Monday, February 20, 2017

6 for '16: Last Year On Video

Actually most of my paddling in 2016 and every year is not on video and I probablly only carry a camera about one in ten days of paddling... but I did put together six different videos from 2016 that I thought were worth sharing.

Number 1: In January 2016 I spent my first day in a boat that has stolen my heart in the year since, the Pyranha 9R.  After unwrapping this freshie I headed straight to Short Creek, which is fun run flowing west off of Sand Mountain in north Alabama.

Number 2: In the summer of 2016 I was lucky enough to spend three weeks paddling around the sierras in California.  Unfortunately due to the loss of one camera and a corrupted SD card in another, almost all of the pictures and video from the trip were lost.  However, I did have a bit of hand-held footage salvaged from our second, low-flow run, down South Silver.

Number 3: Every year after I return home from my travels to paddle snow-melt in the western US, the next couple months are mostly spent playboating on the Ocoee River in TN with occasional trips to the Green River in NC for a creeking fix.  Here is a little video I put together of some of the slicy-boat play on the every classic Ocoee.

Number 4: When summer turns to fall I typically put away my playboat for the year and turn my attention back to river running and creeking on the numerous dam-released runs around the southeastern US that have scheduled flows every fall.  Including the splashy and continuous Cheoah River in NC.

Number 5:  Another favorite dam-release I try to make it to every fall is the Russell Fork river on the boarder of KY and VA.  I didn't paddle the Russell Fork at all in 2015, so making it to the releases in 2016 was a great reminder of how great this run is.

Number 6: The November releases at the Tallulah River in GA are almost always perfectly timed to precede the beginning of the winter/spring creeking season for the southeast.  The fun run reminds us all how to creek and run slides and the steps down to the put-in start to prepare our caves for the hiking we are sure to do when the rains return.  I was pleased to make it out for the first two weekends of releases on the Tallulah in November 2016.

As 2016 was drawing to a close the most exciting event of the year happened.  My wife Shannon gave birth to our daughter Lulu and our happy duo became a happy trio!  We couldn't be happier as this new class V adventure has gotten off to a great start!

Now that 2016 is over and 2017 is already underway, I hope my updates here will be more often and greater in detail than I was able to manage in 2016.  Best wishes to everyone for an awesome year!

Until next time...

-adam (a.k.a. Dad)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dominican Republic 2015 - Part IV: Staircase Section of the Rio Jimenoa

In December of 2015 Matthew Beauchamp, Steve Krajewski, Shannon Goshorn, and I headed to the island of Hispaniola to check out the rivers of the Dominican Republic. Although the island was experiencing a pattern of dry weather, we still found options to paddle daily and enjoyed a great time in this lesser known paddling destination.  If you missed the previous parts of our trip report, you can find Part I: Rio Yaque del Norte HERE, Part II: Rio Blanco HERE, and Part III: Upper Rio Jimenoa HERE.

 Below: Matthew Beauchamp on the perfect waterfall.  Photo by Adam Goshorn.
  MB by AG 1

The Upper Rio Jimenoa ends at a swinging bridge over the river that is also the put-in for the Staircase Section.  The Staircase Section is named for its take-out, which involves climbing 900 concrete steps up and out of the canyon.  The steps are in place as a result of a dam, completed in 1950, which was the first hydroelectric project in the Dominican Repbulic.  Operators at the dam work in 24-hour shifts and commute via the same steep staircase that allows paddlers to exit the canyon at the end of their run.  It can also be said that the name of the Staircase Section has a double meaning because the riverbed loses gradient in bedrock steps throughout the run.  Not far from the swinging bridge at the put-in the river enters a bedrock canyon that doesn’t let up for the rest of the run.  With lots of blind drops and the bedrock canyon making scouting and portaging very time consuming, it took us most of the day to scout our way down this amazing run.

Below: Steve Krajewski on one of the early drops.  Photo by Adam Goshorn.
  SK by AG 1

At one point in the run we came to a two-part drop that consisted of a rapid, leading into a hallway with overhanging walls, that then spouted off a waterfall into the pool below.  The problem was, a log made the entrance rapid look less than appealing.  We spent some time scrambling around and scouting various options.  I decided to portage, while Matt and Steve decided they would seal-launch into the hallway and run the second drop.  After further examination of the portage options produced no feasible portage routes, I eventually resigned myself to having to throw-and-go from the much higher cliff to the right of the final spout.  A quick swim to the bank had me back in my boat and we were back on the move heading downstream.

Below: Steve Krajewski on another one of the early drops.  Photo by Adam Goshorn.
  SK by AG 3

The whole section was pretty great, but I think the other guys would agree that the true highlight of the run was a beautiful, picturesque, drop that came about three-quarters of the way into the run.  After a really tight part of the canyon, we found a tricky-looking entrance rapid leading into the perfect waterfall.  Luckily the entrance rapid was easily skipped with a small seal-launch about ten feet upstream of the lip of the falls.  One by one we sailed off the falls… reaping the reward for the day’s efforts; this was what we came for!

Below: Adam Goshorn on the highlight drop.  Photo by Steve Krajewski.
  AG by SK 1

After the waterfall, we knew we needed to proceed with extra caution.  One of the pioneers of Dominican Republic whitewater, Dag Grada, had told us that there was an unrunnable waterfall near the end of the run that would be terrible to blunder into accidently.  With that in mind, we rounded the corner, ran a small ledge, and then portaged an ugly boulder jumble.  The next rapid consisted of three slots, none of which looked particularly appealing at the current water level, so we portaged high on river right and lowered boats back to river level.  At this point we could see a horizon line, that we assumed was the unrunnable drop and an eddy twenty feet above the lip on the right.  However, it was hard to tell how swift the current was leading up to the eddy, so back up the right side we went, portaging high once again.  To get back to river level, we put a sling around a tree and lowered Steve’s boat down to the bedrock shelf above the mandatory portage.  Steve climbed down, unhooked the boat, and sent it back up to Matt and I.  After sending my boat down, we were in the process of hooking Matt’s boat into the rope when we saw my boat floating downriver towards the horizon line.  We could see Steve scrambling to try to grab my boat, but there was no way to do so and we watched as it went over the lip and heard it a loud bang from the canyon below.

Below: Steve Krajewski spotting his landing.  Photo by Adam Goshorn
  SK by AG 6

We hurriedly lowered Matt’s boat, scrambled down to river level, and made our way to a pothole where the other guys could seal launch into the canyon below the drop.  Matt went first and took off around the corner to try to catch up to my boat.  I held Steve’s boat while he seal launched and then I jumped into the canyon myself.  Holding onto the back of Steve’s boat and kicking, while he paddled, we headed downstream, hoping for good news.  Luckily, the river was almost flat at this point and after a couple of curves in the river Matt came back upstream towing my boat.  Unbeknownst to us (and incredibly luckily), we had entered the backwaters of the narrow lake formed by the dam at the take-out.  Matt had been able to catch up to my boat fairly easily and had even recovered by camera bag and both elbow pads! Reunited with all of my gear, we hammered out the remaining quarter-mile of flat water to the take-out where Shannon and Jose Manual were waiting.  By the time we reached the top of the namesake staircase, it was almost dark.  Thankfully, all that was left to do at that point was to head back into Jarabacoa in search of food and beer.

Below: Video from our run down the Staircase Section of the Rio Jimenoa.  It doesn’t include all the rapids, but the ones it does include are shown in order. Edited by Adam Goshorn.


Until next time…

Adam Goshorn

Below: Matthew Beauchamp lowering the landing gear.  Photo by Adam Goshorn
  MB by AG 2

kayak session

Monday, February 15, 2016

Dominican Republic 2015 - Part III: Upper Rio Jimenoa

Below: Matthew Beauchamp making the 9R fly! Photo by Steve Krajewski.
  MB Boof BEST by SK

In December of 2015 Matthew Beauchamp, Steve Krajewski, Shannon Goshorn, and I headed to the island of Hispaniola to check out the rivers of the Dominican Republic. Although the island was experiencing a pattern of dry weather, we still found options to paddle daily and enjoyed a great time in this lesser known paddling destination. If you missed the previous two parts of our trip report, you can find Part I: Rio Yaque del Norte HERE and Part II: Rio Blanco HERE.

 Below: Scouting a drop that turned out to be a no-go due to a boulder in the landing zone. Photo by Adam Goshorn.
MB and SK Scouting by AG

The Rio Jimenoa comes out of the rugged mountain southeast of the town of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. It cuts an amazingly steep canyon and is know best locally for its two largest waterfalls, which are tourist attractions. Higher in the watershed, upstream of those more well-known waterfalls, are two high quality sections of whitewater, known simply as the Upper and the Staircase sections. Although they can be run in a single, extremely long day, it is more practical to attempt them separately, which is what we did.

 Below: Looking downstream into one of the tighter sections. Photo by Adam Goshorn.
  Canyon View by AG

The put-in for the Upper Jimenoa is near the confluence with Arroyo Frio. The run starts of with a few small rapids, but soon starts to build in intensity. Due to dry conditions during our trip we had what we considered to be a minimum water level for this section, which resulted in portaging some rapids that are almost certainly runnable at higher water. Almost all of the rest of the rapids would have been improved with higher flow as well, making this section perhaps a better alternative when the Staircase Section is a bit high. However, we made the most of the water level we had and made steady downstream progress, enjoying the beauty of the river and surrounding countryside all day. 

Below: Steve Krajewski launching a big boof of the best drop. Photo by Adam Gshorn.
  SK Boof BEST by AG

The climax of the Upper Rio Jimenoa is a big drop where a house-sized boulder pinches the river against a huge exposed bedrock shelf on river right. Running the drop requires negotiating a somewhat tricky entrance rapid (which you can see me royally mess up in the video) and then rounding the boulder and off a huge kicker into the pool below. After seeing Steve and Matt have great lines, it was my turn to give this beast a try. Unfortunately, I entered much too slowly and the result was pitoning off the entrance drop and pogoing back into a nasty little alcove. Fortunately, I was able to claw my way upright, get back in to the flow, and run the bigger part of the drop in relative control; although having lost all my speed, I fell off the side of the kicker instead of getting the big boof the other guys achieved.

Below: Video from our run down the Upper Section of the Rio Jimenoa. It doesn’t include all the rapids, but the ones it does include are shown in order. Edited by Adam Goshorn.

Be sure to check back for Dominican Republic - Part IV, which will include pictures and video from the Staircase Section of the Rio Jimenoa!

 Until next time…

 Adam Goshorn

kayak session