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