Monday, June 29, 2009

When Playboaters Attack

Like moths to a flame, playboaters were drawn to the Wausau Whitewater Park this weekend with the promise of three open holes at the top of the course. It was the Wausau Whitewater Weekend. A weekend filled with all kinds of slalom racing events. I have always loved the grace and discipline of slalom boating. It's an incredible sport. In recent years the playboating scene has exploded in Wausau and for good reason. Many playparks only offer one or two holes. Even with the course taken up by slalom racing there is a lot to offer every level of kayaker in the top three holes. With a whole flock of us players there we joined in on the fun. Always true to our natures... freestyle is so ingrained in our psychics that we couldn't hold to the discipline. Since Little Drop has gained popularity as a nice playspot it was quickly figured out that if you run a slalom race you could stop Little Drop. Of course it was on the second run. First runs were reserved for dominating their class. John McConville had the fastest time on the course in a Jackson followed by Drew Ehlert in...yes...another Jackson. Sunday was the Slalom Survivor. A fun new game brought to us by Joe Jacobi. Just a short slalom with a few tasks that had to be done. Like head butting the poles and tossing toys into a basket. It was quite entertaining for sure. Best of all was if you ran the SS you were entered into a drawing for prizes! Top prize being a new Shred Ready helmet. Drew, John, Justin and I looked over the box of prizes and made our wishes. Justin is a new kayaker being mentored by John McConville and doing great. This weekend was his third and fourth day of whitewater and he was competing in the races! Sound familiar? Being new he needs a bit more gear. A helmet being on top of the list. Drew won the helmet and gave it to Justin in exchange for the pair of Crocs he had won. Whitewater kayakers are just great people! With the decline in the slalom boater numbers and the increase of playboaters a lot of thought was given to how to improve next years event. Most everyone was thinking that a combination run of freestyle slalom would be fun where you could stop and throw down until washed from the hole...or something on that line. Personally I ran as many races as I could. It was the first time running slalom for me and I really liked it. It's a great way to improve your skills in boating. We'll see what next year brings. Wausau would love to hear any suggestions or comments on this. Many more releases coming up soon!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paddlemania Weekend! (aka, Naked at Night)

It was another great party put on by Team Midwest Mountaineering. The weather was HOT and the water felt really good. I think this years turn out was the best yet! Many paddlers took their first tours of of the Lower with a fair amount of success. The upper wasn't ignored either with lots of paddlers styling Electric Ledge for their first time. My Saturday was spent starting Joi on her very first whitewater kayak lesson. She did great! Even did a 12 foot seal launch on the way back! Sunday was my day to paddle! I saw my favorite C boaters pull into the parking lot (minus 1) and knew it was going to be a good day. A total of five of us ran the upper and it was fun. Doug styled Electric for his first time. Sitting at the beach in the canyon I took a good look at Dave's close I ended up trying it out. WOW! Was that different. I've loved watching C boaters and have had a lot of respect for their skills but I now have very good understanding of just how talented those people are! For the record I didn't flip but I didn't get into very much current either. Next we had plans to paddle the lower. For John it was his first time. We did the first couple of drops and I came to the sad realization that my energy level was below empty. We pulled off and decided to do the run another day. Good call. BTW the Saturday night party seems to be ending up with a tradition of skinney wasn't dark enough for me :) Another great weekend! Thanks Team Midwest! (My favorite store!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The paddling community is growing in leaps and bounds around the Midwest.The last two releases has had a lot of newbies being mentored by experienced paddlers. Last week I brought Pamela, a newbie and her brother Jason, not a newbie but hadn't been out for awhile. They did great! This week John brought his friend Justin for his first whitewater experience. John had worked him on flatwater during the week and he had gotten his roll so he was ready. They worked on the bottom of the river with ferry's and peel outs and such. I was lucky enough to safety boat with them for Jason's first run down. He got his first surf in Rodeo hole...he was surfing for quite a bit! Followed by his first swim :) He ran Big Drop with a killer ender in the hole...way to style it! His second run down was just as fun. Another boater is born. So much fun! My day consisted of nearly all river time. Play and run. Rodeo hole is really sweet! I was a tired puppy at the end of the day!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Gotta Little Bit...

...of play this evening. Dennis and I took our chances and headed to the Verm to see what the new gauge at 43cfs was. It wasn't bad. The best play on the river was always. Spins and blasts were easy fun. So was hand surfing and King/Queen of the wave. Dennis ruled on that tonight. It sure felt good to be back at the Verm. I am hopeing that the next rain storm will bring the river back up to fun levels. Bigger is better. If you go right now just put in at RR. There isn't anything above that's worth the plastic off your boat. At least until the level gets to maybe 60cfs.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Ah Yes...Partytime, er, I mean Paddletime, Ah it's PADDLEMANIA TIME!

Paddlemania is fast approaching. June 20th! It's the time of the year when Team Midwest Mountaineering has their thank you bash for all of their loyal whitewater customers. Last year they changed the venue to the Outpost on the St Louis giving us so much more to paddle. There's going to be camping, river tours, boat demos, and gambling. By gambling I mean the Slot Machine Showdown where paddlers can take their chances at running the Slot. I see prizes are going to be awarded to all participants...hmmmm. Midwest usually gives out some good stuff. I got my favorite paddling top at one a few years back. Plan to camp and run the river both days. This will be my 4th year coming and my first time not having to fit work into the weekend! It's going to be a great time! Put a search in on my blog to check out the past Paddlemania's.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What's This? Water from the Sky? gotta be kidding...I've forgotten what that's like...Well I was reminded down in North Carolina...repeatedly. Anyway, my trusty rain gauge says 1 1/4 inch in Red Wing. I checked the Verm on the way home and this is what I saw. If we get the rain they predict for tonight then the Verm will have a little action on it. Cats and dogs baby! Let it pour! If you're really bored click on the middle photo to enlarge and see if you can spot the ducks...there's two.

The First Release

Saturday was the first release for Wausau Whitewater. The day broke a couple of records. The first was the most people for a first release and the second was the lowest high temperature for that day. The chilly weather didn't stop everyone from playing hard and having fun. Pamela joined me for her third time on moving water...she rocked! Her brother Jason also joined us to renew his love of whitewater after being "dry" for a few years. He sure wasn't rusty! The river was like a family was hard to pass an eddy without seeing someone you haven't seen since last season. Bryan Z had his new Kingpin and was rocking the holes...loops and cartwheels. I didn't get any photos but Bryan did so check his blog out. See everyone next Saturday!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It Felt Good to Rock Out!

With the whitewater rock bottom low around here, Shirley and I headed for Barn Bluff this afternoon. I've climbed outside early this spring but all that ended when the water came up. It was definitely time to get back to climbing. We went to Jenna's first. I haven't climbed it since the rattlesnake incident last fall. We threw a few rocks up to see if anyone was home. Nobody, but I was still too creeped out from last time to enjoy leading Jenna's. We went down to Dealer's Choice instead. This would be my first outdoor lead of the year. I took my time and it went well. Shirley followed very nicely on top rope. I top roped it and was again amazed at the mental difference between leading and top roping. I love the challenge. For our first time out Shirley and I did well. We checked out a few other climbs that I'd like to lead soon. A very good evening!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sturgeon Falls Video

Bryan Z took this video with his new helmet cam. The video is of Bryan, Dennis and I paddling out thru the waves at the end of the day. I'll be back over the 4th :) !!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Canoe U...Graduation Weekend!

Congratulations to the class of 09! What a memorable year for paddlers. Good water, great weather, and great students. Bottom line was it was a whole lot of fun! The St Louis was lousy with whitewater enthusiasts all weekend! Saturday at Electric Ledge rafters and kayakers converged. I counted over 80 people at the Ledge at one time. It was a lot of entertainment watching the raft carnage! Our class made leaps and bounds in ability! It was great to see! Everyone of them "maning up" or "womaning up" to run Electric Ledge for graduation day. Sunday it was a race across the reservoir to beat a storm that just missed us to the north. There is a photo of it but it didn't quite catch the darkness of the storm against the sun shining down on the kayakers. I hope everyone will be at the Survivors Party on June 10th at Hidden Falls in St Paul. I'll be making my Chocolate Cheese Pie! See you there! Click to enlarge any photo and feel free to download.