Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Upper Wind Festival

Last weekend marked the start of festival season in the Pacific Northwest. The Upper Wind Race features a mass start format and consisted of around 50 competitors this year, with several divisions. I competed in the Mens K1 division. There was also a Womens K1 class, a long boat class, and a r2 class.

The event is organized by The Oregon Rafting team, namely Tim Brink, and is heavily supported by Next Adventure, along with several other paddling related entities in the Portland area.

Seeing as this event was initially designed as a 'raft race' the course is quite long and a rather large portion of 'flat water' class III after the initial mile and half of IV+ whitewater. All combined, the course is just over 3 miles in length and takes over 20 minutes to complete. Needless to say, by the time you're at the bottom, everyone is pretty tuckered out.

The week leading up to the festival had been uncharacteristically warm for this time of year, but right on cue, we woke up on Saturday morning to rain and cold temps. Spring is in the air! The rain did bump the water level up to approx. 5.8 feet on the Stabler gauge, which made for a nice flow for racing.

After the long boat class took off, the K1 Mens Division was up. All 30 of us lined up along the banks above the bridge at the Stabler put-in. This year, someone decided to have us start with our bows towards the bank, so the first paddle stroke that everyone took was actually a back stroke. We were seeded based on a poker card we had been issued upon registration. Naturally, I had drawn a 7 of hearts and was towards the back of the pack to start.

The whistle blew and the river erupted into a flurry of boats and churning paddles. This was by far the most challenging part of the race for me! Trying to keep myself in the current while avoiding the serrated fiberglass blades of the guy next to me, the first 1/2 mile of the race was overly tiring and seemed to go on forever!

Just as the racers began to thin out and fall into line, we entered the meat of the run. Initiation down through Climax features a nice blend of class III and IV boulder gardens with one obvious crux at a rapid known as Ram's Horn. Having only paddled this river a few times in the past, I focused on keeping an eye on the guy in front of me as we dropped through the goods.

By the time we came to the last real rapid on the run (Climax) I was overly tired and kind of forgot the line through this often sticky ledge hole. Luckily, I was able to orient myself at the last moment and came through the hole in big stern squirt. Just another mile of flat water to the finish line!

I spent the last mile of the race jockeying for position with Jesse Becker and Michael Freeman. Jesse ended up winning the duel and I came in just a nose in front of Michael. After it was all said and done, I finished in the middle of the pack (9th place) and was a full minute+ behind Dan Rubado (1st Place) and Trevor Sheehan (2nd Place). Times were unofficial and haven't been posted as of today, but you can view the standings at

In the Women's class, which featured 7 racers, Kim Becker edged Heather Herbeck for 1st place and had a pretty exciting duel at the finish line with Nicole Mansfield and Katrina Van Wijk, who were charging in the topo-duo. I believe Kim held them off in the end.

Below is a collection of photos taken by Eric Adsit, Nick Hymel, and my girlfriend Claire, who was kind enough to hike all the way into Ram's Horn in the pouring rain to watch the show. I've also put together a video of my headcam footage.

Hope everyone can make it our next year! And remember, the Northwest Creeking Competition is only a month away!

Until next time,

Dan Rubado, way out in front at the start of Initiation (Photo: Nick Hymel)

 The front pack getting into the goods. (Photo: Nick Hymel)

 More K1 Men routing through Initiation. (Photo: Nick Hymel)

 Dynamic Duo. (Photo: Nick Hymel)

 R2 Class (Photo: Nick Hymel)

 More rubber. (Photo: Nick Hymel)

Nicole and Katrina rocking the topo below Ram's Horn (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

 Jesse Becker, Leif Anderson, Harrison Rea, and Nate Merrill in the middle. (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Random chargers below Ram's Horn (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Dan Rubado trailed closely by Lewis Hooker (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

 Christie Eastman in the long boat division. (Photo: Claire Rothstein)

Harrison Rea and Nate Merrill (author) routing through the top of Ram's Horn (photo: Eric Adsit)

 Follow the leader. (photo: Eric Adsit)

The video!

Friday, March 8, 2013

2012 In a Nut Shell

Things have been pretty mellow around the Into The Outside Headquarters for the last few weeks. Matt's been paddling down in Ecuador and Argentina (reports to come) and weather hasn't really be cooperating here in the PNW. The abnormally dry January and February did allow for some nice days on the Little White, but there just hasn't been enough water to bring in anything noteworthy. I did have a fun day out on Hagen last week with a rather stompy flow, but that window closed nearly as quickly as it had opened.

The lack of water has left us at Into the Outside with a proverbial paper jam. PC Load Letter, what the %$#@ does that mean? With that in mind, I began going over some of the trip reports that I started, but never got around to finishing. After searching for awhile, I decided to combined a few of the highlights from 2012 into one gift wrapped photo dump and treat you all to a casual Friday send off.

disclaimer: This is really mu personal summary of 2012. Both Jacob and Matt were able to get on some amazing rivers of their own.

The year started off in fine form:  Punch Bowl Falls, Eagle Creek, OR

Before too long, heavy rain brought the Little Klickitat up to an amazing flow. Dan Rubado demonstrates how to punch a hole at 1400cfs. 

In what would become a theme for 2012, I found myself on McCoy at a juicy level. 

The morning after at the NW Creeking Competion. Racers keeping themselves in peak physical condition with the breakfast of champions. PBR.

Given the crummy snow-pack in California, we headed South earlier than folks usually do and were rewarded with perfect flows on the Middle Feather and South Branch. Late April in Cali!

Late spring means Little White Salmon! Rubado basking below Spirit.

We managed to catch a late season Robe lap on our Northern Exposure trip in July. Brett Barton runs Catcher's Mitt while I get ready to sneak to the right.

After Robe, we decided to make for better weather and spent a day on the Cooper River in Central Washington. JD Gaffney checking out from Norm's Resort.

Somehow, we decided it would be a good idea to hike into Salmon River Canyon from the bottom up. Poor decision, next time we'll bring two cars and do the long shuttle. Alex Kilyk mid-suffer-fest.

Final Falls to the Left and Vanishing Gorge to the Right

 Late summers means it's time to head up Highway 12 into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Two of my favorite rivers in the world come in just as everything else is falling out: The Ohanapecosh and the Upper Upper Cispus.

A bustling secret camp on the Ohane.

A random hero dropping through triple drop on the Ohanapecosh.

Jacob with a perfect line on the Upper Upper.

Fall/Winter boating is always means cold temps and obscure rivers. John Edwards on the hike into Silver Creek near Salem, OR.

That about sums up my kayaking in 2012. I was able to get on quite a few new rivers (which is always the best part of kayaking) and kept the carnage to a minimum. 2013 is already well underway and I can't wait to get into the thick of boating season. So many rivers remain on my list and with any luck, I'll be able to knock a few off by the time 2013 comes to a close. I'm looking at you Hoffstadt...

Until next time!

Best regards,