Thursday, April 29, 2010

Them Kids be Alright

Capo running "Little Niagra" on Hospital Rock

We’ve made our way through California and up into the great state of Oregon. Through the patchouli saturated hills of Arcata and past the buck toothed smiles along the Trinity we have paddled some of the best that Cali has to offer. Some of the most quality runs I’ve ever done; Hospital Rock of the Kaweah and 49 to Bridgeport on the South Yuba. Coming from the snarling jagged mountains of Montana and running such clean beautiful whitewater has been a blessing. A particularly prideful moment was watching our entire group run 49 to Bridgeport at a respectable flow.

Low water boofin' on the Tule, Seth Stoenner

Our group has a wide range of skills in it, making it difficult to push some students while providing a fun and safe environment for all. On top of this, having 15 people on the water turns into a circus once the eddy space gets limited. Despite all of this, my athletes did a great job.
Hannah Kertesz sticking a boof on 49 to Bridgeport

Passing signals back and forth, setting safety, and whooping and hollering after every drop made the experience safe and exhilarating.

Money slide on the Kaweah, Seth Stoenner

Seeing some of the more inexperienced paddlers deal with the stress of fear, the anxiety of maybe not knowing exactly where to be, what stroke to take, or what the consequences might be if an error was made is an interesting affair to be a part of. Watching them decide to run a drop and flip that switch in their brain and focus all their energy on ONE thing is an interesting lesson for any coach. Seeing CJ fire up some tough rapids, flip, regain control and composure and continue on without becoming too flustered shows how much these students have improved.
From Nevada City we traveled north to the Trinity River to paddle a different type of whitewater; BIG water. We were lucky enough to get a solid flow of around 3,000 cfs in Burnt Ranch Gorge. The section starts off with some gorged in class IV. Apparently at lower flows it can be a bit manky, but with the water piling up and over most rocks we floated right over potential pin spots. After a short few miles we hit the big section, or as we called it the “Falls Section”, where there were three drops with significant gradient. The drops were stacked back-to-back-to-back. While by themselves they might only be IV+ together they made for a class V experience. Easy lines were available, but for a more exciting experience big lines through retentive holes, over waterfalls, and past jagged rocks could be run. The students paddled the gorge twice and came away from the experience one river wiser and one week closer to graduation.

Capo in the white room on Hospital Rock
From here we will paddle the epic whitewater of the Hood River area and pass into Idaho for some classic overnighter action. With two weeks of school left nostalgia sets in at camp. It feels like our group has meshed and truly enjoys the time they spend together. With the year ending soon the group is savoring every last sunset, bowl of cereal, boof, and gas station stop. I excitedly anticipate summer and the chance to go from Coach to friend.

The boys scouting out some of the juicy juice on Burnt Ranch Gorge

Brian Jamieson running the first big boy on Burnt Ranch

Risto lays down his caring pimp hand on Capo and Hannah

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

California here we are!

We made it to the promised land. After several months of boating in Chile and a short but refreshing break we are back in action. The start of 4th quarter has found us just outside of Yosemite National park on the Merced river. Before that we were picking our way down the North Fork of the Feather River outside of Chico.
The Feather was great fun. Enabling the students to work on their boofs and communication skills. I saw a great deal of improvement in them and hope to continue the trend that we have started. Watching the gears turning in their young minds is a very exciting priviledge. To know that they honestly want to get better and heed the advice I give with focus and determination is a prideful point for a coach. From swimming one day and then sticking the line the next, they grow with each day on the water. I look forward to seeing them progress even more as the semester continues. The following are some slick shots from the Feather River. I just bought one of those fancy Go Pro cameras, so look for a little head cam action here in a few weeks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Closing of a Chapter

We're on our last day in Chile. It has been an epic ride to say the least. With highs and lows, earthquakes and waterfalls, trials and tribulations we traveled the Chilean landscape with kayaks and calculus books in tow. From the Maipo valley to the Futaelfu the students have seen myriad places and people. Someday these kids will look back on this experience and truly understand how incredible of a journey it was. Even I am having trouble grasping the magnitude of awesomeness that this trip has created for us here at WCKA. Words cannot fully describe the journey we have gone on, but I know that it is one I, and the students, will never forget. In that light I give you this video edit of the Futa, edited by Connor Jackson.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Volcan Villarica from a distance

The rain continues to pour. The students huddle around the wood-burning stove, and reminisce about the ambivalent slaughter of a sheep for an endless feast that made full bellies and empty hearts. Our driver and cook converse over coffee, deciding what should be done to repair the van that has lost it’s trailer hitch, accelerator, starting mechanism, and drive shaft in the course of two weeks. Capo, our Spanish teacher, gazes into the distance, no doubt fantasizing about el Rio Fuy with a smirk on his face. As I take in my surroundings and compatriots I ponder the meaning of it all. Why are we here in this place, where it is cold, raining, and devoid of sunshine?

I can’t help but become nostalgic, thinking back on my childhood. Thinking back in my father, who first brought, and left me, at Cub Scout camp. I was nervous, scared, and fiercely excited to explore my natural world. Entering the woods as a starry eyed child I wondered at the unending immensity of the North Woods, the beauty, grace, and vehement power it contained. From that summer experience I began to realize my place in this world. I loved the blue sky, green earth, coursing waters, tranquil snow, and towering mountains. I knew my place from that point on.

Being here in Chile, working as an educator, kayaker, and world traveler I realize that I am still on that quest, that quest to find the next adventure, my personal legend if you will. I don’t know where I’m heading, but I do know that this is indeed my path. I cannot believe how lucky I am. My gratefulness to everyone who has helped me get here is abounding. To be able to watch these kids grow, learn, and mature into young men and women is a gratifying experience. I am so proud of what they accomplish day in and day out. Learning how to work together, share, and in some cases place trust of life in each other. The amount of trust that they must develop with each other is profound. It brings them together in a way that no other experience could, and being an influence on that process is exciting.

So here’s to you, young man or woman. Maybe you can read this and find a shred of yourself in my words. I too was once a confused youth just looking for his place in the world. I indeed do not have all the answers, but one thing I can tell you for sure is to follow your heart, dream big, and run some stout if you have to. This life’s worth living, and as Morgan Freeman put it, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”, damn straight.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

WCKA video update

Hey there caballeros y damas. This is the first post from one of my students on the Maipo river. It gives you a nice little intro to the students at staff for this semester. Check it out! (It is low quality... working on a better one soon!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Long awaited post

So a lots changed since the last TM post. For one Team Marginal is now spread across the world traveling, working, schooling, and generally just getting life figured out. For myself I am now sitting in a cyber cafe in Pucon Chile with a few of my students. I now currently work at World Class Kayak Academy as the head coach, math & physics teachers. This fine school has been around for almost ten years now and has bred some of the best kayakers in the game right now from Tyler Bradt, Rush Sturges, and Evan Garcia. I truly feel priviledge to be a part of this school.

From here in Pucon we are going to head to el Rio Fuy and then over to Argentina and on to the Futalaefu, one of the most beautiful runs in the world. I'll keep this one short and give you guys a little taste of the WCKA lifestyle with some sweet pictures from our travels across the globe!

WCKA at Skookumchuck in British Columbia

Not part of WCKA, but its purty

The crew on the Apurimac in Peru. It was a sick five day multiday with a High School. Now those are some lil' shredders!

Hucker Erik Johnson giving 'er on Gorilla. Good day on the Green. Thanks for showing us down Shane and Adriane!

Erik getting beat down on the Apurimac. This rapid was called "Purgatory" and it was an incredible place to be able to make some strokes.

Capo dropping into the gorge on the Urubamba. This is the river that flows beneath Machu Picchu and is a super quality classic Andean run.

First Decent on the Rio Urubamba. The potential for epic whitewater in Peru is crazy. You could spend a full month just doing self-supporters.

Some of the boys heading to the put-in of the Cotehausi, a five day river trip in the deepest canyon in the world. Needless to say it was a incredible adventure!

The boss man Scott Doherty firing up a big one on the Cotehausi.

Hudson Moe giving 'er the juice on the Cotehausi. This run kept the pace up with sick unique drops around every corner. Truly a World Class mission.

Scott "The Man" Doherty taking some time for the little ones after an epic descent of the Cotehausi.

Outdoor Leadership class takes in the view in the Chilean Andes. Today's lesson: "If your heart speaks, take good notes"

Eric Parker stylin' the first drop of Siete Tazas.

Brian Jamieson looking good on the goods of the Palguin. Watch out for that cave!

So there you have it. The adventures continue, and I'll try to post up here a little more regularly. Next we head to Rio Fuy and then off to the always bonito Rio Futaelefu. Ciao Compadres!


Friday, April 10, 2009


Hey there marginal folks, we FINALLY got the trailer up online.  I hope you all have facebook cause that was the only way we could get it on the web.  Check it out!

Thanks to Brian Christiansen for the sweet trailer!