31 July, 2015

Back to Concrete Walls (Of the Whitewater Center)

Its been less than a week since Evan and I left Camp Grimes and already the pressures of the real world are starting to set it. With all the stress and exhaustion that comes with working at camp each year, it truly is hard to think of my life without it; or to think of a place I'd rather spend my summers:

(The view from Camp Grimes' campfire ring.)

After sitting around all day Monday I started to feel like an animal locked in a cage. Despite a long list of things I need to do before returning to school in a few weeks, I could only do them at the pace the University will allow. On Tuesday the river withdrawals were so strong that I slapped my kayak on the roof rack and headed out for the U.S. National Whitewater Center. I had already mustered my Personal First Descent of both the Upper and Lower Green River, but I wanted to get back to the Center to brush up on my skills.

I started with a few warm up laps of the Wilderness Channel. The rapids were familiar to me, but far from comfortable. The concrete walls that line the Whitewater Center leave you feeling committed, while also forcing the water to be pushy and unpredictable. The nice calm eddy lines that could be found on the Green River were gone for much stronger and boiling eddy lines.

After a few laps through the familiar holes and wave trains of the Class II-III rapids found in the Wilderness Channel I thought I would feel more comfortable, but I continued to feel just as anxious as I had when I first put in the water. If not more so. Before Tuesday I had only run the Class III-IV Competition Channel a handful of times and though I was confident I could run it I had never felt truly at ease on it. 

None of the individual features found on the Comp. Channel are super challenging, but there is little to no rest between them. Things start off fun with a series of holes and waves that are tight and a lot of fun. Its the second half that really tests your mettle. A series of holes, ledges, diagonal waves, and pour-overs that are all topped off with the finale, Big Drop. An 8 foot sliding ledge with a 3-4 foot foam pile due to the vertical wall on one side, Big Drop has a tendency for carnage.

I left the Whitewater Center on Tuesday feeling truly productive. I finally felt at home on the Comp. Channel. In fact, I had so much fun on Tuesday that I couldn't help inviting Adam out to the Whitewater Center for another day of paddling and practice. You can watch a video of our time here:

There is still work for me to do at the Center. There are a few lines I'd love to run, as well as a few more technical skills I need to perfect. All I need to do now is find the time and a way to convince Evan to join me for a session in the Concrete Jumble. He got his first taste of Class III+ this summer at the Green River. Its time for both of us to fully step into Class IV.

30 July, 2015

Back to the Rock Walls

Today, for the first time since back in May, I climbed rocks.  Since I left town for camp at the beginning of the summer I knew I would miss the feeling of ascending up an artificial wall on plastic handholds under my own power, supported only by a 10.5mm rope and my harness that should probably be replaced after its many years of service.  Damn was it a good feeling tying in and chalking up after what felt like years of being away from the sport.

Before going away I worked at a place called Triangle Rock Club, a nice indoor rock gym about 10 minutes away from where I live.  It was convenient, it was free to use as an employee, and it was something I loved doing so I jumped at the job opportunity as soon as I could.

The tall 55' walls at TRC Morrisville, my old workplace.

Throughout 2014 and '15 I hit the walls after work at least once a week, sometimes hitting 3 or 4 sessions depending on how exhausted I was.  For some reason hitting the top of the wall was always a great feeling to me.  Even though I knew we were actually in a warehouse climbing concrete supported by steel and plywood that feeling of accomplishment is why climbing really hits me hard.  That and the sweet sweet gear you get to carry.

My friend Dylan invited me back to the wall to hang out today and even though I only knocked out 3 climbs (a 5.9, a 5.10- lead, and a 5.10) it all came rushing back at how much I had missed it.  Now as I type this despite sore forearms I can't help but look forward to the next time I get to climb, and think about what steps I need to take in order to get Derek and me onto some natural rock instead of gym dwelling.  First I have to get that new harness though, right?  Belay on!

27 July, 2015

Introducing Friends to the River!

Hey folks, Derek again. Wanted to pop on here and let everyone know what Evan and I have been up to over the past few weeks.

Lower Green

On July 18th, Evan and I loaded up the gear and headed to the Lower Green River with our friends Samantha and Patrick Fitzgerald. This was their introduction into whitewater kayaking and it seemed like they both really enjoyed the experience. It wasn't only a new experience for them though. It was also my Personal First Descent of the Lower Green and Evan's first time past the second bridge, and to the Big Rock Take-out.

(Here is Samantha's first run of Big Corki.)

When we got to Fishtop Access the water flow had just reached that point of the river and it was clear that the hardest challenge of the day would be navigating through the fleet of tubes dropping into the water. Despite not being challenging for Evan or me, it turned out to be an amazing trip. A little less than half way down the skies opened up and began to pour on us. It was a beautiful day!

Upper Green - Low Water

(Derek on Bayless Boof.)

This past Sunday Evan, Adam, and I decided to re-tackle the Upper Green. Samantha ended up accompanying us, ready to take a big step up into the world of whitewater kayaking. The day started off somewhat stressful. If my father and sister hadn't been there to help us shuttle cars we would have missed our window. I could tell the water was dropping just in the time it took me to follow Adam into the river.

We pushed hard and fast early on to get in front of the water. I think the pace Evan and I were trying to set may have been a little rough on Adam and Samantha, but they held up pretty well. Despite a couple of swims on his First Descent of the Upper, Adam maintained confident and did extremely well. He also managed to paddle Pinball successfully! Samantha and I tackled Bayless Boof together, her first Class III+. Admittedly I didn't give her much of a confidence boost before we started down the 10-14 foot drop (top to bottom), I merely told her to follow right behind me and didn't give her time to think about it.  I think our pace ended up wearing her out physically and mentally, so by the time we reached Pinball she chose to portage. I think this trip was a learning experience for the four of us. It hopefully gave Adam and Samantha more confidence on the river. It reminded Evan and me that we need to plan for enough time so that we could offer proper instruction, instead of just dropping in and going for it.

(Samantha after her first run of Bayless Boof.)

The low water on the Upper was pretty fun though. It made the run a lot more technical than it had been in the past. The water level made a the lines tighter and a few were even non-existent. The time limit was also interesting, as it made it so we didn't have time to play on the two bigger rapids, Bayless and Pinball. It also forced our pace; we barely made it to the take out as the water dropped below runnable around us. I am very proud of both Adam for coming back to the Upper Green river and conquering the rapids that gave him trouble the first time. I am also extremely impressed by Samantha for going down the Upper Green as her second whitewater trip and making it down with such tight lines.

19 July, 2015

Upper Green River - CHECK!

Earlier this summer in June Derek and I took our friend Adam and went down the upper section of the Green River for the first time.  I'll admit I was pretty nervous about it, especially once I saw how large Bayless Boof looked compared to the other rapids I've been down in the past.  Shamefully my anxiety came out as anger toward Derek for taking me down a stretch of river that I didn't think I was ready for.  Of course after having an absolute blast I was embarrassed and now we joke about it.  "THIS is a class 3?!   NO!!!"  Check out our video compilation of our first two trips!

After running the Lower Green yesterday with our friends Samantha and Patrick I'm super excited to get back onto the Upper next weekend.  This is going to be one of our last trips there for a while since camp is coming to a close after this week, so I'm looking forward to exploring new lines and challenging myself as much as possible while we still have a convenient river to use for our tramping grounds.

In other news, we're still working on prettying up the blog and I just finished a neat looking logo (I'm a bit biased) that you'll get to see with the redesign as it trickles out.  As we get more and more ideas for content to add for C&C I keep getting more and more excited to share it.  See you next time!

15 July, 2015


Hello everyone, my name is Derek. We have wanted to start this blog for quite some time in order to both chronicle our journeys and encourage us to get out more. I have been given the opportunities to do and see things that many of my peers have never been afforded. For me this blog is meant to give people a glimpse into the things in life that I believe to be important; to share with people my experiences, as well as remind myself how truly blessed my life to do these things.

Like Evan, I was able to develop my passion for the outdoors through Scouting. A lot of my drive comes from my father who has spent his life camping, canoeing, backpacking, and kayaking. I was able to share countless experiences with him and hope that one day I have my own stories that encourage him and others to continue exploring everything this world has to offer, the way his stories have for me.

Evan is aware, and can vouch, that I have a fairly explosive personality. I find something that I am passionate about and I devote myself to it. I have loved backpacking since I first went with my dad to South Mountain State Park (NC) in 2001. I fell in love with Rock Climbing in 2005 when I went to Crowder’s Mountain (NC) with Camp Grimes, the BSA camp Evan and I have worked at for a few years now. Though climbing it is something I haven’t stuck with nearly as much as Evan. My love of whitewater is different sort of beast however. I have been drawn to whitewater and kayaking since I was in elementary school and I jumped at any chance I was given to paddle whitewater in any form: raft, canoe, inner tube, inflatable kayak, etc. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was a junior in High School that I finally got to get into an actual kayak and start learning the skills needed to navigate rivers safely.

I am the kind of person who will dedicate all of my time energy into one thing. I will push myself to improve and continue testing my limits so that I am the best at what I do. That is one of the reasons I love the idea of teaming up with Evan. I’d like to believe that Evan and I both have our own unique strengths and gifts that we bring to our partnership. I have a contagious energy that motivates others to follow me, but sometimes need Evan there to remind me when it’s okay to take a step back instead of continue pushing for the next level. Or even someone to help me maintain focus.

I’m hoping that in the months to come we can share plenty of our experiences and our growth with everyone. There are a lot of places I want to revisit and a longer list of places I have yet to visit. I hope everyone will help Evan and I remain accountable as well as encourage us to keep pushing forward. More than anything I hope to meet new people in the tales we have yet to write.

13 July, 2015


Hi everybody!  This is Evan of Creeks and Crags and welcome to the collection of adventures that Derek and I will be going on for the foreseeable future.  We've been discussing creating some kind of log of all our journeys and events for a few years now and finally decided to pull the trigger.  Derek and I are both passionate about the outdoors and have decided to cement in our pledge to get out more by keeping track of our plans and expeditions here.

Derek will pop in later to tell more about himself I'm sure, but I started my passion of the wilderness over a decade ago when I started in Boy Scouts.  From there I couldn't get enough of backpacking through the woods and mountains, camping out in the heat and cold, and generally enjoying the amazing nature that the world has to offer.  I started getting into climbing sometime around the end of high school in 2008 and stuck with it since then, getting to indoor gyms at my university and neighborhood as much as possible.

In 2010 I started working at the lakefront of Camp Grimes and was told I would be in charge of teaching a whitewater class.  Derek, having been my close friend for a good number of years by then, came along and taught me everything I needed to know about whitewater kayaking and how to take scouts down the Lower Green River.  As soon as I launched into that river I knew I was hooked on the sport and the thrill of descending churning waters littered with boulders and trees.  Since then I've tried to get into a kayak as much as my time and wallet will let me, and I don't see it coming to an end anytime soon.

I still have plenty of new adventures left on my to-do list, including skydiving, returning to backpacking, and more outdoor climbing.  But, the main purpose of this blog is to hold myself accountable for the things I say I'm going to do when it comes to high adventure trips.  I'm extremely excited to be able to accomplish my goals and share my progress with anyone who is interested in hearing about it or who has similar ideas and accomplishments in their future.  It's a whole wide world out there and I'm going to do my best to get out in it as much as possible.