Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shell's Birthday Paddle and A Scuba Diver is Born

December 5th was Shell's Birthday and also the annual birthday paddle. Shell's choice was the Kalama River up in Washington, a beautiful drainage that runs off the flanks of Mt. St. Helens.

We awoke to cold temps and at the put-in the Subaru was registering 28 degrees and there was snow on the trees. We were joined by some great friends including my buddy Mike Glass and his wife Stephanie, along with our friends Tracy, Sue, and Jenna. On our way up, we stopped at the Columbia Inn in Kalama, Washington for one of their famous caramel rolls (seriously, it is the size of a dinner plate). We ordered a total of 5 in the group, so everyone was hopped up on sugar by the time we got on the water.

The paddle was a ton of fun and COLD! I opted to take out my playboat, after a long hiatus in the garage and found it a little tight with all the clothes I was wearing (or maybe it was the bacon cheeseburgers????) We got to do some fun surfing and soak up the beauty of this beautiful river with some great friends.

Yes, that is snow on the trees... BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Mike and I were definitely in the minority on this paddle... we felt very left out, since the girls had their nails done the night before :-)

Stephanie Glass giving the camera her best "over the shoulder runway model smile"

Me and my lovely Birthday Girl!

We finished the paddle up with cupcakes and candles and dinner at the Rheinlander here in Portland, joined by our friends Mike and Stephanie. A great birthday paddle, for sure!

So, I recently decided to take up yet another sport: scuba diving. Last week I completed the pool and classroom portion of my Open Water Diver Certification and this upcoming weekend we have our open water certification dives at Mike's Beach Resort in Hoodsport, Washington. I'm doing my cert through TDI/SDI ( and Oregon Underwater ( Shell is a very accomplished scuba diver, having been a rescue diver for Polk County a few years back, so she is gaining a newbie to take diving and I'm gaining a seasoned veteran... pretty good trade, if I do say so myself!

Initial thoughts... diving is awesome! It is, indeed, a super surreal feeling to be able to exist under water without drowning and that's just the feeling you get in a pool. I'm super excited about this weekend (though the temps are supposed to be in the low 40's). Pictures and thoughts to come.

Until then... live, love, laugh and explore!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's beginning to look like Christmas on the BBush

Saturday, Mike Glass, Aaron Nudelman and I headed up into the Santiam Drainage to run the Breitenbush River in what was probably the last time it will have enough water until Spring. Although, as of the writing of this post, the BBush flow has risen to over 500 CFS, so who knows.

We were greeted by balmy 35 degree temps and snow at the take-out and were all glad we had drysuits. The run itself is an 8 mile long Class IV that drops 80 FPM... the upper 6 miles is pretty tight, but the lower 2 miles is much wider. Even at low flows, the action was pretty constant, though the 3rd quarter of the run was pretty uneventful.

Words can't describe this run, though I'll do my best... (see also Jason Rackley's write-up at under the "Rivers" tab) - suffice it to say this was one of the coolest runs I've ever been on.

Paddlers are immediately faced with a drop just a bit after putting on... The Slot was a pretty impressive drop, even at low flows and features an undercut right side. There is a nice boof flake at river center, but it is pretty boily below.

Looking upstream at The Slot

Mike taking his "probe" position very seriously...

Below The Slot, paddlers go through some great technical rapids and drops... pretty much one after another. Next up is The Notch, which at this flow was only marginally runnable. Normally, paddlers run this on righer right, just off the old stump wedged into the drop. That line was, however, without water. After looking at the drop and discussing possible options, we all portaged, due to the high probability of getting pushed into "the notch", that was less than a paddle blade wide and had definite pin potential.

Looking right into "The Notch"

Another piece of excellent real estate on the BBush

Aaron was all smiles on our run... he was as "on" as I have ever seen him!

I don't know if I enjoyed the paddling or the views more...

There was a lot of wood on the run... one barely manageable limbo log, another mandatory portage and a tricky log that was wedged into the lower section of a drop... My buddy Mike found it and got pinned sideways... luckily I saw him get stuck and wave me off, because both of us in that drop would have been pretty dicey. I was able to hop out of my boat with my throw rope and run down stream, only to have Mike flip over the log and roll up... I'm glad he was okay, but I'm sure it took another hour for my heart rate to slow down. Both Aaron and I were able to run the far right line on the drop, which required a quick zigzag, which we both executed cleanly. After this little episode, the action slowed down a bit until paddlers reach the concrete bridge across the BBush, which signals the final 2 miles of the run and more non-stop fun.

Looking down stream at the mandatory portage

Mike tries to keep warm during one of our portages

Lots of little Class III drops lead up to Barbell, which we all ran on river left down a REALLY fun boulder garden... you can also run the right side of the island, but at the current flow, it didn't look very good. Several more Class III/III+ drops come before Woo Man Chu, which is the last drop of the run and WHAT A DROP! We ran the far left line and, with a little speed and forward lean, you shoot off the lip and drop about 8 feet into a small, boily pool... TONS OF FUN!
A short paddle downstream places you at the gauging station and the take-out!

This is a FANTASTIC run and I'm glad I got to experience it with two great friends...

Until next time, get out there and explore!

The author... all smiles and "plus" one goatee after a successful run down the BBush

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Big Rain = Big Adventure

The rain has been coming down in a pretty regular pattern lately in the PacNW, so it is now time to get out and explore some of the lesser known/explored runs in our part of the country.

On Saturday, Mike Glass and I headed to the coast range and the Wilson River drainage to hit the seldom paddled North Fork of the Wilson (Flows were at about 5 feet on the Wilson at Tillamook gauge). It started to pour rain as we left the highway and headed up into the moutains. After about 30 minutes of driving uphill, we dropped back down to the river and saw a relatively narrow and steep (80+ FPM) stretch of water. At the confluence of the West Fork of the Wilson and the North Fork Proper paddlers have a decision to make: put in here for the 3.3 mile run down to the main Wilson, or head up one of the 2 forks.

We originally scouted the North Fork, as it is estimated to have gradient in the range of 140 FPM. As we drove up stream, we saw one quality drop after another through the pouring rain, but were sadly greated by a large pile of dirt in the middle of the road. We got out to inspect it, only to find that the road had been washed away during the last high water event. This was particularly interesting, since the NFW was only about 2.5 parking spaces wide at this point, so the volume of water raging downhill must have been impressive. With little chance to make it further upstream, we turned around and headed back to the West Fork to scout. After about 2 miles of driving we started to pull away from the river at a pretty steep grade, so we chose a Put-In that involved the least amount of bushwhacking. We couldn't really see much of the West Fork on the drive up, given the thickness of the forest and the distance it lay below the road, but given the quality of what we saw and the North Fork, our expectations were high.

Mike finally reaches the river after our bushwhack from the car.

Once on the water, we immediately had to portage a river wide log, which concerned us just a bit. After another 100 yards or so we had another portage, followed by a limbo that actaully scraped the bill of my helmet. Luckily, that was the last of the major wood we encountered for the day and, all-in-all the WFW was a lot of fun and we looked forward to the confluence that featured a really quality Class III/III+ drop.

Typical scene on the West Fork of the Wilson

We both ran the confluence drop clean and moved down stream through fast moving water and more quality drops. At one stretch of the river there were two sweet drops, one of which we both skirted on the right, to avoid a monster hole... the next had a sweet Class II+ lead in, followed by a double hole drop of about 5 feet. The rest of the river was pretty much the same... fast, steep paddling with fun little drops. It was a great run, culminating in me getting beat down about 100 yards from the take-out, smacking my elbow on the river bottom, losing my paddle, an obligitory swim to appease the river gods and a hike back upstream to run the drop again... thanks to this nice smack on my funny bone, I now own a pair of elbow pads.

North Fork of the Wilson - Just below the confluence with the West Fork

On Sunday, Mike Glass, Aaron Nudelman and I joined a few other friends for a descent down the Upper Upper Kalama (Flows were at 1690 CFS on the EFL Gauge and 2400 on the Toutle Gauge) in Washington State.

This run is classified as a Class III (IV), but I would place it at this flow about III+ overall due to its continuous nature. During the bulk of the year, this section of the river is unaccessable, because Weyerhauser owns the land and has it gated off. However, during hunting season, paddlers can explore the upper reaches of this river - an undertaking that is well worth the time. We traveled, once again in the rain, to the gate and proceeded about a half mile to the first bridge, which is the normal take out for the UUK. After gearing up, we headed into Weyerhauser land, which feels very far away from everything... creeks and waterfalls were everywhere. We drove over one particular creek that had 2 sweet looking waterfalls, both clean of wood. About 11.5 miles from the take-out we reached Road 7300 and the next to last potential put-in (paddlers can proceed all the way up to Upper Kalama Falls, which I understand is quite a site and paddle down for a total run of 15 miles).

The Upper Upper Kalama

The first 3rd of the run was very fast and continuous and featured lots of hole dodging. This type of river didn't last for long, as small drops started to appear and before we knew it, we entered the first of maybe 6 mini gorges. The river took on more of a pool drop nature, with lots of horizon lines, some blind corners and beautiful scenery. There were tons of little creeks feeding into the river and even more waterfalls. This section was, in a word, AWESOME!

The end of the gorge section features the largest of the drops on the run: Double Drop. A fun class IV drop, DD is created by the river squeezing through a 20ish foot constriction and dropping over 2 ledges... I would say the river drops maybe 15-20 feet in about 30 yards AND THIS IS A MANDATORY DROP AT THIS FLOW... PORTAGING WOULD BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE AND GETTING OUT OF YOUR BOAT WAS A CHORE IN AND OF ITSELF. The first drop is a fun move from river center with right angle and brace against a large converging wave... typewriter to the left and move hard to the right to drop down the green highway to the bottom, avoiding a large hole on river left... I got punched hard to the left on the first drop, held my deep water brace, but didn't not get far enough right and caught the edge of the hole, but rolled up quick on the flush with a fist pump.

The final 3rd of the the run opens up again to a little slower moving water and wider river, but with some equally fun drops... all in all, a great run and well worth the time to paddle it. All total, it took us about 3 hours to paddle the 11.5 miles, and that was with stopping and a precarious scout at DD.

Uh, yea, there is a paddler in this picture... you can see the top of the helmet and some paddle

The group prepares to enter one of the many blind corners on the Upper Upper Kalama

Okay, that's all for me... it was a great weekend and could only have been made better if Shell had been able to paddle with me, but she was pursuing her other passion (scuba diving) up in Seattle and had a great time, so if she's happy, then I'm happy.

Until next time...

Monday, November 9, 2009


So, I recently joined Oregon Health & Science University's team in a global movement to bring much needed attention to cancers that affect men. I’m doing this by growing a Moustache this "Movember", the month formerly known as November. My commitment is to grow a moustache all November and I am hoping that you will support my efforts by making a donation. The funds raised go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LIVESTRONG).

What many people don’t know is that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 18-35. Facts like these and my own personal experiences with these illnesses have convinced me I should get involved.

To make a donation, you can either:
• Click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account , or
• Write a check payable to ‘Movember Foundation’, referencing my Registration Number 422608 and mailing it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 2726, Venice, CA 90294-2726.All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund:
• The LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance program which has the goal of improving survival rates and quality of life for young adults with cancer between the ages of 15 and 40.
• Research initiatives to further understand the biology of adolescent and young adult cancers.

For more details on how the funds raised from previous campaigns have been used and the impact Movember is having please go to

Thank you all so much for listening and for any help you can provide and feel free to pass this around to others who might be interested.

Thanks and watch for updates on my own person Movember odyssey!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

East Fork Lewis Revisited - A Lesson in Exploration

This past weekend, Mike Glass, Aaron Nudelman and I headed out to explore the East Fork of the Lewis River's "Waterfall Run" at extremely low flows. The guidebooks call for a minimum of 400 Cubic Feet per Second ("CSF") on this run... on Saturday, we had 190 CFS when we started and 177 CFS when we finished. Most people shy away from this run at this flow, so we didn't know what to expect.

We decided to put-in just above Sunset Falls (18 Feet) in the easily accessible pool. With a warm-up consisting of paddling across the pool, we dropped over the falls and into the unknown.

(The Author prepares to drop over Sunset Falls)
From Sunset Falls, we moved downstream, encountering generally low water, but enough to have fun and enjoy the beautiful fall scenary. The first major drop you encounter below Sunset is Sky Pilot, which we got out to scout. Unfortunately, the water levels made this awesome rapid unrunnable and a mandatory portage ensued. Just below Sky Pilot lies Hippie John's Hole, which we got out to scout... the water level precluded the normal left route (which dropped into an ugly, sived up mess), but allowed for a technical move cross current to the right, a drop down a small slide and another move left to squeeze through a boat-width size slot between a large rock and a small rock outcropping. We all executed the move cleanly and hollered as we dropped into the pool below the final move, although the rock at the bottom and I did get a little too close for comfort, resulting in a nice bruise on my elbow.

(Mike Glass executes the first move in Hippie John's... you can see the normal left line at the far right of the picture)

(Aaron Nudelman exits through the slot at the bottom of Hippie John's... the rock at the left of the photo is where I bashed my elbow)

Below Hippie we paddled towards the "Gorge" section, taking out to scout and make sure we had lines through the Class IV "Screaming Left" and "Dragon's Back". Normally all, but the most experienced paddlers portage Screaming Left, but today the line looked very clean, so we all decided to "give 'er". I hiked down to Dragon's Back, but couldn't see the last drop very well. That said, it looked clean and we were all feeling good, so we all dropped in. Mike and I ran Screaming Left and finished in the pool above Dragon's Back via a nice 4ish foot ledge. Aaron ran the sketchy right hand line and cleaned it, as Mike and I hollered encouragement.

(Mike and Aaron in the run out below Dragon's Back)

(Fall colors on the East Fork of the Lewis River... It doesn't get much better than this)

From Dragon's Back, we all proceeded through John's Swimming Hole, which at this flow features a 3ish foot drop at the very end and Mr. Twister (site of my beat down on my first run... redemption was had by a clean, albeit not pretty, line on Saturday). The final challenge of the day was Horseshoe Falls (22 feet), which required us to get out of our boats, drag them up to the lip, put-in in the pool at the top of the falls and paddle at break neck speeds to get up the dome that guards the lip of the falls. We all had good lines, but found keeping to the left of center very difficult.

From Horseshoe Falls, we all floated (and sometimes pulled ourselves) to the take-out, laughing and talking about how much fun we had exploring the EFL.

You know, it's funny, when we had to portage Sky Pilot, we all stood by the side of the river and determined the point at which our exploration would be deemed a "debaucle". However, I'm pretty sure even if we had reached the predetermined debaucle point, we would have enjoyed our run. It combined the best that kayaking has to offer: good friends, mental and physical challenges and a beautiful setting.

Until next time, take time to appreciate the Fall... it only comes once a year!


Friday, October 2, 2009

An Absolute Must See Video

"Wet Dream Result"

So many quotes, so little time to pick my favorite...



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We Finally Did It

Sorry for the longer than anticipated absence, but for those who actually read the drivel I post here, you will recall that Shell and I put our house on the market at the beginning of the summer. Well, with losing Daddy in May, the house getting sold and then the house shopping that ensued, I just have not had time to write or boat.

Things have finally simmered down... Shell and I are in our new house now and pretty much totally unpacked. It's a really cool 1946 English Style Cottage in the Concordia Neighborhood in Portland.

We are working hard to get a few remodeling projects done on the house, so my boating time has suffered, but I have been able to get out and do some paddling... regular weekday playboat trips up on Clackamas with my buddy Aaron, a run down the Class IV Orletta Section of the White Salmon (Wow, what a great run that is... it is technically, the bottom of the Green Truss Section: ), a couple of "lap" days on the "Middle" section of the White Salmon: and, well, that's about it.

Shell and I are heading down to Utah to see her family in early October and we're hoping that the water on the Payette holds for a few more weeks so we can do some boating on the way down... if not, it should be a great road trip.

Other than that, I got to play some golf with my dad... we spent 4 days at Bandon Dunes and then hit the regular 2-Man Team events in Oregon. We finished 2nd in the SpringHill Chapman, which was a pretty good finish for us. Other than that, we didn't fare too well this year, mainly because my driver decided it didn't want to play golf this summer... oh well. I am breaking down and buying new irons this year... I've finally come to realize that my Hogan blades do not work very well, when one is not playing all that often.

Looking forward, Shell and I are excited to celebrate holidays at our new house, praying for a good winter water-wise, so I can get back on the East Fork of the Lewis and spend some more time exploring the coastal range rivers and, otherwise, enjoying time with our friends and family.

Okay, that's all for now... We're settled in and I'll get back on the regular posts here soon. Until then, walk softly in the wilderness.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Never Go to Bed Mad...

Those were the first words my Father-in-Law spoke to me after my wife and I exited the church on our wedding day. It wasn't an edict or some sort of forewarning, but rather a piece of advice offered by a man who had successfully negotiated almost 40 years of marriage. That moment, along with many others, defined my relationship with "daddy".

The first time I met my future In-Laws was just after Shell and I started dating... we met them for lunch at Nicholas Restaurant in Portland ( Shell warned me to be careful shaking hands with her dad, because he had pretty severe arthritis. I tend to have a pretty firm handshake, so I was understandably nervous. With this in mind, I practiced shaking hands lightly, when Shell wasn't looking in the days coming up to the lunch (I don't think I ever told her that). When the time came to shake hands with Daddy, I did the lightest grip I could, without being a dead fish, and he immediately "yelped". I went white, until he started laughing... so began my relationship with the man who would become my Father-in-Law.

Over the intervening time, I got to know Daddy and grew to admire him, not only as the man who was the father of my best friend and wife, but also as a man who served his country in the Navy, crossed the equator, visited exotic places too numerous to name, became an accomplished wood worker and was a well of information for me on subjects ranging from history, to wood working, to gardening, home repair, etc, etc, etc.

Some guys have difficulty dealing with their Father-in-Law... such was not the case for me. I relished the time Shell and I would visit her folks... mornings would bring coffee, Suduko, crosswords and breakfast at the kitchen table... He and I would chat about anything and everything. Usually focusing on mine and Shells' life together and our plans. Our days were generally spent helping around the house on projects... replacing a door frame, re-building a backyard garden pool, cutting down trees, or whatever it might be or whatever might be needed. I told him, very early on, that I grew up on the suburbs, so working around a 2 acre former lavender nursery didn't come naturally to me... essentially, patience with my fumbling would probably be a necessary component of me helping out. However, no matter what I was working on, Daddy would let me figure out the task, offering advice when needed and allowing a suburbs-raised kid to learn how to use his hands... I would occasionally catch a wry smile on his face as I messed something up and would have to do it all over again... a smile that would grow larger as I finally got it right.

Daddy liked wine, Black Butte Porter and Diet Coke... all of which I got to share with him on several occassions. We both liked beef jerky and he would pick me up the good homemade stuff from a local meat market by their house... that beef jerky propelled me down the Rogue River in February of this year... Daddy made sure I had some for the trip, because that's just how Daddy was...

Daddy loved things of beauty... at the beginning of May (which was the last time Shell and I were able to visit before he got sick), he made sure we were able to visit a friend of his to secure huge flower baskets for our house... again, that's just how Daddy was.

I don't know if he realized that he wasn't just my wife's father, but, I'm proud to say, he was also my friend.

We lost Daddy on Sunday, May 31, 2009 after a heroic battle against illnesses that zapped his stregth, but never his spirt. I say heroic, because in all the times we worked on projects together he never once complained. Rather, he was always right there, watching, helping when he could... always eager to laugh with me at my mistakes and always willing to help me get it right.

I'm thankful I got to see him one last time on Saturday... he opened his eyes and talked to all of us and laughed the way he did. I'll always remember and cherish the last time he looked at me; I was helping him into a bed we had set up in the living room for him... he opened his eyes wide and looked at the bed and I said "I bet you're wondering where the hell did that come from."... he looked at me and say "yea". I laughed as he made a little smile, glad that I had gotten to know this man.

I'm going to miss you Daddy, though I know you'll be there when I finally get the space to set up the table saw you and mom got me for Christmas and everytime I try to build something or haul out the powerwasher you and mom got me... watching over me and helping me get it right. As always, thanks for being patient with the kid from the suburbs and for all your help!


Your Son-in-Law...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A longer than scheduled absence...

It never ceases to amaze me just how busy life can be. One minute you are coasting along, not much going on in life, the next you barely have enough time to sleep. Seems like that has been the case for Shell and, well, since late March.

Where to start... well, I paddled some between my last posting and the Hotel Charley premiere. Headed back to the Bruno Mtn. Section of the Santiam much to my delight. It was running at about 1200 CFS, which was about 300 CFS higher than the day Aaron and I ran it way back in spring 2007. Paddled the Hood in the weeks after that, which is always a good time.

The Hotel Charley premiere was great! Shell and I were joined by a bunch of friends to paddle the Middle White Salmon beforehand, which was running at a fun 3 feet. Shell and I went down to visit my parents in Bend to celebrate Easter and my mom's birthday. Had my first round of golf that weekend, which for a former golf professional is a sobering, frustrating and magical experience.

The following weekend, Shell and I drove up to see our friends, Lanson and Mandi Oukrop, to join them for the opening weekend of the Yakima Valley vineyards. It was a blast... Lanson and I got a couple of rounds of golf in, which was great fun!

Shell and I got a Friday paddle on the Clackamas in the following week with some friends. The river was running about 2100 CFS, which is one of the best flows for that section, in my opinion. We had a great dinner afterwards at Gustav's Pub in Clackamas, which prompted my buddy Aaron and I to reminice about our respective trips to Germany after graduating from high school.

Last weekend I traveled back to Michigan to retrieve the contents of my storage area and have it moved to mine and Shell's home here in Portland. While I was there I got to spend some quality time with my best friends from law school, which prompted me to realize that you should never allow yourself to have 2 year gaps between seeing friends... it is far too long!

This coming weekend, I'm heading down to Bandon Dunes golf resort with my dad for our annual father/son golf trip... it should be great! The Bandon Dunes golf course are all rated within the Top 50 golf courses in the country, so I'm looking forward to the challenge... cool pics to follow!

Finally, Shell and I decided to put our house on the market and look for something a little larger and closer to downtown Pdx...

WOW... has that been the last month of my life?!? Oh well, I can't really complain... I got to spend time with friends, family and my lovely wife... really, what else is there in life?

So, that's my update... I'll be back with some more consistent postings after the Bandon trip... until then, enjoy every minute you have like it was your last!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hotel Charley Tour Announced

What is Hotel Charley you ask? Well, it's just the best darned kayaking film series known to humankind, which happens to be the product of some very cool people and friends of mine and Shell's: Jesse Coombs and Ben Stookesberry.

Not only are these guys fantastic boaters and ambassadors for our sport, they are genuinely nice guys. You can find a link to thier company "Clear H2O Films" and to their boat brand of choice (which also happens to my own): Jackson Kayak, here on my blog. However, if anyone wants to quickly know where they can see Hotel Charley 4 "At Your Own Risk", here are the recently posted dates and locations:

If you love adventure films, kayaking, both or just want to show your support for some really great guys, you owe it to yourself to come on out and see this film.

I'll see you on the river!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Paddling and Running and Drinking, OH MY!

Life is way too short not to have fun... Here are 2 cases in point:

Back on March 7th, I met my buddy Lanson Oukrop from Richland, Washington up in Hood River to paddle the White Salmon River. It was running at about 2.5 feet, which is a great flow. Lanson hadn't been in his boat for about a month, after having surgery on his nose. Plus, we hadn't had a chance to paddle together since September, on the White Salmon conincidentally. So, we were both looking forward to the outing.

It was a great time and we joing some other friends from the Hood River area. The weather was great, as was the paddling. Lanson and I finished off the day at the 6th Street Pub in Hood River for some well deserved sustaninance, before heading back home. Here are a few pics... more can be found at

The following weekend, Lanson and his wife Mandi came down to Portland to join Shell and I in the 2009 Portland Urban Iditarod ( Shell and I have done this together for the last 2 years, but this was Lanson and Mandi's first year. Just to give you an idea of this event, you assemble 4+ people, dress in costume, procure a shopping cart from a local establishment, strap yourself to the cart and run through the streets of Portland (stopping at 5 bars along the way) barking like dogs... with regard to this last point, the start coincides with the start of the Alaskan Iditarod, so it makes sense. However, I'm pretty sure they don't bar hop. Shell and Mandi took up the mantle to create our team costumes (Pajama SuperHeros), which was tame compared to some teams, but garned us all some SWEET lounging wear.

Friday night, the girls headed out to get their nails done and hang out in our hot tub, while Lanson and I took off for the required team captain (yours truly) meetings and to catch a kayaking video premiere in Pdx. Mainly, Lanson and I were headed out to have a few beers, which we accomplished nicely.

Saturday dawned and it was windy and rainy, but, hey, IT'S PORTLAND, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE SOME RAIN. Here is our official team photo, but you really need to look at all the pics here to get a flavor ( and, YES, the further into the photo album you get, the longer we have been running and bar hopping. We all had a BLAST and are already planning our costumes for next year (stay tuned).

Sunday we hit the Gateway Breakfast House, which is right by where Shell and I live, for breakfast. If you are ever in Portland, you really should eat here... it has, in my humble opinion, some of the best food in the Rose City. Afterwards, we all headed down to Portland's Saturday Market to wander a bit before our friends headed back home.

Until next time, get out there and enjoy the friends you are blessed with. Life is too short not to spend quality time with them and let them know they have a meaningful impact on your life.

See you on the river (or running from bar to bar in my pajamas)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hood River Revisited

I finally got a chance to head back up to the Hood River over the weekend. It had been over a month since I last paddled the Hood, which was the weekend of my ugly swim... I NEEDED to get back up there to confront the after effects of this swim.

Now, in my opinion, kayaking is one of those sports where overthinking can be detrimental to a person's enjoyment. This isn't to say that scouting or looking at a rapid isn't beneficial or even needed on occasion. What I'm talking about is letting your mind wander out of the moment while in a rapid can really mess with you. See, when I'm paddling at my best, I'm totally in the moment, reacting to and with the water... essentially, I become a part of the water. When you start to think about what is happening or will happen... like, "oh boy, that's a big hole there, I really hope I don't flip and have to roll... wait, what if I miss my roll... oh, that would be bad, there is another rapid right below it... well you can see how that could impact your feeling of "oneness" with the water. That January swim started me down the path of thinking... a very bad place to be, for sure.

Now, I'm no Psychiatrist, but I figured the best thing to do was to head back up to the Hood and face down the demons that had been plaguing my head for the over a month. Either I would come away feeling better and at peace with my paddling or, well, I'd be a basket case.

Saturday dawned and I geared up for the drive out to Hood River, Oregon. Flows were going to be on the low side of good, so I felt pretty good about the trip. My buddy Mike Glass (who was with me on that fateful day in January) and I met a few friends at the Kayak Shed in Hood River and a paddling buddy of mine from the Tri-Cities in Washington, Jim Gaines, drove down to paddle. The group was on that I felt really comfortable with, so I was feeling even better about the trip.

We quickly got shuttle set up and headed up to the put-in. I was a little nervous as we slid out into the river, but after we got through the first rapid, I started to calm down a bit. The water was cold and the wind was blowing, so we all hunkered down to keep warm. The Hood at this flow (4.25 feet) is a fun Class III/III+ish boulder gardeny run, that allows you to really work on your "read and run" skills, as well as your eddy hopping skills. I hit a couple of really deep braces early on, which garnered a slap on the back from my buddy Mike and started to feel in the grove as we moved down the river.

Each rapid seemed to flow very smooth for me and I had that seamless feeling of being at home in the water. We quickly approched Island Rapid (Class IV) and we all dropped in, picking our lines through this technical boulder garden. Once through, I think I produced the loudest whooping and hollering I'd done since January... I felt great! As I looked downstream, I noticed that, just around the corner was the place that knocked me out of my boat back in January... to be honest, I tensed up a little and felt a little bit of fear creap in. However, as I mentioned in my last post, fear is a part of life and I was resolved to make it my companion on this adventure and not my adversary.

Here on the Hood, the river makes a hard right hand turn and piles into a large headwall and then makes an immediate left hand turn around a huge rock on river right that, at higher flows, becomes a huge hole (this is where I got thrashed). I saw my line against the wall and executed it just right and then nailed my line well to the left of the large rock and took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief.

As I passed the spot where I came out of my boat, I began to relive that day in January... I could feel the cold of the water against my face and hear the noise of the river as I pushed out of my boat... Mike paddling over to me and us not being able to get into the eddy above the next drop... his apologizing for not getting me to shore and us dropping into the 100+ yard long rapid... me letting go, so he wouldn't get swamped in the holes that were bashing us around... it was as if I was there all over again. I saw the lead in and the spot where I let go of Mike's boat and I got a real appreciation for how far I swam that day... it was a LONG way. I moved my down, dodging rocks and holes that had beaten me up that day in January and spotted the root ball that I grabbed, giving me a brief respite during this swim... it was nearly 3 feet above the water level. (on that day in January, it was about 3 inches above the water.) I then saw the tree branch that I grabbed to get out of the water and remembered thiusing my last bit of engery to grab that branch and swing into the eddy... it was a very lucky grab. I pulled into the eddy right across from my January exit point and just sat there for a moment. I felt a little choked up, not really sure why, but I guess I just felt so grateful to be there, with great friends on a beautiful river. My buddy Jim paddled by and I peeled out to meet him. I told him the story and his eyes just went wide and said, "Man, that is a long swim!". I just laughed and said, "Yea, you should have been there."

We bounced through the 5 or so rapids that characterize the end of the the Dee to Tucker section of the Hood and met everyone at the take-out. We were all smiles and laughs.

We all headed to the Hood River Taqueria for some excellent Mexican food and beer with great friends before heading back to our respective homes. Personally, I headed home to sit with my lovely wife and tell her about my day... she knew how important this run was for me and was eagerly awaiting my return and the story of my day. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

You know, I feel privileged to be a whitewater kayaker. I don't claim to be a great boater, or even a particularly good boater, but I love it. Unlike any other sport, it allows me to see something in myself... to push myself in an environment that is both specularly beautiful and, at time, dangerous. I am, indeed, a very lucky guy!

Until next time, take some time to see the world around you. Not just from the window of your car or home, but up close and personal. Once you are there, you won't regret it.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


So, I've been thinking a lot about kayaking lately. For no particular reason really, I've just been considering the question most people ask me: "Why do you kayak?" To them, well, it looks like about the most frightening thing a person could do. I don't know if that is the case, cause I can think of a lot scarier things a person could do. Now, I'm not going to say that I don't feel fear when I slip into my boat and let the current pull me down stream. Heck, since my swim on the Hood in January, I've had more than my share of fear. That said, fear is a part of life. In proper amounts, it can be health and protect us (seriously, for untold generations it has kept us humans out the mouths of any number of creatures). I do believe that you have to learn to handle your fear and channel it into something that guides you through the type of adventures that bring it about. I recently read a quote by Susan Jeffers that, I think, sums it up nicely:

"We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a
companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures."

So, why do I paddle... hard to tell. There is a certain part of me that needs the adventure that kayaking brings and, maybe, that same part needs to feel that primal fear that accompanies such adventure. Then again, maybe I just like being a enigma to people.

Until next time...


Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend ReCap with Jim

Well, another weekend behind us and it was a pretty nice one here in Pdx. Shell and I headed out to watch our nephew (Gavin Nash) swim in the Oregon State High School Swimming Championships. He did GREAT! Gavin took second in the 500 freestyle and his relay team took 2 Second Place medals and a First Place medal, the time for which set a new Oregon High School Record. I didn't swim competitively in high school, so I was a bit lost during most of the meet, but it sure was exciting to see him do so well and Shell and I are both really proud of him.

Saturday, we took one of the better February days to finally clean up our back yard after all the winter storms we had. Having spent a considerable amount of my life at or around a golf course, I'm pretty particular about my grass, so it was good to get it cleaned off, assessed and a game plan devised for my late winter/early spring yard care. Shell and I also got the fire pit going, buring some old branches, etc. that were in the yard... I simply can't get enough of that campfire smell.

Sunday was paddling day and I organized a group trip to the Upper Klickitat (Salmon Hatchery to Leidl Campground) in Washington State. Final count at the put in was 15 paddlers, a great turn out for this trip and a testament to the hardiness of Pacific Northwest kayakers.

I'd never paddled this section before, but it is classified as a Class III run. However, on Sunday flows were on the extreme low end of good, so I didn't really know what to expect... that is, with low flows, some runs become more difficult and some become easier. Overall, the flows we had gave this a Class II/II+ feel, but you could tell by the gradient and the drops that more water would make this a wonderful Class III/III+ run. Couple that with the stunning scenary and you have a section of river well worth the drive. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story...

Looking downstream on a typical section of the Upper Klick

Tim enjoying the float

One of the prettier waterfalls on the Upper Klick

Brit digging in and moving downstream

Nobu says "Hang Loose"

My buddy Aaron taking in the beautiful scenary

Typical columar basalt formations on the Upper Klick

On the drive home, Shell and I stopped by Husum Falls on the White Salmon River to take a look at the log that became lodged in it during the last high water event (See Below). I sort of knew what to expect, but I wasn't prepared to feel as sad as I did once I saw the log. The White Salmon River is a pretty special place for me. The Middle section of this river (The Mid White) was a huge step for me and I spent a good portion of my early kayaking months (which coincided with the courtship of my wife) walking Shell down to the put-in and watching her float away. I would drive down to the take out and look at Husum Falls and think "someday, I'm going to run that drop with Shell". When it finally came time to paddle the "Mid White" and run Husum Falls with Shell it was, to say the least, a super high point in my kayaking. Every time I come up here and get to paddle this section of river, it reminds me of special paddling is to me and how lucky I am to have a partner who I can share these wonderful experiences with. Now, the river is still there and we can run the Mid White section, but it just won't feel the same without being able to finish off with Husum Falls. We'll see what the rafting companies can do about it, but for the immediate future, Husum Falls is out of the question... I'll miss you old friend!

So, that's all I've got for now... I'll be out there exploring the beautiful PacNW again this weekend, hope you all can do the same!
Until next time...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rogue River - President's Day Weekend 2009

I joined 48 other paddlers (rafters and kayakers) for a President's Day trip down the Rogue. Flows were a fun and juicy 3210 CFS - 3440 CFS for the weekend and the weather was pretty fair. Shell was gracious enough to let her husband be absent over Valentine's Day, so I could experience this trip... just another reason why I love her and am lucky to have her as my wife.

So, for those of you unfamiliar with the Rogue, the Wild and Scenic Section (Grave Creek to Foster Bar) is a great combo of Class II, III and IV water and has some of the most spectacular scenary I've ever seen.

The first day starts out at the Grave Creek Put-In and paddlers are immediately met by Grave Creek Rapid, which is an eye opening set of 2 Class III rapids with lots of stuff going on, stark eddy lines and big boils. Within the first mile, paddlers come upon Rainie Falls, which definitely requires a scout, if for no other reason to just look at this monster. (You can get out on river left and walk right up to the lip to look at lines.) Now, I've seen this drop in pictures at flows around 1400 CFS and it looked "good to go", but on this particular day, the 3+ foot drop off of the rooster tail rock led into a messy recirculating hydralic, which combined with a 4 foot boil coming off the left wall, made me just stare in awe at this beautiful work of Mother Nature. (Quite honestly, it scared the beejezus out of me and it took me about 1 minute to decide to seek a different line.) There are several chutes that looked good and one cat and a hard shell (Well done Erik!) ran them with success. However, with only a mile under my belt and still feeling a bit groggy, I opted for the Fish Ladder, which was a lot of fun at this flow. The rest of the way down on the first day, we hit Tyee, Wild Cat, Slim Pickins, and the Black Bar twins (Upper and Lower), all of which provided some great Class III paddling amidst stunning scenary.

Saturday night we camped at Horseshoe Bend, which is a great spot. It rained a bit the first night, but we had a great dinner of Beef Stroganoff, several bonfires and some liquid warmth to keep the mid-thirty degree temps at bay.

On Sunday, we did 18 miles, starting out with Quiz Show, Kelsey Falls and numerous other Class II rapids. The water was moving pretty quick and the sun was shining, so life was good. We stopped at the Zane Grey cabin, which was cool and provided a nice break. It was a great break and it amazed us all that, though it was only February, it smelled and felt like a spring day. After this brief respite, we got to the meat of the day... Mule Creek Canyon, Blossom Bar and Devil's Staircase.

Mule Creek Canyon is about a mile long and as narrow as 2 boat lengths in spots. Into this canyon flows the entire Rogure River, so you can imagine the type of hydralics and boils you experience. All I can say is that it was INTENSE. You start out with some great Class III rapids at the Jaws, where paddlers stay left to avoid a nasty little slot. From there, we moved to the center of the river and dug in, essentially boil hopping our way down, trying to avoid the huge eddylines and whirlpools that form out of nowhere. Coffee Pot, the last significant spot in Mule Creek Canyon was more like a huge Espresso machine on steroids, but we all dug through it with success. I was mentally spent by the time we reached the Lunch Eddy at the bottom of the canyon, but I was whooping, hollering and laughing too much to notice. We stopped at Stair Creek Falls, which is awesome, and moved towards Bloomom Bar. On the way, we came upon a River Otter that was inclined to pose for the camera and allowed Erik and I to get within 4 feet of him. After he'd had his fill of us, he jumped back into the river and swam along side us for about 50 yards... a very cool experience.

Next up was Blossom Bar Rapid, which is classified as a Class IV and for good reason. This one has it all... crux moves, big water and a stout boulder garden. We grabbed the eddy on river left and talked about lines: The crux move at the top is the most important, as it avoids the dreaded "Picket Fence". I'd been studying the great diagram in Matt Leidecker's book and felt pretty confident I could do it as soon as I saw the entry slot. My buddy Erik ran first and signaled with a head tap about 1/4 of the way down. I dug in and headed for the slot to get in behind the Goal Post Rock, nailed it and did a great airplane turn around the hole and down the green tongue... I slowed down in a small eddy just long enough to see the rest of my line... I grabbed some current and read and ran the rest of the rapid, going right of the Volkswagen Rock and hitting an eddy on river right to wait for my other friends and provide safety. Everyone made it with style and we stopped to grab some lunch above Devil's Staircase.

Now, as a general rule, I don't like to take long breaks during any sort of sport, especially when I'm feeling "in the groove" and I've got a Class III/III+ staring me in the face. However, we were all pretty hungry and 30 minutes later, with an overly full stomach, I peeled out into this little monster. All I can say is that I took what can only be described as the worst line in the annals of kayaking history, got barrel rolled by a curler, typewritered into the river right wall and, 4 roll attempts later and still bouncing off the wall, pulled my skirt... ARGH! Luckily, I grabbed and eddy and got back to my boat with the assistance of my buddy Brandon. Apparently, Lucifer thought I was a little too cocky today and thought he'd let me know his thoughts... thanks Dark One! We finished the rest of the float down to Tacoma Bar and, as the meal team for Sunday night, the kayakers prepared a feast of penne pasta with meat and veggie sauce, salad and bread. The weather was warm, the compay outstanding and we all sat around the campfire till 11 before drifting back to our respective tents for a well deserved rest.

The last day was an easy 6 mile float down to Foster Bar and a grueling 8 hour drive home.
This trip was my first self support and it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to a return trip to this magical place. Below you will find a few pictures from the trip, but the gallery (photos courtesy of Jim Funk, Dick Sisson and Erik Stoermer) can be found by following this link:

Getting Ready at the Put In

Scouting Rainie Falls

Morning on The Rogue

Blossom Bar Rapid (the crux move is right at the top, behind the large rock to the bottom left of the raft)

Looking back upstream from the take out at Foster Bar

Until next time, enjoy the pictures and remember... right out side your door is a magical land... get on out there and enjoy it!

See you on the river!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Next Stop The Rogue River

Well, I'm heading out tomorrow for a 3 day trip through the Wild & Scenic section of the Rogue River. We'll be putting on the water at the Grave Creek boat launch and taking out at Foster Bar, for a total of something like 36 miles. Normally, you have to have a permit for this trip, but between October and May, anyone can paddle this great river. I'm joining a rather large group (48 people last I counted), most of which are made up of rafts and cats. There is a small contingent of kayakers though, many of whom I've paddled with before (including my buddy Brandon Bloomquist). Shell was supposed to head down to Cali for a scuba diving trip, but the weather down there was going to be crummy, so she is holding down Fort Funk up in Portland (you really have to love a woman who would let her husband go on a kayaking trip over Valentine's Weekend... I know this guy does!)

The weather forecast shows cold temps (low to mid 40's during the day and low 30's at night), so we'll see how accurate the comfort rating on my sleeping bag is. Oh and did I mention snow... yea, snow is definitely a possibility. I'm looking forward to the photos that I bring back, as the river is likely to be totally empty, aside from our group.

You can read about the river here... (This doc has some great photos and write-ups about the river)

Also, if you go to Google Maps (see link over to your right) and type in Galice, Oregon you can follow the course of the river.

Anyway, I hope to have some great pictures and stories to share with you all when I return.

Until then... enjoy your journey!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

East Fork of the Lewis... The Waterfall Run

I had my first trip down the EFL's famed Waterfall run (Class IV/V) on Saturday, February 7th, with my buddies Mike Glass, Brandon Bloomquist and Aaron Nudelman... all I can say is "WOW".

We put in about a 1/2 mile above Sunset Falls, which provided a nice warm up before with hit this 17 foot waterfall.

To make the experience interesting, I got flipped in the hole just above the pool and hit a nice roll, which had a great, calming effect on me. We scouted Sunset Falls on the way up, but got out of our boats to look at it one more time. Mike went first and nailed a clean landing. I was pretty nervous, being the highest waterfall I'd ever been on, but ended up running it pretty clean. In spite of my weak boof stroke, I penciled in and came right up, whooping and hollering. Like I said, that was the highest falls I'd ever run and, for me, it was a great accomplishment. Here's a picture of my buddy, Aaron Nudelman, charging over Sunset Falls... and one of Mike "sitting safety" below the falls (the line at these flows is at the extreme right of the photo):

From Sunset Falls, we moved out way down through Hippy Johns Boulder Drop (so named, because someone discovered a guy meditating on a rock in the middle of the river... I've been there, how he got on a rock in the middle of the river, I'll never know), Sky Pilot and the other unnamed drops and chutes above the gorge section of this run. We all had really clean lines through everything and smiles covered each of our faces.

The next major section of this run is called "The Gorge", mainly because the walls of the river shoot straight up and, well, it's a gorge. There are 2 main rapids in the section: Class IV/V "Screaming Left" and Class IV "Dragon's Back". We got out of our boats above Screaming Left to scout. It only took me a minute to decide to walk it with my buddy Mike Glass... the risk/reward ratio just felt off to me. Brandon and Aaron both walked it as well. We walked down to Dragon's Back to make sure wood had not worked it's way down and happily discovered it was clean. After looking at the line and discussing options for running it, we all decided to give er'.

The intended procedure was to seal launch into the eddy below Screaming Left, pop over the little ledge below it and head down. We all set safety for Mike and he nailed the drop... as evidenced by the photo...

Mike got out and set safety with Aaron for Brandon and I. Both Brandon and I had super clean lines... I'm not sure who was laughing harder! We all set up for Aaron's descent. Unfortunately, Aaron got a little sideways in his seal launch and got stuffed in the hole and pinned against a rock and had to swim. He self rescued and we were able to get his paddle and boat.

After we all got back in our boats, we floated in awe of the pure beauty of this place...

From the Gorge, we moved down to John's Swimming Hole and got out to look at it... there is a large piece of wood blocking the entry, but we snuck around it on the left and all hit our lines at the bottom nicely. This is a great dope and ends in, yes you guessed it, a swimming hole:

Below John's Swimming Hole, we hit Mr. Twister, which is a benign looking S-Turn rapid. Yours truly failed to have enough speed going into the second turn and got stuffed and pinned up against a rock. I held on and though I was getting a pounding on my head (my new helmet has the battle scars to prove it), hit an off side roll and popped up, much to the delight and relief of my buddies... we decided it was a opportune time to take a break and we found a nice sunny spot to pull out and rest.

You know, paddling is a weird sport... you experience places and feelings that other non-paddlers don't really understand. As we sat there, laughing and looking at this beautiful, untouched place, it struck me just how lucky I am to have buddies like Aaron, Mike and Brandon.

After we got back in our boats, we floated down to Horseshoe Falls (22 feet) and scouted on river left. I was pretty intimidated by this waterfall, as it seemed appreciably bigger than Sunset (given the heights I found when I got home, I guess I was right). We hopped across the rocks over to the entry slot and all discussed our intended lines. Mike went first and nailed the drop...

I hopped in my boat and made my way to the slot. I got a little hung up on the rocks getting in, but pulled my way into the water and slide down the little chute, steadied myself in the stiller water at the top and dug in for the dome at the top of the auto boof flake. I nailed my intended spot and sailed off the edge, nice softish landing and popped up, whooping and hollering. All I can say is that my Jackson SuperHero ROCKS!

Mike and I set up safety for Brandon and Aaron and both nailed the waterfall.

From Horseshoe Falls, we floated down to the take out, laughing and remarking just how great a day it had been.

When I think back on it, it was a great day... not just because I paddled something that was difficult and required all the skills I've acquired in this sport, but because I was able to paddle this beautiful stretch of river with 3 great friends...

Enjoy your friends and family and, if you get a chance, head out into America's wilderness areas... they are pretty special places and those who work to protect them deserve all the thanks we can give them!

I'll see you on the river...