No other major river in the United States is going to change more than the Rio Grande as weather patterns shift. The snowpack is going to be smaller and melt earlier, the droughts are going to be longer, the monsoon floods bigger. I wanted to follow the river to understand how these changes are already impacting the people and places that depend on the river.
We like to call it a revival. After seven years where the number of freestyle competitions remained mostly stagnant (and low, at that), as many as 60 new events have sprung up across North America in the last two years. Freestyle boaters now have their pick of nearly 200 competitions in 25 states. The trend begs the question: Can freestyle return to the top of the kayaking hierarchy, a position it held for much of the late 1990s and early 2000s?
The run started calmly enough with some Class III and Class IV rapids. Then it transitioned to Class V with some runnable whitewater, but lots of portages. We encountered some great rapids, amazing scenery and a gorgeous un-runnable falls. We only had a half-day of paddling, due to the morning’s preparations, but found a great spot for camping at 6 p.m. and we were all in good spirits for the beginning of our adventure.
Well, here it is. The highly anticipated release of the 4th of 7 Slippery When Wet trailers featuring the man, the myth, the legend, Ben Stookesberry. This man has proven himself a world-class filmmaker, kayak icon, and easily one of the top expedition kayakers on the planet.
Name a steep creek competition after the “Northwest,” a region known for capricious weather and copious precipitation, and it should be no surprise when river levels skyrocket overnight. Still, waking up to three times as much water flowing through the narrow gorges on the East Fork of the Lewis River elicited surprise—and trepidation—from most competitors.
Earlier this month, Darrin Kimbler launched his canoe at the mouth of the Columbia River, near Astoria, Ore., with his dog, Mike, and a full load of gear. If all goes according to plan—and according to Kimbler’s blog, CanoeAcrossAmerica.com, not all has gone according to plan already—Kimbler and Mike will paddle into Key West, Fla., in eight months time.
The Wells Brothers, Todd and Brendan, certainly seem to be getting after it in Oregon this month. Two weeks ago they brought you Outlet Falls 2011, and now this… Sam Freihofer and Todd Wells paddling 82-foot Metlako Falls on Eagle Creek, in Oregon—in a two-man kayak.
4.17.11, ~2:30 p.m. Toketee Falls, on the North Umpqua River in southern Oregon, has only had more than ~75 cfs five times in the last year, because of an antiquated hydro-power diversion. I was planning on paddling somewhere else when I woke up in the morning, but looked at flows after a night of rain and saw the gauge above Toketee at ~250 and going up slowly.
“So you’re starting to see what I mean about all the sanding?” says Ron Pellinen, my wooden canoe-building mentor, when I walk into his shop on a brisk March morning in Northern Ontario. Perched on an office chair in his workshop garage, Pellinen has just cut the power to the orbital sander he was using to smooth the contours of a thwart, one of the ash crosspieces that adds strength and structure to a canoe.
Being the publisher of the world’s biggest paddling magazine does have its perks. Last winter, for example, Larry Vermeeren of Small World Adventures (SWA) invited me down to Ecuador, where he has been running paddling trips since 1993. It was the best week of paddling I’ve ever had.