Author Archives: "CanoeKayak.com"
Thirty years ago, Idaho’s Rob Lesser led one of the more audacious whitewater feats of all time: the first descent of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. This summer, at the ripe age of 65, he’s going back-not necessarily to run the tortuous rapids of the 45-mile-long canyon, but to pay his respects.
There will be grass skirts, leis and luaus, Hawaiian beer—Primo, is the official beer sponsor—and of course a whole lot of surfing on some of the heaviest water ever seen in western Colorado. Flows at the Glenwood Springs, Colo., play park wave hit unprecedented levels this week—geese, apparently, can surf 25,000-plus cfs, no worries—but then again the park has only been around since March 2008.
TOM BYERS’ DARK, DUSTY CANOE WORKSHOP IS CLUTTERED WITH EVERYTHING EXCEPT POWER TOOLS. The accomplished backwoods builder shapes immaculate birchbark craft by axe, knife, awl, and bit brace. Hundreds of feet of peeled jack pine roots join the pieces, all products of the northern forest-birchbark skin, white cedar ribs and sheathing, spruce gum-steeped in the indigenous heritage of this centuries-old alchemy.
The traveling carnival that is freestyle kayaking pulled into Vail, Colo., over the weekend for the 10th annual Teva Mountain Games. Emily Jackson—no surprise here—captured her seventh-straight TMG kayak freestyle title, while the other Jacksons—Emily’s dad, Eric, and brother, Dane—settled for second and third place in the men’s finals on Saturday behind Colorado paddler Dustin Urban…
THE QUESTION BEGAN BURNING IN MY MIND at the 2009 Cheat River Race: “What is that strange, bulbous boat and why does it always finish first?” Eventually, that question led me into the obscure and perpetually challenging world of wildwater (aka downriver) kayak racing.
Hendri walked into my office a couple of years ago, asking for sponsorship. By that time we knew about each other for a while already, but hadn’t met yet. My answer was an obvious yes—his reputation for running the hardest stuff was already growing. Since then a close relationship grew between two paddlers who discussed everything except paddling.
The Kayak Freestyle semifinals are on tap for later this morning on Gore Creek at the 10th annual Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo. Yesterday saw Kayak Freestyle qualifying and Thursday was the Steep Creek Championship, on Homestake Creek, where two paddlers—Mike Dawson and Honza Lasko—tied down to one-hundredth of a second for first place…
IN THE EYES OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD CANOEING IN WHITEWATER FOR THE FIRST TIME, the 3-foot drop of Oblique Falls on Tennessee’s Hiwassee River must look like Niagara Falls. Each year, the tiny ledge on the popular beginner’s stretch sparks dozens of new paddlers. It’s where Matt Thomas, 25, had his first open-boat taste of whitewater, bumping and grinding tandem “coal barges” down the Hiwassee’s Class II rapids with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)-sanctioned Hubert Bennett Jr. Canoe School.
The best kayakers in the world battle Class V waters on Homestake Creek over two runs with wicked jumps and crushing rocks with a combined two-run distance of about a half-mile during the course of 31⁄2 minutes, and there’s a tie down to a hundredth of a second?
“Everythings’s flowing great right now and we’ve got this overcast layer, so things are on the high side of normal—but it’s reasonable, it’s not flooding. I anticipate things coming up over the weekend, but judging by what we’re seeing, I expect it to be a phenomenal weekend for the kayak events.” That was the comment this afternoon from Brad Ludden, a pro kayaker from Vail, Colo., who participated in the first Teva Mountain Games in Vail ten years ago, and every one since.
We have been traveling really well so far. We have skied about 380 miles in 23 days—we could not have asked for better ice conditions thus far. Lots of adverse and dramatic weather: Really hot, then really cold, etc. We really have to be ready to throw on different layers all day long depending on what the polar environment gives us.
FOR C&K’S CANOE TECHNIQUE GURU PAUL MASON, getting on the water to film a series of skills videos with his daughter, Willa, has made for a fond trip down memory lane. Canoeists around the world still remember Paul as the plaid shirt-wearing 14-year-old paddling with his father, the late filmmaker and canoeing icon Bill Mason, in the acclaimed “Path of the Paddle” instructional series, which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada in the 1970s.
Last week, C&K’s Conor Mihell interviewed Jeff Allen following Allen and partner Harry Whelan’s 25-day sea kayak circumnavigation of Ireland to establish a new speed record. Now comes a video trailer for the forthcoming film, “Into the Wind,” filmed and produced by Vaughan Roberts of Romany Productions, chronicling Allen and Whelan’s epic odyssey ’round Ireland.