Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hellroaring Creek... WOW

Through our boss's generosity and maybe a little vicarious living through us, Pat and I finally got a couple days off which happened to coincide with Bradford's time off. The levels were low for many known runs, but prime to head off into the unknown. We packed our gear up for a big three day hike in, hike out in the heart of grizzly bear country and headed up the Boulder drainage south of Big Timber as far as the road would let Pat's truck with severely bald tires make it. From there, we began hiking. Up Sheep Creek trail 3.5 miles to the top of a remote mountain pass in the heart of the Absaroka Mountains. We then hiked down the Middle Fork of Hellroaring Creek 6.5 miles to the confluence with the main Hellroaring where we were relieved to meet a horse packing camp who was wonderful enough to warm us up and feed us sandwiches and coffee.
We collapsed once we finally made camp as dark hit, and crashed as anyone would after carrying a kayak with camping gear 10 miles over a mountain pass.
The next morning, we began floating down a meandering mellow stream with great apprehension as to what we may encounter. Our highest expectations were blown away.
Three incredible and unique gorges each containing Class IV and V drops packed our day with some of the best quality boating the three of us had quite possibly every done.
The first was kind of short at around 1/2 to 1 mile in length, but oh so sweet; containing, a vertical walled section witha fifteen footer and a ten footer
in close, but easily manageable succession among other quality drops.
The second gorge was the longest at around 1.5 to 2 miles long and had a very boxed in feel yet still had sufficient eddies and places to scout or possibly portage anywhere among the Class IV and V drops
we felt one might desire. The best part about this run being that we portaged a total of ZERO times!!! The third gorge was the shortest, containing two longer, complex boulder maze rapids that ended near the boundary of Yellowstone National Park where we took out.
From there, we celebrated our amazing two days with Bumble Bars and hiked half way to the pickup spot where our oh so envious boss was to meet us the next day at 10 AM. After an adrenaline rebuilding night of sleep, we hiked the last (and most arduous) 2 miles to the Hellroaring Creek Trailhead to rendezvous with our shuttle bunny. After taking the Group Photo,
and signing the trail logbook as the YLA, we took off back out of Yellowstone and onto the next adventure. Enjoy the photos courtesy of Pat Rogers.
Stay safe out there and call us if anyone wants to go next year, We ALL plan on making the trip again. It was that good!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring update: PREMIER THURSDAY!!!

After the long wait, The Shuttle Rig crew is all back in Bozeman. Bradford, Pat, Ben and myself have been suffering from a seemingly endless winter which has provided record snowpacks and if summer ever comes, will hopefully provide a runoff here like the four of us have never seen before. Despite all of our gripes, the bashful summer has been a good thing because The Catalyst is finally completed. Thanks to Ben, Bradford, and the video editing mastermind Zack Melms, for their countless hours of tedious, hard work; Things are all falling into place. This Thursday, 7PM at the Procrastinator Theater (on MSU campus in Linfield Hall) three fresh, new, kayaking films will be premiering at the Bozeman Paddling Film Festival. The first of which is The Oil and Water Project which documents Seth Warren, and Tyler Bradt's epic adventure from the north slope of Alaska to the southern tip of South America all using a converted vegetable oil-burning bus. The second film will be the No Big Names crew's newest film Hotel Charlie 3: The Lost World which brings some incredible footage in British Columbia, Newfoundland, and many other exotic locations. Then of course, there will be The Catalyst, Ben and Bradford's brain child of the past year which follows our crew around and throughout Montana, BC, and Central America. Come check it out. All Proceeds from the premier go to the Biofuel Education Coalition and First Descents kayak camp for cancer patients. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door, Barrel Mountaineering, Northern Lights Trading Company, and Cactus Records in Bozeman. For those of you out of staters, DVDs will be out and about before too long; we haven't decided quite yet how we're going to sell/distribute them, but shout us a comment, email, text, or call, and we'll make sure we get enough copies made for everyone who wants one.
Yesterday was very hot and the rivers are starting to spike. I better go paddle now, see you at the premier.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Perfect Blue Water, Great Friends, Hopelessly Remote, and to top it off. We Were kayaking!!

Its finally time!!!! Ben, Pat and I left Pavones after the chromic sickness we all suffer from of kayaks refusing to fit in the wanted mode of transportation disease. The back up taxi plan worked though the boats did rip his racks off half way to our destination. For the day we were headed to Heredia just north of San Jose, ultimatly and to our excitement we were FINALLY on our way to the Patria! A day later we find ourselves at the put in with just enough light left to get away from the obnoxiously loud road and set up camp. In our usual fashion Pat and I sleep in hammocks under the leaky tarp while Ben slept on a freshly laid fern bed on the trail. Early the next morning after a bitter cold night we are off and moving at first light. The hike is terribly hard to describe. Basically its hard. The first couple of hours on the river were full on rock bwoinking and gritted teeth pitoning intermingled with some nice little stuff. The character stayed pretty constant until we reached the mouth of the infamous gorge. We failed to find the portage trail and ended up climbing a cliff only to stumble upon our sought after trail only ten feet above the top out of our victorious accent. We reach the top of the ridge next to the gorge and realizes that its lengh must be quite short. We are still quite high but slowly we are able to begin to see the pool below us. It is a georgeous blue with the white foam of what has to be a waterfall on the right. As we descend further the noise of the creek is slowly changing into the distinct distant and muffled rumble of a large waterfall. We had known the waterfall was here, but I could not have been more excited even if I had unknowingly stumbled upon a similar waterfall in an equaly beautiful setting. Trying to navigate the near vertical jungle descent yet with eyes glued to the patchy view throught the trees we exploded onto the swath of rocks surrounding the pool below the drop. Pretty much, drops dont get much cleaner than this one. HOLEY MOLEY we were excited!! Alright, waterfall time comence. With nothing but excitment we hike back up to the boats while planning how to cordinate filming. Pat and I now have a 2:30, 2:35 scedualed take off time. Ben opted not to run the drop as #1. His shoulder had been giving him greif throughout the whole trip and #2. He figuered he had been lucky on this trip and wanted to make sure to go back home uninjured. We thought that was a wise choice. Especially later when 50% of the people who ran it that day got whumped. Our launch times were nearing and finaly Pat was in the water spashing his face and off he went. Five minutes later I was off and shot into the gorge. The first drop was a fun slide twisty thing that shot into a 7? foot wide gorge and booked it around the blind corner to the left. Once inside there was en eddy on the left inside a caldron before the second drops horizon line. I enjoyed my time in here trying to soak it all in. What a perfect place. A little bit of lip scouting and a boof into another left eddy brought me to the lip of the final drop. I reminded myself for the last time to tuck, and off the Pink Famingo and I went! little bit of pre drop navigation I get a glimpse of Ben and Pat right below and then tuck, a hit, that hole working sensation and then up with a HUGE smile plastered all over my face. I am anxious to here Pats tale, as there was no way for us to scout the inner gorge and I was curious to here what he thought. He did fine and the drop went well except he had an exceptionaly hard hit and messed up his shoulder a bit as well as implodng his skirt. We ate a nice lunch and then quickly took off as we were quite behind scedual, and had lots of water ahead of us. We quickly came to a very cool set of maybe four? drops above a river wide seive, which would require some onshore assistance in order to get out. I deamed it worthy to fire up and enjoyed a sweet boof along with other quality stuff. The seive portage required only a short distance of travel, maybe only fourty feet, but took the better part of an hour. Needless to say we camped on the left right after the seive. And in proper fashion you found two of us shivering in the air as the other was wet and tossing on the ground. The next morning the creek continued with its nice character for many hours. One of the more outstanding instances of the first two thirds of the day would have to be one of the more stange animals I have ever seen. Pat is scouting a drop when all of a sudden Ben goes ¨No way!¨ Over to the right is what I can only describe as a pigmy elephant. Anywyas it was weird. It decided to cross the right above a class IV. And by right above I mean less than a foot above the drop. I thought for sure it was going to get swept down that thing as it was in up to half its hight. The character only got better the further we went. Around 2, 3pm we realize we still have a long ways to go and really start to increase the speed. We still were running off hand signals, but at this point were more prone to just get it done. Many sweet drops, a speedy pace , and finally after dark we arrive at the take out bridge of the Sucio. Done!
We get into Heredia fricken late, and say goodbye to Ben as he leaves for the airport. Pat and I depart the next day for San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua to take a week of spanish language school. After the classes we took off for La Ceiba in northern Honduras. Our adventure here is about to begin and we couldnt be more excited.

Very quickly here is a tenative list we have created for ourselves:

Honduran Exploration
Canyaking in Belize
Guatemala Creekboating

Alright pictures of the Patria as soon as I find a computer that works!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Viva Panama!

So after deciding that the Rio Patria wasn´t going to happen due to rain, and recalling our lack of excitement for class IV shole boating, we decide that Panama sounds cool. We all agreed that our previous research led us away from panama, because the season is Sept. - Nov., but we decided it would be a refreshing adventure, and we might find a gem or two that flowed during the dry season. So, we went for it and found our selves in Boquete Panama two days later. The cool misty mountain weather was a very welcoming break from the hot sticky buses and sweltering heat of the lowlands. We spent 4 days in Boquete enjoying the refreshing water, and relaxing feel of the Caldera river that flowed though town. The stretch that we did twice was constant, exciting, and refreshing, and a perfect amount of action for grins all day. The excitment level was perfect, not scary, just fun! The other fellows thought that it was a little low, and it was, but definately my favorite so far. The town was full of fun and exciting people such as our hyped up hostel owner, and our rather BROsive new friends from Moab! We had a good time to say the least, dancing and hooten´and hollerin´till all hours of the morning. A relaxing day at the hotsprings topped off our stay in Boquete. I´m defiantly going to return!

So after aquiring info we headed toward the Rio Chiriqui Viejo, the river that borders Costa Rica and Panama. We ran about 50 mile of great class IV-V in 3 days, two nights. There was a good mix of everything, IV+ bump and grind, Class V pool drop within a tight gorge, boulder gardens, sholes, and of course a wroudy fun slide that flew into the river from one of the tributary´s.

Once back at the border town we decide that it´s surfin´time. We walk our boat to the boarder in the sweltering hot sun, then grab a cab to Pavones, Costa Rica which is a small surf village at the end of the road. At that moment in the cab, with a Cerveza in hand, boats on top, and my buddy´s all around me it clicked! This is what vacation is all about, Paradise found right here in this moment. That feeling didn´t last long, about an hour later I´m throwing up in the alley way after just meeting Casey´s buddy Chris from Alaska. It´s quite a horrible feeling to get the BUG!, but a few days worth of stuff coming out of both ends is a small price to pay for paradise. At this point in the trip I was the last to get the bug, the other´s had already been through it! Pavones was a perfect place to nurse my self back to health, as I slowly came too and hoped on board for some daily sunrise and sunset surf sessions. What a place to be a surf bum, I can definatley see how people flock to the lifestyle of surfing, just as we have to the rivers! We bid Casey farewell from Pavones, and glanced towards the falling sun across the ocean to ponder our next part of the adventure.

How to get spanked when it´s FLOODING!

It´s been a while since our last update, and I apologize for our slacking. New Years day we hopped on our newly aquainted Canandian Buddy´s styley kayak rig with personal driver. We hitched a ride to La Virgne, Costa Rica to try our luck at the Toro, Poza Azul, and then hopefully get on the Rio Patria. We enjoyed some class IV on the Toro, and then it started to RAIN! Oh man, we wanted to get our flood stage boating ON, and we did!! We headed towards the Poza Azul, a waterfall run that has one park and huck, and then a not commonly run upper section with two more 25´ footers, and a few gorges that connect the run. We got the down low that it´s a bad idea to get into those gorges when there flooding, so we check the flow from the bottom. Trees were fly´n, so we´re definately only going to the lower park and huck. Or at least we thought sooo. Our lack of spanish got our driver very confused, so he asked around and soon we were headed to the river. We found a drop, about 25, and it was juicing, but it all flushed. The lead in was certainly class V. Bradford went first, and with some skill, and a stroke of luck launched off the drop about 30 feet from his intended take off, but he styled it! Oh man, my turn, I was a little concerned about how Bradford got to his launch pad, and didn´t think I could duplicate his line. I went for my original line, because I boat best when I rely on intution. Well, here goes, crankin´around the corner, on line, driving hard, I see the crux, almost there, Wham!!! Before I know it my face is dragging on the rock, and the sky gave me one last glimps before I plummit over the lip of the fall backwards and upside down. Oh boy, I´m in for a ride! I went deep, waited, nothing, still nothing, then all of a sudden, oh´ there´s the curtain, definatley getting pounded, but oddly enough my head is bobbing up towards it. I´m getting pummled but I´m not moving, at this point I would expected at least a few cartwheels, maybe a powershade, space godzilla, underchunder, at least something. I pondered my stange predicament for moment, then Oh, I´m goin deep again, hold the breath, then darkness, it´s oddly quiet. Oh, I´m siffting, that´s a good thing, at least the river wants to put me somewhere away from that scary ass curtain. The next thing I notice is Casey standing in front of me with a WHOLEY SHIT kind of look on his face, yep I´m ridin´low with my skirt fully imploded, yet still in my boat, I paddle towards the eddy in proper stern stall fashion, and dismount my craft once I feel the rocks on the bottom tapping my boat. I gave the okay symbol to my paddling amigos, and hop onto shore. After the excitement disipated I pondered my strange descent, and realize that my skirt imploded imediately and caused these strange forces of nature.
After my wonderful display of carnage we decide to boogie on back to town and perhaps try the drop some other day when it´s not flooding. So, a quick little jont to the confluence on class II, and were back to town, right. We soon discovered that our class II was a strong IV, IV+, and then we came to a canyon with some seriously meaty drops that ended in perfect boat assisted swims! Glad we pulled out and looked! After discussion we decided to hike out, becaue it was clear that we were still in the upper part of then run, and we wanted nothing to do with flooding class V canyons. Three hours later after slogging through knee deep mud, and descending a rather hypothesised marsh area we arrived at a farm were the angry looking bulls quickly escorted us towards the sarapiqui river. We hoped on, and zoomed into town where we told tales, drank cervezas, and relazed in a wood fired sauna in true rainforest fashion!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone, Ben here! Happy New Year, Feliz ano nuevo! So, after some time spent in quepos, which was slightly unenjoyable, we went up to Turrialba. There we found hospitable people and good water to run. Our first day in the Turri was spent on the Upper Orosi, where we found some mank and some good boofs.... I talk about all of this in the video, so hopefully it will work and it'll be sweet! So, check out the video post and enjoy some tropical land pictures! We'll be posting up again after we go to La Virgen. Once again, Happy New Year, and we Miss all you folks back home and in Montana!

P.S. - we have a sweet satalite tracker device that Bradford brought. It locates us whenever we use it down to a 'T' on Google Earth. It sends whoever wants it an email notifying them of the cooridinates with a link to Google Earth. So, if you're interested, send us your email in an comment at the bottom of the post, and we'll get you on the email list so you can see where in the world we've been boating! We hope you enjoy this new feature and feel free to post comments, questions, or anything other nonsense. We want to hear from you guys, whoever you are! SWEET! Adios!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Greatest Adventure Is What Lies Ahead

After our source to sea Pacuare adventure, Bradford and I decided that Ben and Pat would want to adventure back to Turrialba, so we would move on and return later. We headed to San Isidro de General to check out what that place had going on.

After a sweet excursion in San Jose involving a very bonita tica girl name Veronica, (you may have talked to her if you called Scotiabank for customer service. She is required to say that her name is Amy Sanchez, and she prentends to be from the US.) we found ourselves in a sweet hotel in San Isidro. Veronica´s grandmother hung up on us when we tried to call her, so we had an uneventful night.

The next morning, we were off to rio Chirripo Pacifico. We thought the intense class V and VI section would suit us so we put in. The technical difficulty wasn´t surprising, but the arduous, sugarcane hacking scouts with other multiple hazards made us want to run rapids that were not suitable for running. A while later, we were back on the road pulling wasps out of our hair... All of our hair! We hitched a ride with Rodger to the lower put in and bumped down a couple miles of junky read and run Class IV which brought us to the 1 mile hike back to the main road where we scored another free ride back to San Isidro.

Early the next morning which happened to be christmas, we woke up and got a ride to the town of Savegre Abaho which was high, and near the source of Rio Division. Low water made it a little chunky, but we found several miles of class IV boulder drops of the highest quality. We made it down the Division to the Savegre to within about 6 miles of the ocean that night. It was a good way to spend Christmas.

The next morning, we made the trip to the mighty Pacific Ocean, where we planned to make the 8 hour paddle to Quepos to save some money. After getting thrashed in multiple overhead waves trying to get past the surf, we were a bit discouraged and we only made it a couple hours before I got seasick and needed to call it a night. We were nearly out of water when I remembered being sold pipas at the beach last year. we got out the machete and went in search of some young coconuts!

This morning, we woke up after a very wet rainy night and got on the ocean bright and early. Several hours later, I was very seasick and we finally made it to Manuel Antonio beach where Bradford and I spent the next 3 hours trying to hitch a ride to Quepos because we were sick of the ocean. After an incredible lack of success, we turned down an 8 dollar taxi ride, and paddled two hours on the ocean to Quepos.

Once in Quepos, we found that our meeting point hostel for Ben and Pat had no vacancy. Bradford sat with the boats while I checked prices on hotels. When I returned, I had had a huge double take when I saw a Giant Red Rocket of a boat and Ben sitting with Bradford on the side of the street. After the great reunion, we set out to the hotel, and here we are. We plan to run the Naranjo with our new friend we met on the beach named Kanutto tomorrow. Hasta Lluego for now!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rio Pacuare

We flew into San Jose 2:35 on the 18th. Once the bus dropped us off in San Jose from the airport we realized our Turriabla bus was 20 blocks away. Since our funds are limited we started walking. A good while after dark us and our 80 plus pound boats finally reached the station, and away to Turrialba we went. Once there it took four tries to find a suitable hostel as our barganing skills are not so hot yet. Next morning we wake up exchange some money buy some bags of beans and off we go to the source of the Pacuare. Still keeping our funds in mind we have decided to link the pacuare into a multiday trip, saving expensive shuttle costs. Also keeping the funds in mind we decided to go with human power to get our boats from the furthest point a truck could make and on to the river. Unfortunatly this means traveling over an extremely steep and muddy mountain pass. We had heard two hours via horse along with someone saying only 45 minutes of steeps. We stared at 1pm, and again it was not until dark did we finally arrive at the river. We quickly ate our rations of food that were not even close to filling set up the hammocks and went to bed. Sleeping in a healthy amount after the not so restful, but lesson filled first night in the jungle we put on late the next morning. The late start was not helped either when my largest dry bag split along the seam. After lots of rearranging and a random local kid happy to have a nice new bag we finally set off on our first tropical river.

Here is a short update brought to you from the heart of the Upper pacuare gorge just after blood hydrolica day two of four:


Our camp sites for the evenings have been everywhere from relaxing and senic to a constant soaking and bug infested. We float by a spot that looks inviting and beach our boats. There is not much time before it gets dark so we set up the tarp and hammocks fast. Even so we still have time for the constant repair of gear, or the eternal search for exotic and delisious tropical fruits. It rains every night, but thankfully we keep mostly dry. For a little bit a least.
This morning we woke up to our last day on the Pacuare. Took off around twelve and spent the next few hours getting to Turriabla for some food, and dry bed. Tomorrow we head out for San Isildo where we will try and run the Charripo Pacifico and possibly Naranjillo section of the Naranjo.