26 October, 2016

Victory Vicariously

This past weekend my roommate and I took our friend, Patrick, to the USNWC in Charlotte. Patrick had been on two trips of the Upper Green with me and two trips on the Lower Green with Alec over the summer. He’d also been with us to the Center once before and even managed to get his first combat roll and making it down Sunset on the Wilderness Channel twice before swimming M-Wave.

Patrick on the Upper Green.

It felt to me that Patrick wasn’t paddling confidently early on and after two swims at Entrance Exam he chose to practice his rolls in the upper pool while Alec and I made a few laps on the Wildy and Comp Channels. Eventually we went to check on him and see how his rolls had been, but found him drying off. He did get back in his boat and a small adjustment managed to help him fix his inconsistent roll. It took some convincing, but he eventually agreed to try the Wilderness Channel again. For the third time this year I told him he could get out before M-Wave. For the third time this year I didn’t actually mean it when I said it.

We took our time through the channel, taking breaks in the eddies and prepping Patrick for what lay ahead. By the time we made it down Sunset, Patrick was having fun again. Even as he ran into the meat of M-Wave sideways he managed to keep his head together and get a solid roll attempt in before punching his skirt. Unshaken he talked about how much of a success the day had been and told us he was going to get out. We convinced him to try the Wildy one more time and to just get out after Sunset if he really wanted to… You would think he would have realized at this point he was going to go through M-Wave.

On his final lap Patrick managed to take a decent line on the right side of M-Wave and punched right through. From the eddy river right I shouted words of encouragement such as, “You’re good!” and “You got this!” when he found himself stuck on top of a plastic bollard. But he managed to make through M-Wave, Sunset, and Biscuits and Gravy upright. It was awesome watching him finally make it through the Wilderness Channel which I knew he really wanted to do. I was also super stoked to see Patrick push himself forward when he could have easily allowed fear to keep him from trying. Now we just need to look forward. Once he gains more confidence in the Wilderness Channel and his ability to roll there, we will get him to take a closer took at the Competition Channel.
Looking Forward - Big Drop!

12 October, 2016

The Intangibles

As a good friend of mine knows, sometimes you look back on something you’ve done and think to yourself, “That was dumb!” This is what was running through my head this past Saturday as I sat on the side of the road for my roommate to come pick me up. The two of us had just paddled the Haw River at 10,000cfs… while Hurricane Matthew continued to unload rain and wind across the eastern half of North Carolina.

Waiting at the Take Out.

After we got off work we threw our boats on his car and made our way east, to the Haw. I had been looking forward to running the Haw at higher water and that was exactly what I got. Sticks and logs accompanied us on the 1.3 mile float trip. The rapids were great fun and we both had a blast as we made our way down them. Gabriel’s Bend, which is easily the signature rapid of the run, was incredible. The extra water made it somewhere around a Class III+ rapid. I had heard a few of the rapids, Moosejaw Falls and The Slot, merge together at high water becoming a large pour-over. I was caught off guard at just how much they had merged at flood stage, even spilling over into The Maze to the far left. The entire trip was an intense roller coaster of waves and I am happy that I had kept my head on me to avoid waves that I knew were forming from water passing over trees from the flooded islands.

After reaching the takeout, Alec began the hike back upstream to grab the car and come pick me up. As soon as he made it out of sight an incredibly nice Park Ranger walked into the parking lot and offered me a ride up to the main road because trees were down near the take out so they were going to lock the gate at the end of the road. It was only after he dropped me off at the main road that I started to think about what we had just done. We had hopped on a river that was still rising while high bursts of wind continue to batter the the trees around us. While it was definitely an enjoyable experience I won’t soon forget, it is also (retrospectively) an unnerving experience that I won’t soon repeat.

In the future I will be able to wait through the heavy storm and hop on the rivers as they fall. It’s a little unfortunate I missed the chance to run the Little River (Eno tributary) or the Deep River as the levels fell into manageable ranges, but there will always be a chance to run them safely in the future.

01 October, 2016

Making Use of Evan's Hard Work

Around a year ago Evan and I started looking for potential Whitewater projects in the piedmont of North Carolina. We found a few decent spots in the area and began scouting a couple of them. One of the places we found and were pretty stoked to run was the Lower Haw. Unfortunately, Evan’s big move came before we found time to run it. Luckily, I noticed the rivers in the area were all flooding this past Thursday and managed to catch the Haw the next day for a Personal First Descent after it came back down.

I had talked to my friend, Josh, the day before about coming with me to try out Whitewater Stand-Up Paddleboarding on the Haw. So we made our way to Pittsboro and hopped on the river while Jamie shuttled the car for us.

The Lower Haw is only about a mile long so a single trip down, but has a healthy mix of Class II and III rapids. It’s a big river with multiple channels to take making it impossible to hit up every rapid in a single trip. I had heard Gabriel’s Bend was the signature rapid on the run, a long wave train that runs alongside a rock bluff. It didn’t disappoint. Probably one the most interesting things about the run was the last section. You have four rapids you can run and I ended up running The Maze without knowing it.

I didn’t get to run every rapid on the run and even missed one I had been excited to look at, Moosejaw Falls. I had confused The Maze, The Slot, and Moosejaw Falls. That just means it will be worth the trip to check out the Haw again. At 2,150cfs the river was okay, but a lot of the surf waves weren’t really there and a few of the rapids were boney. I am hoping to catch the river the next time it raises up again and hopefully will catch it for a couple laps around 6,000cfs. Its supposed to be more of a Class III+ river then and I'd love to see that!

19 September, 2016

Rebooting the System

Sometimes when my phone isn't functioning properly, I turn it off and back on again. I personally don't understand why resetting the phone this way fixes small problems, but it seems to do the trick each time. This past weekend served as a similar reset for me. My lack of paddling thanks to my sprained ankle had become a weight on my back that seemed to be affecting other aspects of my life. It had actually been so long since I had kayaked, and I go climbing so often that I had begun questioning which I enjoyed most... again. Spoiler alert: Kayaking!  

Friday night, Jamie and I met up with Adam in Shelby and drove to Lake Adger to spend the night on my families property so we could get a decent start to the day without having to wake up super early. We spent our first day on the river paddling the Upper Green. Familiar territory. Jamie was paddling my [dad's] Dagger Outburst and watching her slice through the rapids made me really want to take it down the Upper sometime in the future. Bayless' Boof was smooth for everyone, but things got more interesting at Wanda's Hole. Unaccustomed to the speed of the Outburst Jamie paddled out ahead,  turned sideways, lost all speed, and dropped into the hole sideways. The perfect line. After trying to knock her boat free from the hydraulic I was forced to roll back up and watch as Wanda's continued to munch on her boat and then consume Adam's as well. What made the subsequent, spontaneous synchronized swim even more interesting was that while pulling her [my dad's] skirt to wet exit she ended up coming out of the tube and the skirt managed to stay on the cockpit. 

Jamie also managed to provide entertainment at Pinball when she somehow dropped her paddle at the top and was forced down the double drop using only her hands and hips. Amazingly enough, she managed to make it look pretty smooth. We made a pit stop for lunch on a boulder right after Pinball. Adam, clearly thinking the same thing as me, jumped in the water and started climbing back up. Our kayaking trip quickly devolved into a bouldering excursion. I doubt anything we did was (much) harder than V1, but it didn't matter. The atmosphere was new and exciting and was a nice break near the end of the day. 

We spent the night at Wilderness Cove Campground, which happened to be where UNCG's Outdoor Adventure program was camping for their kayaking trip. It was an interesting experience being able to interact with friends in passing as they did their thing, while we did ours. A great night spent around a campfire with friends only further set the tone for what was turning out to be a great trip. Sunday morning Adam and Jamie helped me hike into the Narrows, since my ankle was sore from the day before, to run Toilet Bowl and Hammer Factor. The water was higher than it had been my previous two trips down, which allowed me to run a new line down Toilet Bowl. 

My latest trip paddling Toilet Bowl!
Boof Line!!

After warming up on the Class IV and V that bookend the Narrows I was ready to paddle the Lower Green with Adam and Jamie. It was another fun day with friends. Had a great time going off the rope swing and nice to watch as Adam and Jamie completed their Personal First Descents of the Lower Green. With the added boost that neither were forced to wet exit.  

Adam hopping on the Rope Swing.

Jamie's turn.

I swear my rope swing dives used to look cleaner...

10 September, 2016

Labor Day on Pilot

I got the chance to head to Pilot Mountain with some friends this past Labor Day! Its almost upsetting how close it is and how I have never been there to go climbing. I had a blast heading outdoors to get on natural rock again. After two canceled trips to the Ocoee River due to injury and illness it was nice to get to do something outside again. 
Jamie on Mild Mannered Secretary.
Overall the trip was a great success. We started out with a few sport routes, which was great because it gave me the chance to gain more confidence with the discipline. It was a great day spent with amazing weather. Despite still recovering from my sprained ankle I was able to climb decently well. Even when I almost came off the wall on the first climb right before the first clip, which was a little high, I still felt pretty confident. 

Derek on Pole Dancing.
One of my friends, Dustin, met us out at the crag to get a few climbs in. It was his first time on natural rock and I think it was a great experience for him. He managed to learn a lot and gain some confidence. I personally learned that I need to control my breathing and maintain a cool head while searching for solid feet placement before I tire out. 
Derek on the arĂȘte the to the right of Baby Bear. 
If you read older posts you may remember Adam who has been pulled into mine and Evan's escapades, running the Green River and Whitewater Center on multiple occasions with us. He has managed a couple Personal First Descents on a few rivers with us. While we plan on hitting up the river next weekend, this past summer he joined us in the opposite direction joining in on the climbing fun! Hopefully he will get the chance to join me in Greensboro for some climbing soon. (Especially since he is in the area this weekend!) 

We have also talked him into joining the Creeks & Crags team! So look forward to seeing some posts from him soon.

31 August, 2016

A Little Overdue (Part 2)

My luck has been pretty terrible lately when it comes to kayaking. Two weeks ago I had had definite plans to head back to the Ocoee one last time for the year, but ended up spraining my ankle while bouldering at Inner Peaks in Charlotte. When I tried to get down inside my boat to see if the trip was going to still go, I realized almost immediately that I was going to have to postpone traveling to that river again.

A few months ago I would have told you that I didn’t particularly enjoy bouldering and that I would much rather rope climb if I had the option. Over the summer I wasn’t really given the option and was pretty much forced to stick to bouldering. It’s amazing how much I think its opened my enjoyment of climbing up for me. There is a social component to bouldering that is really enjoyable to participate it. I also have definitely noticed improvement on my part.

A video posted by Derek Dellinger (@dndelli) on

Though I have noticed that it is sometimes hard for me to balance my time climbing. I sometimes decide to warm-up with an easy boulder or two and find myself there for an hour or more. On top of that, I realized after coming back to UNCG, the new climbing wall is its own beast. It may not be the steepest wall around, but it is definitely tall. It has been a good chance for me to work on my endurance. Looking forward to having Adam come visit one weekend to check it out!

Unfortunately I am still trying to recover from my ankle injury and there are days when it hurts way worse than others. Hopefully a few days of rest will do it some good.

17 August, 2016

A Little Overdue (Part 1)

It has been over two months since my last post. So for those of you who are counting, I have missed quite a few posts. The saddest thing is that I have had things to post about, but just never got around to it. This year working at camp was pretty crazy and without Evan there it was hard to remind myself to go write a post. In order to avoid overloading this post with a wall of text I am probably going to break it up into at least two smaller posts.

This summer was another summer spent on the Upper Green. I ended up taking three people on their first whitewater kayaking trips. All of them did pretty well and the two that got to go down a second time impressed me with how much they improved between trips. It is always really fun to get to see people having fun and hopefully falling in love with the sport. After finishing up on the Upper we walked into the bottom of the Narrows so they could get a look at bigger rapids.

Jamie dropping into Bayless' Boof!

I also got the chance to have fun on the Green with Evan one weekend before he moved across the country. Deserting me! Actually I am really excited for him and the opportunities that await him over there. It was a reminder of how different guiding a trip is from just going on one. I think both style of trips are fun, but one can defintely become more stressful. The summer definitely helped me figure out how to prevent that stress best and will definitely come in handy in the future.

Patrick styling the slide at Bayless' Boof!
Jessica punching through the Play Wave at the takeout!

Evan allowed me to walk him into the bottom of the Narrows to look at Toilet Bowl (Class IV) and Hammer Factor (Class V). Evan had set a goal at the start of the year to run his first Class IV on a natural river. Despite giving me a little bit of a scared when he disappeared for a little bit while I was running Hammer Factor I think it was a successful day for both of us. He ended up running Toilet Bowl twice.

Was a summer full of great paddling! Looking forward to heading back to the Ocoee since the a few weekends ago when I was scheduled to go I ended up getting very sick.