Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May 2nd Tough Choices

May 2nd is going to be tough choices for paddlers in the Midwest. The Kettle River Paddle Fest and the Jim Rada Memorial Race. Information for the Jim Rada race is:

Subject: 2009 Jim Rada Memorial Presque Isle Downriver Race

May 2nd is the official date for this year’s race and all indications
are pointing toward excellent water.

For those that do not know, this race was started in 2004, in memory
of Jim Rada; the legendary paddler and man whom inspired many and left
a long lasting legacy in his book Northwoods Whitewater.

The race is head on the lower section of the Presque Isle river and
has generally been a "bonsai" style class IV/V event with all paddlers
starting at once, first man takes home the trophy. The race has
generally started around 1pm to give people a chance to come up on
Saturday if necessary.

There is exceptional camping at the mouth of the Presque Isle on the
bluff overlooking Superior and we generally have the place to
ourselves. For directions follow the Northwoods Whitewater guidebook.

Dinner has been a pretty informal affair, but I was trying to think of
a way to make it more "family" style. I was thinking of bringing my
grill that way and have a place for everyone to charcoal their
favorite meat, or non-meat? If anyone has thoughts please let me

Even if you aren't into racing, the Presque Isle offers some of the
areas most quality whitewater. And if you are interested in an attempt
of the section it's the perfect time, with skilled paddlers and safety
all around you. Primarily, it is an excellent place to enjoy the
companionship of other paddlers and families alike in memory of a man
whom loved that aspect of kayaking most of all.

If you have any question or comments, please feel free to contact me.
I'm really looking forward to this year’s race; I hope to see you all there!!!

John Kiffmeyer

The information for the Kettle River Festival is:

I've been asked to promote both of them. I myself will not have a choice as my Niece is getting married that day and I would be disowned from the family (again) if I didn't go. Next year I hope these two great events will be planned for different days. Have fun paddling this weekend where ever you go.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Split Rock

There's a few certain days in your life that will be outstanding. My first run of the Split Rock River will be one of those days. The crew for the day was Split Rock veterans Andy McMurray, John McConville, and Chris Baer and the Split Rock virgins Steve Bletch, Tommy Gram and I. We started out with a nice warm up paddle and a little bit of easy whitewater from the put in to the bridge marking the start of the run. We eddied out on the left and scouted our first challenge. It started with a lead in to a tongue, down to a hole, the river fans out and and into some ride em down rapids which narrow down to the last drop, hole and into the eddy. That's the plan. I watched as the boys ran the drop with only one flip at the bottom. I've always admired people who can run creeks. It's amazing! Being a 50ish woman I don't fit the stereotype for gnar creeker, but yet the desire is still there. This was it. My chance to see if I can. Chris led off and I watched him style down. OK...Go! I paddled out and before you knew it I was in the eddy with the boys! Whoo Hoo!! It felt solid! Kind of like really good foreplay before the main event. With a smile on all of our faces we paddled downstream. Andy, John and Chris were amazing leaders! We stopped, scouted and ran. Took our time and shot photos and video. The drops kept getting bigger until we got to the long slide in the canyon. As the rest of the crew ran it, Andy and I scouted. I could see the crew at the bottom. They looked very small...yes it was that big! Back at the boats Andy pointed out the eddy just before the drop and said I could stop there and set up my line if I wanted. I ferried across to river right and turned downstream. My line was good! I felt good. I paddled over the edge. The feeling was like no other. Fully committed, full on free falling! Screaming down the river...holes and waves at the bottom were only speed bumps to slow you down from warp speed! Smiles and laughter in the eddy below...Damn! This is incredible! Our group was pretty tight by then. We ran and scouted...took our time and enjoyed the company and the amazing beauty of the river. We came to the last drop, Under the Log. By then I had an amazing day and the drop looked a bit too much for my energy level so I walked it. One other walked with regrets. We paddled to the lake for the ceremonial roll in Lake Superior. It was my first roll of the day. At the parking lot we drank some beer and our group split up. Andy headed to the Midwest Mountaineering Expo to promote Pyranha Kayaks. Steve and Tommy were off to the South Shore. Chris and John on a mission to run the Onion River. I was done paddling for the day so I went with Chris and John. The Onion was thumping to say the least. This was going to be amazing to watch. Rock, paper, scissors. Both really wanted to be first. Chris came out on top. While setting up the video a man appeared out of the woods. Said he'd like to watch them run it. John asked if he might be John Alt? Sure enough...the man, the myth, the legend! Chris went up and had an incredible run down. Then John had an equally great run. We picked up the camera equipment and I watched John and Chris chase down the last long! The day was finished off scouting the last fall on the Manitou as the sun set. Two things that stand out that made the day memorable. One..the river. dynamics. When those two things are golden, magic happens. Photos are by John McConville, Chris Baer and some from me. Thanks for taking the great shots!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday Creek Day

Viva la France! Allen Faust and I met up with David Friend for a day of creeking. We had decided to start with the French River and then look at the Lester. It was just a beautiful North Shore kind of day. Big snow flakes falling and cold water. We took our time running the river as it was David's and my first time on the French. The setting in pines and stone is beyond beautiful! The ledges were so much fun! We scouted and talked lines and circumstances and just laughed and had fun. It was running towards the low side so there were some annoying rocks that made for some entertainment on the way down. Machine gun ledges were a blast!! We all had a great run! After we got off the river we decided that we had enough for the day and will save the Lester for another day. We headed up to Two Harbors and had diner at The Vanilla Bean and then a quick stop at Stoney, just to look...yes it was going off and there were about a dozen surfers out there. I would definately run the French over and over and I don't think I could ever get tired of this river...sweet! Very sweet!

Saturday on the Kettle

I headed to the Kettle early Saturday morning. My intentions were to dial in my creek boat since I have been almost a permanent fixture in my playboat for a long time. The first run down was just a bunch of fun with some great people. It was good to see Jack and Jeremy down from the frozen tundra of the north. Brian from Mankato did his first run of Wolf Creek Falls. He did it well. Ken and Glen from Wisconsin were up also. We had so much fun the first time some of us decided to run it again. Mankato Dave was filming us coming down Blueberry. One at a time. I ran it last waiting to make sure Dave was ready to film me. As I approached the drop I saw Bobzilla in the hole surfing. I went slow up to the drop waiting for him to see me and then started down. I saw Bobzilla carve right on the hole and thought he saw me coming and was getting out of the way. I went to the left. Oh was I surprised when he came flying back right at me. I saw I was going to be hit with his boat on the right side of my body and from my karate days I executed a "chudan soto uke" which is an inside block that protects the body. This deflected the boat and also rolled me out of the way...which was underwater. No problem. I just rolled up and slid into the eddy. As this was my first "combat roll" this season I can say it was an actual combat roll. Dave has it on video. I'll post it when I get a copy. I was happy to realize afterward that my muscle memory from my karate days still was there. When I used to train all the time I was a basics freak. Even after I became a black belt I always started my workouts with the beginner class. There was two important reasons for this. I believe that in most any sport that basics are the building blocks of advanced moves. For advanced moves to become automatic and without thought you need to do them thousands of times. The second was since you were a black belt training with the newbies it was extremely important that you do exact proper form as an example for the newbs. It forced you to become better and try harder. It's the same for kayaking also. We ended up doing two "fun runs" on the Kettle on Saturday. I was looking forward to Sunday Creek Day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wednesdays Rock: and Roll!

Wednesdays Rock: and Roll!

Pamela Had her first experience on moving water last week and took photos and Video. You'll find them on the link. She is in my red Allstar, Aaron was hand paddling and I was playing my green Habitat. The Koops were also down warming up for the weekend Kettle run.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter on the Kettle

I don't think I could have spent a better Easter weekend. Paddling, camping and friends. Water was fun...some spills and chills. (not Aaron or I:)) Still lots of fun! This coming week is Aaron's last week in the state of Minnesota. He heads back to his home state of Oregon next week. Funny that he should have to come all the way here to discover whitewater kayaking. It's been a pleasure having him here and watching him learn. Best wishes on the rivers you'll run, Aaron!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dynamic Duo!

Imagine this at Sturgeon Falls...oh wait you don't have to imagine...we're taking it there! Photos and video will record all. Ever get an idea that just tells you something is going to happen? I think it's going to be fun and/or entertainment.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Beginners Sunday Funday

Sunday the forecast was 35 and snow/rain. Bryan and I decided to stay close and take his nephew, Conner, on his first moving water experience and then hit the pool to start my climbing friend Pamela off. Conner did great on the Verm and of course we had to throw him off the cliff for his first seal launch...he loved it! Pamela did outstanding in the pool getting her roll on AND a hand roll! The day actually was warm and sunny! The weatherman was pleasantly wrong!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Kettle River 09

Hanging ice and a nice day. Just great for the first Kettle run! There were between 20 and 30 kayakers on the Kettle today. Our group of sweet 16 had a great day of paddling. Several of the men braved the icy temps to play the features..I was not that brave today. Aaron for his first time on a river 20+ times bigger than the Verm did very well. All said and done it was a fun run ending with us going off of Wolf Creek Falls. Yeah! Wolf Creek 09! Check out Bryan's blog for more photos that he took with his new camera.