17 December, 2016

More Like Sea to Snow

Well to say that I’m a little overdue for an update would be like saying “going down the Green River Narrows is kinda tough” or “pancakes are okay I guess.”  For those of you who thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere between Wyoming and Washington, well first off follow me on Twitter and second: Nope.

In fact right now I’m living large!  Spending the weekend at my friend and coworker’s place in Leavenworth, Washington and enjoying watching piles of snow tumble off the boughs of evergreens alongside a flowing river.


You may be asking, “Ooh a river?!  And you’re in the Cascades right now?  AND I just googled Leavenworth and you’re like 30 minutes from two different ski resorts.  AND it’s the adorable Bavarian-themed town that looks like it’s out of a freaking storybook when it snows!!”  If you didn’t ask that just bear with me, it’s a hypothetical, and yes all of those things are true!  But that comes later.  First off, I live in Seattle now.


It’s been busy, needless to say.  On Saturday, July 30th I arrived in Washington, and then shortly after in Seattle since I was coming up from Portland to the south and not the eastern side.  I have a whole video yet to make with all of my trip footage so for now I’m going to focus on what’s been going in since I arrived until the video’s done.  That’ll be a separate post, so for now let’s go over the past 4 months real quick.

It took me 10 days to find a job.  Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it but I’m now working in IT for a company that owns a bunch of restaurants in the area, plus they make a bunch of cheeses which is pretty much fantastic since, by proxy, I get to eat a lot of cheese now.  To be honest it’s not where I expected to end up but I’m happy to be there.  No part time scheduling worries, my first big-boy office job, and I get to stay busy with helping people out with their computer woes and worries.  Right up my alley since my Eagle Scout instincts kick in whenever someone has trouble logging in.

It took me 2 months to find an apartment.  Seattle’s housing market is downright vicious.  Any place I went to go see was usually rented out the next day, or within 2 or 3 if it was in a “less popular” area.  My renting experience in NC was one of taking your time and making sure you ended up with a place you liked.  This was more of a mad dash to snatch up any little morsels of space that happened to fall off the adults’ (read: Amazon developers’) table at dinner.  That being said I ended up in a place that I really adore.

You say claustrophobic, I say comfy!

It’s a tiny studio right at the southern base of Queen Anne hill, which is to say just a few blocks north of the Space Needle and pretty close to downtown.  I bike into work, I walk around the city when I need to run errands, I get to be active even when I’m just living life day to day.  Overall, I’m really enjoying it out here minus missing my friends back east.


But hey, I spent the weekend in Leavenworth which is an entirely different beast!  Just on the other side of the Cascades, between Stevens Pass to the north and Snoqualmie Pass to the south we have this down that is completely Bavarian themed from its architecture to its culture.  We chowed on bratwurst and enjoyed the Christmas tree lighting that came with the first snow of the season we came in for.

All my life I've wanted to grow up in a small German town.  Close enough.

My friend Ben’s family has a house there right on the bank of the hearty Wenatchee river, which after some research proves to be a nice kayaking destination!  Since it didn’t get above freezing all weekend I didn’t really, you know, get into the ­guts of the river but from what I’ve read it’s up to a 28 mile stretch with a good spread of Class II – III+ rapids with a low-head dam right in the middle to portage around.  Put it on the list!


We also went snowshoeing, which is the first time I had done that ever.  To be fair there probably wasn’t enough snow on the ground to really justify the snowshoes, only about 6 – 8 inches in most places, but there was a snowshoe trail so screw it, we used ‘em.  After a short trek in we veered off the trail and started going straight up the side of the mountain, made it to a secondary ridge and followed it up to the primary where we were greeted with wind, clouds and snow blowing in, and an absolutely breathtaking view of the town and the mountain range stretching out to the south.

The little mountain village sits, unassuming, being observed from the high mountain range.

Since the trail came up to the ridge in the first place we picked it back up and meandered our way back down the mountain.  Town was absolutely insane because of the tree lighting, which happens every Saturday night in December, so we grabbed some handmade bratwurst, a few jars of gourmet mustard, and a bomber of cider and went back to the house to grill and watch the Sounders win the MLS Championship in front of a roaring fire in the wood stove.  If you’re jealous of that setting you should be since it was fantastic.


So I’m digging it here so far, and I’ve managed to start keeping track of all the outdoor adventures I want to go on in the future.  There’s the Wonderland Trail, a 93 mile trek around the base of Mount Rainier, Rainier itself I’d love to summit after some mountaineering lessons, the 3 ski resorts nearby of which I’ve heard one is the best in the world (from a random dude but still), plus the countless rivers around with rapids galore.  I guess it’ll be pretty easy to stay busy once I start planning these trips out.

I know for a fact I’ll be getting my skis back on sometime this season, and of course I’ll be getting my roadtrip video(s) out in my next installment of Catching Up With Evan.  But for now the takeaway is that I’m out west, life is good, and it’s thick with adventure out here.  Derek, get your ass over here.

28 November, 2016

From the Ashes

It's been an awkward time period for me lately. A few weeks ago I heard the news that the Dining Hall at the summer camp Evan and I worked at together had burned down. It took some time for the news to actually hit me. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of the aftermath that I really knew how different things were gonna going into my last year of working Staff at Camp Grimes. For 16 summers I went to the Dining Hall to get my food and to admire all the memorabilia of the Camp since it opened in 1976. Gone. It's all gone and it's going to take some time getting used to that fact.

Remains of the Dining Hall.

I also have recently learned that I will need to one or two classes this spring so that I can graduate college. I had been operating under the impression that I would be graduating in two weeks. I could lie and say that it doesn’t bother me… but it would be apparent and ridiculous. Fortunately while operating this blog with Evan I have gone through some personal growth and know that it's not something I can’t overcome. From out of the ashes the phoenix rises stronger than ever. I know that 2016 has been one of, if not the best year I have had in quite some time. I know 2017 will be even better!

On some more pleasant news I have been route-setting at my University's rock wall and am having a blast doing it. Hopefully I can get some images or videos up soon of some of the things I’ve set.

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 (Class IV)!


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.

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.
Evan

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.

24 May, 2016

'Tis the Season for PFDs

Its been a busy couple of weeks! In a good way, a lot to talk about. A few weekends ago Alec and I headed west for the Green River. Our plan was to hit up the Upper Green then swing around and paddle the Lower Green. This would be Alec’s first time paddling the Upper Green and his first trip on a natural river outside of the Lower Green. He seemed pretty stoked to hit up the steeper drops of the Upper section. I was just pumped to get back on the river again.

After a quick shuttle, we were ready to drop into the water. Immediately Alec was able to tell the difference between the Upper and Lower. While the majority of rapids on the Upper are similar to those on the Lower, they begin sooner and appear much more frequent than on the Lower. It is fairly well paced and the first couple rapids give you a great chance to warm up for Bayless’ Boof (the first III+ rapid on the river). Like others before him, Alec noticed how much bigger the drop looks in person as opposed to in a video, but he ran both lines with confidence!
Alec's Personal First Descent of Bayless' Boof!

Derek dropping off of  Bayless' Boof backwards.
Alec's first time on Bayless' Boof's slide line!


Our trip was a huge success! Zero swims occurring- Alec managed to make it through the entire day without flipping, which was great for him since the water was a little cold and he didn’t have a Dry Top. By the time we got to Pinball (the second III+) he was super stoked to run it. He even went as far as to say it is one of, if not his favorite rapid he has ever run. After we finished we got out of our boats and began the steep hike uphill, passing a couple of paddlers who were planning on dropping into the Narrows (a section of river beyond either of our paddling abilities).

As we went to put into the Lower section of the Green, the same paddlers we saw hiking down to the Narrows were pulling off the river and struck up a conversation with us. After talking to them for 15 minutes I had built the confidence to huck into the bottom most section of the Narrows and run the last major rapid of the section, Hammer Factor. Alec and I took time to scout the rapid out and set him up as a river guard with his throw rope handy, just in case. I was breathing heavy as I slid into the water so I could control my breathing. After lining up I dropped through the first chute and began my descent down the diagonal slide that pushes you direction into a massive undercut boulder. One failed roll attempt, and one successful roll later I was in the pool below the rapid. It was my first time running a Class V rapid.



A video posted by Derek Dellinger (@dndelli) on

Hammer Factor wasn’t the only first new and exciting thing I have been given the chance to try out recently. As Evan said I did get the chance to go visit him in Morrisville and climb at TRC for the first time with my friends Keisei and Dustin. I think it was a great and positive experience for all of us. I was also able to clock in a new Personal First Descent of a river I scouted out earlier in the year, the Deep River. It is extremely rain dependent so I had to wait for the weather to be right.

If I am being honest, I had pretty much given up on the idea of running it because it was only flowing at 1.65ft, just barely within its runnable range. I really wanted it to be closer to 2.0ft. But Dustin called me after he got off work and asked if it was a no go. After talking to him for like 3 minutes I made the gut call to just go check it out. Within twenty minutes I had all my kayaking gear loaded and his fishing equipment and been packed away in my car, and at the river 30 minutes after that. It turned out to be a successful trip for both of us. I got an up close and personal look at the rapids and Dustin caught a few fish. The first fish he has ever caught on a river. (Dustin is the owner of the YouTube channel WhatTheYak and has been consistently putting out videos the past few months.) Here is a short video highlighting my experiences of the trip.




While only 0.2 miles in length and only containing 3 named rapids, it was definitely some of the best whitewater near my apartment in Greensboro. I would really enjoy running it at around 2.5-3.5 feet. In my 3 laps of the Deep River I could tell there were an incredibly large number of lines that could be run in higher water. The entire identity of the river would shift as well. It would probably change from a Class II+ river to Class III, possibly even Class IV! Hopefully I will get the chance to head back out there (maybe with Alec) and see how the river looks in higher water.

If I am keeping score, and I am, that is a Personal First Descent of Hammer Factor and the Deep River this year, with plans to travel to the Ocoee River to visit a friend, Meryl within the next week or so.

19 May, 2016

Trading Places

So Derek and I had another climbing gym swap-a-roo meetup where he came to my neck of the woods with a couple friends and we all went to the gym where I work, Triangle Rock Club.  TRC is a pretty nifty place with some okay bouldering and some really great top-roping and lead routes, which works out great for me since bouldering is, let's say, not my favorite.  I had a great time showing them around and getting back on the walls after not having a climbing buddy for a few weeks and I think my guests enjoyed themselves as well, but I'll let Derek speak on that.

As far as what I climbed it was nothing too far out of the norm or spectacular for me.  I borrowed a page from Wayne's book and warmed up on a 5.7 and then kept increasing the rating until I was starting to struggle.  My max attempt of the day was a 5.12- which I didn't send since I couldn't get through a big move to a slopey hold, and my best flash was a crimpy 5.11 that was a friendly reminder to work on my grip strength and form.

It's really frustrating to me that the jump from 5.11's and 5.12's seems so huge and I hate that I'm starting to feel like I can't move up to the next grade.  As much as I don't enjoy bouldering maybe it's a necessary evil to break out of this plateau, that or maybe I could get off my ass and climb more often but I'm having a lot of troubles finding the motivation to get out of the house right now.  The closer my Seattle move gets the more stressed out I get about meeting my savings goal before I leave, and of course leaving the house translates loosely into spending money so it's a constant struggle.

Not that I'm not still excited to move though, still really looking forward to that.  Anyway it's been a pretty slow time because of that so I've been living vicariously through watching other climbers in the gym while I'm working, particularly boulderers.  That counts for something, right?

05 May, 2016

Tuck Fest '16

The last time I checked in I was on the way out the door, headed for Tuck Fest. It seems appropriate that as I write about Tuck Fest, that I am packed and ready to head out the door to take a friend, Alec, down the Upper Green River. I am super stoked about it! There is a little rain coming down right now and water is scheduled for a 12 hour release tomorrow: fun will be had.

This was the fourth annual Tuck Fest held at the USNWC. It’s a three day festival with competitions, demos, and music. This was my first year attending and I will admit I was a little unprepared. I only entered two competitions because the timings, but both were great learning experiences. The first day I showed up early to watch friends from the UNCG Rock Climbing Club (The Cliffhangers) compete in the bouldering competition. It was amazing to watch everyone climb, and even more amazing watching the little kids compete. They crushed it. It made me really regret not bringing my climbing gear down because some of the boulder problems looked really fun.

The Cliffhangers (on the very right) checking out some boulder problems.


Later that day Alec, joined me in the Baker’s Dozen whitewater kayak race. 13 laps around the Wilderness Channel, approximately 6.5 miles. My first ever whitewater event was going to be a long endurance race. The river takes a completely different feel when there are 30-40 kayaks storming down the flat water in order to reach the first rapid in the lead. I was forced to roll quite a few times because exhaustion began to set in early and poor form caused me to flip in rapids that usually wouldn’t give me trouble. Despite reaching the first rapid in dead last I managed to pull back into the middle of the pack by the end of the race. (There were quite a few swimmers that day.) After the first person finished the race they called it and everyone pulled out, placing people in order by how far they had gotten. I only managed to complete 11 of the 13 laps. Though I was a little bummed initially, I realized I was competing against Olympic hopefuls who paddled nearly every day and it was my first time really paddling in about six months, save for the 1 Wildo lap I paddled when Adam and I hit up the USNWC a month prior.

On Sunday I met up with friends for the Cliffhangers again, this time to enter a Top Rope competition. For the few weeks leading up to Tuck Fest I was beginning to think I might actually enjoy climbing more than kayaking. During the Top Rope competition I began to realize as much as I love climbing I still love kayaking as much as I ever have. Early on we realized we were surrounded primarily by youth, and that the Adult class in the competition wasn’t really the priority of the staff. After only getting in 3 attempts in the first 3 hours I was there, I ended up putting my score card in my bag and hitting the river again. I’m not sure if it was the number of people competing, the styles of climbs, or just not being ready mentally to climb, but I felt like I wasn’t climbing to my own personal standard. Plus, I wanted to run the Competition Channel a few times. It was great to hit up the big water again and took some time in the Wilderness Channel to surf M-Wave before calling it a day.

Getting surfed in the hole at the bottom of Big Drop.


I ended up showing back up for the results of the Climbing Competition to cheer my club mates on. The Cliffhangers ended up sweeping the adult category of climbers. We all did some bouldering on the competition problems from the day before, while we waited for the results. I was also reminded of the importance of never giving up. If I had turned my score card in I could have come in 3rd place in the adult male category, partially because David decided to not worry about his score and I had managed to top a few easier routes that inflated my score higher than his. (I ended up “losing points” because I turned my score sheet in late, but I still got that Fourth Place Ribbon as a consolation prize. LOL)


Even though I did not perform as well as I wanted to, it was a great learning experience for me. It also reminded me of an important goal of mine for the year that would help me perform better in both climbing and kayaking, not to mention make me feel better: losing weight. So far I have done a decent job maintaining my weight this year, but I need to shed at least enough weight to drop from 200 lbs down to 190 lbs by the end of the year. Even then I would be on the heavier end of both disciplines, but I would be closer to my eventual target weight.