How To: Steep Creekin’
The endearingly referred to “double drop” is the perfect dojo, if you will, to test your double black belt in boof skills. Why are back-to-backs so much fun to run? The timing, the multiple moves involved, and the grace and concentration required to successfully descend a double drop all add to the allure. On California’s Cherry Creek there is the Double Pothole, in Norway there is the Teigdalselva and in Colorado there is Double Trouble-all classics.
To successfully navigate a double drop, it is imperative to style the first drop. A properly timed boof will allow you to land in control, on the water’s surface, ready to make the next move. Let’s look at Timo Koester on Chile’s Rio Palguin, photographed by the incomparable Jens Klatt, as a perfect example. - Evan Stafford
UNDERSTAND THE ZEN. Watch as Timo approaches the drop with speed and winds up by reaching his right hand out and twisting his torso to his left. Timo plants the stroke vertically near his toes, tightens his stomach muscles and unwinds, pulling his blade through to his hips. You may not be able to see this, young grasshopper, but at the same time he’s drawing his knees toward his chest to keep his bow high. Timo releases the blade from the water by punching his left hand through to the right side of his boat. He follows through with a stroke on his left to pull him beyond the hole and toward his line on the second drop. Missing the initial boof will surely send you to the mat, crying for some Miyagi-style magic hands.
UNDERSTAND THE SCOUT. Line up the first move with proper scouting technique, Daniel-san. Start at the bottom of the rapid and figure out what your angle coming into the second drop needs to be. As you move up to the top drop choose your line in relationship to how you want to land going into Drop Two. Look for markers in the river leading up to the horizon to key your entrance point. Make sure to take a look from river level so you know what it will look like as you’re paddling into it.
UNDERSTAND TIMING. Timo’s artful stroke timing is critical here, and since this drop is aligned tight, he only gets one setup stroke between his two boofs. If the space between the drops is short or the water between the drops is charging-and it’s usually both-the most graceful and precise way to run the drop will be to take two boof strokes on the same side, with one setup stroke on the opposite side as Timo does here. Watch as he takes that left stroke to make sure he’s free of the hole and plants his right blade again with patience. Timo has mastered his fear and isn’t afraid to plant, feather to his desired boat angle, spot his landing and then pull the stroke through, again following through with a left stroke. The only thing missing in this picture is his fist pump and shout-out to his boys.
Evan Stafford co-authored the guide Whitewater of the Southern Rockies.
His instructional column, Fist of Boof, lives at Coloradokayak.blogspot.com.
This article is featured in the June 2010 issue of Canoe & Kayak Magazine