Thursday, June 29, 2006

From Samantha... Day 3 update

Big South

After we left the Crested Butte area on Saturday night, kind of late I must add, we thought that we were in for a little 5 hour drive. Nothing bad remembering that we drive 7 hours for a great run regularly; however our drive north to Big South was longer than we had thought. After pulling in at 6:30 in the morning, Boyd and I "slept" sitting up in the cab of our truck. Three hours later we were awake and talking to the other guys about the run they were about to do.

With 11 miles of hard class V/V+ at high water, Big South is considered to be within the top five runs of Colorado. The gate was open by Sunday and, although it was at high water, quite a few boaters showed up to enjoy the run. Some of the guys that Boyd met up with were Marty Cronin, the co-founder of Jackson Kayaks, and Clay Wright- a world class kayaker from middle Tn that also paddles for JK. A very good group of people to run this river with.

Since I am not a solid class V/V+ boater yet, I wound up being a shuttle bunny for my first time ever. I gave Boyd and Clay a ride up to the put in and then drove the truck back down to the take-out so that they could get to the truck when they get off of the river. After dropping off the truck, I hiked the Big South trail with Flow(Clay's doggie), one of the best dogs I have ever met. The Big South trail follows the river, so I hiked it hoping to catch up with the guys. Flow kept me company on the trail as she warded off evil bears and mountain lions!

After hiking 8 miles, the trail started to veer a little too much from the river. If the paddlers came down I would have missed them, so Flow and I decided to turn around and hike to a cool rapid that I could definately catch them at called Slideways. While waiting on the guys to come down Flow and I played fetch and hung out in the sun.
With 11 miles of class V/V+ creeking I was a little worried about Boyd. Driving all night and no food can knock someone off of their A-game. I knew that he was stomping the river- I had just hoped that he wasn't too worn out. By the time that the group came to Slideways they all looked tired, but they were still doing well.

After Big South Boyd and I headed over to Fort Collins to grab a hotel so that we could get some rest and take a shower since we had not had one in five days. During the five minutes that it took for us to get a room a stray bullet hit the back window of Boyd's camper top causing it to shatter. Already tired from no no sleep the night before, we were both in a pretty bad mood. We spent a lot of the night cleaning out glass form the back of his truck. We duck taped the window for now so that we could sleep while still feeling safe. I must say that it is quite a good ducktaping job! Boyd and I decided to spend the next day resting a little bit; so we worked on editing our footage and vacuuming the glass out of the back of the truck. That night we headed back over to the Big South area to meet up with some other boaters that were going to run Big South the next day. We camped there and wound up running shuttle for them the nthat morning before heading out to Salida, Co.

At Salida we got in some good surf. Sorry guys no pictures, but I will tell you that I got some awesome surf! Boyd still played, taking it easy in the hole while still managing to land some beautiful loops and even an incredible space godzilla. We are planning on heading back over there soon so you can bet that we will have the cameras out! After surfing we headed back over to the Crested Butte area. Today Boyd managed to get two good runs in on the waterfall section of Oh Be Joyful before the storms hit.

As of right now it is 3 in the morning in Gunnison, Co. I haven't had a shower since Sunday night So Imma need to hit that up before I crash.
Fun Times


OBJ Vid up...

Photo by Samantha B.
Check out our vid from OBJ! click Here
Hope you enjoy!
Boyd :-)

Colorado Update Video #1

Photo of me on Big Wood Falls, Daisy Creek, CO by Samantha B.

Check out this little video from Slate and Daisy Creeks in Colorado...
Our trip is going amazing! Fun times.... hope you enjoy the video!


Monday, June 26, 2006

Colorado Update - Days 1 and 2

photo by Samantha Brunner

So me and Sam finally left for Colorado the 21st... and like most of our adventures, even the driving is entertaining. When we hit Kansas City it started to rain and the next day we drove through several tornados on our way from Limon to Colorado Springs... one of the funnel clouds literally passed above us, directly over the truck... obviously not having touched down. It was cool to watch though. About that time we switched to the local radio stations and heard about the tornado warnings that had been issued to all the counties we had been driving through. Fun times right! With us, it seems like the adventure of traveling is just as action packed as the whitewater destinations we're striving to get to. On that note, I'd like to share the first couple days of our trip with you guys!

With the San Juans dried out, we went straight through Cottonwood Pass to the Town of Crested Butte. Our first stop was Oh Be Joyful Creek, known simply as OBJ.

Photo by Samantha B.

OBJ is an absolute gem! Dropping about 400 ft per mile and being a mile long, OBJ sports a sweet section of waterfalls and a lower section of constant, big slides. This creek is super clean and super high quality, and now one of my absolute favorites! As if the creek isn't incredible enough in itself, the personality of the paddling crowd there is like no other. These guys are motivated, relaxed, and of the nicest paddling crowd I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

The run starts out on Ankle Breaker Falls, a big drop that lands in a rocky pool. It was a bit low for Ankle Breaker so we put just above Heart Attack Falls, a super sweet 15'er...

Photo of yours truly on Heart Attack Falls, OBJ by Samantha B.

Shortly downstream, the creek slides over a cool 10 ft drop and into the most action packed section of the "waterfalls" section of OBJ. Multiple fast slides and rocky ledges come up fast just below, including 25 ft Deadzone Falls, my personal favorite on the run. Below Deadzone, a couple more great slides leading into the lower "slides" section of the run, composed entirely of slides with occasional log jam rapids. More pics to come!

I also had the pleasure of running Slate Creek. Slate is a 2 mile, class V micro creek that packs its punch in the numerous tight slot moves and constrictions on the run. It was a bit on the low end, but totally good to go! That evening we heard rumers from Marty Cronin of Big South going and the gate being opened for the weekend, so we made plans for our last day in Crested Butte and just our second day in Colorado!

The first creek on our list for Saturday was Daisy Creek, the highlight being Big Wood Falls, a 20 ft waterfall landing between 2 rock shelves and a wood pile before gliding over a short slide on the right. From there it was back to OBJ for steep slidin' Fun and Big South for Sunday!

Boyd :-)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wise words from EJ... Something for ALL of us to think about

From EJ:

Being a good kayaker, being a cool kayaker, adding value to kayaking…

June 18, 2006

Just about all kayakers can remember getting encouragement from another paddlers in the form of compliments, or simply learning about new opportunities that they didn’t know existed and how to find them (like the creek that flows after the big rain, 10 minutes from their house, or how wonderful and easy Costa Rica is to get to.) These paddlers make kayaking more fun for everyone.

The past few years many top kayakers have outwardly positioned themselves as a certain type of kayaker, dissing paddling and paddlers that don’t specialize like them. This breaks the rule we all learned in Kindergarten, “Don’t try to make yourself look good by putting others down.” It is a little more gray for some boaters because they tend to generalize instead of pointing fingers at specific boaters that aren’t like them. It was apparent to me just yesterday just how destructive it is from the top down while here in Bremgarten, Switzerland. I was paddling on a wave/hole here in downtown with Nick, Dane, Emily, and I, and one other guy who is 21 years old. When I got there he was smiling and having a good time and we were all playing away. At this particular level there are both hole moves and wave moves available. Nick and I were mostly doing lefty air blunts and working on our clean and back blunts, while Emily was doing cartwheels, and Dane was trying Tricky Woos. This guy was cartwheeling. I asked him his name and how he was doing. I then said, “Sweet Spot” and pointed at the wave. He said, “It isn’t really my style, I like surfing big waves”, and then went in and did some more cartwheels. I was thinking, “humm, the guy lives in Switzerland, where there isn’t much for big wave options (Europe in general). I have seen a lot of this type of thing and my impression was that he felt that by telling me that, I would put him in the “big wave surfer” category and I would think he was cooler than if I just figured he was a local guy having a good time on the best spot in Bremgarten.

So what does this mean? Well, for starters, I have paddled my share of “big waves”, small waves, big holes, small holes, big rivers, little creeks, steep creeks, and class 2 and have spent many years trying to find the best places to paddle, some hard to get to, some in my back yard. When somebody goes out of their way to explain how what they are doing at the moment isn’t what they like to do; that they like to do something else, I simply pity them and what they are doing to themselves in regard to the best sport they may ever partake in.

People who think what they do is the best, and therefore what other people do or have is of lesser value are acting like snobs, the best word I can find to describe their actions. High society snobs are not n to be with unless you are also just like them. Wave snobs, creek snobs, playboating snobs, or slalom snobs are a relatively new occurrence. The good news it that they are new enough for the majority of paddlers to learn to identify the actions and attitudes that turn a paddler into a paddler snob before it happens to them and ruins their paddling and the paddling of those around them.

Who were the original paddling snobs? Slalom racers for sure. They didn’t pay value to anything anyone did outside of the slalom boat and it took 10 years of a downhill trend in slalom and the explosion of freestyle, expedition boating, and creeking before the next generation of slalom boaters were able to see eye to eye with the rest of the paddling world. Now, slalom boaters truly see other aspects of paddling as an equal to their endeavors (in general).

Now the paddling snobs are a little different in that they simply see the other areas of paddling that they don’t specialize in as being a threat to their time in the sun. People who like to run creeks are awesome, until they call themselves “creekers” and pretend that people who like to flop around in holes, waves, or simply run class 3 rapids are anything less than they are. Big Wave Surfers, who, if they only paddled on big waves, would for the most part, not get to paddle very often. Freestyle boaters who think slalom boaters don’t have any real skills that apply on a real river are just as ignorant and hurtful to themselves and the sport in general.

You do what you do and that is awesome. Approach paddling with a broad open mind and don’t limit yourself by your own prejudice. If you paddle but can’t roll yet, good for you, you know that a lot of paddlers are better than you, but you can still help a newby learn to do their first ferry. If you are one of the top steep creek boaters in the world (either in your own mind or the minds of others) that is something you should be proud of and I hope you will treat each outing from the point of view that you have many years left in a normal mortal life. How many of those years you will live depends on making the right decisions regarding safety and leaving margin for error each time you hit the water. How you treat others who decide to watch you from the bank, but enjoy other areas of paddling, determines how well you will be treated in return.

My challenge to all paddlers out there is simply this:

Know that you aren’t cool if you aren’t nice, period. When I select a team member to represent Jackson Kayak, for example, I look first at how they treat others. Those who: Argue, complain, or can’t treat a beginner with as much respect as their personal hero, have no place on Team JK. Paddlers who can’t have fun on the Chattahoochee, at a play hole, at a slalom race, on the Nile, or on a creek, or even in a swimming pool don’t truly love paddling, they are looking for “what can paddling bring to me”. REMEMBER THAT ANY TIME IN YOUR KAYAK IS SOMETHING TO BE ENJOYED TO THE FULLEST, (IF NOT, GO BACK TO WORK OR SCHOOL), YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE ON THE WATER, MAKE OTHER’S TIME IN THEIR KAYAK AS ENJOYABLE AS YOU CAN TOO.

Try different types of paddling. Get in a slalom kayak, a playboat, or a creekboat. Get on different water, and if possible travel! Mark Twain once said, “Travel is the cure for prejudice.”

Join a club and volunteer: If you are good at what you do, you will be a big help to others that don’t have the skills you have and you will be a club hero. Don’t try to sell the club on how what you do is better than what the other club hero does, but allow each person who brings something different to the club their chance in the sun. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy your paddling, it is too individual for that. Me, I like my paddling straight up. I get the river and want to get in the boat and not stop until there is no more paddling to be had. Dane is the same way. Clay likes to hang out and will be the one who will talk in the parking lot about boating for hours on end. Which is better? Neither, everyone has their place.

Beware of the magazines, and definitely beware of the kayaker forums. Magazines and forums are awesome and offer everyone something worth reading or looking at, BUT, they also are often printing stuff that isn’t too far off the enquirer in terms of looking for the “trends” what is “hot” and what is “not”. Paddling is too big to be a fad, and being a “fad paddler” is a waste of your potential and won’t make you cool. Forums take it to the extreme.

If you are 60 years old and bump into an 18 year old in an eddy and he is wearing all of the latest gear, and you are in your Dancer, Hurka paddle, Seda lifejacket, etc. and you don’t need to be stressed about what that kid is thinking, nor do you have to defend yourself and why you don’t have the latest stuff also. You are on the water, having a great time, just like we all did back in 1983 when the Dancer came out and we went hog wild paddling it, thinking life couldn’t get any better, nor could boats. Relax, smile, and enjoy the rest of your day. Strike up a conversation with the kid and he’ll probably be impressed that you paddled when he was still a baby.

Jackson Kayak is committed to the concept of each person involved taking it upon themselves (as well as the company as a whole) to “Leave the World a Better Place”. We hope you will take a look inside yourself and determine whether you are an asset or liability in kayaking in regards to improving other’s paddling as well as your own.See you on the river!

:) EJ


We're all guilty of it. I never look down on others for what they are doing, but I've definitely been on the defensive plenty of times. Sometimes I feel judged by other paddlers in the eddy like I'm supposed to prove myself or something because I have sponsors... not as an ego trip, but because I feel like I'm being judged by some other group on the water. And if I'm not having a spectacular day on the water (or trying some new things out that aren't working for me yet), I've found myself trying to explain why I'm not as good today as I "should be"... That's no different than the guy in the eddy claiming to big a "big Wave surfer." He probably wasn't trying to sound badass, he was more likely trying to justify why he wasn't performing as well as he thought he should be that day (in his mind) hoping maybe he would be judged differently, or wouldn't be judged for it. I bet this same guy on a big wave day, would have said "I don't really get that much access to these big waves, I'm better on smaller waves."

I know I've found myself looking awkward in a hole at times for whatever reason, saying in the eddy "well, I'm mostly a creeker" to simply mean that I don't get to play as much as you do, so please don't judge me like I'm EJ or something.... make sense? It's always true, but it's rediculous to spend a great day paddling and on the river defending yourself to others perceptions the whole time. What happened to just everyone being pumped that we're even sharing a river together and the awesome "boater wave"???

We've all done it and we've all been on both sides I'm sure. Usually, I catch myself trying to defend myself and so I try to just smile big and remember why I paddle... I'm completely in love with the water. Think about it.... super wise perceptions and words coming from EJ. While our sport grows into the mainstream, we have to decide how we want it to be. We have to grow with the sport, not just as athletes, but as people... it's the only way.

Boyd :-)