Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gnarlfestivus 2013

Well hello there human. Hope you're feeling good and having fun as much as possible. Speaking of fun, this past weekend was the inaugural Gnarlfest race and party! Race organizer, or as clever Mr. Cavin puts it-- disorganizer, Justin Patt and myself were talking on the ride up how many people would attend this year. We were worried that many California kayakers would be at Burnfest instead up on the Trinity river. Normally, the two events are held on separate weekends, but this year, more water was scheduled to release out of Little Grass Valley reservoir, the week after our 'normal' date. So, we decided to delay the race for a week to get 400 cfs, a much more pleasant flow than 350.

Boy were we surprised upon reaching the put-in. Tons of boaters scattered the picturesque scene as we took a practice lap on friday. The Gnarfest race course has to be one of the steepest, stoutest, and funnest sections to charge full-throttle in California. Its pretty short, but you get a fun little class IV paddle out of around 2 or 3 miles. Then you have to decide whether you want to hike-out the Post creek trail, plus the road which is now closed by Sierra Pacific (thanks guys); or to, keep paddling the South Feather river all the way to the next little man-made dam. I always chose to hike-out on my 6 laps so far this season, and I can honestly say I feel a little more in-shape because of it. Plus, the shuttle is much shorter and easier when you hike-out, and I took advantage of my sweet new ride. I got a little 49cc motor bike, which literally is a bicycle with a motor on it. Gets a 100 miles to the gallon though baby!

So, as usual, we partied pretty hard the night before the race, and Anthony provided us with some exciting Poi demonstrations that had us all a bit scared that the forest was gonna catch on fire. I'm sure our camping neighbors loved us! Come race time, which is always a proper display of California boaters taking their time and enjoying each others company, the skies opened up and gave us some warm sun to start the charge. For a moment, we almost started the race before our safety boaters were set-up, and this was a very good decision as their help was critical for a few racers. Therefore, we waited a mere 5 minutes, and I fired off the starting line like some steam out of a locomotive. This is the only race that I know of where a GoPro camera is used to time everyone.

Its a simple but effective scheme, in that the first racer, which was me this year, wears the GoPro and keeps it running after he finishes is race and films all the other racers hitting the finish line. Then we go back and use their start times, to see how long it took each racer to complete the Gnarl-zone. Unfortunately, 2 racers didn't complete the race, at least in the amount of time my GoPro battery lasted. Our back-up GoPro man, Gavin, got tossed in Mad Dog and swam. Then, Tay Cav broke his paddle in Mad Dog and C-1'ed to the eddy above the falls where Robby Hogg pulled him to safety. Gnar indeed!  I would like to send a huge thanks to Nick Urquhart, Anthony, Robby and any other safety boaters I forgot. Your help makes us all feel safer.

For the racers that did finish the run, not a single one, got through without getting jangled up at least once. I guess I got jangled the least and took first, but was still 6 seconds from beating Justin Patt's record from last year in the mighty Greenboat. Its hilarious how we go from, last year having something like 5 out of 8 racers running the Greenboat, to none. This is mainly because hiking-out with a Greenboat is pretty brutal, and it just goes to show it isn't that much faster than the Nomad on this Gnarly course where flat water is scarce.

As our normal party location was pretty crowded with hunters and such, we decided to have the party next to the dam at an old quarry. It was a great venue for us Gnarly boaters to drink our beloved awards in grand ceremony. If you don't already know, the alcoholic beverage known as Four Loko was banned in 50 states for having too much fun in a single can. Therefore, the company lowered the fun level and it stayed on the shelves. Lucky for us, we have a reserve of what we call OG 4Lokos, ones from the original era with the max fun level. Unlucky for us, the liquid seems to be eating through the cans in their ripe age of around 3-4 years, and we have lost many of the OGs to can malfunction.

This year, only one OG 4Loko was awarded, and I was the lucky recipient. However, we decided this year, more 4Loko fun needed to ensue for the racers. So, we forced the other top racers, one DNF'er, and the two buddies who finished at the same time to chug a 4Loko in under their race time. This may not seem to hard, but I can honestly say taking down my OG lemonade 4loko in under 3:05 was pretty brutal. Let it be noted that Taylor Robertson single handedly dominated the competition in the Chug-athon.

Thomas and crew gathered a hefty amount of firewood, and thus, we raged until the rains sent us to our sleeping bags. Gnarlfest was a great success and saw 4 more racers than last year. Only 12 brave soldiers gave their all in a race for fun. Gnarlfest is a grassroots event that we hope continues for a long time. Enjoy the video from my race lap. As with all GoPro footage though, it just doesn't do this run justice. Until next year, keep the stoke up for the Gnarl!

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