Thursday, September 25, 2008

The McMoser Wedding...and Other Stories

Karl Moser is a good man, but, sorry ladies, he's out of the game. I'm pretty sure he and his wife Tara are chasing waves in Costa Rica right now. If anyone at the University of Oregon had asked me seven years ago if Karl might be the first of our group of river rat friends to be married, I probably would have said something like, "Karl likes girls?" While most of us dudes were looking for ladies and waterfalls, Karl was completely focused on kayaking at the time we met. Well, I'd say he crossed paths with the right girl, one who makes him as happy as all of those Skook sessions he always talked about.

Karl and Tara were married under the towering Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had never been to this part of the United States before, so I was stoked to have the opportunity to experience a new place. I road tripped over with good friends from college. Kelly, Chelsea and Kelsey picked me up in Hood River on their way from the Willamette Valley. We dropped into La Grande to squeeze in Conor Ross for the all-nighter rider through eastern Oregon and Idaho. In between sleep sessions we talked about how America is full of "America." Franchises and strip malls. I'm pretty sure we had those conversations four years ago, too.

The parties were radical, the people fantastic, the views stunning and the champagne at the reception delicious and freeflowing!

The Sleeping Indian.

Karl's bachelor party was a highlight of the trip. While Tara and all of her lady friends cruised around Jackson in a swanky party bus, Dave Zinn, Philip Gordon, Conor Ross, Mr. Moser and I stopped by the liquor store and rallied Philly's Subaru to Idaho Falls. We just wanted to take Karl out for a good night of debauchery before the wedding.

Idaho Falls is the kind of place you drive through and you probably don't stop. I think it was the setting for Napolean Dynamite? Anyway, it's a weird townon Idaho's eastern edge of dust. I don't want to reveal too much, but we found a good time at Blondie's Place on the highway through town - cowboys and cowgirls, cheap drinks and some really crazy karaoke.

Karl Moser nursing his hangover on Lower Mesa Falls.

The only planned event was a huckfest at Mesa Falls the next morning on our way back to Jackson. After way too much fun at Blondie's, Philly stayed sober and hauled us up the highway to Lower Mesa. We woke up to two young hooligans with creekboats hovering over us, waiting for the crew to motivate for some kayaking. These two kids, Ben Dan and Fraser, were the only fellas out of the group who had actually run the falls before.

Conor Ross looks for the stroke.

Conor and I waited up at the roadside lookout and snapped some photos while the other boys rallied some laps on the left side. We eventually made our way down the scree field and over to the falls for our turn to get vertical. Conor laid some treats on the left side, but I was pretty fired up to go right. I had seen the hero line done before, but it looked like I could fire up the ultimate "boof-stomp" a bit further right than I had seen in the videos. So, I grabbed a bunch of borrowed gear and made the ferry to the other side of the river to get a closer look at the take-off and landing. I could see the lip was indeed perfect for a huge boof in the Everest. There were rocks below the lip on the right, so I thought I could just launch into the center curtain, below another scary rock-ledge, and stomp the bow down for the last 20 feet or so, finally plugging into a soft pocket of aerated water.

"Looks good!" photo by Dave Zinn

Let's just say that not everything is at seems. I boofed that shit. I flew through the air and smiled with stoke as I shot through the center curtain, just where I wanted to be. Then I hit a rock. Hard. Explosion of gear and body. About 40 feet down, I crushed a hidden rock shelf directly under my ass, and I felt impact harder than I have ever imagined feeling. I then fell the last 10-15 feet limp and upside down before ejecting into the aerated mess at the base of the falls. I went deep. I eventually resurfaced in shock and pain, helplessly watching my borrowed boat and paddle float away. I washed up on the rocks on the right. Conor ran the left side again, picked me up and ferried me to the more pedestrian accessible left side eddy where Zinn and Philly, both trained in WFR, helped me get stable and checked out my spine. Karl followed behind Conor and stayed to help while Conor sprinted downstream after the gear. It was scary as hell. I thought I broke my back. I was writhing in pain and regret, worried my boy Karl was going to miss his rehersal dinner, worried I wasn't going to be able to do anything fun again. It was a gnarly scene.

"Feels good!" photo by Dave Zinn

Ready to stomp on demrocks. photo by Dave Zinn

I thank the river gods that I was able to walk out of there, and I was even capable of laying some treats on the dance floor at the wedding party the next day. After the festivities were over, we made the most of a rushed drive back to Oregon. Kyle Dickman and our boy Mike rallied back to make our band of gypsies even more fun. We camped in the middle of a dry reservoir in southern Idaho, and it was great.

Kelly and Kyle and "the light."

About 10 days later, I am still in pain but mobile and feeling better. I'm not sure when I'll be able to baot again, but I don't think I'll be dropping any fat boofs for a while.

I just want to say to the community of shit-runners out there, that although we now have developed safer waterfall techniques like the tuck-n-toss and the boof-stomp blind faith, we still need to be mindfull of the unpredictable nature of nature itself. I have been fortunate to stay relatively healthy over the last 7 years of running big waterfalls, but I have taken some beatings along with slaying some beasts. Be carefull out there. I'm pretty stoked about some big water playboating for a while. Congratulations Karl and Tara - I'm sorry I almost broke my back at your wedding!

BTW, if you haven't seen it already, check out for an epic update from the Stikine River in BC. The Beaver Lodge is proud of you boys!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Busy living large at "The Lodge"

After a three week mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with my Epicocity friends, I returned to the All Star Rafting "Beaver Lodge" on the White Salmon River in Washington. The Lodge has been my summer home in the Gorge for the last three years. It is a special place. It is our rafting center, a sort of shelter for vagabond kayakers, and a gathering place for those who are looking for adventure along the "Recreation Superhighway," 141 North. We are in the heart of the Northwest's best creekboating, rafting, longboarding, biking, and those who have visited might say we have mastered the art of chilling by the lake.

Summertime at the Beaver Lodge means rafting twice a day over Husum Falls, longboats on the Truss and Little White, longboards down the Husum hills and BZ Glenwood Highway, and stout waterfalls in the Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier wilderness areas.

A little morning sunshine.

I finally introduced the Hurricane to the crystal blue waters of the Little White Salmon. photo by Max Blackburn

Evan Garcia riding the lightning on Oak Ridge in Husum.

Evan from Wet Planet, ready for a traffic violation.

Sushi chef, kiter and Spirit bomber, John Boone loving the Lewis.

This is really happening. Evan Garcia busting a misty flip as Austin Rathman bombs Lower Lewis Falls. The Epicocity.

Kiwi Skux enjoying his stay in the Northwest.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Proudest Moment at Kayak Pucon

I was just going throught some old e-mails, and I came across this great honor given to me by Rodgrio and Ema during my first season at Kayak Pucon. Thanks guys!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rivers in Demand

Check out what the boys are up to in China! The Epicocity Crew has a pretty sweet new website up, highlighting their change in focus from pure shit-running to shit running for a cause. This new project is designed to raise awareness for beautiful, diverse watersheds around the world, doomed to slow deaths at the hands of the man.

Rivers in Demand: China

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Metlako Falls - Eagle Creek, OR

It's a big one and it's clean. Evan Garcia rolled into the Columbia Gorge the other day in order to start training for the Little White Salmon race this upcoming weekend. He has been talking about the Northwest's most runnable, big drop since his arrival. After a race lap down the Little White with local favorites Todd Anderson and Tao Berman, Evan drove out to Bonneville and hiked up to Metlako for a scout. He returned to the house with an intense level of excitement about what he had seen on his little walk.

We hiked up there this morning with our kayaks and gave her a go. It was good to have a small crew of Gorge locals there for support. Eric Boomer and John Grace showed up for some media just an hour after Boomer gave Rock Creek's "Money Drop" another re-first descent. Apparently the Money Drop is now measuring in around 60 feet.

Evan slayed the beast first and styled a perfect line. I followed with another clean, soft landing. It was a good day for waterfalling here in the Northwest.

If you know where this is, you know where he's going.

"Where is my kayak?"

Evan picking up speed.

Eagle Creek is a really nice place to visit this time of year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A few more shots from Santa Catalina

Aiden, the Kiwi at low tide.

Low tide leaves a bit of the reef out of the water.

Kai and Mike's bounty from the sea.

Don't fall in the bushes.

Last River in Chile: Middle Fuy

We took the ferry from Argentina to Puerto Fuy on our way back from the Baker with high hopes of running the infamous Middle Fuy. Tales of mandatory waterfalls and past vertical canyon walls had me excited. A heavy rainstorm hit as we docked in town, and after a quick scout of the river we decided that it was most likely going to be too high. So, we trucked on to Pucon where we waited out the storm for some sunny weather, and Rodrigo, Evan and I returned to the Middle Fuy two days later.

Although the level at the put-in was frighteningly low, the level at the take-out bridge was looking like a good medium-low-flow for the classic Lower Fuy. Rodrigo had done the run before at the recommended boat bashingly low flow, but he was convinced the run could take a little extra water. Just about 100 yards below the first rapid a tibutary tripled the flow, and we committed to the gorge concerned, but at the same time confident that we could make a safe descent. The extra water actually made the run really fun and cushioned-out.

The big falls is the big attraction. It has a sketchy lead-in before the water plunges about 50 feet into a deep pool below. heavy vegetation and steep cliff-walls make this one nearly impossible to portage. The three of us decided to do a big seal-launch to avoid running through the undercuts in the entrance. Rdorigo hucked it first with a clean line, but he lossed his paddle after tossing it to avoid the potential of a break. I followed and rolled up at the bottom with half of a paddle. Damn. Broke my paddle on my last day of kayaking in Chile. Evan hucked his paddle to be sure we wouldn't run out. I was tring to shoot video from the bottom, so I didn't get any good photos of anyone running the drop from the pool below. The rapids that followed were steep and continuous. It reminded me of the Little White. I am now back in the Columbia River Gorrge, and I had the good fortune of running the Little White this morning. It was cold, but as much fun as ever.

Salto de La Puma. We put-in just below this beast. I think it could be run with more water.

Rodrigo doing what he does best. Going big.

The Middle Fuy has game! The big one.

Rodrigo and Evan taking one last look at the big one from below.

If the Fuy looks like this from the bridge, the Middle is good to go.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boat assisted surf adventure, Isla Cebaco

A body boarder and group of surfers from the cabins organized a boat trip to Isla Cebaco, one of the large islands off the coast of Panama. We arrived to find two other boatloads of surfers and a heavy, barreling wave the locals call "La Caja" - The Box. It was boxy and scary, and the take-off was directly in front of a pile of volcanic boulders. In our boat we left with one snapped board and a few scratches, but it was a great day on an amazing wave. I could only get a few shots from the boat, but the front of the wave looked even better.

The Captain. Word.

Yes, this wave breaks directly on and in front of a huge pile of rocks.

If you look into the mist, you can see someone taking an early exit.

"Did he make it?"

Enjoying the ride.

Cabañas Rolo - Santa Catalina, Panama

After lots of good times with Rodrigo and Ema and the rest of the vagabond kayakers who spent time in Pucon, I was still looking for some more fun before returning to the States. I stopped for a week of good surf in Panama on my home. These are just a few shots from Rolo´s place. If you ever find yourself in Santa Catalina, I highly recommend staying there.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nice lakes

Evan Garcia has my photos of the big whitewater on the Baker right now, but these are a few nice shots of some of many beautiful lakes we passed by in our travels. Check out Evan´s blog for a massive Baker update.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Patagonia Chilena

On the 2nd of March, Serverin from Switzerland, Rodrigo Tuschner, Ema Passi and I left our home in Pucon for a kayaker´s pilgrimage to the great rivers of the south of Chile. After a fun night in Pucon, a classic run on the Rio Gol Gol and some of the typical (frustrating) access issues on the rivers south of Bariloche in Argentina, we made our first official stop at the Rio Futaleufu. The Futa is world famous for its big water and impressive scenery. There we enjoyed beautiful weather at the Cara del Indio camp with Paul and Jamie from Montana, and we reunited with our friends from World Class.

We loaded up the Kayak Pucon van and headed south on the Carretera Austral with the addition of two more friends, Evan Garcia and Peru´s golden boy, Juanito de Ugarte. We drove through epic Patagonia scenery for two days before we unloaded the rig at the Rio Baker, Chile´s largest river. Unfortunately, this river is doomed to death by dam, like so many other of the world´s most powerful waterways. The Presidenta of Chile says the country needs dams like the one on the Baker to progress like the United States. Damn.

It looks like our generation might witness the end of free flowing rivers. This means future generations will most likely witness the end of freeflowing sand (that comes from freeflowing rivers) and the disappearance of beaches. I know this is just rhetoric to most, but apparently true: At least a small percentage of the worlds´ population will still have lots of money.

Serverin charging on the first waterfall of the Gol Gol.

Morning at our first camp on the drive south from Futa. La Junta, Chile.

Patagonia commuter.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Spring 2008 World Class Crew

Israel is the cook, logistics man, local connection, Spanish coach and all-around good guy.

Josh Bechtel is the Head Coach and math teacher.

Dave Zinn is the Program Director this semester. He also teaches history and spanish classes.

Kristi Murrin teaches math and science, and she has an incredible tolerance for the "dudefest" at the school this semester.

Dan West teaches literature and spanish, and he is the Assistant Coach.

This is me. I had a chance to help out the school for a little while, and I didn´t have to teach any classes!