Monday, April 26, 2010

Jackson Kayak is so Wrong!

They call this color "moss green". They're so wrong!  It is exactly the same color as "sunshine on spring leaves".  I knew this spring I wanted a new boat.  I had been at the top weight range of my Allstar and knew it was time to find more volume.  I had tried out the Superstar a couple of years ago but found the boat itself to be too big for me to be comfortable in.  While I was comparing boats on I saw that the new 2010 Superstars were about the same length as my older Allstar just with more volume. Precisely what I was looking for.  In my mind I started dreaming...I thought a yellow and white kayak this time and for some reason I named her Sunshine in my mind.  When I called Midwest Mountaineering I talked to their sea kayaking specialist Jerome.  Looking on the computer he said there was only one in stock and it was red. I wasn't excited.  It didn't fit as Sunshine and I didn't want to wait  as the first Wausau Whitewater release was this weekend.  I called back a bit later and talked to their whitewater specialist Peter. No he said...the red one is the older style.  We have one 2010 Superstar and it's moss green.  I thought not quite the Sunshine I imagined but I told him I'd take it and pick it up the next day.  He described it as a light green and I though it could be any kind of green but green is a favorite color of mine so what ever it was I'd be OK with it.

I got up early in the morning and headed to Midwest.  They were setting up for the Expo so they were closed but "open" for me to pick up my new boat.  Jerome led me into the boat yard and I saw her leaning next to the door.  A little thrill went through me...Damn she was cute!  Perfect! The color was unusual and alluring.  I loaded her up and headed to the river for a quick paddle before work.  I was able to play for an hour on my favorite hole.  The sun was shining down though the newly budded trees and on the carry back up I stopped for a rest and noticed there was no difference between the color of my boat and the color of sunshine on spring leaves.  I know I'm going to love playing in Sunshine!

This year I also want to go with more volume on my creek boat.  I was able to sit in the Villain S prototype at Canoecopia this February and liked the feel of it.  The larger Villain has 92.5 gallons of volume and I am thinking that this will be my next creek boat.  I was able to demo a Villain S at Wausau and was very impressed.  I took my first stroke out of the eddy and was impressed with the acceleration speed.   I took the Villain S down the slalom area of the park looking to see what kind of precision control it had.  The balance was great and it handled each move with ease and a crispness I liked.  Most of all I like the feel of the lower deck height and my knees being in a better position to control the boat.  Very nice!

Strange how things work in your life.  My Occoee that I bought last fall was the first boat I named and I call her Montana since she came from Montana.  I knew before I saw my Superstar she would be named Sunshine and she is sunshine...on spring leaves.  Daydreaming about my new creeker to come a name popped into my head and I knew immediately that it was the perfect name for my Villain. I'm going to call him McMurray.  Somethings you look at and you that's naughty...and you smile.  I'm going to enjoy riding the hell out of McMurray...that boat needs to be paddled hard.  Now hmmmm...what color should I choose?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Southeast Trip...Baby I Love You!

A beautiful spring in the upper Midwest and NO WATER!  I think this is the shortest paddling season the Midwest has ever seen.  It all went off at once and it was gone in a blink.  The quest for water began.  When I heard my Three Favorite Open Boaters, Alan, Dan, and Dave, were headed to do the Tellico River in Tennessee I joined right up!  To date I consider the Tellico to be the prettiest river I have ever seen and a must run.  I met up with Brian and Lori for a warm up run on the Nantahala and then we headed for North River Campsite number 2 in the dark of night.  Morning dawned and the river was running at a low of 300cfs but still runnable.  When I was car scouting I met a group of three very nice young men who were doing laps. They gave me a few tips and wished us well.  They lapped us several times.

  We put on and followed Alan's lead down.  We scouted and took our time just enjoying the beauty and and shooting video at all the fun drops...which were many!  We came to Baby Falls... a 19 foot falls landing in a baby soft pool.  For many of us this was the highest falls we had done.  Everyone styled their lines!  Could there ever be a better start to a trip?  Brian and Lori had to reluctantly leave to go back north and the rest of us traveled  in the dark to the Chattooga River.

  After a breakfast at Waffle House we were joined by Art for a day on Section 3 of the Chattooga. The sun was shining and the day went very well.  Ticking off the miles of rapids with smiles.  More video and photos and then we realized we needed to boogie to make it to the take out before dark fell.  As twilight descended Alan yelled's Bull Sluice.  Alan was intent to run it and Dan set video fast.  The rest of us portaged trying to beat the dark.  We put in below and Dave said to follow he as he could see.  I couldn't see much else but I spotted some white sand on the other side and bee lined for it followed by Art. We all met up in the parking lot and headed back to town.  We needed food!

We found a nice bar called Zeppelin's that stayed open just a bit longer to accommodate us.  Fantastic place to eat in Clayton, GA with a hard core 60's early 70's rock theme going on.   Tomorrow was Section 4 and we all agreed that it was going to be a long day and we needed to be off before dark.

I cooked breakfast at the put in parking lot. Easy start to the day. The Chattooga is an awesome immensely  beautiful river! The rapids of section 4 follow much closer together and are just fun!  We followed Alan as he picked the lines down.  Needless to say I learned a whole lot about river scouting this trip.  After paddling the Chattooga I can see how the southern boaters become such great paddlers with the long runs like this. The day was long and again we realized we needed to boogie hard to get to the end before dark.  It became a paddle hard to get to the Five Falls Area.  We agreed to portage there as we had no time to scout or clean up any swims. It was getting dark fast.  When I came around the corner on the last riffles and saw the bass boat with it's lights on I knew there was no more whitewater. We had made it off before dark...just barely.  Just two miles of lake in the dark to find a take out that had no lights. By then I was on a mission. Dan and Alan stopped to stretch and put on more layers.  Art, Dave and I paddled on.  Dave stopped and checked his GPS.  Art and I paddled on.  Art stopped to go back and find Dave...I paddled on.  I was intent on finding the take out and getting off the lake.  Being a Yankee I wondered about water moccasins, alligators, and yes hippos.  On the water in the dark solid black of night the mind has fun freaking you out and my imagination can be a trip. I love it and I let it run and enjoy the trip.  I imagined I even heard banjos. I came around the corner and caught sight of the lights of a boater pulling his boat out.  Hallelujah! I marked the spot on the dark horizon and paddled hard towards it. When I arrived I flashed the lights to bring the rest of the crew in and stripped naked in the parking lot to change.  After all you couldn't see two feet in that dark.  I was cold and hungry and needed a beer.  Back at the vehicles one of us had lost his key.  After looking we concluded that it was not to be found and headed to town.  Our favorite bar was just closing the doors when we arrived.  Damn...being the only woman in the group I knew what had to be done.  I made it to the grocery store with only a few minutes to spare.  Grabbed some cheese to make nachos in the microwave and a tub of ice cream.  After an intense food session we all were happy and watching the videos from the day.  Next year on the list is all the rapids I didn't get to run because of the dark and also a Tallulah release.

Well it was time for a day off. Art had to get everything arraigned to have keys made for for his vehicle and it poured down rain for the most of the day.  The only thing I regret on this trip is not going through all the wonderful art shops in downtown Clayton.  We watched the gauges go sky high and past the unrunnable  level for our group that night.  We wondered what we were going to do the next day.  As it turned out the Tellico had come down to the high runnable range in the morning and we drove back there as fast as we could.  The features had changed a bit and I did my first rapid backwards after being spun by a sneaky rock.  No problem...I styled it that way.  We all ran down having a blast.  Baby Falls was bigger and the landing softer.  Baby I love you! I think we all do...such a great waterfall!

This was my first trip to the southeast rivers.  Wow!  We met some really cool people while we were down there.  The rivers are so incredible and fun! Next spring it'll be a two week trip to tick off more rivers and warm up for our creeking season up here.  Looking back I know the Tellico will always be my sweetheart river of the southeast.  The redbud trees were in full bloom everywhere! The beauty of spending Easter morning in the Smokey Mountains....priceless!