Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Return to Paddling

Over the course of last season, I seemed to have sustained a minor shoulder injury, which prompted my doctor to recommend taking a month (or more) off from paddling. Well, that recommendation came back in early November, so I held off through Shell's Birthday Paddle (which was rather painful) and then rested the month of December. My dive certification got blown out by a sudden snap of cold weather (ice on Puget Sound... SERIOUSLY!?), so I pretty much rested.

Fast forward to early January and I was headed back to the water. I wasn't entirely sure how my shoulder would do, so I thought I would take it easy my first day back. So, my buddy Aaron Nudelman and I joined a group for a run down the seldom paddled, little known Cedar Creek (a tributary of the Lewis River in Washington State.

First off, this is a GREAT run, but only 1/3 could be classified as great whitewater... the rest is just damn beautiful. We had a great time on the middle 1/3 negotiating the excellent Class III/III+ water and felt grateful to have been able to paddle this narrow little creek due to recent heavy rains in the PacNW. Adding to my personal joy was the fact that my shoulder did not hurt at all both during and after the run, which seemed like a good omen for the 2010 season.

This past weekend, Aaron and I joined a group on the Kalama River in Washington State for a quick paddle down the "Gate to Bridge" section. The Kalama was running pretty high (2,000 CFS on the EF Lewis Gauge), which is considerable higher than we normally run it (oh, around 1,000 CFS). IT WAS A BLAST! Very fast moving water, good sized wave trains, some pushy rapids, big boils and fun drops... we had so much fun, Aaron and I ran it twice... all without shoudler pain.

The next day, my buddy Mike Glass joined Aaron and I for a trip down Jordan Creek (tributary of the Wilson River on the Oregon Coast). Let me just say that after my first trip down Jordan last year, I knew I loved the river, but after my trip down this past Sunday, I'm pretty sure Jordan Creek is one of my most favorite places to paddle. A steep narrow creek (falling gradient of 70 feet per mile), remote setting, quality Class III+ drops, 2 gorge sections... seriously, it is, as I noted to my buddy Mike, my definition of whitewater kayaking. We had a great trip, even though is rained steadily the entire run... but hey, it's Oregon, right???? Topping our trip off was a stop at Coleman's 9n Rest near Gales Creek... If you happen to be driving the Wilson River Highway, YOU MUST STOP HERE! Seriously, the food is top notch, the service is about the best I've ever seen and the atmosphere just makes you feel at home.

Other than that, Shell and I have just been enjoying our new home during the holidays and preparing for a fun filled summer in which I'll celebrate my 40th year on this planet... Not sure how I feel about that moniker, but I'm sure I'll have something to say as I get closer.

That's all for now... enjoy some pics from my trips... next up, my rescheduled dive certification at the end of January and, I'm sure, a couple of additional river trips to talk about.

Take care and enjoy our wonderful planet!


A typical rapid on Cedar Creek
Yea, this is on Cedar Creek... what a cool looking place!
Looking downstream from the Kalama put-in
A typical Jordan Creek scene
Jordan Creek... upstream from the above picture