Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gauley Fest 2011

Most likely if you are a boater you have heard of Gauley Fest, boasting the title of the largest river festival in the world. Known for it's big water, big carnage, and big parties, Gauley Fest also serves as American Whitewater's largest fundraiser with all the proceeds from the festival going toward their efforts in river conservation and access. My curiosity finally got the best of me and on a whim I decided to book a flight and check it out.
Driving into the park packed full of cars with boats, tents, booths, and people, I knew I wasn't in Oregon anymore. What I didn't know (until the next day) was that I would need to fear for my life on the river. This fear did not come from difficult whitewater or dangerous rapids, but from the number of people on the water! Coming from the land of steep, isolated creeks, I felt like I had somehow ended up in an alternate reality where my goal was no longer to have clean lines, but to do anything I could to dodge rafts. I knew I was really out of my element when a raft pulled out directly behind me in Pillow Rock rapid and I kindly pleaded for him not to run me over, only to get the response, "Well then stay out of my way."

The Crowd at Pillow Rock Rapid
Escaping the Raft
Pillow Rock
Luckily I survived the weekend without getting run over by any rafts, although I cannot say the same for some of the folks I paddled with. I also got to spend some time on the river and at the festival with some great folks talking about adventures and planning trips to paddle each others home runs. Good times were had by all!!
Iron Ring
Seth Chapelle
Special thanks to Bobby Miller for bringing me a boat and Scott Martin for the awesome photos! To check out more photos from the weekend, check out

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another BC Birthday

Every year when September rolls around, I start to think about heading up to British Columbia for a birthday paddling trip. I'm usually greeted with nonstop freezing cold rain, snow, and super high water so I've learned to come prepared to camp and paddle in all kinds of conditions.

Here's a few other things I've learned about BC: If the locals say the water is a little low, it's most likely going to be a great level. If they say it's a good healthy flow, it's going to be flooded. If they say it's Class IV, it's probably solid Class V, and if they say it's Class V, you'd better bring your A-game 'cause it's going to be full-on! I guess it's all relative . . .

This year, Drew Eastman and I were pleasantly surprised to find sunny, 95 degree weather and low water, and I'm relieved to report that I finally got to experience a BC leisure tour. For a minute I thought I'd died and gone to California. We paddled a handful of new runs in the Fraser Valley and looped up and around to the Whistler/Squamish classics. Everywhere we went the scenery was incredible and the whitewater was phenomenal. There was a great variety of big water rivers, low volume creeks, pool-drop waterfalls and continuous boulder gardens.

B-day celebration on the Nahatlatch

Nahatlatch Canyon

The Thompson

WCKA on the Fraser Ferry, en route to the Stein

The Stein

The trailhead

Hiking 4 km to the put-in

The Lower Stein, my favorite run of the trip

The Fraser

Lillooet Lake

Thirsty Drew

Christie G.

Roger's Creek Waterfalls; We decided not to drop into this gorge with
just the two of us, but I definitely put it near the top of my wish list!

We soaked in the hot springs at the takeout instead :)

The Birkenhead

The Soo

Nairn Falls

Whistler Village

Thanks BC! I ♥ you!!!

On our way home we made a stop at Baker
Lake, WA to scout out some falls

Bear Creek mank

The 60-footer might be worth coming back for