Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Sanuk's on Hagen Gorge

A trip report on Sanuk's Website:


Kokatat: Review of the Ronin Pro PFD

Why the Ronin Pro?

I choose to use the Ronin Pro PFD for many reasons. Classified as a Type V pfd with 16 pounds of flotation, an internal safety harness, and tow-tether capabilities all packed into a low-profile shape, what isn’t there to love? Oh yea, it’s made with GAIA PVC-free foam, too!

(Most pfd’s are made with PVC foam. When this foam breaks down, chemicals are released into the water. But, not with this pfd - it’s environmentally friendly!)


As a smaller female paddler, fit is something I am picky about. The Ronin offers plenty of adjustments to fit a vast array of torso and girth dimensions: adjustable shoulder straps, two side adjustment straps, and a low buckle. Once adjusted, the Ronin is locked down, and does not ride up, thanks also to it’s non-slip Hypalon Grip Panels. With a low-profile cut, I do not find the Ronin to be bulky. Rather, I find it extremely comfortable, and to offer protection in all the right places: chest, sides and back.


Two roomy front pockets allow room for all the necessities: head cozy, extra webbing, a knife, an energy bar, and more! What’s better: the zippers never unzip on their own, and are well placed so they don’t catch on other pieces of gear.

Rescue Capability:

The Ronin Pro comes with a quick release chest harness, as well as a stretch mesh sleeve

built just for your tow tether. It’s easy to use, and I have yet to have a boat prematurely

release using this system.


I have had my current Ronin for about 8 months now. After an overnight, lots of hike-in’s and many many days on the water, my pfd has seen some serious wear, but it definitely doesn’t show it. It may be a little sun-faded, but it otherwise looks as good as new: no cuts, no tears. The 500D Cordura will take whatever you throw at it.

Overall Review:

The Ronin Pro is my go-to creeking vest. It offers protection where it’s needed, has bomber rescue hardware, and is an extremely comfortable vest. This is a great vest for any paddler.

Kim Russell

Two Creeks in a day!

With clocks "springing forward" giving us one more hour of daylight, I figured it the perfect time to get on two creeks in a day: Cooper Creek and Canyon Creek, Washington. Separated by a forty minute drive, these two creeks are quality.

Copper Creek is a small tributary to the East Fork of the Lewis, located in Washington state. The section typically paddled is very short, and features one Waterfall (2 ftr, 6 ftr, 15 ftr), followed by the Final Five Gorge, five drops in a row, with a stout hole at the bottom.

"Triple Falls" (Photo copyright Dave Hoffman)

Triple Falls, Photo Copyright Dave Hoffman

Canyon Creek is a cclass IV/V creek that was recently rejuvenated by the year's flood.

What do I mean by rejuvenated? Well, it used to look like this:

And now it looks like this:

After finishing up a lap on Copper Creek at about 1pm, we decided to rally to Canyon Creek and take full advantage of our newly found hour of daylight. With high water levels, and us running on a fairly tight time schedule, we rallied down through the rapids, and took only a few photos at the falls, a perfect place to throw and go at about 1500 cfs. Wohoo!

John, Myself, Max Blackburn, Seth Swallen and Capo Rettig (Photo by Dave Hoffman)

The lower waterfalls: Champagne and Hammering Spot (Taken in 2007 by Lana Young)

To see more photos by Dave Hoffman:

April 16 and 17, 2011 is the Northwest Creeking Competition, featuring a downriver race down the nearby E.F. Lewis, as well as a downriver race on Canyon Creek. For more information, check out:

Thanks Next Adventure, Portland OR for making online registration possible this year:

Enjoy the rio!

Kim Russell

Fun on a Washington Classic!

Photo copyright Dave Hoffman

One nice thing about living in the Columbia River Gorge is the vast array of rivers that lie within an hour's distance of driving. Friday, with the day off work, and rivers high after the week's storm, I headed out to enjoy one of the gem's of the Columbia Gorge: Hagen Gorge.

Hagen Gorge is a class IV/V creek located above the NF Washougal in Washington state. Getting to the put-in requires following a local through the maze of back roads, and "hiking" half a mile or so through a snow-filled clearcut. The hike-in gives you a chance to enjoy the view and take in the beauty of the area.

Hiking in (Photo by Kim Russell)

The put-in (Photo by Kim Russell)

Upon reaching the river, the flow tends to look very minimal, however after the initial mile or so of boat bumping, and boulder pinning there's some pay off... after the portage.

The only mandatory portage on the run:

Photo Copyright Dave Hoffman

Photo copyright Dave Hoffman

In the gorge, there are four main rapids: Haagen-daaz falls, Euphoria Falls, Teakettle Falls, and Crack in the Earth.

Haagendaaz Falls (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Euphoria Falls: A twenty five foot slide, followed by a 10 ft falls (Photo taken from another trip)

Myself in my Diesel 80 on the top slide of Euphoria Falls (Photo Copyright Bryon Dorr)

Myself at the bottom of the slide, setting up for the falls (Photo copyright Bryon Dorr)

Waiting for the stroke... Photo copyright Dave Hoffman

There it is! Photo copyright Dave Hoffman

Next up is TeaKettle Falls

Loving the Diesel 80 on Teakettle (Photo copyright Dave Hoffman)

After Teakettle, the river pours over a fifteen foot falls and through a turbulent slot just wide enough to fit a boat. Beyond this rapid, there's about half a mile of boogie water until the takeout. If you are in the area, I highly recommend Hagen Gorge. It's about as much fun kayaking as you can have in a mile and a half :)

Quick video from the day:

Dave Hoffman is a talented photographer with and eye for unique camera angles. To see and shop photo from Dave Hoffman, follow this link:

Kim Russell

Facebook fan Robert Büchmann sends us his Project X video

Facebook Fan Robert Büchmann sent us his Project X video. He's in the Project X 56, and is loving it! "

Robert says, "It makes (it) so much fun to paddle and its so effortless"

Check out the new Project X at your nearest dealer.

Enjoy the video,

Kim Russell

Prevent Shoulder Injury and Strengthen your Shoulders for Paddling:

What is the one injury most common amongst whitewater paddlers?

Shoulder dislocation due to general instability and lack of strength within the shoulder capsule.

The shoulder joint is what is known as a ball-and-socket joint in which the ball of the humerus sits in a socket created by the glenoid fossa of the scapula. The scapula is the location of various muscle attachments: your rotator cuff muscles, deltoid, as well as Teres minor and major. Beyond the shoulder blade, there are many muscles, including the biceps brachii, triceps, etc that attach to the humerus and effect overall shoulder strength.

Long story short, there are a lot of muscles that we rely on to give stability to our shoulder joints. If these muscles are weak, we may have instability within the capsule and be putting ourselves at a greater risk of dislocation and injury.

Here's a few strengthening exercises for those who want to mix up their routine, or start lifting weights. Remember, it's never too late to get started on a good strength and/or cardio program!

Front Shoulder Raise:

Start by holding a set of dumbbells at about hip height, with fingers curled downward. Raise the dumbbells upward, in front of your body until your hands are about shoulder height. Slowly lower the weights to their original position. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10.

Shoulder Abduction:

With a dumbbell in each hand, palm facing downward, lift the dumbbell straight up from your sides. Focus on using your shoulders, rather than your back, and keeping your torso straight. Lower the dumbbells slowly to their original position. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10.

Shoulder Shrugs:

The shoulder shrug can be done with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells. If you are holding a barbell, hold it with an overhand grip (fingers curling towards you) with your hands about shoulder width apart. If you are holding a dumbbell in each hand, hold one on each side of your body, with fingers curling toward you. When ready, lift the weight/weight straight upward as far as you can. Hold for three seconds, then slowly return the weight to its starting position. Focus on bringing your shoulders to your ears. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10.

Shoulder Press:

This exercise is best performed seated on a bench, however as you progress in fitness, don't be afraid to try it sitting on an exercise ball. To start, hold the weights in your hands, shoulder height, with palms facing forward. Sit up tall, and lift your hands straight upward toward the ceiling until you reach full extension. Then, slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height. When executing this exercise, exhale and tighten your abs when lifting, inhale when lowering. If you find yourself unable to keep a nice, tall posture when lifting, try bringing your hands slightly forward during the lift. If this does not help, drop the amount of weight you are lifting. It is important to maintain good posture and lift with your shoulders, not your low back. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10.

When performing strengthening exercises, the emphasis is on the SLOW return of weights to their original position. This eccentric strengthening of the muscle has been found to be associated with greater muscle strengthening than concentric exercises (simply lifting the weight upward). If you want to focus on muscle endurance, choose a weight that will allow you to do a greater the number of reps, 10+. If you want to focus on strength, choose a weight that will allow you to perform 6-8 reps.

These exercises can be performed with various other upper body exercises, and may be performed every other day, as to give your body a rest day between exercises. Be sure to replenish your body with a nutritional meal post-workout.

Supplemental Exercises:

While these exercises do not specifically target the shoulders, they do aid in stabilizing the shoulder joint, and overall strength of the upper body: pull-ups, pushups, rows.

Keep those shoulders strong, and have fun on the river!

Kim Russell


**Kim Russell has a B.S. in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon. She is currently working as a Physical Therapist Aide, earning glances into stretches, strengthening exercises and mobilization techniques for paddlers. These techniques are ones that she has found to work for herself in strengthening her shoulder muscles, and may not be suitable for some individuals. Consult your physician before trying any of these exercises.**

In Review: The Project X 48

The New Project X:


-Higher Volume (48 vs 45)

-More aggressive rocker profile

-Slicier bow

I have been paddling a Wave Sport Project 45 since 2007, and never thought I would make the switch to any other boat; I love my Project 45! However, from the first time I took a seat in my Project X, I now have a new favorite playboat. Let me tell you why…

The Outfitting:

Outfitting wise, the boat feels very similar to the Project: same foot block, thigh braces, hip pads, and seat pad, however, the new outfitting is white and has been dubbed “Whiteout.” It is softer, does not collect dirt, and does not absorb nearly as much water as the old outfitting. Pretty cool, eh?

In general, the Project X “feels” like the Project in regards to positioning, although I feel as though my knees sit up a little higher in the boat, making it more comfortable for a long day on the river, as well as giving me more leverage for tricks.

First Impression on the Water:

On the water, the boat feels very stable. It has good primary as well as secondary stability. End-to-end it is very well balanced, and never feels as though it is “falling” end-over-end through moves. With its slicey bow, and its shorter length, the Project X allows me to more easily control and link ends than most other boats I have paddled. Finally, as a smaller paddler, the Project X is easy to paddle because the volume is located so close to the body.


You might expect such a “spud-boat” to not do so well, however, the Project X excels downriver. There is a lot of volume in the front, and while the X is a pretty short boat, it maintains just enough length to be very stable downriver. In addition, I witnessed a complete and utter lack of pearling thanks to the aggressive rocker profile of the X. Whether I was paddling over boily seams or eddylines, the bow never pearled once.

On a Wave:

The Project X is FUN FUN FUN on a wave! It carves easily, and smoothly back and forth. It is very quick edge-to-edge, and releases with very little effort on the paddler’s part. Forward and backward, the Project X did not flush easily, even from the smallest of waves.

Having only been in the Project X only a handful of times, I still have to get used to the boat myself. What I can be sure of is whether paddling downriver, or on a feature, it will bring a smile to your face! For more information, go to your local dealer and ask to demo the new Project X! You won’t be disappointed!

Cheers and Enjoy the new Project X!

Kim Russell

The Little Klickitat

This past weekend, the Northwest experienced the largest storm since three years ago.

The Hood River flooded at 13.5 feet, relative to a normal 6.0 this time of year. The White Salmon gauge was underwater, and reached levels of what we estimate to be 8 feet and above. The Washougal reached 22,000 cfs, compared to 3500 cfs normally. Did I mention we had a ton of water?

On Saturday, a group of us made it out to one of the gem's of the Gorge: The Little Klickitat. The LIttle Klickitat is a 9.7 miles of continuous class IV/V, and typically runs once a year. Saturday morning, with about 1020 cfs, we had primo levels, and decided to give it a go.

Put-in at the Cow-Pasture

The beginning of the Little Klickitat

Scouting the First Rapid

Adam Elliot in his Habitat 80 entering one of the larger rapids of the river

Chuck Taylor at the bottom of the above rapid

Myself and Jesse scouting the rapid above

Susan Hollingsworth at the waterfall on the Klickitat

The Ladies of the Little Klickitat: Susan Hollingsworth, Kim Russell and Christie Glissmeyer

Yesterday, rivers were still on the rise, and so was the wood danger, so we decided to take a waterfall tour instead...

Husum Falls at typical flows around 2.5 feet

Husum Falls above 7 feet, yesterday

BZ at normal flows, 3.0 feet

BZ Falls at over 7 feet on the gauge

BZ Falls at over 7 feet on the gauge

Upper Zigzag:

BZ Falls:

Stay safe on the water!

Kim Russell

Got Lower Back Pain?

As paddlers, we use our core muscles, the abdominals and back muscles, to stabilize our body and give us power in our stroke. One of the many muscles we paddlers use is the Quadratus Lumborum (QL), located deep in the back of the waist, on both sides of our lumbar vertebrae. It attaches from the lower ribs to the pelvis and the lower back. When the Quadratus Lumborum contracts unilaterally, it brings the spine and pelvis closer together, raising the hip. When the QL contracts on both sides of the spine, it is responsible for extension of the lower back. Trigger points in this muscle can cause referred pain in your lower back.

The image above (left) denotes the location of the QL, while the image above (right) depicts the location of referred lower back pain.

As paddlers, the Quadratus Lumborum easily becomes an over-worked muscle, as we often find ourselves hiking our hips as we carve into and out of eddies, brace through rapids, and roll our kayaks. When over-worked, the QL can give us a deep aching pain in our lower backs. Through stretching and self-mobilization, it is possible to loosen the QL and relieve lower back pain.


One stretch for the QL involves lying on a bed, on your side, with your back toward the edge of the bed. Extend the top leg backward and downward toward the floor. Turn the upper body slightly in the opposite direction, toward the middle of the bed. Reach up with your “upside” arm. You should feel a deep stretch in your back. Remain in this stretch for a few minutes, and move to stretch the QL on your other side.


  1. Start with your pelvis stacked completely vertical, one leg on top of the other.
    Do not let your pelvis roll backward off the bed until you are more experienced with the stretch.

  2. To further deepen the stretch, you may stack a few pillows underneath your

3. The farther the upper leg hangs off the side of the bed, the deeper the stretch will feel.

Self-Mobilization/Self Massage:

Find yourself a tennis ball, or something circular of about the same size.

Lie on your back on the floor, place the tennis ball between you and the floor, just below your ribcage, but near the spine on one side. Roll around on the tennis ball until you hit your QL. You’ll know when you are in the right place, because if the QL is the source of your back pain, you will feel some pain and tension. Once you feel this, stay in that location, and roll around on the ball for ten minutes or so. If the pain is too great, lift some of your body weight off the ball, or find a larger ball to roll around on. This is a quick and easy way to massage the muscle on your own.

This can also be done standing upright, back to a wall, with the tennis ball between your back and the wall. Start moving your body against the tennis ball and slowly work down your back.

Finally, be careful how much self-mobilization you do in one day. You may be VERY sore the next day. However, overtime, you should notice a decrease in lower back pain.


I hope all of you with lower back pain are able to find some relief with these stretches and mobilizations!

Kim Russell


**Kim Russell has a B.S. in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon. She is currently working as a Physical Therapist Aides, earning glances into stretches and mobilization techniques for paddlers. These techniques are ones that she has found to work for herself in releasing the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle, and may not be suitable for some individuals. Consult your physician before trying any of these stretches or mobilizations.**

Getting Ready for High Water

With 1 to 2 feet of snow expected in the Cascade Range Monday and Tuesday, we're expecting quite the melt sometime next week. Get ready for some high water in the Northwest folks!

How To: Tune up your Forward Stroke

The forward stroke is essential to paddling. While its the first thing you learn kayaking, it's the last thing you should stop working on years down the road.

A few years ago I developed tendonitis in both my elbows to the point where I could barely turn the steering wheel in my car. In order to continue paddling, I realized I needed to adjust my forward stroke to decrease my pain. Four years later, using these tips, I am tendonitis free and continue to develop my forward stroke every year.

1. Hold your paddle properly:

Place your hands shoulder width apart on the paddle shaft. Maintain a firm grip on your paddle shaft, however, don't clench your paddle. Clenching can lead to sore tendons, and less than efficient paddle strokes.

2. Maintain Proper Posture:

Throughout your paddle stroke, try to maintain a vertical posture. Sit up straight, and keep your head stable, resisting the temptation to move it side to side as well as forward and back. Proper posture will allow you to stay centered in your kayak as well as allow you to use your torso to paddle efficiently.

3. Use your Torso:

When paddling, keep your arms in a slightly bent, stationary position, and focus on using your upper back and torso rather than your arms. By "stationary," that's not to say your arms don't move when you paddle. Instead, consider each arm to be a connector between your back and paddle. Now, rotate your torso to generate power. Focus on pinching your shoulder blades together, and using your core to bring your arms through the paddling motion (Picture squeezing an orange between your shoulder blades). At the end of the day, your upper back and torso should feel the work, not your arms.

4. Look where you want to go:

Just like when your driving, skiing, or mountain biking, look where you want to go, and your boat will tend to naturally follow.

Please feel free to share your tips and tricks to an efficient forward stroke!

See you on the Rio!

Kim Russell