Friday, January 25, 2013

Surgical Strike: The Box

SURGICAL STRIKE:  (Noun) an attack, usually without prior warning,
intended only to deal with a specific target.  

A few months back, when flows were low across the Pacific Northwest, and the summer flows of the Little White had faded along with the color in the leaves, I was searching for something to run, and willing to go a long way to get it.  My buddy Chris Totten, who lives up in Seattle, happened to be on his way back from a fishing trip with his dad in Idaho and stopped in La Grande for a beer break.  We got to chatting about what to boat, and remembered that there were releases on the Ashlu into the fall.  So we made a plan to get on it the final weekend of scheduled releases, which happened to be the next weekend!

After doing a little bit on interneting, I found the website where you request flows for the Box, and was able to talk to representatives from the hydroelectric company who assured me that flows would be available, I just had to make the request.  Check it out here:

So I made the request, finished up work on Friday afternoon, and hopped in the rig, and thus began the Surgical Strike.  The next morning, Chris and I met up with Adrian Wigston, another friend from seattle, rearranged the gear, made sure we had our passports, and set off to Canada.

We went straight to the put-in for the box, got out of our car, and were immediately given beer and other goodies from some new Canadian friends that showed up a minute after us.  They were just cruising about the woods having a good time, and wanted to make us feel welcome.  Gotta love those Candians, aye!

Stoked to be at the Put-in!

Amazing scenery and a super stout drop

 We walked on past 50-50, and dropped into the epic canyon.  Chris had been down before, so we were just tailing him through every thing.  The Ashlu is one of the most beautiful and impressive places I have ever been, and I'll let the pictures do the talking from here. 

 Sequence of Adrian and I dropping in

One of so many perfect drops!
Once you leave the boxed in part of the canyon, there's still more, it opens up into huge boulder gardens.  The highlight is this killer double drop, depicted below.


And two.
But the rest is still pretty dam good.  The following shots are of Chris and I at the same move, one from above, the other from below.  Nice little rockslide boof in the middle of huge boulders.  Perfect.

And then there's more. 

Totten on one of the final boofs.

After we got off day one, we headed up to Whistler for some Saturday night raging.  By the time we left the club, where there was plenty of dubstep and dance-pop, we were all soked in sweet and went and crashed in the Whistler parking lot.  We awoke at 7 AM when the guard came by and wrote a ticket for camping in Lot 4, so we headed back to the Ashlu, grabbed some z's on the forest, and lapped the box a couple times before heading back.  We were in Canada for less than 36 hours.  That's what they call a Surgical Strike!

Signing off,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ducky Fun

A couple more videos involving the IK.

Pat and I visited our friend in Rainier for a weekend. I decided to poke around on the maps and internet to see if there was anything worthy of exploration. I came up with this backyard adventure involving a 2.5 mile hike into a forgotten park. A short but rewarding gorge was the ticket for the day.

A seven and a half mile hike into Thomas Creek was the perfect adventure for last weekend. The next day I found out how to drive all the way to the falls though!

Map to drive to the falls.

Happy viewing,


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Bomb Dry suit

As a full time college student, I have learned to get by with gear that meets the standard of “good enough” in order to stay within budget.  In the past year I have been fortunate enough to receive product from Bomber Gear that has allowed me to experience truly high quality gear.  No piece of equipment impressed me as much as The Bomb Dry suit.  Paddling in the Pacific Northwest for 9 years has taught me that a dry suit is not only a major comfort, but can also be necessary to avoid life threatening situations.

Paddling in the PNW can be cold!
Photo: Nate Merrill

 Places I have seen this occur are capped by a trip last year where 3 of us were forced to hike off an exploratory trip in the snow.  We hiked for 8 hours, 4 of which were at night.  Two of us wore dry suits, one was in a dry top and shorts.  The person in a dry top experienced hypothermia and none of us had any illusions about his chances for survival if we did not make it out that night.  The dry suits were the difference and we all learned valuable lessons on that trip.  One of which struck me a few days later when I went paddling next and realized that my dry suit was now leaking excessively.  The dry suit did not have abrasion padding to lesson the impact of the undergrowth.  I decided the next suit I used needed this feature.

Lesson learned, the correct gear on the return trip.
Photo: Keel Brightman

I do not like to be restricted by anything aside from my skill level, so a dry suit that stays dry is  important to me.  This is what made me so excited when I received the dry suit from bomber.  The Bomb dry suit has padding in all the right places (abrasion-resistant oxford nylon).  The knee/shin padding is the location that takes the most abuse when I go kayaking as hiking through the woods is a cherished aspect of kayaking to me.  I no longer have to worry about the underbrush rendering my suit ineffective.  The padding on the rear keeps the suit intact after long term interaction with the kayak seat.  Shoulder and elbow padding also add extra protection during less than ideal lines.

Photo: Melissa Fowler

My next favorite feature of this suit is Bomber Gear’s signature Performance Cut fashion which allows for all the reach I could ask for.  This can be hard to find at the height of 6’3”, with this suit I experience full range of motion which is actually something I have never had before. 

Photo: Melissa Fowler

The neoprene cuffs on both the wrists and ankles are likely going to be the way to go for all dry suits in the future as they are effective and extremely comfy! The Sub-Screen material possesses the perfect amount of elasticity to keep water out while lacking pressure points.  The ankle gaskets overlay the 4-layer Toray socks with reinforced bottoms.  These feel very durable and fit easily inside shoes or booties without pressure points.

Photos: Patrick Stephenson

Tunnels seem a basic feature, but Bomber did not neglect even this part of the suit. A dual-adjustable overskirt with rubber closer flaps is engineered to allow for the full spectrum of body sizes to be fit without excess material.  They utilized this area to sew on reflective logo’s to improve visibility. 
Other cool features include an easily accessible emergency whistle, glass bead reflective piping to further improve visibility and a sleeve pocket with a drain to store maps or a snack.  The entrance is aft which is the driest style and with a little effort I can reach and zip myself up. They were sure to include a relief zipper which, like the entrance zipper, is by TiZip.

Photo: Melissa Fowler

The suit itself is made of Entrant HB, which like all companies claim is highly waterproof and breathable.  So try one out yourself to see this is the real deal.

Photo: Melissa Fowler

Being warm and dry inspires confidence when there is ice on the walls!
Photo: Emile Elliot

Overall Bomber has gone above and beyond to provide a highly functional dry suit at a functional price. Every feature I have ever wished to see on a dry suit is here and I personally have never been so comfortable in a piece of kayaking equipment.  Like all the new Bomber products, this is a top of the line piece of equipment.  I can honestly say I would still be paddling with this suit if I were funding the purchase on my own.

Be Ready!

Falls City Falls with the Bomb Suit


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top of the Rock video

Ryan Scott edited a short video on this section of stream.  It can be viewed below.  His website has more pictures and a few words. 

Rock Creek, WA - Headwaters Canyon - (Top of the Rock) from CRG Video on Vimeo.

Our trip report