Category Archives: General

Making the most of the end of paddling season

** This post was originally posted at http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/10/24/making-the-most-of-the-end-of-paddling-season/ **

The BC paddling season has been an interesting one this year. It started with amazing news that the snowpack was 150% of average, after an amazing winter of lots and lots of snow, which had everyone super stoked for a long and plentiful paddling season. Spring run off was a bit delayed and showed up the 3rd week of May and created some epic high water paddling for a few weeks. Unfortunately with super hot weather, the water did a straight decline from there and we were at epically low water by early August.

Rather than packing our gear up early, we’ve adapted our mindset to keep paddling fun while we wait for some of the fall park and play to show up:

1) This is the perfect time to practice stern squirts and bow plows on eddy lines – the water is warm, the eddy lines are strong enough but not super strong and this can keep you amused for hours, coming and going into eddies up and down the rivers. To up the skill level, make sure you practice on both the left and the right sides of the river as your offside stern squirt can be just as challenging as your offside roll.

2) Flat water tricks make the river into an outdoor pool session – offside rolls, back-deck rolls, bow stalls, stern stalls and flat water loops are all things that you can practice over and over again on relatively flat sections of moving water. With the sunshine and friends around, the time flies by and you are building solid skills.

3) Macho moves – try to find any small wave sections and build on your flat water loop and turn it into a macho move by looping over the wave. Way easier to learn in slower moving water and it’s sure to impress your friends!

4) Building fundamental skills – eddy hop your way down, being sure to catch all the eddies behind the rocks that you normally cruise by. Be on the look out for small rocks you can boof and practice catching all those little catch on the fly surf waves so that you have that skill ready for higher water levels.

5) Drag friends out and teach them to paddle or help them learn flatwater skills – consider this an investment in your paddling community and it gives you more people to play with as well. This is the perfect time to help get others onto the water or upping their paddling skills. We almost have one of our creeking friends convinced that play boating can be fun now that he is learning to stern squirt and bow stall.

Don’t be too hasty on packing up your paddling gear once low water shows up – try some of the above ideas to stretch out your paddling season and learn some new skills!

The Vincent Family

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Wilson Creek – a little bit of California in North Carolina

Wilson Creek, designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, is a beautiful place tucked away in central North Carolina within the Pisgah National Forest. We had a great time running this with friends in mid-October after rains brought the levels up.

The run is about 2 miles long and people often do at least 2 laps in a day. Assume your first lap will take 1.5+ hours and your second will be close to an hour since you now have a better sense of the lines. The road parallels the entire river so you can scout everything and shuttle is quite easy – could be done by biking or running if need be.

The entire run is in a granite canyon, which makes it feel more like California than eastern USA. It was a full face helmet and elbow pads kind of day due to all of the drops, slides and rock boofs. Although the guidebook says that this is good up to “2” on the gauge, local intel suggests not doing it at anything greater than “1”. We did it at 0.5 and it was a great first time level. There are a few sticky holes placed throughout the river so be sure to read the guidebook or find a local for a guided tour down on your first run.

Paddling the “Yough” or Youghiogheny River system

We spent 4 days hanging out around the Youghiogheny River basin in early September and had a great time exploring the area. It was definitely too short of a visit and we’ll need to come again to really explore all that the Laurel Highlands area provides (paddling, biking, hiking etc.).

The Youghiogheny River has four different sections – the TOP, the UPPER, the MIDDLE and the LOWER (which has a subsection called the FALLS which is within the LOOP). The TOP and UPPER are located in Maryland and the MIDDLE and LOWER are in Pennsylvania. The two sections in Virginia are class IV+, the MIDDLE is class II and the LOWER is a class II/III run (excluding the falls, which would count at III+).

We paddled the UPPER section on our first day – nothing like jumping right back into class IV creeking after being in play boats for three months! Everyone wore their full face helmets and elbow pads and we were pretty glad to have them. Lots of rocks, tight slots and boofs were the general theme. Once you got in the groove it was pretty fun and certainly a beautiful river. This run is based on a dam release so be sure to check the schedule. Total paddle time was about 3 hours, with the put in being at the end of a country road with a nice park and the take out is a spacious parking lot on the edge of Friendsville, MD. There are some great food and beer stands right up the road to be sure to stick around and check them out.

One of the highlights of the weekend was hanging out with a bunch of amazing paddling kids that Hunter met through Keeners this summer. It is so great to spend time with likeminded families and have other kids to support and challenge Hunter with his kayaking.

Our second day we paddled the Lower section, which starts right below the falls in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. It is quite different from the Upper section as this is where the commercial rafting runs primarily go. It was also our first experience with having to pay a river access fee and being given a “time slot” to run the river! It definitely felt a bit overwhelming to start with.

The Falls themselves can only be run at certain water levels and unfortunately it wasn’t in the sweet spot while we were there. This run is not release dependant so you can paddle it on most days.

 

The lower section is a straight forward class 3 run full of fun slots and rock splats – definitely a play boat kind of place!

If you are pressed for time, just run the loop section of the lower run. It covers about 75% of the rapids and the take out is less than a km from the put in so it’s an easy walk – either to do another lap or back to your car.

We definitely recommend this area for paddling and outdoor families. We stayed at the Ohiopyle State Park Campground and definitely recommend it – big clean wooded sites with hiking and biking trails right there and it is half way between the put in and take out for the lower section. There are hiking and biking trails that follow the river and are very scenic.

This adventure brought to you by Desperate for Whitewater in the Yukon…

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Our return to the Yukon has been a fairly abrupt transition. Hunter was out the door within an hour of arriving home to see friends leaving Tim and I a few days to unpack everything and spend a lot of time staring at each other and the “stuff” we were surrounded by. It wasn’t helped by the fact that we were coming off of five weeks of fabulous kayaking and the water wasn’t really running in the Yukon yet!

We spent the month of May practicing in the eddy’s and on the eddy lines of the very cold Yukon river. By early June we were all desperate enough that we organized a one day family trip to get out on some whitewater.

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The O’Donnell River is located just outside of Atlin, B.C., which is a 2.5 hour drive south from Whitehorse. It has a class 3 upper section and a class 2 lower section and is located near the end of a set of unmaintained placer mine roads and fairly remote which makes shuttling more interesting. Overall this adventure took 13 hours (door to door) and broke down as 5 hours of road driving, 3 hours on the water (2 laps of the upper section) and 5 hours of ATV shuttling.

 

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While the road is unmaintained and doable with a 4×4 truck we opted to use 2 ATV’s for the shuttle as this limits the risk of getting the truck stuck and having a very long walk to Atlin to get help…

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Tim jury rigged a very creative rack for one of the ATV’s (because he’s so great at that) and then Hunter and I drove the second ATV.

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As much as Hunter enjoyed the creeking style of the river, I think he enjoyed getting to be the ATV shuttle driver even more…

The put in is right beside an old Placer Mine, which makes for some pretty neat scenery.

DSCN3994 The first few kilometres of the upper section are class II with small riffles you can try to surf. It’s fairly windy and the water is glacier/mountain snow fed so is definitely northern cold.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 11.48.30 PMAs always, we had fun playing bumper boats on any little surf waves we could find…

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 12.00.55 AMOnce you hit the canyon section there are a lot of blind corners so we practiced eddy hopping to work our way around and through the features. Tim did a great job as trip leader explaining the nuances of the upcoming sections.

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Overall it’s a beautiful wilderness area and it was a great day out on the water, even with it as long as it was. We managed to catch treats at one of the places in Atlin even though it had closed (the town shuts down at 7pm even on weekends so plan accordingly) and that fuelled us through the drive home.

IMG_4380It’s been a long time since we had a kid falling asleep in the back of the truck after a day out so it must of been quite a day!

 

APB – Cops do math & physics at work!!!

 

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As part of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering we spent an amazing 2 hours in a free workshop put on by the Escondido Police Department. The audience was a mix of homeschool families and high school students and it was standing room only…

IMG_3685The presentation was broken into two one hour sections – Traffic Accident Investigation and Forensics. Both areas were engaging and clearly demonstrated how math and science are used on an every day basis within the police force.

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We learned about all of the tools that the Collision Investigation Unit use – both high tech and low tech to help decode and deconstruct the scene of an accident so they can then replicate it, both to determine cause and to demonstrate the information to others (i.e. in a court room).

We learned how to calculate velocity and what the ideal safe speed is for a car driving at night based upon visibility provided with high beams and human response times (hint… it’s around 28-30 mph).

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We learned about how kinetic energy logic is used to measure the velocity of a vehicle in an accident (what goes in to a force comes out of the force with equal energy – like the balls).

And we learned how you can use math and physics to determine angle and velocity of the vehicles in a crash based upon the angles of momentum and the size of crash damage. I was blown away with how effectively the officers conveyed the information and how they managed to connect it so simply and clearly with the kids in the room!

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The Robbery/Homicide team came in and ran a mock investigation of an incident with blood spatter to determine who’s story was correct between two complainants. It was a little slower paced because the group was so large and they had kids doing some of the work but there were lots of good nuggets of information.

The BEST part of the whole 2 hours was the recommendation that students get a BACHELOR’S DEGREE if they want to become police officers. It was a slam dunk for Hunter that he now needed to shift his goal from college to university – whew… THANK YOU ESCONDIDO POLICE DEPARTMENT!