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With news of all of the rivers in the Columbia River Gorge flooding, Olin Wimberg, Eric Parker and I drove to the gorge for a weekend of high water paddling and a much needed break from school.
When I arrived home, there was a new Dagger Mamba 8.6 waiting for me, as well as a box from Bomber Gear. Eager to test out the new equipment, I headed to one of my favorite runs in the world-- the Little White Salmon River in Washington state.
The Little White was running at a very juicy 4.3 feet on the bottom gauge and because of a giant ice storm a few weeks ago, there was a ton of new wood throughout the run. I was a little nervous of the new hazards, but I was confident following my brother Todd Wells who knew all of the new dangerous logs and how to avoid them.
I was a bit hesitant taking a boat I have never paddled before on a new run, but I had already heard lots of good things about the new Mamba and was stoked to put it to test on one of the more difficult class five runs in the country. Through the first quarter mile of warm up rapids, I noticed that it accelerated very quickly and was exceptionally fast. The added volume in the bow and stern allowed me to boof as well as in my Nomad, which I have used since I started creek boating. My favorite things about the new Mamba were its speed and the increased volume, two things that fit perfectly with my paddling style. I like to charge down rapids and stay on top of holes and the Mamba helped me do just that.
It took a bit of getting used to the sharper edges but I soon learned to love them. With softer edges in the back I found the Mamba much easier to turn than boats that have similar hulls and speed like the Burn and Remix and easier to roll (yes, I flipped a number of times) as the bow and stern are more rounded out. Last but definitely not least, the Mamba boofed like a dream! From sticky ledge holes to twenty footers, I flew over everything and instead of losing speed and changing direction like many boats do coming out of a hole, the Mamba kept right on track and kept its speed extremely well.
Overall I was impressed by the Mamba’s performance on a very difficult class V creek run. The high volume kept me on top of giant holes as well as very comfortable. As much as I love my Nomad, I’m definitely going to be taking the Mamba on more creek and big water runs. I ended the day rallying off 30ft. Spirit Falls and had a sweet line over the drop and above the man eating hole known as Chaos. I have a feeling the Mamba is going to be seeing more air time over some taller waterfalls in the near future too!
Photo by Eric Parker
On the way back home we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls for a quick park n' huck.