily, we have tons of awesome gear to give away throughout the rest of the summer (also keeping kayakers happy).  Thanks to all of our amazing supporters, we have so much cool stuff to give to you that, for many drawings, we have multiple winners. 
(Darcy plugging a hole on the "End of the World")

I’ve put the up the entire schedule of what you can win between now and the end of October, so check it out!

Scroll down and click the “win” link, answer a few questions, and then stay tuned to see if you’ve won.  We pick the winners every 2 weeks via an email lottery and will notify winners at the email address they’ve provided.
Good luck to everyone!

(Don South T)

Schedule for the rest of our gear giveaway:

July 1st:
 #1.  Snap Dragon Whitewater EXP Spray Skirt and a copy of Wildwater
#2.  Smith Sunglasses (Super Method) and a copy of Wildwater
#3.  Sweet Dirty Frank gear bag and a copy of Wildwater

July 15th
#1.  Sweet Shambala shorts (size medium) and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine
#2.  NRS Hydro Lock drybag, 4 NRS straps and a copy of Wildwater

August 1st:
#1.    IR Semi-Dry top and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine
#2. Smith Sunglasses (Interlock Whisper) and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine
#3.  NRS Attack Shoes and 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine

August 15th
#1. Snap Dragon Whitewater EXP spray skirt and a copy of Wildwater
#2.  Brown Bag from Skookum Sails and 2 NRS straps
#3.  XL Sweet Hoodie and a copy of Wildwater

September 1st:
#1.  Sweet Wanderer Helmet and a copy of Wildwater
#2.  Sweet Dirty Frank gear bag and a copy of Wildwater
#3.  Sweet Prophecy Dry Pants and a copy of Wildwater

September 15th
Werner paddle and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session

October 1st
Jackson Villian and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session

October 20th-ish (after Moose fest):
 A week-long kayaking trip in Ecuador with Small World Adventures and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine.

 (Darcy scouting on the South T.  Thank goodness for the drysuit--really good poison oak protection!)
The local Idaho boyz are giving us an awesome tour of Idaho’s best big water so hopefully we’ll have some photos to post at the end of the weekend.  Look forward to photos of high water North Fork Payette, Little Salmon and South Salmon.

(Don ripping it up in his new Rock Star)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Extreme Cooler Packing--the Biggest Challenge of the Middle Kings

Speed descents on hard rivers seem to be all rage these days.  What first caught my attention was when Tommy Hillike and John Grace did the Middle Kings (including the hike in) in 1 day.  Then Chris Korbulic and Ben Stooksberry did it in an even shorter day.  If I’m not mistaken, Tommy and John also did Upper Cherry Creek and the Grand Canyon of the Stikine in 1 day.  Now, I’ll admit that all of this is impressive.  I mean, there’s no way I could hike 13 miles over an 11,972 foot pass and then paddle 50 miles of Class V+ in under 24 hours.  So my hat is definitely off to these boys. 

 Darcy on one of the easy rapids in the Bottom 9.  We spent 11 hours kayaking this stuff for my 30th birthday--not bad!

But, in recent conversations, our good friend Brad brought to our attention that Don Beveridge had accomplished an even more impressive feat on the Middle Kings—he made his “5-day Extreme Cooler” last 9 full days in the near-Fresno 100+ degree heat making it so that our crew had ice cold beverages at the take out.

Take that Tommy Hillike!

It was July of 2009 and we had resigned ourselves to missing the Middle Kings.  Don and Bill’s family was having a reunion in British Columbia and so we left California just days before it seemed the Middle Kings would be in.  The day after the reunion, we were surfing Skookumchuck when we decided to check the gauge for the Middle Kings…just in case.  To our amazement, it was in.  A solid week of thunder storms had kept the river at a good level.

 Access Denied
So we loaded into the car, drove 20 hours straight to Bill’s house in Coloma, grabbed creek boats, overnight gear and a 2nd car.  Without rest, we drove the 6+ hours to the take-out (remember, we’re in a major hurry, don’t want that water to run out on us)!  After we tried to sleep for 4 hours in the sweltering heat, we got up and proceeded to watch Don pack and re-pack and insulate his precious cooler with extra clothes, a sleeping bag and a foam pad. 

Don had put a lot of thought into beer selection and cooler preparation. He layered the bottom of the cooler with a selection of pre-chilled beer:  PBR for instant takeout gratification and re-hydration, then onward to the likes of Stone IPA and Green Flash.  On top of this he layered three blocks and a bag of ice to try to give the cooler a fighting chance.  The sleeping bag and clothes were to add as much insulation as possible to the total cooler package.    

Now, we had bought the ice the night before on our way through Fresno so day 1 of ice really begins with the night shuttle. 

Bill and I were very skeptical.  It was only 6am and the temps at the take out were already in the high 80’s.  We planned on hiking in the next day, and were going to spend 6 days on the river, so the cooler would have to last 7 days in this heat and there wasn’t any shade for the car.  So, we placated Don by sitting by while he meticulously arranged his cooler, all the while knowing it was pure foolishness and that we’d be drinking warm beer 7 days from now.
 Almost to the top!

30 or so minutes later Don was ready to go.  We got in the car to embark on the 8 hour drive to the put in.  Although the route takes you through Yosemite National Park, we were totally over being in the car and just pressed on to Bishop without taking the time to soak in the granite domes. 

About 1 hour out of Bishop an amazing hail, rain, thunder and lightening storm hit.  We drove through in awe of the storm and even more impressed by the 2 fires we saw spark up from lightning strikes.  Our impression turned to gloom, however, when we got to the Bishop ranger station to pick up our backcountry permit and learned that one of those fires was right at our trailhead and our trail to the put in was closed INDEFINITELY.
 Bill in some typical "boogie" water on the Middle Kings

F&%K!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Was the first thing that came to my mind.  We’d endured over 36 hours in the car, sleep deprivation, mal-nutrition, and suffered through watching Don pack his stupid cooler only to strike out here in Bishop.  My 30th birthday was just days away and I really wanted to spend it in the Middle Kings but Mother Nature was seriously F-ing up my plans.

So, we languished in a cheap Bishop motel room for 2 days and 2 nights.  I was worried that we’d never be allowed to access the trailhead, and Don was worried that the extra days might cause his ice to melt.   Then finally we heard the word—the trail was open (well sort of).  It was open enough that we could get in and get hiking if we did it fast!

 And, no, once we got to the river, the hiking portion of the trip was NOT over.  There was a descent amount of portaging in the ensuing days

So, on day 3 since buying the ice, we starting hiking.

 Don in the relentless Bottom 9
It took us a day to hike in and then we paddled 5 days of the “steeze.”  We hucked big falls, ran the shit, blah, blah, blah.  

The important part to this story….yes, wait for it…we arrived to our scorching hot car 9 full days later to find…oh, yes, we couldn’t believe, Don was right and we were wrong…there were 3 tiny little chunks of ice floating in the cooler as we opened the lid.

I never would have thought as we trudged across that hot and dusty parking lot that there was a chance of anything cold being in that car; but as Don, Bill, and I all peered with our tired and anxious eyes into the cooler, we witnessed those precious little ice pieces give up the last of their solid H20 state after putting up one hell of a fight.

Then we reached our hands into the frigid cooler water and pulled out 3 icy cold PBRs. 

What a sweet ending to our almost botched Middle Kings trip.

I'm sorry I doubted you Don.  All bow to the king of cooler-packing! 

So, while we may never break a speed record on the Middle Kings, Don can pack the hell out of a cooler, and I can assure you, we will always have the coldest beers at the take out.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Small World gang trying to stay warm in the CA spring

 Don aspiring to style his line at No-Looky Falls
Even though the goal of all kayakers is to style their lines, stomp their boofs, and stay upright, the reality is that we all make mistakes.  Even the best kayakers will be off line sometimes.  Unfortunately, making mistakes often means being upside down and that often means relying on your helmet to save your precious noggin.
So, knowing that at some point sooner or later, you’ll need to rely on that shell protecting your head, why settle for anything besides the best? 
 Bill Beveridge keeping his Sweet Helmet high and dry

The Small World gang is here to tell you that Sweet helmets are schweeeeet!  We know we wouldn’t paddle in anything else. 
On June 15th we are going to get one of you lucky paddlers into a Sweet Wanderer Helmet.  The Wanderer is an extremely dependable all-round helmet. The small beak keeps water and sun from your eyes and offers great protection.  And, with your choice of Bird Blue or Bright Red, you can look good while protecting yourself!

 Darcy staying warm in 39 degree weather at the take out with her Sweet Savior fleece and beanie.  She definitely need something warm and fuzzy while waiting for Don to return from his motorcycle shuttle mission

Our 2nd winner on June 15th will get a pair of Motion Mamba Pogies from NRS and a 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine.  The Motion Mambas are super lightweight and great for cold days.
 Darcy stoked to have the pogies on to combat this crazy California weather.  Cold, rain, clouds, and more cold

People often complain about the extra weight pogies add to their paddle making it feel cumbersome and awkward, but with the MM’s you’ll hardly even notice they are there.  A fleece-lined super thin material makes these pogies a warm but ultra-light option for keeping your hands happy in adverse conditions. 
I’ve been loving mine in the extremely unusal California spring weather we’ve been having.  45 and still raining, no problem, let’s go paddling!

Yeah, you'd be kind of pissed too if you were about to go paddling in the snow!

And, if the weather is sooooo crappy that even Motion Mamba pogies don’t make you want to go face nature, you can sit at home and read the newest issue of Kayak Session Magazine.  I hear there is an awesome article about Ecuador in it!

 some photos need no captions

So, get your entries in before June 15th for these great prizes.  Go to
Read through our homepage a bit as we’ll ask you questions on it in order to sign up, scroll to the bottom, click “win” and fill in the entry form.

Good luck to everyone!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Paddling on the North and South Yuba

We've been a bit slow to get things going online since transitioning from guiding in Ecuador to skiing in Colorado to boating in the US again this year, but we're back.

After a great couple of weeks in Washington this spring, we headed south to sunny California. Only to our surprise, California wasn't sunny! We thought we were putting away our drysuits for the summer, but we've been getting snowed on! I think Global Warming is more like Global Stranging. But all this cold weather throughout the West is just saving all that snow for an even more epic summer.

Don on the South Yuba

For Memorial Day weekend we got to get in some great runs on the North and South Yuba with a bunch of friends, especially our buddy Brad Brewer. Darcy is on a team for the Vertical Challenge, so she keeps on wanting to do extra laps. On Saturday we did the South Yuba from 49 to Bridgeport, then Purdon's to 49, then continued on down to Bridgeport again! I'm not on a team so I don't get to count any vertical, all those extra runs are just cutting in on beer drinking time.
Darcy launching in after a portage on the North Yuba

On Monday we did the North Yuba below New Bullard's Bar reservoir with a group of ten of us. It's a great run that I hadn't been able to catch with water in it on other trips to California. It's ultra pool drop and filled with intricate mazes of granite boulders, but mostly boat scoutable.

Bill at lunch/portage #2 on North Yuba

I used to kind of dread returning from sunny Ecuador to springtime paddling in the US. It's tough to go from a shorty or dry top and shorts to the full on drysuit and pogies. But last year I got an IR drysuit, and it really is so comfortable that I actually look forward to wearing it. I used to have one of those front entry suits, and didn't like the bulk of the zipper across my chest and the way it made water leak into my kayak around the skirt tunnel. The zipper across the back of my shoulders in the IR Double D stays up out of the way, and the over skirt is just one piece so it keeps water from running down my sprayskirt tunnel and into the boat. It's way more comfortable, and I'm not sitting in a cold puddle of water all day! I can get in and out of it by myself, though it is easier to have a friend help out (Monday I saw a dude at the takeout getting help unzipping a FRONT zip drysuit!)

So thanks IR for taking the sting out of cold spring boating, and making my return from the tropics of Ecuador a little less shocking.

Nice to have a drysuit for full body immersions like this

The drysuit also makes a kick-ass shuttle outfit. All the Harley riders are jealous.

Ready for the shuttle mission
Believe it or not, people sometimes laugh when I ride by

I had the Trail 90 going 58 miles an hour while doing shuttle from Bridgeport to 49 the other day. I think maybe next time I'll keep my elbow pads on.