Monday, December 5, 2011

Sand Mountain Tornado Update

The weekend started as all good paddling weekends do. Friday was filled multiple phone calls speculating on levels and discussing meeting times. By that evening, I had put together a tentative plan to hook up for 3 runs on Little River Canyon with 3 different crews. All of that changed when the phone rang at 7:30 that night. It was Tyler Phillips asking me what my boating plans were for the weekend. I told him what I had in mind and his answer was, “C’mon man, the canyon, really? Isn’t anything else running?” I was a little confused. Surely, nothing else was running. It hadn’t rained in several days. I looked over the gages, saw that Town was at 600 cfs, and came back with, “We might be able to get a low water run on Flat Rock/Coon but the tornado went right through there.” We made the decision to go check it out and scope out the damage. We made a few calls to see if we could talk anyone else into going with no luck.

For those unfamiliar with this run, it is long. By the end of the day, you will have paddled about 12 miles, 7 of which are flatwater. The drops are characterized by steep congested chutes in large boulder gardens. It has been the site for multiple epics, overnighters, and hike-outs. Tyler had done the run twice and I had done it 3 and a half times (did I mention it is known for hike outs?). We had no idea about the wood situation but were hoping that the high water we had earlier in the week cleaned it out.

We set shuttle and put on at 9:00, prepared for the worst. The level at the put in was scrapey but we were happy to have low water in order to scope out the tornado damage. Within the first mile, we hit the first part of the damage. It was unbelievable. Every tree within sight was snapped off or uprooted. The character of the gorge was completely changed. You could easily see all the way up to the pasture lands on top of the gorge. We continued downstream, able to pick our way around, over and under wood only getting out twice. Once, to portage a log that was there prior to the tornado. The other wood was in a junky class III that pins most boaters. This wood is not visible from the top so approach with caution.

That old log gathered a little bit of debris

Amazingly, the wood cleaned up as soon as approached the steep section. We cautiously picked our way down the rapids, scouting everything we could.

A fun one on Flat Rock

The only wood in play on Flat Rock was in the spout line of eye of the needle. This is not the piece that was there last season and you cannot get around it. It is visible from the top and the right line is still open.

Getting turned around on the right side of Eye of the Needle

Once we got to the confluence with Coon, we felt better about our undertaking. We had made good time, the wood wasn’t as bad as expected, and the level was still low. We walked around the next rapid (landslide?) due to low water.

Sneaking some wood below the confluence

The main portage on the run looked more runnable than it has before. Less water was sieving out at the bottom and more water was in the good line. Even though it looked more doable than ever, we didn’t even think twice before walking.

Tyler drops into the pocket

I chose an alternate line

Another chunky boulder garden near the bottom

We finally arrived at my favorite rapid on the run. It is very out of character with the rest of the river. It starts off with a 4’ boof onto a big boil then slides into a clean, river-wide, ten foot ledge. This rapid had a serious piece of wood in it this is visible from the top. The portage looked miserable so we debated about ways to get around it. Tyler went first and was able to run the first ledge, drive right, wheelchair around the wood, and drive back left for the bottom drop. I followed suit with but had a little wrestling match with the wood on my way by.

The bottom of my favorite drop

With higher water, it might not be avoidable. Immediately below here, we walked around Captain Sherm’s Rapid. It needed more water.

Lead in to Captain Sherm's

We cleaned up the rest of the drops and soon we were exiting the Cave Rapid on our way to the lake.

Typical Coon Creek scenery

Into the abyss

In the backwaters, we entered more tornado damage but, again, were able to make it down without getting out of our boats. We hit the take out at 2:00 and home in time for dinner.

There is a lot of wood in Flat Rock and Coon right now so be careful in there. It will be doing a lot of moving around over the season. Also, with all of the blow down in the area, hiking out would be ridiculous. Huge thanks to Tyler for shooting pictures and getting me motivated. We will definitely be going back soon.

Sam England

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two New Kayaking Videos.....check it out

Check out "killing time"- a whitewater kayaking short with footage from the southeast united states. Featuring a little obligatory Green River Narrows footage, Big Scirum Creek, Rock Creek, Tallapoosa River, and The Locust Fork of the Warrior River. See it all here creek boating, freestyle boating, and even some head cam action.

Music:Pretty Lights

Charlie Simmons, Ray Morton, Zach Sanders, Sam Casuey, Collin Hunt and other riders.

Check out some class V kayaking in western North Carolina's Jocassee Watershed (Gorges State Park Area).  Including Horse Pasture River, Upper and Lower WhiteWater River, plus a little freestyle footage to glue it all together!

Music: Pretty Lights

Charlie Simmons, Charlie Mix, Sam England, Sam Causey, Zach Sanders, Andy Hobson, Collin Hunt, Jordan Sherman, Tyler Phillips, Will Dowling, King Charles, Ben Bernhard, and other chargers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The 'Bama Boys searching for goods.

2011 has started off well here in Alabama. It began with a 12 hour moving ordeal New Year’s Eve involving Andy Hobson and myself into our new house in Jacksonville, AL. Andy is here for nursing school and I am here to finish my Master’s. A solid prediction of rain in the forecast was enough motivation for us to do two days of moving in one. After a fun night of celebration and unpacking, we awoke to more rain and rising rivers. We loaded up my V-Dub and off we went for some charging.

We met up with Adam Goshorn for a quick lap down the local favorite run, Johnnies Creek. After we were warmed up, we headed up to Little River Canyon Falls for a run on the center line. The level was somewhere around 5,000 cfs, probably the most water I’ve seen in this waterfall with my own eyes. The line involved negotiating a class IVish rapid above the lip, breaking over some big holes, standing waves, and a curler above the just before lining up the horizon and boofing the 40 feet through the air over one the biggest holes I’ve ever seen. Burly indeed. I went first, and stomped it. Andy went second, over boofed, landing stern first, and looked at me with pain in his eyes. I remember him saying to me, “I can’t tell if I’m hurt or not, I’m getting out.” He paddled on down while I set safety for our boys Kevin Schaffer and Ben Bernhard who had good lines as well. After the falls, Kevin and I went back to Johnnies at sundown, which was juicing around 4 or 5 inches (the high side of almost epic) and still rising. We finished the last half in the dark and good lines were had.

LRC Falls at 5K. No other pics thanks to a dead battery.

Just so this doesn’t get too long and boring, here are the highlights that followed after New Year’s Day:

-Getting shut down on Rock Creek, scouting DeSoto Falls, and then bagging two laps on low water Johnnies.

-A quick lap on the home run, Little River Canyon, at 12 +/- inches. (Best level for the run in my opinion.)

-A solo run down Little River Canyon the following day, including the falls. I haven’t done much solo paddling, so this really sticks out to me.

After a couple days for rest, and Andy concluding that his back was not broken and was well enough to go kayaking, we went back for a chill day on our beloved canyon which was running on the low side of 0”. Once we got up there, Sam had already been looking hard at the far right line of the Falls. This line has been run several times, mostly back in the day. Local knowledge says Corran Addison knocked off the first D back in the mid ‘90s or so. More recently, a year ago some slalom boaters fired it up . These are really the only two stories that I myself have heard of people running. If my understanding serves me correctly, they both occurred a nice cush 6” or so on the former Hwy 35 Bridge gauge.

I’ve always wanted to run this line and felt like it would go at an extreme low level, like around 0”. It is however very marginal. One must start his approach and negotiate and tricky entrance that has a weird S-turn with a curler that tries to kick you off line. And you better be online, because you have about a two foot window to hit. The crux involves boofing a small kicker at the lip and landing flat in a shallow pool from the 35 feet up. The landing zone itself probably is not more than 5 feet wide with a car sized boulder to the right, some more broken rocks to your left, and the pool is no more than 4 or 5 feet deep. Marginal indeed.

Sam and I both agreed both to fire it up, with Andy opting to shoot photos and motivating obscenities due to his back injury. I volunteered to go first. I was kicked off line a bit by the curler, corrected best I could, boofed the kicker and twisted in in the air. I landed flat and my right side, and felt the rock with both my torso and my boat. Although not a direct hit, it was just enough for the rock to remind me it was there.

Sam went making corrections accordingly to the line we had discussed and he crushed it. We paddled on down LRC on a sunny beautiful Alabama winter’s day stoked not only by the previous week, but what is for sure to come this season.

Charlie Mix on the right line.

Sam crushing a boof off the kicker.

A note about the right line: Yes it obviously goes at low water, but do not even consider it unless you are prepared for the consequences if something goes wrong. These include a broke back, neck, or legs etc.

Hope everyone has good lines in 2011.

-Charlie Mix

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Weather Advisory

Typically December is great month to be a kayaker in Alabama. Frequent rainfall and mild temperatures usually result in lots of river days without much discomfort. However, December 2010 started out with a deep freeze that swept mercilessly across the southeastern United States. Alabama is typically around five to ten degrees warmer than the rest of the southeast paddling scene, but even here nighttime temperatures dipped into the single digits and daytime temperatures stayed below freezing for days on end.

What’s a paddler to do when the water is low and the weather is unkind? The same thing we do the rest of the year, of course! Go kayaking! The lack of rainfall has left many rivers too low, but Little River Canyon in the northeastern corner of Alabama remains runnable at quite low flows. A trip down Little River Canyon at higher flows is usually characterized by pushy water and big holes (lots of fun in its own right). However, at low flows it channelizes between the huge boulders and creates a run that is more the style of a low volume creek and is a local favorite when most other rivers in the region are too low.

The follow video features Little River Canyon at around 250 CFS. This is about the minimum flow that all the rapids can still be paddled, portage free. Although Terminal Eddy is often walked at such low flows (risk to reward ratio is a little off on that one). The video also features all the mandatory elements to EVERY paddling video you’ve EVER seen… sped up footage of the sky/shuttle/hiking, shameless gear plugs, slow-mo boofing, post credits bonus footage, and even a little carnage. Formulaic, I know, but there is a reason paddling videos follow such a predictable path, because paddlers like them that way.

Additional footage of winter paddling in Alabama is featured in latest issue of LVM, which is available now. See a preview and order LVM 35 “Love Thyself “ here.

Until Next Time…

-Adam Goshorn

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alabama Awakening: Fall 2010

The fall of 2010 has been especially dry in the southeastern United States, leaving boaters to rely on dam release runs we waiting for the rains to return. For north Alabama, the fall of 2010 has been the exact opposite of the fall of 2009. In 2009 the rains came back in force in mid September and provided consistent natural flow into early June 2010. However, at the end of the first week of June, things dried up and there have been very few natural flow events since… until this week!

Early this week, northern Alabama received around four inches of rain over the course of two days. By Tuesday morning the ground was thoroughly saturated and the rain was still coming down in copious sheets. Despite the formerly low water table, rivers and creeks everywhere sprang to life. Flows in Little River Canyon went from 50 CFS to 8,000 CFS in less than a day. As the rivers emerged from there long hibernation, so did the network of boaters across the southeast. I think I received more calls, e-mails, and text about boating in two days than I did in the previous two months combined; everyone was beyond amped!

Leaving work a little after noon I met Cliff Knight at the put-in for Chinquapin Creek, AL. The classic section of Chinquapin drops a whopping 350 feet over only 0.75 miles as it falls into Little River Canyon. The last time I had paddled Chinquapin, I wondered about what the creek may contain in the couple of miles upstream of the traditional put-in. The gradient was milder, but the upper sections other local creeks all had favorable bedrock features so I had to wonder why no one had ever checked it out. Cliff and I debated for a few minutes before concluding that anything was worth doing once and the only way to really know what was there was to go paddle it!

My expectations were pretty low as we put on, but I couldn’t help but feel that excitement that always comes from paddling into the unknown. I love exploration and finding out what is around the next bend, especially when you really have no idea what you will find (in this situation, I was fully expecting to find a tree choked portage fest). As it turned out, we were presently surprised to find that Upper Chinquapin was a fun class III-IV run with no portages for wood. A mix of bedrock slides and small boulder style rapids reminded us both of the characteristics of Johnnies Creek AL (only a couple miles away), but significantly easier.

We made our way down in less than two hours, mostly boat scouting with a couple of bank scouts at blind rapids. After our successful run of Upper Chinquapin Creek we followed it up with a quick sprint down Upper Teddy Bear Creek (just a couple of miles north), finishing shortly before dark.

The following day my friend Kim shot a little video of me taking my lunch break from work…

Until Next Time...

-adam goshorn

Thursday, July 29, 2010

California 2010

Early Season California 2010 from jordan sherman on Vimeo.

Check it out in HD!

California...Alabama Style. Luke, Crisler and I had a fun time shooting this. We don't take ourselves too seriously, and I think it definitely shows at moments. Thanks for watching.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Extra... Extra...

I've got a couple new videos in the works, but in the course of making them there was some pretty good footage left over that I didn't use. I hated to not use some of it, so I put together this little video with all the extra stuff. Its just compiled from some filming this past winter/spring on the Tellico, Johnnies and Little River Canyon. Enjoy!

Winter B-Roll from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


Thursday, April 15, 2010

A December to Remember. Part 2: From the Grand to Mexico

Below: Owen Lucas by Jon Miller

We awoke before dawn, packed up camp in the dark, and put on the river in the first few minutes of daylight. It was our final day on the Grand Canyon and the short float to the take-out went smoothly, but the rest of the day was a harsh baptism back into the outside world. As we began the arduous process of de-rigging everything, the shuttle service arrived with our vehicles. As they pulled up we could immediately hear the air escaping from one of the rear tires on my truck. Apparently sharp rocks in the final creek crossing had cut my tire just as they arrived at the take-out. Welcome back to civilization.

Below: Christine Boush by Adam Goshorn

Eventually we managed to pack everything into our two trucks and we made long drive up Diamond Creek Road reaching the pavement an hour later. Not wanting to be driving around without a spare, I stopped by the Hualapai maintenance department to have my tire repaired. Somehow our second vehicle missed our stop and with no cell service in the area they started back towards Flagstaff planning to meet us there. With my tire repaired we were about 30 minutes into the drive to Flagstaff when one of my trailer tires shredded. Not only was the tire destroyed, but since it happened at about 70 miles per hour, it also badly mangled the wheel well. We finally got back on the road after an hour of beating, banging, and bending the wheel well back into place and then putting on the spare trailer tire. Welcome back to civilization, part two.

Below: Adam, Chris, Owen and Jon by Kim Rudge

We met up with the rest of the crew in Flagstaff, unloaded gear, and took our first showers in two weeks. We hit the town for a celebratory dinner and by the second beer of the evening we were laughing off the troubles of the day. The following morning we said our goodbyes and the various factions of our group went our separate ways. Two headed back to Utah for the winter, two heading back to Virginia for family holiday celebrations, and three of us drove all day and into the night to reach Austin Texas the first stop on the next leg of our journey, Mexico.

Below: Adam Goshorn by Christine Boush

Below: Owen Lucas by Adam Goshorn

In the earliest hours of the morning we dropped Chris at his brother’s house in Austin where he would catch a ride back to Birmingham for the holidays. From there we drove directly to the airport to pick up another friend Jon, who flew into Austin to join us for our trip south of the border. Kim, Jon and I drove through the rest of the night to meet two more friends in Brownsville Texas. We crossed the border together and reached our campsite along the Rio Valles just after dark that night after around 35 hours of continuous travel after leaving Flagstaff the previous day. Welcome back to civilization, part three.

Below: Owen Lucas by Jon Miller

Below: Christine Boush by Jon Miller

We knew that water levels would be low over the holidays in the SLP region. The best water is almost always October through November and even in a good rain year it is quite low by late December. However, during the fall, the deeper we got into planning our December trip down the Grand Canyon the more we started kicking around the idea of heading south afterwards for some warm weather creeking. What could be better after two weeks in a chilly Grand Canyon than sunshine, blue water, and travertine?

Below: Jon Miller by Adam Goshorn

Below: Christine Boush by Adam Goshorn

Low water or not, Mexico was just what the doctor ordered! We spent nine days in the region, ate a lot of great food, and ran a lot of the classic runs in the area (albeit lower than I had ever seen them in my five years of visiting the region). Despite the water levels, every day was filled with laughter and good vibes from the whole crew. What we lacked in water levels we made up for with multiple laps, good times, and silly antics. We made endless failed attempts at rock spins on the grippy travertine ledges and developed new freestyle-creek moves like our patented “rock stall”. This impressive maneuver involves a kayaker paddling downstream and who drives up on a midstream travertine formation and comes to a complete stop. The boaters who are best at this move can stall totally motionless, sometimes for days!

Below: Owen Lucas by Adam Goshorn

Below: Crew on the Rio Valles by Jon Miller

Until Next Time...

-adam goshorn

Below: Adam Goshorn by Christine Boush

kayak session

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A December to Remember. Part 1: The Grand Canyon

The final month of 2009 certainly turned out to be one worth remembering. Departing Mentone Alabama December 1st the thirty-three days that followed were full of good friends and good times on and off the river. The first leg of the journey began with three of us making the long drive to Flagstaff Arizona to meet up with the rest of our seven-person crew for an amazing float down the Colorado River.

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is a special place and it is the setting that ultimately draws us to run the river. The logistics, the permit system, the stress and toil all fade away as you lose sight of the put-in and the walls begin to rise. By day two the endless red walls and strong current have refocused our life on the basics. Eat, drink, travel, laugh, sleep… what else is there?

For all seven people on our trip it was our first time to run the Grand Canyon and I can say that without a doubt that that was one of the things that made are trip feel so special. With no one with previous experience there was no one to defer to for the endless number of decisions made daily. We all experienced every bend in the river for the first time together, with no preconceived notions about what we would see or encounter next. Having completed the journey I must admit I am a little saddened by the fact that none of us will have that same feeling of discovery on our next trip.

The crew consisted of a mix of friends with various degrees of river-running experience, but this was the longest any of us had spent floating down any single river, but such a statement is likely true of almost every boater I know. It is a rare and special thing in this modern day to paddle for weeks without seeing a car or road. Such opportunities are growing even rarer as the world continues our perpetual expansion of population and our endless network of roads. However, places for escape still exist and the Grand Canyon in winter might be one of the better ones that I have experienced.

Prior to our departure many friends and family, paddlers and non-paddlers alike, seemed convinced that the Grand Canyon in winter couldn’t be anything except miserable. However, their fears couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, there are a lot of great reasons to go in the winter and over the course of our trip we developed quite a list of the best things about a winter Grand Canyon trip, here are 10 of them…

10. Only having one launch a day makes the put-in ramp and rangers relaxed and chill.

9. The cold water is less of a safety concern when you’re already wearing a drysuit.

8. The food won’t spoil, but you may have to put produce in the coolers to KEEP them from freezing.

7. The groover doesn’t stink very much when it’s contents are frozen.

6. The cool weather is ideal for hiking.

5. No helicopter shuttles whizzing overhead.

4. Collecting driftwood for fires is allowed.

3. The booze is always cold.

2. No motorized boat traffic.

1. Solitude, plain and simple. Traveling down the length of the canyon from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek we saw three other groups, got every campsite we wanted, and felt wonderfully alone for most of the time.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mulberry Races 2010

Luke Scott on his championship lap and taking home the most gold medals at this year's race. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

The Mulberry Fork Canoe and Kayak Races (MFCKR) have been in existence for nearly 30 years now with this past weekend marking its 29th anniversery. It might not be the paddling community’s most well-known event—but at least not down here in Cullman County, Alabama. This year marked my fifth race since 2005, and each year just keeps gettin' better. The MFCKR is part of a three-series tournament for the Alabama Cup. Each Alabama Cup race occurs on a separate weekend during February and March with the other two races held just minutes away at the Locust Fork of the Warrior River. Separate classes from OC-2 to K-1 and even a head-to-head boatercross are sure to make a great weekend of competition no matter what type of craft you’re paddling. The rapids may be II-II+ but the slalom and downriver portions of the competition are always challenging. Not to mention, the Boatercross and the new King of the Hole comps are the weekend show-stoppers. In my opinion, this is the perfect event for paddlers of all abilities—whether you’re novice or advanced.

On a side-note, the last Alabama Cup race will be at the Locust Fork as part of the Alabama Mountain Games (formerly NAWFest) on March 18-21. Check out these links for more info about the mountain games as well as pictures and race results from this past weekend:

Here are some cool photos shot by fellow Bama boy Tony Diliberto and Bama gal Christina Metcalf:

Boatercross Comp. Photo by Christina Metcalf.

Boatercross Comp. Photo by Christina Metcalf.

Troy Biggs in the OC-1 comp. Photo by Christina Metcalf.

Luke, Zach and Vander discussing gate set-up the weekend before the race. Wouldn't be possible without the hard work of these guys and other volunteers. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

Dooley Tombras attaining with focus. Photo by Christina Metcalf.

Charlie Simmons rocking the stand-up board. I believe next year calls for a SUP class! Photo by Christina Metcalf.

Charlie Mix during one of his chamapionship laps. Photo by Christina Metcalf.

The first ever King of the Hole comp brought to you by TeamScum. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

The hole comp definitely got messy. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

Photo by Tony Diliberto.

Tyler having a blast with Zach and I dueling in the background. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

One word: Classic. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

Nothing but smiles all weekend long. Photo by Tony Diliberto of Mike Shales.

Late night fire. Photo by Tony Diliberto.

See ya'll at the Mountain Games in two weeks!!

Jordan Sherman