Thursday, August 30, 2007

Eagle Creek-Columbia Gorge-(Swimming)

Last Wednsday Alex and I went to Eagle Creek in the Columbia Gorge to do some swimming and our new hobbie, tubing. Now I used to look down upon tubers as I am sure most kayakers do, but we have learned that when the water level drops that and you have worn out the lower Wind and the Truss is not cutting it, that tubing drops that are too low to get a kayak down can be a good substitute for the real thing. On this day our destination was Punchbowl falls, a very famous hike. We did not have time to continue upstream but plan on returning next year. We hiked up from the main falls two slides and started on a nice ten foot slide. This was difficult to land as in order to hold onto the tube we would have scraped our hands pretty bad. Then we headed downstream and spent some time on the slide above Punchbowl. After we each went three times it was time for the big one. We both got the impression that the hit would be very hard in a tube, so I swam off and Alex jumped off. This is all the time we had as I had just enough time to get back to football. The falls and slides above them would be doable in a kayak at this level, but the hike would only be worth it if you ran punchbowl and I think that might be a real hard hit. Here is the video. -Jacob

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rock Creek (swimming)

Last week Alex and I went to Rock Creek to go swimming. We decided to start at Heaven and Hell since I already new where it was. I had a little trouble finding it, but as we were driving back I saw the horizon line and it was a short hike to the falls. We had brought inner tubes in hopes that we could slide down some of it and it turned out that we were in luck. The first slot/crack drop that is usually portaged was easily slideable with a fun boof at the end. There was another drop above the crack that was fun. Then the three foot ledge between the two bigger drops was slideable but required landing on a rock ledge and took some consideration. This one was really fast once you hit the shelf and the tubes took most of the impact away(very fun). And here is Alex cleaning the shelf drop. Then a short pool above Heaven and Hell. We then scouted the first ledge in this double drop that is 5+ in terms of kayaking at normal levels.
Alex takes a look.
At this level we could drop the first ledge and get out which is what we did. The ledge only had about 25 cfs in it but the six foot ledge created a powerful drop for the inner tubes. There were more swims here than any of the other drops, we both had a little above a fifty percent success rate. Then we eddied out on the right and ran them all again many times. There was plenty of carnage that occured and some of these videos captured this.
The pictures and video were all taken on Alex's phone so the quality is a little blury.
Steep Creek falls on the drive back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Naked falls

One of these days after football Nick, Alex and I decided to go swimming.  This day Nick found a spot on the internet called Naked falls on The Washougal.  I had drive past before while kayaking, and was looking forward to some summertime fun with toys. We drove there with a boogie board, an innertube, and life jackets and camera. When we got there we realized just how fun this would be. The normal kayaking line was slideable on the boogieboard which we all slid down a few times.
Me sliding
and about to drop
and the left side lowhead damish drop was low enough to run, which we cleaned up on for the most part, one or two swims each:).
There was also a 25-30 foot cliff. We spent hours there and didn't get bored.
Alex "seal launching" in

 When we were gearing down to leave some idiot started talking big about drifting the gravel road.  Alex didn't want his car anywhere near that guy so drove it away before the guy could pull his stunt.  It was a good call, the dude crashed his car exactly where Alex's vehicle had been parked about 1.5 minutes before.


Lower Wind

Two weekends ago Nick, his brother Alex and I went to the Lower Wind for our last run before Nick and Alex left for college. At this level it is a large hassel to run the entire river as the total lack of other boaters proved. High Bridge was the worst with the IK's getting stuck on almost every one of the small drops that make up this rapid. For Hardshell's it might almost be worth it, but the rapids all dropped a class, with the fun being zero until the Flume.
This rapid is usually OK
but boring today
The excitement is not actually the Flume, but it was the first reason to get out of our boats. Within about a minute we had all decided to portage. The most likely outcome at this lowest of levels was demonstrated in the first clip of Theron Jourdan's video "Hot Session" which can be seen on . The level we had was quite a bit lower than that two, making it next to impossible to miss the F U rock without hitting the rock that Theron's head almost collides with in the video. So we all tried to seallaunch in interesting ways to spice things up a little. With the Flume looking the way it does, there really is not much reason to run the entire river. We boat scouted Beyond Limits, then headed down to Shipperds. first tier second tier (Nick)
Third Tier
We had tons of fun and Alex decided to run it for the first time after watching Nick and I both run it succesfully with a couple rail-grabs. He did great. Then we headed to the hot-springs to finish off the day.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Green Truss

Nick and I finally got to run the Green Truss last Sunday for the first time. Theron Jourdan showed us the lines and was a great leader for the day. We all did pretty well with an IK swim at Little Brother and Upper Zig-zag, and a ton of bracing for me. Theron of course did really well and fired up BZ with a stellar line.
Theron on Double-Drop
This first trip was not as eventful as our second trip the following Thursday, so this report will be on that run. On this trip was Nick and myself, along with Jordan Englert (his first time) and my father (Rob Cruser) who was making his first descent in ten years in an IK. The last time he did this section in his IK he nearly died in lower Zig-zag. The story of his entrapment can be read here, We decided to lower the boats off the bridge this time, which was easier and less sketchy than the normal put-in. We ran the warm up drop right below the Truss Bridge and headed around the corner and boat scouted the first few drops down to S-turn. On the second drop I had my only flip so far on the Truss, in a slot at the bottom that I do not like anymore, but I rolled up fine and continued without another hitch. We all made it down S-turn fine with the hardshellers getting a great boof off the bottom ledge.
Myself with a solid boofThings were looking good until we got to meatball, when we discovered that Nick had broke his paddle in the drop above. Luckily it was a cheap plastic paddle, that had broken in the same way twice before. All that happened was the blade came apart from the shaft. With the prospect of hiking out a daunting one, we found a couple sticks and used them as supports as we duct taped them on. Then we all cleaned Meatball and Bob's

Myself in meatballWe all portaged Big Brother and all cleaned Little Brother.

Jordan drops Little BrotherThe paddle held until we got to double-drop, where in the rapid above it broke again. Nick borrowed a paddle to run Double-Drop from Jordan who decided to portage, and had his only swim of the day in the bottom ledge. My dad and I both did great in this drop. Below here my dad set to work loading up the paddle with sticks and duct tape until it was on just enough to make it the rest of the way if Nick took it easy on his paddle.

Rob Cruser (my dad) fires up Double-Drop

Myself dropping into Wicked Hole

Below here we made descent time to Zig-Zag canyon, with no flips occuring. Cheesegrater and Unavoidable were fun as usual and we got pictures and video for both of them.

The Author in the top drop of Cheesegrater

Rob Cruser in the bottom drop of Cheesegrater

We were all excited about Upper Zig-Zag for many reasons. My dad hadn't kayaked this drop in a long time, and had swam it the last time. Nick had swam it the last time. I had barely kept myself from flipping last time and wanted a clean run this time. Jordan hadn't ever run it and was pretty nervous/excited about it. I wasn't feeling too bad about it so I went first and never had to brace with a solid boof through the right slot at the first ledge. Then I videod Jordan having a perfect line and heard him give his first ever whoop below a rapid that I had heard. My dad followed next and I didn't get the Q from Nick so I missed his exciting line. He got pushed left in the entrance and almost flipped, but pulled it off, then he got pushed sideways into the wall at the first ledge, he flipped here and kicked hard to get away from the sieve. Nick decided that he couldn't run the rapid with his duct-taped paddle so portaged along the right wall. The portage took about 25 min. but could be done in about 10. I had read that the portage was brutal, but it really didn't seem that bad, and really might have been easier than the lower Zig-zag portage. We all portaged Lower Zig-zag even though it is starting to get run, and if you stayed up-right it would be easier than some of the other rapids on the run, but if you flipped you would get your head ripped off by the submerged log. Below here is the Orletta, which we attempted to get down quickly, but IK's don't really move very quickly, so we took out about 8 O'clock. The Orletta was fun as usual and went well, except that my dad hit his elbow pretty hard on a wall. We all cleaned the rest of the drops and arrived at the take-out after a good day.

Myself on Triple drop

Here is the video of our second trip down. Nick with his duct-taped paddle

Here is the video.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lewis River falls

On June 21st, Nick, his brother Alex, and I drove to the Lewis river to camp and run some waterfalls. We got excactly what we were looking for with a great water level and a choice of a multitude of slides, ledges and falls. Nick and I drove up before Alex because he had a dentist appointment. On the way we scouted Rush Creek, which looked real steep. Later that day we went to scout the take out eddy above upper falls that would make the portage around the nasty job infinately easier than the last time we were there. As we were pulling back into the campground after our scouting trip, we rounded a corner to see a car with boats on it. We parked quickly to see what they were doing. We got to the falls just in time to see one of them saddling up for the lower falls (five-footer into a fourty footer). He took a real good line, cleaning the drop but landing flat, he said that it was a pretty big hit even though the water was fairly airated. Then we see one of his buddies set his boat next to the falls in seal launch form. We couldn't beleive that he was actually going to seal launch into the falls. Sure enough though, he pulled on his skirt and dropped in, completely melting into the falls about halfway down. He resurfaced upside down and was dragged into the cave behind the falls, a really bad place to be. He later said it was real difficult to breath even though he was upright just because of the spray. Ropes were thrown, including ours, but nooone could pull him out. He tried about seven times to paddle out, and on the final try just squeeked out. This boater turned out to be Rush Sturgeous, a pro I had heard of as a big waterfall guru. After seeing him have so much trouble behind the falls our hopes of running it started to dwindle. seal launching in After a while Alex showed up and we headed to Twin falls to do a few laps on this forgiving twenty-five footer. Both Nick and I cleanded it three times while Alex filmed. I was pleased that this falls was still running this late in the summer. We then headed to bed anticipating the next morning. Nick tucking Twin Falls We headed upstream the next morning to put in above Taitnapum falls. We scouted it and saw some other boaters runnning it. We heard they were going to run Upper from a guy named John who was one of there buddies, but had forgot his gear. We dressed quick and put in, I decided not to scout the first twenty footer from river level to save time, I dropped off the left side and had a perfect line, then ran the next slide to set up safety for Nick. The only spot with enough water to get an IK down was the middle, so Nick plugged that great and we headed downstream. Below here was a couple iii-iv drops chisseled out of the bedrock. Then we eddied out above upper and scouted the lead in that we were refering to as Apocalypse because from the top it looked like the end of the world (it is obviously still part of Upper falls so Apocalypse is not to become its full time name). This drop is a four foot drop, into a slide, into an eight foot drop with a decently sticky hole in the middle. Nick and I went left and it was fine. Apocalypse Nick decided not to run the next three foot ledge right above the nasty crack that we were portaging, while I ran it on the right, the eddy is plenty big, but if you miss your going over a class VI-ish drop backwards. We got our boats to the lowering point right as Ryan Scott was lowering his last buddy down. He offered us a helping hand and we slid down to a rock ledge right above the final drop in Upper Falls. We stood there for a second or two, then I helped Nick into his boat and into the eddy. He peeled out and had a perfect line down the falls with a great boof and tuck. I was then left up there to get in by myself. I slid in, but with noone to hold me in the eddy I came out before I was ready and had to fight to get towards my line, I ended up going a little farther right than I wanted to, but cleaned the falls in the end. I untucked my paddle before I landed and gashed my nose open on the cockpit of my boat. A small price to pay for such an awesome drop. Myself midair. After this was some easy water until we got to Middle falls. The slide on the right was so fun that we did it twice to get video. Some of the guys from Ryan Scott's group slid on there buts instead of running the falls. This one was so fun even Alex ran it:). Then we buzzed downstream to watch the other group running lower. We got there to here that they decided to not run it. The fact that a pro kayaker and a group of very skilled boaters, along with my split nose helped me make my choice to portage. Nick however, spent a long time scouting, but in the end decided the cave wasn't worth the risk. All in all it was a great trip and we hope to return some day. Here is the video, filmed almost entirely by Alex. -Jacob