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

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