Monday, June 21, 2010

Bull Run Slalom Camp

Saturday May 1 found 10 of us at the Bull Run Slalom Camp. After a briefing on the course, obstacles, and instructional format for the day, we walked the trail along the defunct Portland General Electric powerhouse down to the end of the course to have a look. As we approached the river, the entire course became visible upstream. A sizeable eddy is available to take out and hike back upstream. I later learned that the slalom boats were pretty effective for paddling these upstream attainments. Not so the plastic creek boats some of us were paddling. In fact, the slalom boats could attain most of the course, except one area that is simply too steep.
Walking back up the trail, we joined Rufus, Stephen, and David at the start of the course. We began to work back and forth between eddies and through the gates. David showed me some practice lines. One move involved crossing a small drop, then cutting to the left into an upstream gate in a barely-visible eddy. From above, it looked like a stretch of moving water that would flush out the bottom. It is surprising how many of these “hidden” eddies can be caught on any given stretch of a river. Maybe it is just my untrained eye, having only been in the sport for two years. Nevertheless, the move was fairly straightforward. Both Eric and I followed David through into the eddy.
Next up was a ferry across a stretch of moving water, behind two sets of rocks, and through a slot in the middle of the river. The boulders sheltered the boat from the downstream currents, so it was easy to keep upstream enough before turning down through the boulders. After working on the eddy turn from this move, I learned that a wide sweep stroke on the side of the boat away from the eddy followed by a planted paddle in the eddy line worked great for getting into an eddy. I had already been working on my speed to cross all the way through so the sweep stroke was a new addition.
We went back upstream and made the move back into the “hidden” eddy again. Our next challenge was to ferry even further across and drop through a different slot. A small hydraulic in that slot looked innocuous, not like it would throw someone off line. Most of the current was going to the right, but the line was to cross to the left of a marker rock. But the hydraulic did make it difficult, and I wasn’t able to make it in my creek boat. David went through and, even with a back-paddle to turn his boat, made it to the left of the rock.
After finishing the course and walking back up to the parking lot, we reviewed some video footage of our practice. Tired from carrying back upstream so many times, I decided to call it a day.
On Sunday, I had a chance to try a slalom boat, courtesy of Sam Drevo. Carrying it down to the river, I enjoyed how light the fiberglass boats can be. But I always had a wary eye out for any rocks lurking under the surface. Making my way down the course, I was very surprised how easy it was to make attainments back up to the eddies where I wanted to be. The boat is very fast, but a little edgy. It will definitely take some getting used to, but I will be in a slalom boat again soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Second Intermediate/Advanced Clinic

Eighteen eager students met Paul and Ty at Bob's Hole for the second Intermediate/Advanced Clinic on February 20th. Shuttle arrangements were made in a reasonably efficient manner, and we headed upriver, stopping to scout Hole-in-the-Wall and Roaring River rapids. At Hole-in-the-Wall, it's pretty obvious where you don't want to go, and we all agreed exiting on the right was a good idea. At Roaring River we were fortunate enough to see another party demonstrate several lines through the rapid. Soon enough we were at Sunstrip, preparing to put in.

Paul has a great system for people to learn each others' names. After an initial introduction, we toss throw bags back and forth, calling out the intended receiver's name as we throw. It really works. And it's great throw bag practice.

Then it's time for the safety talk. By now we're all pretty knowledgeable of the signals and procedures, but the review is important. We pair up with a buddy for the trip downriver.

There are mellow eddies on both sides of the river at the put-in, so we practice ferrying for awhile. Then we have the challenge of ferrying across on one stroke - it's not easy.

Folks get down through Roaring River rapid pretty gracefully, and the adventuresome spend some time paddling back up around the big rock that splits the flow and catching the little eddies on the left wall.
I always enjoy zipping back and forth through the features where the slalom event is held at the end of August. There are lots of little rocks, waves and holes, and a few bigger ones, in this section, although at this higher flow, about 1,620 cfs, many are covered up.
Down by the play wave across from Roaring River's mouth, Paul demonstrates peeling out above a pillow on a rock, then invites others to try it. It turns out to be good practice not only for peeling out and bracing but for rolling...

Eventually we head downstream.

No more pictures, but we had a good run down to Bob's. Runs at Hole-in-the-Wall were solid. Paul and Ty made it look pretty easy to ferry over to the left eddy (the Hole) and peel back out again.
Then it was lunch at a nice sunny spot above Fish Creek. Fish Creek rapid and the left eddy below produced a couple swims - people were starting to get tired.
At Carter's Falls, a few of us ran without scouting, while most of the group took a look. It's a place where you really want to know where to go.
Paul led most boaters down the righthand side of Rock and Roll, while a few of us opted for the less taxing lefthand channel.
Toilet Bowl always waits at the bottom of this run. It is one of the most challenging rapids, and it comes when you are getting pretty tired. I'd 'cheated' by scouting the rapid before we met in the morning and picked and ran a nice clean line on the righthand side at the bottom. Folks that went down the middle got a pretty bouncy, splashy ride.
Thanks again to Paul Kuthe for teaching this series of clinics.

OWA/OKCC Presidents' Day Rogue Trip

Nine kayakers, 25 rafters and 1 brave soul in an IK, mostly members of the OKCC and OWA, launched at Grave Creek Saturday morning on a flow of 8300 CFS. It was an overcast, dry day with temperatures in the mid 50's. Most ran the fish ladder, one brave soul took the middle chute and one raft ran the main falls, uneventfully. One kayaker took a 'sneak' line next to the middle chute and another hit the line on the main falls, only to swim at the bottom.
A quick scout at Upper Black Bar gave the opportunity for some action snapshots.

Our first night was at the enormous Horseshoe Bend camp. With lots of time in the afternoon, many of us went for a hike, in spite of the steep scramble up to the main trail. Our OKCC group prepared pasta dinner with all of the trimmings Saturday night. Dessert was homemade cookies cleverly placed in Costco boxes. Rain started around midnight and eased off just in time for breakfast.

Delicious breakfast burritos were on the menu Sunday morning, and we were packed and on the river soon enough to enjoy a steady light drizzle over 7300 cfs of Rogue. Yours truly opted to ride a raft through Mule Creek Canyon, then Blossom Bar, leading to a story he'll hear again and again.

Mule Creek Canyon did present its usual difficulties for the kayakers, but Blossom Bar, although big, was wide open. A number of rafts ran the left side of Blossom Bar, over a weak spot in the picket fence. The oarsman in the raft I was riding lost his wife and broke an oar while running this line. The story goes that I pushed his poor, helpless, innocent wife overboard. She was back in the boat quickly enough, demonstrating the safety awareness and capability of the group.

Our destination on Sunday was Tacoma camp, and we arrived by 3:00 to clearing weather. The sun even showed itself by late afternoon. Not much hiking was on the agenda, though, as folks dried their gear and talked over the events of the day. Dinner Sunday night was a famous and delicious chili and cornbread, preceded by made-to-order quesadillas. Monday breakfast was French toast and sausages. What a treat!!

At this higher flow, the float out was fast, and pleasantly dry. A pair of bald eagles waited on the left, at river level, just a couple miles above Foster Bar. The road through Powers was open, so the drive home was scenic and about as fast as it could be.

It was a fabulous time on a fabulous river with a fabulous bunch of kayakers and rafters. If you weren't there, you missed out!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Intermediate/Advanced Class on the Clackamas

January 3rd found 24 intrepid students at the North Fork Lake to improve their paddling skills. Paul Kuthe taught pretty much everyone something new. I learned a more effective way to rudder while paddling backwards. But the paddling drills were preceded by throw rope drills, something we just don't do enough of. Although I did get the rope out there, it's a good thing my partner wasn't being swept away by the river. Following a canoe-style lunch, we headed up to the put-in below Toilet Bowl. With such a large group, Paul had us partner -up. After many encounters of the third kind with a nasty lateral reversal by our group eddy, we headed on down to the wave at Joe Bob's.
Waiting for a chance...
Denny shreds. Doesn't it look easy?
Christine on the pillow.
Eric gets a good ride too.
From there on down, exercises were oriented to group interaction. First we eddy-hopped down a fun part on the left using a 'follow the leader' technique.
Then we switched to a 'leapfrog' technique with our partners. Admittedly, this is a great exercise, but I was just aching for more, and more challenging, eddies. Both exercises are important for developing within individuals the group dynamic skills required for running difficult whitewater and creeks.
We had a great time. And I think every last person really appreciates the teaching effort Paul put into the day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Annual Meeting

Our OKCC Annual Meeting at the Iron Horse Restaurant was well attended, with about 30 folks taking time away from the big Oregon-Oregon State football game. Election of Board Members was the main order of business. New Board Members are Markus Fant, Russ Pascoe, Dick Sisson, and Chris Watson.
Retiring members include Shannon Crosswhite, Michael Williams, Jim Funk and Ann Stephenson. They each deserve a big 'Thank you' for all they have done for the OKCC.
Other changes of interest are that Sue Scheppele and Anthony Wakeman are coordinating the Intermediate Progression this season. Patrick is taking over the Beginner Progression. Denny Egner is coordinating the Clinics this season. More information about the clinics will appear soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Roaring River Slalom August 29-30

It's back for its third year!
Don't miss this chance to paddle slalom and improve your skills on an easy stretch of the Clackamas River, just below Roaring River Rapid. This event is for improving boat control, developing strategies to make moves between gates, and having fun. It's always interesting and sometimes instructive to watch the lines and strokes other paddlers use to get through the gates you struggle with.
August 29 is Practice Day. Put your boat in the water and try the course. Canoes, kayaks, IKs, etc., are all welcome. The course will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Slalom paddling clinics are planned, times TBA.
August 30 features timed runs and Race Day - Entry fee is $10, plus $5 insurance fee for non-ACA members. There will be race categories for canoes and kayaks. Emphasis is on achieving your personal best. Making all the gates cleanly is always a thrill, no matter how long it takes. Expert slalom paddlers from the League of Northest Whitewater Racers will also compete - they are impressive to watch!
For more information, see
Club sponsors include the OKCC and LCCC.