Friday, September 25, 2009

Road Trippin'

I just got off the road from one of the best road trips yet... a little bit of work, and a little bit of play over 5,500 miles in two weeks! One week in Washington, one week in California, with my better half, Jesse Becker, and our butts are definitely FLAT.

The trip started off with us figuring out a roof rack for our spiffy rental car. We figured our car was shiny so our rack should be too...Twenty six dollars later we had a rack of PVC and hose clamps. Bling Bling!

El Escape in Leavenworth, Washington (Photo by: Kim Russell)

After the traditional stop for energy drinks, we were on the road to Yakima, where we we made a slight detour to the Tieton River to catch the annual release and the super epic, super awesome... BRIDGE WAVE. Turns out it wasn't really in, but we made it in! It's amazing how much fun you can have at a not so in feature with good company!

Jesse rockin' the plaid on the Bridge Wave, Tieton River Washington (Photo by: Kim Russell)

The rest of the Tieton is a beautiful continuous class III river with some sweet play features. After attempting to wavewheel every wave on the river (not really), we made it to the takeout just in time to catch a shuttle from a not so sober construction worker. At least the roads weren't too curvy...

Now off to Spokane and Leavenworth!

We decided Leavenworth was pretty badass... not only is it a mountain biking, skiing, and kayaking mecca, it has a full on "putt putt" golf course downtown with two goats for lawnmowers. Oh and the entire town is like a little Germany (think Bavarian theme). I've never seen a gas station look so cool.

While we were in the area we hit up a super sweet mountain bike trail of a 4 mile climb to the top of the valley, followed by two miles or so of DH to the car. SICK! Afterward, we made a quick stop to check out Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyon... even at low water, things looked gnarly.

Icicle Creek (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Jesse at "Exit Rapid" of Tumwater Canyon (Photo by: Kim Russell)

The next morning we set out for a quick loop to Seattle cursing our phone of a GPS as it proceeded to cut out everytime we reached a major city. Thanks Sprint. We made it home from Seattle just in time to see this...

Hood River Sunset (Photo by: Jesse Becker)

The next morning, we loaded the creek boats on the car with the playboats, stuffed the bikes in the back, and took off down I5 to Cali. After 14 hours of driving and 500 songs later, we made it to Southern Cali! Yea!

Sunset in Santa Barbara (Photo by: Jesse Becker)

After a couple days of cruising around the coast, we were ready to get out of suburbia and back to the hills. Even though we hit rush hour traffic right on time in Sacramento, we managed to make it to the River Store in Coloma just in time for their Friday night pre-dinner for the American River Festival. Thanks for all your hard work Robin and crew! You all are awesome!

Saturday morning dawned and we rallied to the put-in with our amigo, Paul Gamache, breakfast burritos in hand! Minutes later we were on the river headed toward the site of the rodeo: First Threat. First Threat is a good-sized wave/hole with a pretty deep trough. It's sticky enough to throw most tricks, but you have to be on it to stick them. I managed a second place in women's, while fellow WS member Taylor Calvin got 3rd in mens. YEA!

The next day, a Taylor Calvin, Justin Patt, Jesse Becker and I decided to rally to the South Fork of the Feather for a little creeking adventure. On the way there we had an adventure of our own as we stopped for Taylor to show us his dance moves and had a run in with some cows.

Taylor Calvin still in the Coloma Club groove (Photo by: Kim Russell)

We had to stop... (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Justin had to touch the cow. (Photo by: Kim Russell)

South Fork Feather (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Just looking at the river made us excited...

(Photo by: Jesse Becker)

so we went paddling.

(Photo by: Taylor Calvin)


Unfortunately I left my camera in the car, but we did get these sweet post-paddling pictures.

(Photo by: Taylor Calvin)

We make blurry look good... (Photo by: El Escape)

After the SF Feather we drove to Arcata, Ca to paddle Burnt Ranch Gorge, get some surfing in and see some friends. BRG was a super fun run, super fun boofs interspersed throughout, and good company on the river. Once at the coast, the waves weren't breaking very consistently, so we decided to stay dry, watch Paul and take pictures.

Camel Rock, Arcata (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Paul bluntin' in Arcata (Photo by: Jesse Becker)

I'm crushing you're head... (Photo by: Jesse Becker)

The next day we drove back to Bend, Oregon via Grants Pass, taking a break from driving to paddle the Natural Bridge and Takilma Gorge section of the NF Rogue River.

The typical put-in (Photo by: Jesse Becker)

Our put-in (Photo by: Kim Russell)

The lead in to drop 3 of the gorge (Photo by: Kim Russell)

If you paddle this section, once you enter the gorge, take your time and watch our for sieves/lava tubes/undercuts, etc, particularly in the middle of the second drop of the five. Make sure you have a your pin kin available...

The next day we made home to Hood River just in time to drop off the rental car and get some delicious tacos for dinna. What a crazy two weeks!

Hope everyone's summer is wrapping up nicely! I'm off to start my Senior year of college in four days! Wohoo!

(Photo by: Jesse Becker)

Kim Russell

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Which Kayak is Right for me?

A Paddler's Guide to Brightly Colored Tupperware:

Basic Design Concepts:

The longer the kayak, the faster it will be. The wider the kayak, the more stability it will have.

What kind of kayak should I get?

Think about what your goals are in kayaking, and what you feel you are interested in doing with the kayak.

There are three kinds of whitewater kayaks:

1. Creek boat:

Wave Sport Habitat 80

Creek boats are highly-rockered, displacement hull kayaks with round, blunt ends and soft edges. They tend to be voluminous for their length. Creek Boats take their name from the steep creeks they are designed to descend. They are designed be maneuverable, forgiving, and stable even in the most gnarly of whitewater. Their bulbous design is a feature intended to maximize safety, storage, and buoyancy as well as to deflect impacts with river features.

2. River-Runner:

Diesel 80

Fuse 48

River running kayaks are designed for general whitewater use. They are a combination of creek and freestyle kayaks as they share design elements with both. River running designs vary: some designs are larger and faster, more like creek boats (Diesel) and other are shorter, lower volume desings that have more in common with playboats (Fuse).

3. Freestyle:

Project 52

Freestyle kayaks, also known as playboats, are short, low volume, kayaks with planning hulls designed to surf waves and hydraulics. They are usually designed with hard edges and a good amount of kick rocker. They are highly maneuverable but lack downriver speed and stability necessary for navigating technical whitewater.

What size kayak should I get?

Once you know what kind of kayak you want, you will want to look at sizing.

Each kayak has a specified weight range in which the kayak will perform best. Depending on where you are in that weight range, the boat will perform differently. For instance, if you are at the lower end of the weight range for a playboat, it may be hard to throw around, but will be great for river running (more volume available). On the other hand if you are at the higher end of the weight range for a playboat, it will be easy to throw around, but not so great for river running (read: squirly and unstable). If you are on the lower end of the weight range in a creekboat, the boat will be very forgiving and go through anything, but it will probably be somewhat difficult to manuever. If youe on the higher end of the weight range in a creekboat, the boat will be easy to maneuver, but it might be a recipe for disaster in terms of getting stuck in holes. Without the extra volume, the boat won't resurface as quickly and might be "hole-bait." Be careful getting too small a creekboat.

How should the kayak fit?

Once you have the weight range thing figured out, sit in the boat. When in the boat, you want the boat to fit somewhat tightly, but not so tight you cramp up. In general, you want your thigh braces wrapping your thighs completely, but not exerting any downward pressure (this can lead to your legs falling asleep quickly). You want your feet touching the foot brace with your heels together and toes pointed outward. Hip pads should be snug enough so you aren't moving around excessively while your paddling (Hint: If you have plenty of hip pads but the boat still feels "off," try switching the left and right hip pads...its a little different fit, and works well for some people).
Some people choose to use the stock hip pads and foot foam, however if it doesn't work for you, try carving your own from foam.

What's the deal with sizing and colors?

Each manufacturer is different, however the general trend is something like this:

Yellow is the largest (coolest slowest out of the mold), and red is the smallest (it cools quickest from the mold). Blue, Orange and Green tend to be somewhere in the middle and are somewhat hit or miss for size difference. This means if you are borderline to fitting in a boat, go for the color theory. The size difference is not guaranteed but it sometimes it works out.


Once you've got the fit thing figured out, sit in the boat and try it out. Outfit it to your specs and see what you think. Each boat is designed a little differently, from deck height to cockpit width, to boat length, etc, and each person has a personal preference of how they like their boat to feel. Go with your gut, and try the boat out on some easy water to see if it's right for you.

Stay tuned for more tips!

Kim Russell