Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The South Platte

In August I did a write-up and posted some pics from out time on the South Platte in July (see orginal post here). I finally got around to editing some of the video...

Colorado 2009 Part 1: The South Platte from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colorado 2009 Part 3

After spending two days in the headwaters of the Crystal River we made our way back to a local cafe in Carbondale to contemplate our next move. While enjoying some breakfast burritos and wireless internet access we called Charlie Mix who was living in Durango for the summer. Charlie explained that water levels were dropping fast and that if we wanted to catch Vallecito, we should come quickly. Vallecito had been high our hit list in 2008 and was again for 2009 too, but so far we had yet to catch it on either trip. Vallecito has been described by many as “the best mile of creeking in Colorado”. With that in mind, we loaded up and hit the road arriving with enough daylight to meet Cruise Quenelle for a run.

In my opinion Vallecito is one of those rare rivers that lives up to the hype that surrounds it. It is truly beautiful creek in a tight gorge with smooth boulders and a seemingly endless number of fun rapids and boofs. We followed Cruise’s lead, rarely slowing down enough to document the run, but emerged from the depths of the gorge with ear to ear smiles that nothing could dampen. We spent that evening at Cruise’s house catching up with the rest of the Alabama boys who were living there for the summer. Late into the night we watched each other’s video footage, sharing all the stories from a summer of running rivers.

Although it was very tempting to stay another day for more laps on Vallecito, the next morning we decided to turn our attention to a different run on our list, the Big South. We left Durango mid morning and made it back to Aspen in time for another run on Castle Creek and the Roaring Fork before finding a beautiful crash and dash spot to sleep for the night. The following day we drove towards Denver and spend that afternoon and the following morning running the Upper and Blackrock sections of Clear Creek before continuing our drive north to the Big South.

The evening we arrived at the Big South take-out, the last group was still hanging around after their run and invited us camp with them that evening for the first of two nights we would spend camping in mosquito hell. The following morning as we drove to the put-in we found another crew of southeasterners camping along the road. We pulled over to greet these friends and ended up catching a ride with them to set shuttle. The put-in for Big South is actually on Weird Creek. We had been told that Weird Creek is actually fun at high water, but what we found was a bang fest that continued to abuse our already heavily used boats. Luckily the flow doubled at the confluence and soon the fun rapids and drops began.

Lot of rapids and a few flat stretches spread throughout the run make Big South a long day by most people’s standards. Including the mileage on Weird Creek it is a twelve-mile run, but very rewarding, especially for groups like ours scouting their way down for the first time. We rotated boat and bank scouting as necessary throughout the day, occasionally getting cues from other groups we caught up to then while they were scouting or portaging. The larger named rapids were certainly fun, but one of the unexpected highlights was how many really fun read and run sections we encountered. A perfect example was what is known as the Prime Time Gorge, a section where the river narrowed between tight cliff walls and containing several rapids in quick succession. Boat scouting our way though this section felt more like Vallecito than the rest of the run on Big South. After reaching the take-out we found another great free campsite along another tributary of Cache la Poudre, Joe Wright Creek.

Joe Wright Creek enters Cache la Poudre above the Spencer Heights section and we decided to spend our last day in the area checking out both runs. We had planned to run Spencer Heights ahead of time, but I have to admit that I had never heard of Joe Wright Creek. I guess that it will always overshadowed by its close proximity to Big South, but it turned out to be a great run in it’s own right. The run is mostly non-stop with very few eddies. It’s the kind of run where it really isn’t practical or necessary to scout and know the lines because all you can really do is follow the water and charge. We knew from talking to other groups that the run was free of wood, but it sill made me nervous charging around blind corners and into the tight gorge known as Carnito Canyon. However, our beta on the wood was correct and we emerged unscathed from what turned out to be our final river day of the trip.

The following day we made our way back to Buena Vista to take care of a few details before departing for Chattanooga. A good meal followed by hot showers at the laundry mat prepared us for the long drive that was ahead of us. The non-stop marathon drive was as brutal as can be expected, but a necessary evil to maximize trips such as this one. That that end, we arrived back in Chattanooga TN after twenty two hours on the road just in time for Matt to start a twelve-hour night shift at his job. I’m sure during that night he might have felt otherwise, but in retrospect… it’s always worth it!

CO 09 Part 3: Clear Creek and Big South from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Colorado 2009 Part 2

After a long day on Cheesman Canyon we had collapsed into our sleeping bags at the Corral Creek Trailhead. The next morning, day three of our trip, we packed our gear back into the truck and headed to our next stop a short drive away. Eleven Mile Canyon of the South Platte is mostly a class III run, but just below the normal take-out is long, continuous, class V rapid. After about twenty minutes of scouting and discussing lines I was feeling hesitant and Jordan was feeling fired up and ready to go.

Below Jordan heading into the last drop on 11 Mile Canyon...

He geared up and the rest of us assumed positions at different points of the rapid with ropes and cameras at the ready. Jordan charged the entrance and cleared the first tier of the rapid and then a bounce sent him upside down into the next tier. He rolled up only to be knocked over again and repeated the process a couple more times, but stuck it out and emerged from the bottom of the rapid upright and unhurt.

Below Matt running the last drop of 11 Mile Canyon...

Despite the results of Jordan’s run, Matt had his own line sorted out in his head and was ready to go. Again we set up with ropes and cameras and watched as Matt began his descent. Entering more slowly and slightly further left, Matt proceeded to smoothly descend the entire section without a flip or mis-stroke throughout. After a little more discussion, Joey and I both decided not to attempt a run. We loaded the truck again, got back on the road, and drove over Independence Pass and down into the town of Aspen.

Below we successfully cross the creek that shut us down trying to drive to the North Fork of the Crystal in 2008...

After a quick run of Castle Creek we met up with Anson Fogle for a late afternoon run on the Slaughterhouse section of the Roaring Fork. We spent the evening of relaxing at Anson’s house and he joined us for the next two days of exploring and filming in the upper drainage of the Crystal River. We had attempted to drive into the forks of the Crystal in 2008, but the road to the North Fork was flooded at the time and the road to the South Fork was still snowed in. This failed attempt is one of the reasons we had decided to plan our 2009 trip for July and the plan was working out nicely.

Below Matt and I scout the first drop on the North Fork of the Crystal...

We spent two days we spent rock crawling through the beautiful and remote landscape of the upper crystal river drainage. While our driving to boating ratio was skewed in what I would normally consider the wrong direction, the scenery and quality of the drops made it more than worth it. Despite the slow travel, looking back the two days in the headwaters of the Crystal River were some my favorite on the trip.

Below is a great pic Matt took of me on #2 on the North Fork of the Crystal...

Below Anson films Matt running #3 on the North Fork of the Crystal...

Below are a couple pics I took of Matt on the South Fork of the Crystal...

Below are a couple pics Jordan took of me on the South Fork of the Crystal...

Below is a great pic Joey took of Jordan on Crystal Mill Falls...

Here's a little slow motion action from the Headwaters of the Crystal River...

Crystal Headwaters 2009 from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Secret Stash

The Secret Stash was first run in the mid to late 1990’s, but then was off-limits for over a decade until recent changes opened it back up to paddlers. The Secret Stash isn't much of a secret anymore. The word is out on this one, but I'm still not going to mention it by name. The Secret Stash cannot be run without crossing private land to portage the 90 foot waterfall you see in the video. Access is currently being allowed, but could be hurt by overcrowding or by careless boaters who are unaware of the expectations of acceptable behavior. One of those expectations is to NOT run the first waterfall you see run in this video. This video was shot and edited prior to the new rule asking boaters to portage this waterfall. After much internal debate I decided not to re-edit the video and to leave the shots of the first falls in, so that those who see the video will know what it looks like and know to portage that drop.

The Secret Stash from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Putting back in after portaging the 90 footer. Photo by Mark Travis

Ted midway through one of the portages. Photo by Mark Travis

Ted dropping into the steeps, Photo by Adam Goshorn

Until Next Time...

-Adam Goshorn

kayak session

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mexico 2008 - Part 3: Better Late Than Never!

I finally got around to editing up a 3 Part of our footage from our Fall 2008 trip to Mexico. Enjoy...

Mexico 2008: Part 3 from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

For those of you who didn't see the first two videos from the Rio Verde, here they are as well. First the Upper (1st Canyon) Rio Verde...

Upper Rio Verde from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Below is the video from the Middle (2nd Canyon) Rio Verde...

Middle Verde from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


Monday, August 10, 2009

Colorado 09 Part 1: Cheesman Canyon

Photos by Joey Jarrell and Matt Wallace

It was only our second day in Colorado, but it was shaping up to be a long one. It was almost ten o’clock and we were already supposed to be at the put-in, but instead we were stashing a bike behind some bushes at the Corral Creek trailhead. The shuttle plan was to hike our boats and gear 3.5 miles up Corral Creek trail from the river to the bike. Then someone would ride the single speed mountain bike the 17 miles back to the truck to retrieve it for the rest of the group. Without a doubt it was going to be a long day, but for our crew it was our chosen celebration of Independence Day.

Joey Jarrell, Jordan Sherman, Matt Wallace, and I (Adam Goshorn) had departed Chattanooga, Tennessee in the afternoon two days earlier. We drove 22 hours straight through and immediately put on Clear Creek of the Arkansas outside Buena Vista, Colorado. After a couple laps we began setting up camp at the take-out and putting the plan in place for the following day. Calls to friends confirmed that Cheesman Canyon had well above the minimum recommended water level and the call was made to schedule access through the private land at the put-in. Moments later we were joined by longtime friend Mike Tavares, who had driven up to meet us after getting off work in Salida. Mike and I went up for another quick lap on Clear Creek before joining the rest of the group for the first of many campfires, beers, and good times our visit to Colorado would include.

Paddling the South Platte through Cheesman Canyon was high on our “hit list” for our time in Colorado this summer. This section of river didn’t see boatable flows often and didn’t seem to get paddled that often when it did. However, several things we had heard about this section sounded particularly inviting to us. First, that the access issues of past with Sportsman’s Paradise, a private community at the put-in, had been resolved through an agreement set up by American Whitewater. Secondly, that the granite landscape was reminiscent of California, but with a much shorter drive.

We arrived outside the gate at Sportsman’s Paradise more than a half hour late, but the caretaker who met us was incredibly friendly and didn’t seem the least bit annoyed at our tardiness. He chatted and joked with us as we dressed out and loaded boats into his waiting truck. As we piled in and began the ride I couldn’t help but ponder this seemingly strange arrangement that allows access through the community of vacation homes and cabins lining the first couple miles of river. What at one point had been described as “the worst access situation in Colorado” was now the only place I’ve ever been where kayakers were treated to a personal shuttle courtesy of the formally hostile land owners (thanks American Whitewater!). This convenient arrangement cuts out a couple calm miles of river and allows access at the back gate of the Sportsman’s Paradise community. This is where the caretaker dropped us off and left us to slide into the river and point our boats downstream towards the canyon.

The river started off lazily between green grassy banks which soon gave way to rocks and boulders as the gradient began to pick up. The group quickly fell into that familiar pattern of scouting and problem solving that wilderness river running requires. After a few stout rapids and a the first portage we were making our way deeper into the canyon and realizing the water was significantly higher than pictures and video we had seen. Higher water sometimes has a way of “cleaning up” chunky rapids, but this wasn’t the case here. The water level wasn’t “cleaning up” anything, it was just making them run together with less places to stop or recover. Slow, but steady downstream progress continued with lots of scouting and a mixture of running rapids and portaging. Collectively only two of the named rapids went unrun, with Matt charging more rapids than anyone else.

We utilized the fisherman’s trail high on river left throughout the day for scouting and portaging, but had to keep reminding ourselves that our vantage point made everything look much smaller than it actually was. Once such example was when what looked like a stretch of boogie water from the trail turned out to contain one of the signature drops of the run. Slide for Life is perhaps the easiest of the named rapids, but drops at least fifteen feet, not generic “boogie water” by most people’s standards.

We worked our way through the remaining rapids after Slide for Life and the difficulty began to ease. Before long we found ourselves back on a meandering valley stream, looking much like it did at the put-in. The next challenge was to recognize the take out and Corral Creek trail that would lead us out of the valley. After a couple false stops we found what we were sure had to be it and we climbed up to the trail for a short break. Matt had volunteered to do the bike shuttle so we decided to completely empty the lightest boat for him to hike out. Carrying Joey’s Medium Burn, Matt took off, charging uphill while the rest of us divided up all of his gear. After a snack and some water we began our hike at a much slower pace with the assurance that there was no need to rush since the only thing at the top of the trail was a patch of dirt to sit and wait for the truck.

As we began to hike a thunderstorm moved in, then it moved out only to be replaced by heavy fog. The uphill trudge continued with each individual moving at their own pace and focused on their own progress. Matt was long gone before we began and after deciding to stash their gear and make two trips, Jordan and Joey were soon far ahead of me carrying empty boats. I continued making slow progress and resting when need be. As the fog began to clear, I finally reached a short downhill section of trail. At this point Joey, followed shortly by Jordan returned down the trial and informed me I was about a mile from the top. They headed back down to retrieve their gear and I continued pressing forward, reaching the top about the same time my legs started to cramp up.

I was glad to have stashed water at the trailhead that morning and as I rested and rehydrated I wondered how Matt was fairing on the bike ride. I wondered if he had to deal with the brunt of the thunderstorm while hiking or biking. It would be dark in less than an hour and it occurred to me that it was going to get quite cold, quite quickly for three wet boaters sitting around after dark. After resting a bit I began gathering twigs for a fire as the light began to dwindle. Just as darkness closed in Jordan and Joey arrived back with their gear and headlights toped a hill in the distance almost simultaneously. Matt had stomped out the hike and the ride and returned with the truck about an hour after I finished the hike, a stellar performance.

The truck arrived almost ten hours after we put on the river that morning. Ten hours of kayaking, scouting, portaging, hiking, biking and pushing forward to complete one of the major goals of the trip. It didn’t take long for our exhausted group to decide to camp right where we were and within an hour we were asleep, our Independence Day celebration complete. Day number two, Cheesman Canyon, check.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Friday, August 7, 2009

June 2009 Update

June of this year actually saw some quality rainfall across the southeast, a big change from the past few. After years of drought, this year seemed like quite a bit of rain and quite a few rivers running. Then again, at this point average would seem like a lot after what we’ve been through. I spent the month criss-crossing the southeast catching up with friends and paddling whatever presented itself, which turned out to be quite a bit.

My June consisted of a dozen days running doubles on the Green, 4 days on the Ocoee, 2 days on the Russell Fork, as well as one day trips to the Little River(TN), Watauga, Wilson Creek, Cheoah, Triple Falls(Dupont), Tellico, and Section IV of the Chattooga. It was a great time and I can't thank everyone enough for making it so. Also special thanks to Joey Jarrell for letting me crash at his place during all my time at the Green in June and July. Although I didn't spend much time shooting pictures or video in June, we did film a little North Carolina rock sledding one morning and spent a little more time filming on one of my favorite runs, the Russell Fork.

The Russell Fork is one of the most consistently runnable creeks in the Southeast, probably in the top 2 , perhaps even number 1. Although it seems many boaters only go to the Russell Fork during the October lake drawdown, the river is well above the minimum for most of the year. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the Russell Fork is only below 250 (what I consider the out-of-towner's minimum) for around 50-75 days a year. I'm sure locals would have a more accurate estimate, but the point is it runs a ton and sees little traffic.

Below is a PSA about lower (non release) levels on the Russell Fork, followed by some footage from Matt Wallace and I paddling there in June at a level of about 300 to 350 cfs... and then a little footage of some North Carolina rock sledding just for fun. Enjoy.

Russell Fork PSA and Rock Sledding from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

A Few Words On Life Decisions

In the spring of 2008 I was faced with one of my life’s most interesting decisions. I had to choose between accepting an attractive job offer at a new organization or staying at the job I had known and loved for more than five years. Numerous predecessors before me had lasted between six months and two years in my position, but none longer. At over five years I could feel myself burning out. Long hours without enough time to recuperate led me to question the sustainability of such a schedule. However, I did like my job most of the time and found it to be fulfilling work.

The job I was being offered would have been an advancement professionally and a significant increase in annual salary and benefits, but it would likely mean just as long hours and perhaps even less time off. Ultimately a third option would be the path I eventually followed. A new agreement with my employer would restructure my contract into a ten month position. Similar to a school teacher’s contract I would get eight weeks off in the summer, but would retain my benefits all year. All and all it was the best possible outcome, a rare “win win” situation in a world that seems to lack them. My employer retained an employee they valued (me), the company saved money by not paying me for two months a year, and I kept a job I loved, but found a way to build in the downtime I needed.

I wonder if someday I will look back on my decision and regret not choosing the path of increased wealth and professional advancement. I turn thirty soon. How long can I continue to choose kayaking over planning for life outside kayaking? Will I ever retire with such an approach to decision making or will I be working until I fall into the grave. Will I always consider this decision to be the right one?

Having just returned from my eight weeks off work for the summer I feel reaffirmed once again in my decision to choose time and quality of life over money and professional advancement. I am relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to work hard at my job once again. A job that once felt was an unsustainable workload and schedule has become manageable and fun again. I am a happier person and better employee with my current contract and that is a “win win”.

Until Next Time...


kayak session