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.

19 July, 2016

Evan Moves to Seattle - Day 5: Mountain Time!

I'm in South Dakota, specifically in a small place called Kadoka.  Tonight I'm staying at a lovely little motel, the owner of which is absolutely delightful so it's well worth the $55 for the one-night stay.  This is the first night on my own so by proxy my first post from the road!

So far I've traveled through or been in (in order): North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and of course South Dakota, with stops in Chicago, Minneapolis, and now Kadoka.

Chicago was a great visit, I got to see and stay with my grandparents as well as some NC friends who were up north to see a musical they Kickstarted.  Then in Minneapolis I visited some more friends who were gracious enough to host me and show me the sights, which included a long walk around lake Harriet to find Pokemon and stock up at Pokestops.  #TeamValor.  I'll be straightforward here, I was incredibly tempted to end my trip there.  Minneapolis is a gorgeous place that has found the sweet spot between feeling like a city and a rural area.  There's so many interesting things and places there, the weather was fantastic, plus Andy and Maja are great people and who wouldn't want to be around them?

But I had to carry on, gotta stick to the plan but maybe I'll be back...probably...absolutely.  I left pretty late from the city so I knew I wasn't going to get to Badlands National Park before the visitor's center closed so I decided to take my time and meander instead of muscling through the 7.5 hour drive speedily.  So I ended up here, about 20 miles away from Badlands where I'll be early tomorrow hiking and checking out my first National Park on the trip!

I'm really excited for these next few days on my own while I go to Yellowstone next before heading south to Colorado.  So here's to the NPS and their 100th anniversiary, maybe they'll have some neat swag.

Since I'm officially in Mountain Time now I gained an extra hour today but I'm still exhausted so right now it's unwinding and sleeping time.  Keep an eye on the Twitter if you'd like to follow my day-to-day updates and random thoughts until my next post!  Oh and Derek feel free to weigh in dude, I'm sure my trip agenda isn't terribly exciting.

Evan out!

13 July, 2016

Evan Moves to Seattle - Day 0: Catching Up

Well in the immortal words of Staind, "it's been a while."  Plenty to fill in on and happening in the future so here goes!  A few weeks back I went to the Whitewater Center to shake off some rust in the kayak before inevitably going down the Green with Derek.  I had good fun, my rolls felt on point, and I was about to run the comp channel on my own free will but I got, for lack of a better word, rekt on my last wilderness channel run so I called it a day.  I also made a video!

Seriously I'm super proud of how well I handled my combat rolls, if you couldn't tell.  This was of course just about a week before the USNWC was unfortunately closed due to water test results coming back with a brain-eating amoeba.  I have feels about this situation but I don't want to go into it.  In a nutshell: I'm not worried.

Anywho no whitewater center meant no big water Thursday for me when I came back into town.  Background: this trip from the video was a result of being bored from watching my parents' adorable dogs for a week.  For reasons I have disclosed and will go into shortly I went back to Charlotte a couple weeks later, which is why I was sad at the cancellation.  Luckily, my good bro Derek called me up and got me out to his neck of the woods (Camp Grimes) to do some kayaking instead!

So early Saturday morn I went up to visit, we loaded up our cars and hit the Upper Green.  I was still rusty but confident in my abilities to say "Fuck you water" because I had a noseplug and I ain't gon' take no crap from water that can't get up my nose.  The Upper was great as usual.  Casual class II's plus the rollicking Bayless Boof and Pinball class III+'s, it was great to be on the river again, for the last time in a while.  I had ample opportunity to work on my combat roll some more after flipping not once but four times total.  Once after a wee drop in a smaller rapid, once after the first ledge in Pinball, and two more times going down Toilet Bowl on the Narrows.  Going down the second drop in Pinball upside down was an experience, and luckily I have the whole thing on video!

Oh yeah, we hiked up to the Narrows too.  After wrapping up the Upper Derek talked me into doing even more hiking with a kayak on my back and we drove down, then backtracked up, the river and into the Narrows section.  For the uninitiated, the Green River Narrows is some nasty shit and extremely popular, boasting some of the most difficult rapids on the east cost.  So I did a small part of it, going down a rapid called Toilet Bowl and claiming my first (and second!) natural Class IV rapids.  I went through it twice, made it through the first time, then flipped and recovered.  The second time I was not so good, flipped halfway down the drop and had to swim.  Probably shouldn't have just rammed that rock and boofed instead.  Lesson learned!  I portaged past Hammer Factor and we weaved our way through the rest of the boulder garden of the Narrows to where the Lower section started.  I got the crap kicked out of me by that river but damn was it worth it.

So now we reach present day.  I sit here at my parents' house in Charlotte, having moved out of my place in Raleigh two weeks ago.  All my stuff, well most of it, sits in my car outside, along with my bike and a new-to-me Thule cargo carrier strapped to the roof which is also loaded with stuff.  Tomorrow marks the day, the great crusade I'm making across the country to Seattle where I'm hoping to start up anew.  The biggest question I get when I mention I'm moving to the west coast is "Why?"  It's a good question but honestly I don't know how well I can answer it.

Personally I'm terrified of failure, of letting people down, and pool lights for some reason, but what scares me more is stagnation.  I've been in North Carolina for some time now and I love my family, my friends, and the things I've accomplished here, but this place is wearing me down.  It got to the point where I felt like if I didn't make a change, and a big one, I wouldn't end up doing anything with my life.  So the idea of Seattle came up a few years ago and kept niggling my brain until now, when I've finally decided to do something about it.

To my family, my friends, I'm going to miss all of you, very dearly.  A life goal is now to convince you all to move out there with me.  I'm sorry I'm leaving, but I have to.  Confusing?  Yeah, even to me most of the time, but I feel like I need to make it happen.  Tomorrow in the morning I'm heading out, first stopping at camp to get my Fitbit (because I forgot it like a doofus) and then to Chicago to see friends and family.  I have many stops on the way, you can see them on the map below, and I'll be here logging as much of it as I can.  But most of all I'm going to enjoy the trip.  This once-in-a-lifetime journey where I'm going to try and draw as much of the adventure in as I can.  And hopefully see a little bit of myself along the way.

There's gonna be a lot of Pokemon to catch between here and Washington.

I know I'll visit, maybe I'll be back for good sometime, I can't see the future.  But for now: bye NC, thanks for hosting me but it's time to carry on.

Here goes nothing.

31 May, 2016

Weekend on the Ocoee

For the past year or so I had been trying to set up time to paddle the Ocoee River with Evan and my friend, Meryl. The three of us all know each other from working camp together, despite the three of us never actually working together at the same time. Weird. A few weeks ago, after getting off of the Green River I ended up texting Meryl to set up time to finally take her up on her offer to run one of, if not the Nation’s most popular whitewater river.

I ended up driving 5 hours to meet up with her and a few of her friends Saturday to paddle the Middle Ocoee. Despite only getting a few hours of sleep my excitement made the drive seem extremely short. I ended up meeting up with Meryl and couple of her friends around 1:00. As with every river, I was anxious before dropping in. It was a river I had heard about, but hadn’t seen too much of. The entire first day I felt a little reserved as I took my time familiarizing myself with the river and its characteristics. After dropping into Grumpy, the Class III right at the put-in I was hooked. By the end of the day I knew that the trip to Tennessee had been worth it.

The next day Meryl took me to the Upper Ocoee. This time we were joined by even more friends of hers from the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club. It was easily the largest group I have ever paddled with. I knew the Upper had a different reputation than the Middle, thanks to the Whitewater Center that was built for the 1996 Olympics. The first day, I admittedly was still working the last bit of rust off of my technique from 6 months off during winter. By the time we reached Alien Boof I felt back in form. After four laps of Alien Boof I actually felt better than ever.

The rest of the trip was incredible. We ended up running the Middle Ocoee after a quick break and it felt great. I ended up playing in the features more aggressively the second day and felt completely refreshed once the day ended. After this past weekend I think it is safe to say that I have found a new river to be listed among my favorites. It was also extremely nice getting to meet super amazing people who were willing let me accompany them down the river. (It was also great to get to paddle with such talented kayakers.)

I honestly can’t wait to head out that way again. In the meantime, if you aren’t aware take the time to pop over to Save the Ocoee and read about what you can do to help preserve recreation uses of the Ocoee River because the agreement between TVA and Tennessee is almost up and everyone’s support matters.