Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Weather Advisory

Typically December is great month to be a kayaker in Alabama. Frequent rainfall and mild temperatures usually result in lots of river days without much discomfort. However, December 2010 started out with a deep freeze that swept mercilessly across the southeastern United States. Alabama is typically around five to ten degrees warmer than the rest of the southeast paddling scene, but even here nighttime temperatures dipped into the single digits and daytime temperatures stayed below freezing for days on end.

What’s a paddler to do when the water is low and the weather is unkind? The same thing we do the rest of the year, of course! Go kayaking! The lack of rainfall has left many rivers too low, but Little River Canyon in the northeastern corner of Alabama remains runnable at quite low flows. A trip down Little River Canyon at higher flows is usually characterized by pushy water and big holes (lots of fun in its own right). However, at low flows it channelizes between the huge boulders and creates a run that is more the style of a low volume creek and is a local favorite when most other rivers in the region are too low.

The follow video features Little River Canyon at around 250 CFS. This is about the minimum flow that all the rapids can still be paddled, portage free. Although Terminal Eddy is often walked at such low flows (risk to reward ratio is a little off on that one). The video also features all the mandatory elements to EVERY paddling video you’ve EVER seen… sped up footage of the sky/shuttle/hiking, shameless gear plugs, slow-mo boofing, post credits bonus footage, and even a little carnage. Formulaic, I know, but there is a reason paddling videos follow such a predictable path, because paddlers like them that way.

Additional footage of winter paddling in Alabama is featured in latest issue of LVM, which is available now. See a preview and order LVM 35 “Love Thyself “ here.

Until Next Time…

-Adam Goshorn

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mexico Nostalgia

(Photo below by Leigh Knudsen)

For the last five years I have been lucky enough to spend the late fall/early winter in the magical paradise of eastern Mexico. The rivers that drain the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountains boast beautiful turquoise water and a seemingly endless number of waterfalls. Abundant water, lots of drops, and sometimes challenging logistics are all part of what made the annual pilgrimage to Mexico such an adventure every year.

(Photo below by Kim Rudge)

However, early in the fall of 2010 as friends and I discussed a possible Mexico adventure for this year, the combination of security concerns and lack of funds led me to the decision not to go. Now that it is the time of year that I would normally spend south of the border and the great memories from all of the great trips in previous years are at the forefront of my mind. After five consecutive years, I thought

(Photo below by Kim Rudge)

I hope to restart my annual migration south at some point in the future, but for now I thought I would share my nostalgia through a few pictures from various years and a video from our 2007 journey. Our trip in 2007 was especially memorable because it included my first time running several rivers that quickly became some of my favorite in the region, including the Rio Verde, Rio Minas Viejas, and Rio Tamasopo.

Until next time…

-adam goshorn

(Photo below by Leigh Knudsen)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alabama Awakening: Fall 2010

The fall of 2010 has been especially dry in the southeastern United States, leaving boaters to rely on dam release runs we waiting for the rains to return. For north Alabama, the fall of 2010 has been the exact opposite of the fall of 2009. In 2009 the rains came back in force in mid September and provided consistent natural flow into early June 2010. However, at the end of the first week of June, things dried up and there have been very few natural flow events since… until this week!

Early this week, northern Alabama received around four inches of rain over the course of two days. By Tuesday morning the ground was thoroughly saturated and the rain was still coming down in copious sheets. Despite the formerly low water table, rivers and creeks everywhere sprang to life. Flows in Little River Canyon went from 50 CFS to 8,000 CFS in less than a day. As the rivers emerged from there long hibernation, so did the network of boaters across the southeast. I think I received more calls, e-mails, and text about boating in two days than I did in the previous two months combined; everyone was beyond amped!

Leaving work a little after noon I met Cliff Knight at the put-in for Chinquapin Creek, AL. The classic section of Chinquapin drops a whopping 350 feet over only 0.75 miles as it falls into Little River Canyon. The last time I had paddled Chinquapin, I wondered about what the creek may contain in the couple of miles upstream of the traditional put-in. The gradient was milder, but the upper sections other local creeks all had favorable bedrock features so I had to wonder why no one had ever checked it out. Cliff and I debated for a few minutes before concluding that anything was worth doing once and the only way to really know what was there was to go paddle it!

My expectations were pretty low as we put on, but I couldn’t help but feel that excitement that always comes from paddling into the unknown. I love exploration and finding out what is around the next bend, especially when you really have no idea what you will find (in this situation, I was fully expecting to find a tree choked portage fest). As it turned out, we were presently surprised to find that Upper Chinquapin was a fun class III-IV run with no portages for wood. A mix of bedrock slides and small boulder style rapids reminded us both of the characteristics of Johnnies Creek AL (only a couple miles away), but significantly easier.

We made our way down in less than two hours, mostly boat scouting with a couple of bank scouts at blind rapids. After our successful run of Upper Chinquapin Creek we followed it up with a quick sprint down Upper Teddy Bear Creek (just a couple of miles north), finishing shortly before dark.

The following day my friend Kim shot a little video of me taking my lunch break from work…

Until Next Time...

-adam goshorn

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: 2010 Pyranha Burn

Review by Adam Goshorn
Action Photos by John Kern

Boat Stats:
Length: 8’3”
Width: 27”
Volume: 80.3 gal
Weight: 44.1 lbs

My Stats:
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 265 lbs.
Inseam: 30”
Feet: size 12

Having entered the sport after the introduction of edges and flatter hulls, the majority of the boats that I have owned have had simi-planing hulls, including most of the creekers. Perhaps it is because of my introduction to planing hulls early in my paddling progression or perhaps it is just my paddling style, but I have almost always preferred boats with an edge I can use for ferrying, staying on line, and snapping into and out of eddies. The original Burn series was the natural progression from its predecessors (the H2 and H3) and certainly fulfilled my desires for snappy handling. As to be expected, the new 2010 Burn furthers the progression towards perfection with noticeable design changes, but none that are radically different from the original series.

I never like to review a boat until I have really spent a lot of time in it and gotten to use it in a variety of situations. I paddled the 2010 Large Burn a TON in the last 6 months (80+ river days) and I have had it in almost every type of whitewater. I spent lots of time on low volume creeks like North Carolina’s Green River and Johnnies Creek here in Alabama. I have also been able to paddle it quite a bit on the pushy, higher-volume creek style that characterizes Little River Canyon (AL) at a healthy flow. In June I was able to get a great feel for the Burn in a high volume river running environment when I spent 14 days paddling it down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I feel that I have thoroughly gotten to know the new Burn design over the past 6 months and can now provide an informed opinion of its features and the differences from the previous design (which I also paddled extensively).

The only thing I think the 2010 Burn does less well than the original Burn series is a slight loss in play ability. It still surfs and spins etc (still much better than other creekboats), but it seems more difficult to break loose for spins with the new design. It also seems to want to carve off of waves more readily than the original Burn series. That being said, I still surfed the biggest waves I have ever surfed while paddling the new Burn in the Grand Canyon. I also brought my Molan down the Colorado and would switch-out sometimes to playboat. However, I only caught rides in the biggest of the ‘catch-on-the-fly’ waves with the extra speed of the Burn.

The new edge design is probably the most noticeable change, but Pyranha has maintained enough edge to still give it that classic Burn handling that made the original such a great boat! The slightly raised edge on the 2010 Burn doesn't require quite as much edge control as the original, making it more forgiving all around. The stern edge seems especially less grabby, making everything easier. From encounters with rocks on low volume creeks, to dealing with harsh cross currents in higher volume rivers, the raised edge makes the new Burn less likely to trip you up in every situation.

The 2010 Burn also rolls up a little easier than its predecessor, due at least in part to the lower sidewall around the hip area. This will be especially appreciated by shorter paddlers or those with limited reach as it really does allow you to reach further around the boat when rolling. The other noticeable difference in the paddling performance of the 2010 Burn is that it has slightly more bow rocker, making it easier to boof. The trade off for that easy boof (after all, every design choice is a trade off) is that the new Burn seems a hair slower than the original. Considering the original Burn was plenty quick, I think it was a trade worth making.

With all the positive design changes mentioned above, the recessed drain plug and reprofiled anchor points are just a nice afterthought. The changes in design from the original Burn series to the 2010 Burn are much less dramatic than the changes from the H3 to the original Burn. The designers at Pyranha aren’t reinventing the wheel here, just tweaking several key areas to improve specific performance desires. A worthy goal and one they have achieved with flying colors!

Until Next Time...


Monday, July 26, 2010

Extra... Extra...

I've got a couple new videos in the works, but in the course of making them there was some pretty good footage left over that I didn't use. I hated to not use some of it, so I put together this little video with all the extra stuff. Its just compiled from some filming this past winter/spring on the Tellico, Johnnies and Little River Canyon. Enjoy!

Winter B-Roll from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Monday, June 7, 2010

Staying warm and dry in the cold and wet with IR's Double D

Spring sprung and now summer is here in the southeast, which means that the drysuits have been put away until next December. It has been a great winter/spring of paddling and throughout it all my Double D drysuit kept me warm and dry. For me, drysuit season started out in early December when I switched from paddling in my IR Comp drytop here in the Southeast to living in my Double D for two weeks in the Grand Canyon (see report here). After a few weeks in the Grand Canyon, I headed south of the border for warmer waters (see report here), when I returned to southeast in January to found the entire region in a deep freeze.

The following two months the core groups of local paddlers kept paddling straight through one of the coldest Januarys and February s on record. Highlights included endless ice chandeliers on every run, beautiful snowy river banks, breaking through (and sometimes portaging) frozen pools on Little River Canyon and a few days dodging ice undercuts on the normally tame Tellico River. Throughout it all I have been extremely pleased with the IR Double D and wanted to share my thoughts on the suit itself and the new improvements in the current model.

From the beginning IR’s Double D drysuit featured built in booties, a relief zipper, and an entry zipper across the shoulder blades. These are all great features that anyone should look for when looking for a drysuit, but several improvements to the newest version of the Double D have made it even better. The new four-layer Entrant fabric is more durable, very waterproof, and still quite breathable.

However, the best upgrade by far is the entry zipper. I have always preferred drysuits that utilized a rear zipper entry because of ease of entry and how much drier my boat stays when compared to front entry suits. IR’s new entry zipper is now longer which is great for big guys (like me) and the new zipper slides open and closed more freely than the old style zipper. There also seems to be a little extra fabric around the entry area which makes it less tight around the shoulders and therefore easier for me to operate myself (not that I do a lot of solo paddling when its drysuit weather, but its nice to know I can do myself).

Conclusions? Like most Immersion Research products, the Double “D” Drysuit is an extremely well thought out design. A great example is the flap covering the rear entry zipper. This simple addition protects the zipper and just as importantly, it allows me to pull my PFD down over my head easily (unlike designs where the zipper is exposed and the PFD snags). This kind of attention to detail (and numerous other details on the DD and other IR products) continues to prove what we all know already… that IR was founded by real paddlers, with products designed by real paddler, for use by real paddlers. The IR Double D Drysuit has all the top features anyone could want in a Drysuit. With a price more than $100 less than other top-of-the-line drysuits, the Doulble D should be at the top of anyone’s shopping list who is looking to be warm and dry next winter.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A December to Remember. Part 2: From the Grand to Mexico

Below: Owen Lucas by Jon Miller

We awoke before dawn, packed up camp in the dark, and put on the river in the first few minutes of daylight. It was our final day on the Grand Canyon and the short float to the take-out went smoothly, but the rest of the day was a harsh baptism back into the outside world. As we began the arduous process of de-rigging everything, the shuttle service arrived with our vehicles. As they pulled up we could immediately hear the air escaping from one of the rear tires on my truck. Apparently sharp rocks in the final creek crossing had cut my tire just as they arrived at the take-out. Welcome back to civilization.

Below: Christine Boush by Adam Goshorn

Eventually we managed to pack everything into our two trucks and we made long drive up Diamond Creek Road reaching the pavement an hour later. Not wanting to be driving around without a spare, I stopped by the Hualapai maintenance department to have my tire repaired. Somehow our second vehicle missed our stop and with no cell service in the area they started back towards Flagstaff planning to meet us there. With my tire repaired we were about 30 minutes into the drive to Flagstaff when one of my trailer tires shredded. Not only was the tire destroyed, but since it happened at about 70 miles per hour, it also badly mangled the wheel well. We finally got back on the road after an hour of beating, banging, and bending the wheel well back into place and then putting on the spare trailer tire. Welcome back to civilization, part two.

Below: Adam, Chris, Owen and Jon by Kim Rudge

We met up with the rest of the crew in Flagstaff, unloaded gear, and took our first showers in two weeks. We hit the town for a celebratory dinner and by the second beer of the evening we were laughing off the troubles of the day. The following morning we said our goodbyes and the various factions of our group went our separate ways. Two headed back to Utah for the winter, two heading back to Virginia for family holiday celebrations, and three of us drove all day and into the night to reach Austin Texas the first stop on the next leg of our journey, Mexico.

Below: Adam Goshorn by Christine Boush

Below: Owen Lucas by Adam Goshorn

In the earliest hours of the morning we dropped Chris at his brother’s house in Austin where he would catch a ride back to Birmingham for the holidays. From there we drove directly to the airport to pick up another friend Jon, who flew into Austin to join us for our trip south of the border. Kim, Jon and I drove through the rest of the night to meet two more friends in Brownsville Texas. We crossed the border together and reached our campsite along the Rio Valles just after dark that night after around 35 hours of continuous travel after leaving Flagstaff the previous day. Welcome back to civilization, part three.

Below: Owen Lucas by Jon Miller

Below: Christine Boush by Jon Miller

We knew that water levels would be low over the holidays in the SLP region. The best water is almost always October through November and even in a good rain year it is quite low by late December. However, during the fall, the deeper we got into planning our December trip down the Grand Canyon the more we started kicking around the idea of heading south afterwards for some warm weather creeking. What could be better after two weeks in a chilly Grand Canyon than sunshine, blue water, and travertine?

Below: Jon Miller by Adam Goshorn

Below: Christine Boush by Adam Goshorn

Low water or not, Mexico was just what the doctor ordered! We spent nine days in the region, ate a lot of great food, and ran a lot of the classic runs in the area (albeit lower than I had ever seen them in my five years of visiting the region). Despite the water levels, every day was filled with laughter and good vibes from the whole crew. What we lacked in water levels we made up for with multiple laps, good times, and silly antics. We made endless failed attempts at rock spins on the grippy travertine ledges and developed new freestyle-creek moves like our patented “rock stall”. This impressive maneuver involves a kayaker paddling downstream and who drives up on a midstream travertine formation and comes to a complete stop. The boaters who are best at this move can stall totally motionless, sometimes for days!

Below: Owen Lucas by Adam Goshorn

Below: Crew on the Rio Valles by Jon Miller

Until Next Time...

-adam goshorn

Below: Adam Goshorn by Christine Boush

kayak session

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A December to Remember. Part 1: The Grand Canyon

The final month of 2009 certainly turned out to be one worth remembering. Departing Mentone Alabama December 1st the thirty-three days that followed were full of good friends and good times on and off the river. The first leg of the journey began with three of us making the long drive to Flagstaff Arizona to meet up with the rest of our seven-person crew for an amazing float down the Colorado River.

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is a special place and it is the setting that ultimately draws us to run the river. The logistics, the permit system, the stress and toil all fade away as you lose sight of the put-in and the walls begin to rise. By day two the endless red walls and strong current have refocused our life on the basics. Eat, drink, travel, laugh, sleep… what else is there?

For all seven people on our trip it was our first time to run the Grand Canyon and I can say that without a doubt that that was one of the things that made are trip feel so special. With no one with previous experience there was no one to defer to for the endless number of decisions made daily. We all experienced every bend in the river for the first time together, with no preconceived notions about what we would see or encounter next. Having completed the journey I must admit I am a little saddened by the fact that none of us will have that same feeling of discovery on our next trip.

The crew consisted of a mix of friends with various degrees of river-running experience, but this was the longest any of us had spent floating down any single river, but such a statement is likely true of almost every boater I know. It is a rare and special thing in this modern day to paddle for weeks without seeing a car or road. Such opportunities are growing even rarer as the world continues our perpetual expansion of population and our endless network of roads. However, places for escape still exist and the Grand Canyon in winter might be one of the better ones that I have experienced.

Prior to our departure many friends and family, paddlers and non-paddlers alike, seemed convinced that the Grand Canyon in winter couldn’t be anything except miserable. However, their fears couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, there are a lot of great reasons to go in the winter and over the course of our trip we developed quite a list of the best things about a winter Grand Canyon trip, here are 10 of them…

10. Only having one launch a day makes the put-in ramp and rangers relaxed and chill.

9. The cold water is less of a safety concern when you’re already wearing a drysuit.

8. The food won’t spoil, but you may have to put produce in the coolers to KEEP them from freezing.

7. The groover doesn’t stink very much when it’s contents are frozen.

6. The cool weather is ideal for hiking.

5. No helicopter shuttles whizzing overhead.

4. Collecting driftwood for fires is allowed.

3. The booze is always cold.

2. No motorized boat traffic.

1. Solitude, plain and simple. Traveling down the length of the canyon from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek we saw three other groups, got every campsite we wanted, and felt wonderfully alone for most of the time.

Until Next Time...


kayak session