Monday, March 21, 2011

Cali Crunch Time

Bear River Falls, California

Change is the only thing that is constant. With that I mind, I strive to continue changing for the better, and embrace change to work for my advantage. Rivers, mountains, people, economies, islands, boats, mind-sets; all of this things are constantly changing. Its pretty exciting to think about what the future may hold because we don't really know. If we knew what was in store for the future, then it wouldn't be so intriguing. As a kayaker, I am able to explore places that I couldn't otherwise without my boat, paddle, and skills. These places often shake the core of me, which I try to hold as being the constant of my existence. The rapids force me to decide whether I am mentally, physically, and spiritually ready to encounter something that could possibly change my life forever. And they often do. I believe that, just as a river, we cannot hold a certain level of paddling. We are either progressing or regressing. There can be no other. In my own opinion of course.

As of late, I have been pushing myself to progress as a kayaker. Moving to Nevada City, California has put me in a position to paddle amazing whitewater almost every single day of the year. While most of the stretches of river in the area have been run in the past. We have begun exploring places that no other kayaker has gone before. Luckily, there is a great crew of paddlers in the area who are motivated to seek out and test these virgin waters with me.

Back sometime this February, when it hadn't rained in weeks and the rivers were beginning to dry up; Cody Howard, Cory Tucker, and myself were going to paddle the Bear River near Colfax. Seeing as this was the only thing running in the area, thanks to a dam. We were just stoked to get back in our kayaks, even though the flow was low and the stretch is short. Then while gearing up for the run, a pivotal moment in my life happened. Cody said that Robby Hogg had mentioned a 20' waterfall above the normal put-in, and the spark was ignited. Despite some speculation as to whether the falls existed or not, we hiked up to find out the truth for ourselves. After a short hike up the river, I was greeted by a grand sight of spillway to waterfall after waterfall. It is beautiful there to say the least. The sun was shining and the falls looked totally charge-able. Not knowing whether anybody had run these falls before, I was stoked on the thought of a first descent. I ferried across the pool, and gave the landing zone a quick scout before making the short and easy climb to the top of the falls. I looked back to the trail to see Cody and Cory wide-eyed and grinning at the sight of these cascading beauties. Cody signaled for a Ro-Sham-Bo match to decide who would get to run the falls first. But I was already at the staging pool, and he was still on the other side of the river. I opted out of the Ro-Sham-Bo, and quickly got in my new, custom-outfitted, Jefe Grande. A small side slot led to the lip of the falls perfectly, and before I knew it, I was sending a huge boof off a sweet 20' falls. I didn't stomp as much as I would have liked to, but the impact was still fairly soft. I motioned to the boys that it is good-to-go and the huck-fest began. Heres Cory Tucker having a nice line.

All of us proceeded to rally off this drop multiple times the first day, and none of us received the same results twice. In other words, its a tricky lip that will give you various lines depending on how you run it. What more could you ask for? Well, it just so happens that a larger, less-runnable, drop lies just upstream of previous said falls. After the first day of hucking Bear River falls, I receded back to my off-the-grid cabin up in the woods with hopes and dreams of running the upper falls. A couple of days later, we were back at the falls, and I was seriously contemplating the upper falls. With much debate as to how and where to run it, I chose my line and decided that hand-paddles would be a good choice for this technical, low-volume, 25'er. The hand paddles enabled me to lift and scoot myself into position out of the small, precariously located, eddy at the lip. There I was, changing what I thought was possible for me to run in my kayak, with hand-paddles that I have very little experience with. A few quick strokes and I was sliding down the slab into a free-fall that gives you a moment in time where no thoughts exist. I entered the pool at a nice vertical angle, but the landing zone wasn't very aerated, resulting in a pretty massive hit, that even ripped one of the hand-paddles off. Not to worry, my body was fine, and rolling with one hand-paddle is easier than with none at all. Success, and a great feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me as I cheered in celebration with Cory, who was standing at the base of the falls shooting photos and setting safety. Also of note that day, a buddy from Auburn named Alex Conheim, charged a RiverBug off the lower falls. If you aren't familiar with a RiverBug, here is a shot of him falling off the lip. Good times there for sure!

Turns out, that the lower Bear Falls was first run by some guys in inner tubes; so, congrats to them. I do believe I am the only person to have run the upper falls. Not that it really matters. What matters, is that I continue to change as a kayaker/person, and keep exploring new rivers and waterfalls. I hope we all will continue to explore and find what it is in life that makes us feel alive and special. This is just one of the many stories I have from the past few months. I plan to record them all here, for my writing pleasure, and (hopefully) your reading pleasure, as I see this as a useful tool for a number of different reasons. Hope you are Charging whatever it is you love to do. Until next time, Charge On! Cody Howard of made a sweet video from these days. Check it out towards the bottom.

Auburn Goods from Huckin Huge on Vimeo.

No comments: