Friday, August 10, 2012

Boxed Lunch


     Growing up in Jackson WY, its hard to go anywhere without hearing legends about the Clarks fork Box. Everyone and their mom knows the sieve stories and epic hike out tales and chooses to tell them at every grocery store and youth soccer game. Naturally, when the gage read perfect and a solid crew was assembled to go, I was a bit nervous. Lets be honest, I was terrified. It would be my first overnight, first time boating with a loaded boat, and first time paddling in three weeks due to a shoulder speed bump. As I sat in my living room, watched woman’s gymnastics, and packed my overnight gear, the worst case scenarios were going through my head… a few milks later and we were on the road; navigating the countless bison stops in Yellowstone and arriving at the mighty Beartooth Mountians with enough time for a warmup lap on the honeymooners. As the sun rose the next morning we packed our boats and assembled our goliath crew consisting of Jordy Searle, Nick Murphy, Risto Beatty, Eric Parker, Frazer Tear, Carson King, Sam Lowenthal, Eric Ducomb, Mike Perry, Austin Woody, and myself. At the put in the magnitude of the trip really set in; it was bound to be the most physically, mentally, and technically demanding thing I had ever done. Two full days of class V whitewater with hefty portages. Its hard to describe the actuall run without saying the same thing as the other 200 blogs out there, “ Big scree field portages and sieves” “Quality whitewater and beautiful canyons. ” As I write this im sufficiantly distracted by womans beach volleyball and am going to try my best to creatively describe the run.
       The run starts off with a steep mile hike down to the river. We were doing it in two days instead of three and chose to hike in below the Green Monster portage thus skipping the honeymooner stretch. Some old folk would frown apon this. “ Damn young bucks, always taking shortcuts.” After a few miles of flatwater and the biggest portage “angle breaker” we were finally into the whitewater. As the first horizon came into view we were all anxious to see what the box was really about. Eric Parker had just got off the box that morning and was leading the crew with bomber beta and good lines. Once the whitewater starts it doesn’t stop.  The whole crew roosted off double suck, deep six, balls to the wall, and countless unnamed rapids. I was extremely pleased with the way my loaded nomad handled. It boofed and performed great like usual but packed a punch through the big holes and moves. As I watched Eric Parker and Nick run Snoliguster I was hit hard by an emotional stoke frenzy. I had just run drops I had been hearing about for years. Balls to the wall is way sicker in person, and I thought watching videos of it was cool since I was 12! I never thought id be in the box, yet there I was. A magical moment in a magical canyon. Thousands of feet of Granite on either side, smiling faces and the most quality whitewater imaginable. Kayaking is a catalyst for some amazing experiences, but this had to be the best day of my life. Starting off with pure fear and ending with sunset lit canyon walls and a feast.
            Day two was just as epic. Right from camp we were into Roys underworld, Dillworth, and a few miles of perfect class 5 boofs and boulder gardens (and portages ). I was definitely stoked to be wearing a Immersion Research Special K skirt seeing as some big ol holes were in play. As we approached Deliberation, my mind was a blur with all the hype and photos id seen. It was on the high side of good, and most of us opted for the portage. Nick however was the most manly of us all and quickly decided to run it. Deliberation is a burly rapid as it is, and at the flows we saw it at it was extremely challenging. Nick laced the entrance but flipped in the crux move and was flushed left into a siphon-scary-gnar slot where he executed a CLUTCH roll and clung to the wall. With no way out, me and Sam set an anchor with the hopes of live bating Jordy to a rock where he could then get a rope to nick. Austin and Mike ran the mandatory lower deliberation to scout possible exits. Luckily, there was a slot nick could get down. At any lower water it would have been a pure sieve, but there was just enough water to turn the sieve into a very large hole with multiple siphons in play. Nick sent the slot, took the beating, and made it safely to shore. It was a close call, too close for comfort, but Nick was on his game, stomped a very very VERY hard move, and made it look as good as it could have. It was the real behind the scenes of class V paddling ; the risks involved and the reaction time needed if shit hits the fan. Fortunately Nick Murphy is a stoutmaster and had it all under control…Google him. Shortly after that little siphon flirtation session Ben Luck, Cooper, Aaron Pruzan, and Will Taggart caught up to us and Ben styled deliberation through and through. It was a stressful few minutes to say the least. Glad to be safe, we kept our wheels rolling and headed through lower deliberation. Lower deliberation is a SICK mandatory slot boof that is a great therapy move after the stresses that lay upstream. A few meters down is Lower Deliberation Proper which is a deep seam move followed by some big holes and boulder mank . Following deliberation is the most righteous gorge on earth. No more than 20 feet wide with towering walls and crystal blue water. A “church” spot for sure…as all the cool kids would say. At the exit of this gorge lies calendar falls, a perfect 8 foot boof with a backdrop that belongs in a Disney movie. One short portage later and we arrived at leap of faith, the most rad-cool-neat-epic-sick-dope-ill-amazing-pretty combination of elements on earth. You portage in, run a mandatory 15 foot boof that you cant scout but is absolutely blissful, and then get out and portage again. Being the last substantial rapid of the run, it serves as the icing on the cake, finishing off a memorable run with a bang.  Below the last portage we took off our gear, and ate pounds of extra food. To this day those were the best few moments of my life, as I achieved one of my biggest goals. All of my best friends and paddling companions were there, some of whom tought me to boof, others whom I learned to boof with. Four generations of Jackson Hole Kayak Club alum and three generations of World Class Academy students. Kayaking OG’s and heavy hitting creek stars. An anomaly of people from all over the world together on the same beach, in the same gorge, at the same time. It was a scene I wont soon forget. All in all, the box is a magical experience. An experience that fulfilled and exceeded anything I could have hoped for in my life and paddling travels. An experience that illustrated my interpretation of love, and made my relationship with kayaking, water, and my self much more pure and tacit.

Make good choices
Below are some rad shots from Austin Woody, Nick Murphy, and Will Taggart. ENJOI
The whole crew starting out day 2! Photo by Jordy Searle

Myself leaping with faith. Photo by THE Eric Parker

The crew with our balls on the wall. Photo by Nick Murphy

Me and Risto Bee-boppin down lower dillworth! Photo by Nick Murphy

My trusty nomad doing all the work in dillworth. Photo By Austin Woody

Entering middle earth. Photo by Austin Woody

Frazer in Balls to the Wall. Photo by Nick Murphy

Myself in Balls. Photo by Nick Murphy

Myself exiting Balls as same looks majestic. Photo by Nick Murphy

Mike Perry making moves and taking names. Austin Woody behind the lense

The whole team winding down with a feast. Photo by Austin Woody

Me plugging deep six and getting an awkward deep 2. Photo by Eric Parker

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When the leaves turn, temperatures drop, and ski bums appear, its a sure sign that winter is right around the corner. For most people this means its time to dust off the skis, grow a beard, and prepare for powder. However, a select group of elites called "kayakers" understand natures signs and work double shifts to try and fund a ticket south. For me, this ticket was with World Class Academy. After a great quarter in British Columbia, I was more than stoked to go to Costa Rica in search of quality whitewater, unique experiences, spanish immersion, and potential girlfriends. World Class is notorious for pumping out talented young paddlers, but few people realize the bonds that form in between rivers, in crouded campsites, and around youtube videos on laptops. For me these bonds were obvious when the crew met up in PDX. For reasons unknown, the airport women was less than excited when we arrived with 8 kayaks, 16 bags, and 5 teenage boys. Two red eye flights later we arrived in beautiful San Jose with the whole crew, 8 students, 4 teachers, and a common love of kayaking. On the drive to Turrialba, the reality of the situation set in, we were going to be in Costa Rica for two months, paddling everyday, speaking spanish, and living the dream. All in all, the group moral was at an all time high. Our first night in Turrialba was a preview of what was to come, AMAZING food, cozy cabins, beds, and showers. This goes to show that even the gypsy life can be luxurious at times. During classes the next morning my mind was buzzing at the idea of paddling that afternoon. It had been 8 days since i last kayaked, thats a very UNHEALTHY amount. First river we did was the Lower Pacuare, a 16k stretch riddeled with fun class 3-4 rapids. This river went through a really deep, jungle book like canyon and was a great way to start of the trip. Next up was the Upper Upper pacuare, an even more quality run with countless boofs that were pretty exilerating at times seeing as we all brought playboats, mostly cuz its what all the cool kids are doing right meow. We soon realized that water levels in Costa rica change faster than styles in hollywood, and this became a major limiting factor in our kayaking schedual. However, the high flows played to our advantage on stretches of the reventezon river. My favorite of which was the Pascua section. With an unnusually small group consisting of Ben Kinsella, Ben Mckenzie, Andrew Morehouse, and myself we put on this run with very respectable flows and found ourselves in the midst of PERFECT class 4-5 big water, my favorite genre of paddling. It was literally one huge rapid from the put in to take out and smiles were glued to our faces. Holes the size of king kong were common sights around every corner. A few rapids stuck in my mind, one of which was described as " Check to see if right chanell is runnable, left chanell recomended. Major hazards: Giant hydrolics and polution." Who listens to guide books? We blue angeled the right chanell and soon found ourselves balls deep in a maelstrom of giant pourovers and house sized waves. We had to bust right, HARD, the whole rapid. Literally flirting with holes scarier than my first middle school dance. I was super glad to have my Special K skirt and a good astral Green Jacket on this run, seriously. If your gonna run big water, get a bomber Immersion Research skirt and a super floaty PFD by Astral. Luckily clean lines were had and we all realized the amazingness of the run we were on. The only things i could compare it to is the North Fork Payette, or a shakira music video. The rapids on this run really make me realize why i love kayaking, and why the bonds between kayakers are so strong. Theres nothing i love more in the world than floating down a beautiful river with good friends, whether that river is class 1 or class 5, the feeling is always that of pure joy. WCA is special, no where else do your teachers transform into best friends and paddling companions. No where else do you get to follow your teachers down epic bigwater in the middle of the jungle. That was a memorable day to say the least, on of the best of my life. After another low water descent of the pascua, a day of coffee farming, and lots of boofs we thought the levels were right for the fabled Upper Pacuare. As we checked flows at the put in, we decided it was running on the " high side of medium", but after the first rapid we realized it was in fact very high. A portage fest ensued, it took us roughly 2 hours to move 700 yards. Savage portages with big rapids mixed in between left us at exausted at the takeout 8 hours later. The only thing missing was our shuttle driver, and all of our food, gear, and clothes. Luckily, we celebrated holloween like tue champs, with a good ol nutrigrain bar and a pouch of bumble bee tuna! Sometimes you have to work hard for the good times, and the crew you are with is key! Teamwork, determination, and fun rapids are the only things that kept our mission/epic from becoming a tragedy. Yet another memorable day for me, learned lots about expidition kayaking, jungles, spiders, and how to ration a bag of tuna to 7 growin boys. All in all, our stay in turrialba was amazing. We ran so many quality rivers i couldnt fit them all in one blog post. Special thanks to all the sponsors, teachers, locals, and random homies for putting up with all us gringos and making my stay memorable. We are now off to Sarapiqui, the land of poisenous things and waterfalls.

Here are a few shots from Turrialba
Driving to Turrialba.
Loading the gypsymobile
The sherpa himself, Ben Kinsella
Myself gettin splashy on the Pascua. Photo: Ben Kinsella
Pascua Round 2. Photo: Ben Kinsella
Upper Pacuare portage fest. Photo: Ben kinsella
The boys feeling haggard on the Upper Pacuare. Photo: Ben Kinsella
Preview of whats to come.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for a rad fall edit and a waterfall update! Huge shoutout to Ben Kinsella for taking rad photos and coaching along the way!


Friday, October 28, 2011

British Columbia 2011

WHOAAAAA first post on the new blog, big day. It took me about 5 days to set it up in spanish thanks to the Costa Rican internet. Anyways, this fall I was Fortunate enough to travel and paddle in British Columbia with World Class Academy. It turned out to be some of the best months of my life, running tons of great rivers and ending with a memorable week at skookumchuck. We started out with a week long stay in Lytonn, then traveled to Whistler, and then on to Skook. Ran some of the most quality runs out there and surfed the worlds raddest wave. In Costa rica at the moment with WCA, living the gypsy lifestyle and kayaking every day. Stay tuned for more posts and visit for more WCA updates.