Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bigger things to come...

I've been pretty busy ghostwriting, instructing, and yard working for the last little bit. So instead of writing silly blogposts and assembling magazines about kayaking in my free time, I've actually been kayaking. It's a tough world, man...
Especially in places like this...
Sahalie Falls, McKenzie River, OR
Sam Drevo Photo
The last few months have been a blur of new friends, new rivers, and a lot of work. It's been very rewarding, but not without its fair share of frustrations. It's hard to teach intro classes on Class II when the gnar is running. It's also hard to constantly be surrounded by elite paddlers that think nothing of multiple laps on the Little White Salmon (LDUB) and multi-day first descents. It sorta puts you in your place and makes you feel like maybe you're not as cool as you think you are...
Those feelings are enhanced when you find yourself in situations like this...
Canyon Creek, WA
But feelings like that, when handled correctly, can inspire growth. They set the standards just a little higher. And when you make friends with a similar drive, great things can be accomplished.
Kate Daniel gettin' stylie on the Lower Clack
Becomes this:
Kate, equally stylie in downtown Portland on a SUPer moon adventure
With the right people, those challenges that seem so frustrating become something to laugh about.
Like a waterfall that you just aren't nailing the boof on like you want to.
Or taking those blind strokes off the lip for your first time
(Gus is killing it, btw)
 So I made the most of my time on the mellow rivers. I taught, learned to teach, and just learned more about kayaking. We created EDDY, SUPed, and watched the pros race down Canyon Creek.
Harrison Rea about to boof the rainbow...
Canyon Creek, WA
Of all of the above, EDDY has been the most influential in my skill development. "Beaverator Kid, please bestow upon me the wisdom of this great and powerful creation," you say. And truly, the information is too important to be kept a secret.

EDDY is a game. A game not unlike HORSE or PIG as played in basketball, but applied to the river, and, specifically catching eddies.

Suitable for 2+ players, ages 0-160+
Objective: Create a line through a rapid that ends in an eddy that is difficult or impossible for the other player(s) to repeat. For each line missed, paddlers progressively receive the letters E-D-D-Y. Players alternate turns creating lines. End the game with as few letters as possible.

The Rules:
  1. The player creating the line must broadcast his/her intentions. If they don't hit the line they said they would, they get a letter.
  2. The following player must catch the same eddies and use the same features as the creator, unless otherwise specified. If they do not succeed, they get a letter and must catch the next eddy possible. 
  3. Players may not return to an eddy previously used, unless it is part of the specified line.
  4. Surfing waves, holes, hitting boofs, and cross bow strokes qualify as part of "the line" created.
  5. If a horizon prevents a significant line from being created, the creator may create half of their line and commit to the second half after the follower(s) have caught the staging eddy.
  6. Rules are meant to be broken. Adapt this game to the river and your needs, but stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the challenges set.
So there you have it, young grasshopper, the game of eddy, and the key to me surviving this:

The LDUB aka The Little White Salmon aka The GNAR
The Little White Salmon pretty much deserves every bit of its reputation. It's a nonstop tumult of whitewater pouring down the side of a mountain, with crystal clear water, and some of the best rapids in the world. It is difficult.
This is about as mellow as it ever gets.
 There are a lot of places you don't want to be.
Like here...
a little far right on Boulder Sluice.
or here...
a little coser to the meat of Wishbone than I had hoped.
 There are some really big holes and a handful of pretty stout drops.
like the sweet boof at the top of S-Turn
It is incredibly gorgeous.
A pretty classic move in Gettin' Busy...
ride the pillow, take a boof, repeat. Whitewater as far as the eye can see...
All the challenges and small frustrations were washed away as I drifted in the twilit flatwater at the end of the Little White. Truly it seemed that though "nothing was different, everything had changed." My perceived lack of progress was really only a product of my ever raising standards set by the elite paddlers around me. The feelings of stagnation were indicative of expansive growth. And for that, I have my great friends to thank.

The next few weeks are sure to hold more growth with bigger things to come. Until then, here are some of my favorite shots from my time out here so far.
Cheap thrills...
Kate Daniel Photo

Thuggin' with the ACA
Pacific Northwest Collegiate Trophy
Ben Small Photo
Pretty much the coolest photo of feet I've ever seen
Kate Daniel Photo
An intimidating line on the Little White, Stovepipe

Until next time...

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I am a freelance writer and photographer, collector of experiences, adventure lover, and outdoor goer.