Paddling fires us up, especially when rain is coming. I get amped looking at the five day forecast. As a storm rolls east towards the Appalachians the excitement builds. Two days before a big storm, I will start rearranging my schedule, trying to free up time. One day before a big rainfall and I am on fire, the boat is loaded and gear is prepped! When the first raindrops start to fall, I always smile uncontrollably. Watching the shades of Green, yellow and red on the radar as the storm builds is beautiful to me. Much like an art buff would stare at a painting; I will stare at the colors on the radar. I know; I am sick. As the storm pounds, the rainfall gauges start rising. A few hours later and the river gauges rise! While non-paddlers are staying indoors and complaining about the awful rain, I will be stoked, trying to not hydroplane while driving to a put in!
Practice, Practice, Practice! Flatwater training is key for staying in shape and improving your paddling skills. With the days becoming longer, head to the lake after work for a good paddle!
“Grand Canyon Express”
Featured in the July/August 2004 American Whitewater Journal, page 36.
The story of me and five friends paddling 225 miles of the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park in five days. Since this trip, the Park Service has changed the permitting system and greatly shortened waiting times for trips. http://americanwhitewater.org/content/Journal/index/issue/4/year/2004/
Above Lava Falls
Like many of the seven thousand six hundred paddlers waiting for a Grand Canyon private permit launch date I thought I would never get to launch. In fact, in eighteen years when my permit slowly works its way to the top of the list and I receive my date, I figure I will be too old, too fat, and have too many responsibilities to take most of a month off and paddle the Colorado. The only alternative to waiting for decades or paying for a high priced commercial trip is to attempt to obtain a cancellation date. (A trip made available most likely due to the participants growing too old, too fat, and accumulating too many responsibilities.) The problem is that cancellation dates are often given out only one month before the launch date; which makes it tough to find sixteen buddies with enough money and time to participate on one month’s notice.
Featured in the January/February 2006 American Whitewater Journal, page 16.
Tells the story of friendship and adventure while competing in a month long creeking competition called TVF.
Link to AW story: http://americanwhitewater.org/content/Journal/index/issue/1/year/2006/
Stan Guy on Suck Creek
In the spring of 2005, a new kayaking competition was born. The Total Vertical Feet (TVF) Creeking Contest (also known as “March Madness”) pitted 19 southeastern teams against one another. The goal was to see which team could hurl themselves down the most river gradient during the month of March. The rules were simple: form teams of up to six paddlers (at least two had to complete each run together), and go creeking. A list was made of the total gradient of each creek in the southeast from put-in to takeout. To earn points teams simply paddled as much as possible and reported total earnings each day. As expected, a month of daily kayaking produced all the usual clichés: poorly tied kayaks were launched from moving cars, state troopers were busy writing citations, broken boats and sore backs required duct tape and ibuprofen. But, most importantly, friendships were sealed and incredible paddling experiences were created. By the end of March we had great stories to remember and some of us had even made new best friends.
“The Green Mile”
Featured in the November/December 2006 American Whitewater Journal, page 22.
About an epic day of paddling 10 laps on the Green Narrows. At the time we believed the gradient for 10 runs would total a vertical mile. We were off by a few feet so five years later Zach Fraysier and I were able to complete 11 laps in a day finally reaching the goal.
Link to AW story: http://americanwhitewater.org/content/Journal/index/issue/6/year/2006/
Hucking Sunshine 10 times was terrifying
This past July I heard the words I have dreamed of hearing for many years: “The Tuxedo Hydro Station will be running one unit at 100% capacity from midnight to midnight.” This phone recording meant North Carolina’s Green River was releasing the following day sunrise to sunset (and beyond). This rare occurrence during the summer months was the chance for my friends and I to try our luck at a kayaking goal we had dreamed up years before. We had the ambitious dream of paddling the Green as many times as possible in a single day. I am sure a physiatrist would have a field day trying to figure out what drove us to this goal. In fact, I am still not certain today why we wanted to do it—even after the fact. I do know this: my friends and I made the most of our day dropping 5,250 feet. We went as hard as we possibly could and the fun of kayaking never left us during our 14.5 hour marathon.
“When A Plan Comes Together”
Featured in the November/December 2008 American Whitewater Journal, page 18.
Tells the story of a paddling trip to Colorado that should have been a train wreck, but we dropped a vertical mile on Oh Be Joyful Creek.
Link to AW story: http://americanwhitewater.org/content/Journal/index/issue/6/year/2008/
Dave Levitt firing up Dead Zone
How often do paddling trips work out as planned? Not as often as we would like. I’ve had my share of arriving at the put-in to find river levels too high or too low. Important gear is sometimes left in the garage. I have seen paddlers use two elbow pads duct taped to their head for a misplaced helmet. How often have your paddling buddies been late meeting you? Or not shown up at all? My favorite frustrating moment of paddling is when you spend hours driving to the river to find the put-in road closed to traffic. Just getting to the river can be a major undertaking. So many variables can keep you from your perfect day of paddling.
“The Edge of the World”
Featured in the January/February 2010 American Whitewater Journal, page 32.
Me and a friend try our luck at paddling waterfalls in the southeast.
Link to AW story: http://americanwhitewater.org/content/Journal/index/issue/1/year/2010/
Standing beside a popular roadside waterfall you’ll hear the tourist chatting about scenic beauty, the local good ‘ole boys talking about tubing, and the kayakers debating lines. Even the kayakers’ perceptions of the waterfall will vary greatly. A beginner may see an unrunnable rapid, an intermediate may see a fun drop and an expert may not even get excited. All paddlers have an evolving idea of an acceptable height from which to launch a boat. I can remember my first three-foot ledge as a beginner. Even though my Mirage was four times longer than the height of the drop, I thought it was amazing I survived the descent. That three-foot horizon line looked like the edge of the world.
Featured September 2010 on the Jackson Kayak Blog, the Kokatat Blog and Paddling Life Magazine.
Story describes the amazing honor of paddling the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River in BC.
Link to Kokatat Blog: http://www.kokatat.com/blog/2010/10/stikine-in-a-day
Before Sunrise, Stikine in a day:
“Bear”, I yelled and frantically set up in my mummified sleeping bag. It was still dark and I turned my flashlight on expecting a Grizzly. Laughter came from a few feet away. Boomer and Todd are already in their dry suits, packing their kayaks. It is 5:13 a.m. and I overslept by 13 minutes. I climb out of my sleeping bag and slide into my carefully folded dry suit. I pull my river shoes on. I had laid my gear out the night before so I could step into it much like a fireman would jump into his suit if the alarm sounded. We are camped at the put in for the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. We are going to try to paddle the entire 50 some odd miles of this class V+ beast in one day.
A brief write-up about paddling a vertical mile on the amazing Bear Creek.
Bear Creek has it all: a gigantic slide, multiple waterfalls and complex boulder gardens, packed into a 3 mile run dropping 859 feet with no mandatory portage. Throw in a horrible sieve, scary undercut and short shuttle and you have one of the classic creeks in the country.