No one had ever run the Northwest’s quintessential Class V+ test piece at such high water. Here is how it looked from the seat of Todd Wells’ kayak.
Ellesmere Island is the most northerly of the Canadian Arctic islands and on Monday afternoon, June 13, the odd-couple Ellesmere adventurers—Jon Turk, 65, and Erik Boomer, 26, who are attempting to circumnavigate Ellesmere’s 1,500 mile perimeter—were on its rugged north coast when they called in via satellite phone.
ALL THE TRAINING, ALL THE YEARS OF INSTRUCTION, ALL THE PRACTICE SCENARIOS IN his Wilderness First Responder courses, none of it really put the moment in context. But that moment and its must-react minutes suddenly became real for Matt Krizan at 9:52 a.m., on Saturday, Jan. 22—when he first spotted the body rag-dolling, facedown in the waves.
Hendri Coetzee meets Pete Meredith, who immediately hires him to guide rafts on the Zambezi, the world’s premier commercially guided big-water Class V run. Coetzee has never been in a raft or a kayak. Within three weeks Hendri runs Number 9-considered a mandatory portage-in a borrowed kayak.
ear-mutiny comes on Day Three of an early-season canoe trip in the wilds of northeastern Ontario. We came to Temagami, a 6,000 square-mile canoe-tripping paradise, to visit a lake that was named after my great-grandfather over a century ago. Marooned on icebound Smoothwater Lake, it’s painfully clear we’re not going to make it to Mihell Lake.
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.
Former American Whitewater editor and longtime kayaker Chris Koll calls the Stone Valley section of New York’s Racquette River “one of the hardest commonly run rivers in the Adirondacks.” To see it in spring—a roaring white tumult—makes it tough to imagine that this three-mile stretch of the Racquette was nearly dry during the best paddling months.
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.