Although Winter has only just officially begun the snow and ice has long since shut off most of the flow to the rivers of the Northwest. This is an amazing time of year to to enjoy water in another form and watch the mountains replenish themselves for the season to come.
My Fall paddling has been held close to home as I am preparing for a major expedition but what I found is that through my gallivanting around the world I have overlooked some gems lying right in my backyard. Here are a few of the rivers I was lucky enough to score hardly a stones throw out my backdoor.
Kooteni Falls is a natural play park for paddlers. The falls, which you can easily lap as many times as you want flows straight into Super Wave, one of the biggest best waves on the west coast. The river then continues on through a classic big water class four plus canyon.
The Elk River just North of the boarder in BC is another classic in the area. Boasting a clean 40 footer into a football field size pool and countless fun class five rapids and drops, this was one of my favorite new rivers I paddled this Fall.
CFS is action! I love seeing throw back boats styling lines. The CFS was my first ever creek boat and I was happy to see a good friend lacing lines all the way down the Elk in one.
This is one of the first drops you get to on the Elk. Watch out for the undercut cave on the left!
The next river we paddled up in BC was the Spillamachine River a couple hours North of the Elk. This is a picture of my good buddy Jonny Meyers lacing a line on the stoutest drop of the run.
The next drop that follows is happy ending. Here is a cool shot of myself getting just that on a cold BC day.
Of course another instant classic is the Box. Due to it remoteness, quality of whitewater, and stunning scenery this has become my favorite run relatively close to home.
With so many amazing rivers and places to paddle around the world it's easy to forget about what is hiding in your backyard. I am already looking forward to more exploring as soon as the rivers start to run again... Happy New Year!
Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico with my good friend Erik Boomer, Forge, and Camp 4 Collective. These are the types of trips I used to live for until I broke my back 18 months ago. Since then it's been a slow steady progression back into the realm of vertical waterfall running. Knowing first hand the style of rivers and waterfalls of Mexico I boarded the plane excited and nervous knowing that it was once again time to time to get my huck on.
The trip spanned 10 days and in that time we paddled more drops and waterfalls than I have been able to over the course of the last two years. It felt amazing to have worked back to the point where I once again can happily sit in my kayak above a monster waterfall with the feeling that I am in exactly the right place. Tim Kemple, one of best photographers I have ever had the honor of working with just posted this photo essay with some of the most epic kayaking shots I have ever seen.
One of the best creeks in Montana this only gets run by a few groups every year. This year I teamed up with my long time friend Jonny Meyers to go harvest some Montana goods that neither of us had paddled before this year.
Jonny and I dropping through Cali Slide into the crux of the run.
Graves Creek was pioneered by James Byrd a few years back. Like most montana creeks it takes, patience and a lot of hard work with a chain saw to clean things out. This run was littered with the sawed off remnants of logs James had cleared out years prior making all this possible.
Portaging with bear spray in hand. Graves is deep in Griz country!
Jonny dropping into the Stout Crack!
A scenic representation of how epic this creek is!
The last couple of months I have been towing around my sweet new $300 1959 camper trailer from race event to race event hitting the scene and getting back into shape.
I have been recovering from my back break at Abiqua falls about a year ago and a finial recent surgery in which to two rods and four bolts were removed from my spine. The recovery went well and I came out of the race tour back on top of my game and ready to charge. I won the Big Fork Whitewater Festival and Bear Creek Race, and placed second at the North Fork Championships. I arrived back home to Montana just as the classics were dropping into perfect flows. Here are a few of them.
30 minutes out my front door this has got to be one of the funest creeks in the West. It’s steep continuous slides punctuated by small eddys and log jams doesn’t give this one the friendliest characteristics but the pristine long bedrock slides make the log dodging and two mile hike in well worth the effort.
South Fork of Salmon
This epic multiday run starting near McCall Idaho is one that I have overlooked for years. This year I teamed up with Eric Boomer for one of the best river trips I have done in a long time. We just missed high water but we were still stoked to be heading into the wilderness for a few days of river time. My first reaction to the South Fork was how big it was, hardly a creek at all. Its big water is notorious at higher levels but even at the flow that we caught it at it offered amazingly fun class IV+ whitewater. We put in at the town of Yellowpine, an experience in itself, and paddled the North Fork for 15 miles down to the South Fork. The rapids were good and the consistent gradient had us at the confluence with the Secesh before we knew it. With the added volume of the Secesh, the South Fork becomes a proper river and continues to dish out beautiful whitewater all the way to the confluence with the Main Salmon, another Idaho wilderness classic.
Big Timber Creek
Big Timber Creek is one of the all time classics of Montana. Boasting over 800 feet per mile in some sections this creek is only runable because of how big and clean its character is. From top to bottom Big T is stacked with long granite slides and towering mountains on either side of the river. For any avid class five boater, this creek should be high on the priority list!
As the snow began to fly in the Northwest I loaded up in my trusty Ford Ranger and pointed it South. I picked up the rest of the team Erik Boomer and Sarah Mcnair-Laundry in LA and continued on.
Our destination was Mexico. This mission was to be a little different than most. Instead of plugging off big waterfalls we we're attempting to do a seldom done crossing of the Sea of Cortez then continue descending a 300 mile long remote section of Baja Peninsula. Our crafts of choice were Triak's, essentially sea kayaks rigged to sail. We anticipated that the common Northerly winds would blow us along for a good portion of the journey and in any other conditions we would be able to paddle.
Once we hit the water the trip settled into that common comfortable pace of life that we live for. Disconnecting from the digital world and connecting to the real one. Waking up and going to sleep with the sun, making miles, anticipating weather, tides, and fishing for food - it was immediate clear why spend so much time and energy putting ourselves into these types of experiences.
Along the way we're attacked by seals:
Paddled with dolphins:
Caught delicious fishes:
Got in some sick kiting:
Checked out some unreal sunsets:
And watched a lot campfires burn down
The expedition covered about 400 miles over the course of 25 days - the many stories will be told in full soon the short film which will be coming out in the next couple of moths.