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Enjoying a California Summer!

Posted: 08.28.2013 by Laura Farrell

So it may not be a summer filled with lots of water here in California, but that doesn't mean you can't still get out and have a good time. Living here as taught me the importance of being able to enjoy lots of different sports, so when the weather is not good for one (say creek boating), you always have a backup activity to get outside and enjoy.

A couple weekends ago I did just that by spending my time climbing rocks, riding bikes and getting in a playboat for the first time in a long time. And I was especially excited to get out and use some gear I had recently acquired; A new climbing rope, playboat and mountain bike!

I am still very much a beginner climber, but I have learned to appreciate the skills and strength involved in this anti-gravity sport. Each move is a problem to be solved, and the more efficiently you do so, the more energy you'll have for the next move. That morning we headed up to Donner Summit and enjoyed some beautiful California granite just 15 min. outside of Truckee. I was excited to utilize my new 9.9mm Pulse rope, thanks to Blue Water Ropes, which turned out to be every bit as awesome as I expected. The bright color helped make sure it was seen by all!

From Donner Summit I drove down the hill to Coloma, CA with my brand new Dagger Jitsu in the back of my truck. I have never been, and will never be, known as a playboater in the kayaking world. It's just not something I have ever spent a lot of time doing, but I will say that every time I hop on a wave, no matter how small it is, I always end up having a great time. I seem to find myself laughing and smiling a lot while playboating, which usually is because of my ridiculous ability to get window shaded, but its still fun anyways! The Jitsu lived up to all my expectations. I hadn't been in a newer playboat in years, and now I see what I've been missing. Excited to work out the kinks with some more days at barking dog of the SF American.

The next morning I woke up ready to get my butt kicked on a mountain bike ride on the Forest Hill Loop in Auburn, CA. Working abroad all summer as a tour guide, I get very little time to exercise, so it's always rough jumping on the bike for the first time in a while. I had only been on my new Specialized Stump Jumper a handful of times before, and I was excited to take it out again. It was a great morning and a great ride, definitely a butt kicker as expected, but thats always great motivation to get back into riding shape. I finished up the day by heading back down to barking dog for an afternoon surf session in the California sun.

If you've never experienced a good "surf and turf" weekend before, I highly recommend trying it out and learning a new sport if thats what it takes. In my opinion, diversity is the key to staying happy and healthy outside!

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The Melt has Begun!

Posted: 04.24.2013 by Laura Farrell

The snow has officially started to melt out here in California and its not going to last long so get it while you can! Last weekend I took to the water and kicked off my Spring kayaking season on two local classics- South Silver and Golden Gate.

I had not been on South Silver since my inaugural California season back in 2009, so it was great to get a chance to get back out there. While it may be short, South Silver is filled with one fun drop after the next and set in such a beautiful location, its the perfect way to spend a warm spring day.

After a great day on South Silver, we decided to stay in the American drainage and spent the following day enjoying the wonderful rapids of Golden Gate. Golden Gate is another run I had not been on in a few years and was excited to revisit. My previous runs on Golden Gate had gone well with the exception of one rapid- AFU (I'll leave it to you to figure out what that stands for). The first time I ran it I got, well, AFU and that memory left me taking the dry line around the rapid on my subsequent visits. Last weekend I decided it was time to face my fears and give the rapid another go. I am happy to report it went great this time around. It felt so good to replace that bad memory with a good one!

What a great weekend with great friends to start off my California melt season. Time to start watching dreamflows and chasing that melt!

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Green Boat Fun!

Posted: 03.28.2013 by Laura Farrell

Now, let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with paddling a short boat, but if you haven't taken the time to paddle the Dagger Green Boat yet, you really are missing out!

While this past winter has been a fairly dry one out here in California, I have still managed to get out on the water a decent bit and when possible and appropriate, took my green boat out with me.

A lot of people have the preconceived notion that paddling the Green Boat is going to be more difficult than their standard creek boat, but in most situations, I tend to disagree. I have actually come to feel more comfortable in the green boat on many of my local runs due to the speed and hole punching ability it provides me. It's true that you don't want to it sideways in a hole, but as long as you keep her straight she'll take you through almost anything! Remember, the Green Boat isn't just any long boat, its a long boat thats been specifically designed to be more comfortable, easier to paddle and paddle more like a creekboat than the long boats of the past.

It's hard to explain exactly why I think paddling the Green Boat is so much fun, but there is something about cruising through rapids with that little bit of extra speed that makes me addicted to the feeling. And don't think that that extra length will keep you from hitting those boofs, the Green Boat loves to boof!

So next time you're at your local kayak shop trying to decide which boat to take out for a demo, don't look past the Green Boat. I promise you won't regret it!

Check out all the specs here:

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Two Festivals, Three Sports and One Hell of a Time!

Posted: 10.19.2012 by Laura Farrell

Last month I was lucky enough to attend two awesome whitewater festivals, Gauley Fest on the East Coast and Feather Fest on the West Coast. As expected, both festivals delivered with amazing rivers, great friends and fun dose of debauchery. And as much as I love whitewater kayaking, I also love mountain biking and climbing too. So I decided to make the most of both weekends by turning them into multi-sport adventures, taking advantage of the beautiful mountain locations.

I had been to Gauley Fest many times before, and always had a good time so I was excited to be back east in time for the festival. This year, however, I changed up my normal routine by including a day of climbing and a day of biking in the weekend. I rode up with Dagger's very own Chris Gragtmans who was also keen on some multi-sport fun.

We deep water solo climbed at Summersville Lake, road downhill on our mountain bikes at Snowshoe Resort and finished up the weekend with two runs on the Upper Gauley. What an awesome weekend!

The following weekend was the Feather Festival, located in Chico California and tagged the "Gauley Fest of the West." I had never been to Feather Fest before but had heard many stories about what an awesome time it was. Now that I am officially living out in California, I was determined to make it to the festival this year. So after making it home from Gauley Fest, I hoped on a plane and headed west.

After arriving in Cali, but before heading up to the fest, David Maurier and I took a day to climb at Lover's Leap in the South Lake Tahoe area. It was a beautiful spot and I even got to lead my first trad climb, which was both exciting and nerve racking!

Saturday morning we drove up to the North Fork of the Feather, home to the Tobin section as well as the site of the festival.  We spent the morning lapping the Tobin section and trying to dial in lines for the race that afternoon. While I did not have the best race lines, it was still a super fun event that I was stoked to be a part of. After the race we headed downstream to Grizzly Dome, a local sport climbing spot and watched the sun go down high on the rock overlooking the river.

Following the climbing was the infamous Feather Fest party and race results announcement. I won't reveal exactly what takes place there but its definitely worth experiencing one day! The next morning I had to get up early to fly back to NC to start my EMT course, which I just finished and passed a couple days ago (hence the delay in getting this post written).

If you've never been to these festivals you should definitely make an effort to check them out! They're worthwhile for the people, the kayaking, the partying as well as the multi-sport potential!

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Joy and Exuberance on the South Fork of the Kings

Posted: 06.28.2012 by Laura Farrell

Because I think Taylor Cavin is one of the funnier people I know (and his description so well put), I am going to let his post introduce this blog...

"At 4pm on Saturday, June 16th an intrepid group of swash-buckling crusaders, loaded their safety gear, fishing tackle, and ukuleles into their kayaks and embarked upon an episode of "Myth Busters" to de-bunk the fables of the South Kings. What they found (at 800 cfs at Roger's Crossing) was a terrific, spectacularly scenic boof stork sanctuary through a deep, tight canyon with all rapids scoutable, portageable, and runnable" - Taylor Cavin

Taylor and his breakfast catch
What Taylor is referring to here is our recent trip to the South Kings River and specifically a section commonly referred to as "Fear and Loathing."  The guide book makes it sound horrible with class six unportageable, unscoutable and potentially unrunnable rapids. The other very limited beta out there does not make it sound much better. And the name alone doesn't exactly make you expect good things.

Surprisingly, what we found deep in that canyon was quite the opposite of fear and loathing. What we found was joy and exuberance.

After making it through the canyon with good lines and high spirits, the walls opened up and we hit the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Kings. This meant it was time to lifestyle. We quickly found a camp spot and enjoyed the final moments of the day as the sun set in Sequoia National Park.

The next morning we paddled out on the Garlic Falls section of the Kings which at our flow was filled with great class rapids and epic granite scenery all the way to the takeout.

I'll wrap this up with another quote (and response to Taylor's comment on from another one of my favorite burl chargers...

"Never stop exploring, questioning, and charging what you see as magnificent." -Will Pruett


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