Wednesday, 16 September 2009

GART - Death Valley

Ah, now I feel homesick!

So we are heading out of Yosemite to Death Valley, at this point Ellery Lake we are at 9538' above sea level, it's pretty cold up here, check out the ice and snow on the side of the mountains.Two hours later and we are nearly 300' below sea level, this is the dashboard readout on the truck- yep that says 122 degrees F! It was so hot we were worried about the sealed hatches in the sea kayaks deforming so pulled over to pop the hatches, there were three boats so 9 hatches to take off, it seemed to take forever to do anything in that heat, the sweat was running off me in a matter of minutes.Ah, the open road, now this is what I call a road trip!We stopped to look around the information centre, which was very good, and cool inside too. On our way back to the truck we popped into the restrooms (don't call them loos out there they don't know what you are talking about). I heard a bit of commotion in the ladies and this little fellow came wriggling out, aparantly it was quite a nice temperature in there for a Rosie Boa - the ladies wanting to take a pee weren't so amused!Badwater Basin - Death Valley 282' below sea level.

So now we really are on the home straight, and as if by magic the elusive Elk finally put in an appearance

By 10pm we are back in San Diego, by 10.30 we are in the pub, by 2am we are staggering out the pub, at 2.20 we are Stand Up Paddleboarding in Mission Bay, by 4am I'm at last in bed - well crashed out on the floor at Aqua Advetures Shop.
Jen took me and my hangover to the airport at about noon the next day, and that was the end of the Great American Road Trip!!!

GART - Yosemite

So the new kayaks have all been delivered, we could just run down I5 to San Diego, but where's the fun in that? So we decide to head East to Yosemite. As I'm driving along I notice a warning sign that tells us the road we are on is closed near to Yosemite, Jen flicks through the road atlas and we are soon on our diversion. This puts perhaps 50 miles on the journey, and as we start to get near the Park we start to see convoys of Firetrucks heading towards the blaze. We also see that there is thick smoke blanketing the landscape, so much for beautiful views of the mountains! Reminds me a little of the Oregon coast two days ago!

We did get to see these fire helicopters hovering over the river just a few feet from us, loading up with water then flying away to dump the load on the fire. There were always two more choppers waiting to fill up at this spot - it was pretty awesome to watch. I love the fact that the Californian Fire dept employ a photograper!Through the smoke we could just make out El Capitan!As we came out of the park, the road we wanted to take was closed due to fire, so we took another diversion - this was about 150 miles and put 4 hours onto our trip - the distances are just huge! If I drove anywhere for four hours in the UK I'd fall in the sea! Eventually we started to come out of the smoke and headed towards Death Valley

Monday, 14 September 2009

GART - Redwoods

So the night before I nearly lose the truck and trailer over the precipice in the dark, I'm taking no chances today, I leave the trailer on the side of the road and in daylight try to drive the truck through a tree!!!
It won't fit!!!! But only because of the kayak racks, we toy with the idea of taking them off, but decide to just watch other people taking their trucks through the tree. Did I mention the road goes THROUGH the tree!!!!!

So still impressed with the whole road through tree thing, we come across this- The Legend of Bigfoot shopIt's a kind of gift shop/ museum of all things Bigfoot and all things made out of redwood, I bought a fridge magnet I was so impressed!
At last we arrive at this famous landmark, and get into San Francisco at rush hour, after the Elk thing, and the tree thing, Jen decides to drive through the City

We drop off a load of kayaks here, the guys stayed open late for us, it was about 7.30 by the time we got there. We stayed while they unwrapped the boats - there was a beautiful surf kayak, a Rush I think in black and a super slick looking Anasacuta again in black. The next drop was at a dealers house - it was really late now, so we found another motel to stay. Jen was a bit happier now that we hadn't got thousands of dollars worth of other peoples boats on the trailer!!!!

Gart - California

So at last highway 1 takes us across the state line and we are in California, nearly home, you'ld think... well you would if you were from Dudley. Wow California is a long state!!!

Anyway we are driving along, it's getting close to dusk and Jen spots a sign for spotting wild Elk, cool! I turn off the highway into a sort of car parking area, but there are no elk in site, I drive on a bit and we spot this sign -

"Oooh, oooh Fern Canyon, Mike Franklin said it was cool there, lets go"

Check out the rest of the sign - we didn't! I drive onto this dirt road which climbs through the redwoods at a pretty steep angle, that big truck is auto, rear wheel drive, got a huge trailer on the back with 5 sea kayaks, 7 surf boats, a white water boat and two canoes and we're going off road!!!!

The road eventually starts to flatten out at the top of this ridge then we start to descend the other side, the road is really steep now and twisty, and I'm concerned about coming back up, we pass a turning pull in, we joke that we could always come back to this, but we carry on, until we meet a Park Ranger, driving up the hill in a truck which looks far more suited to this terrain. I open my window and in my best Californian accent say "Hi Buddy!" Long story cut short, he thinks I've gone mad, hadn't I read the sign, he says I won't make the next turn, and insists I back it up!!!!!!!, he offers to watch me back, I'm a bloke, I tell him I'll be fine. Jen reminds me it's her truck and asks the nice ranger to watch us back. Bt now it's dark, I'm trying to reverse this huge truck and trailer back up a really steep twisty dirt track, I did manage it without any dings but I was sweating like a pig by the time I'd finished. We drove back and read the sign. And we still didn't see any Elk!!!We found a place to crash for the night, and in the morning drove back towards Patricks Point, because Mike Franklin said it was cool. At Patricks Point the fog was thicker than ever we couldn't even see the ocean!Later that day the sea did clear and we got to see some beautiful views, hmmmmm California Dreamin'

GART - Oregon

GART - The great American Road Trip, Jen and myself joked about doing this at last years LoCo, I didn't think it would ever happen, but here we were, saying goodbye to all our friends in Washington and heading for the Oregon coast. The plan was to drive the entire coast of Oregon, down the coast of California about as far as San Francisco, then head inland to Yosemite, down through Death Valley, then end up in San Diego.

We stopped here for breakfast on the first morning, this is a whalewatching centre, they had apparantly seen six that morning - it looked a bit rough. We watched for half an hour then got distracted by the Oyster Omlettes in the Sea Hag Cafe - possibly the best breakfast I've ever had! We drove on South and quickly got engulfed by mist and fog, something to do with the Humbolt Current apparantly, either way we were told that the Oregon coast is stunning, but we wouldn't know! We saw lots of views like this -
Occasionally we did get a clearing in the mist and from what we saw it really is an awesome stretch of coastline. We didn't have time to hang around though, we had a trailer load of Valley Sea kayaks and surf boats which we needed to deliver on our way through San Francisco. Here's our little rig, all loaded up with delivery boats, the ones Jen had bought with her and the new canoe we had bought from Alder Creek.

Highway one, the coast road took longer than we anticipated, especially with the fog. We were planning to stop and paddle but the slow roads meant we were constantly behind schedule. Jen did manage to sneak a rest occasionally though -


Last year we ran the Upper Clack in kayaks with Paul Kuthe, now we were back, this time to run the grade2/3 lower sections in Canoe. Here's the team demonstrating how environmental we are by taking a trash bag with us to pick up any litter we found - we filled two of these by lunchtime!
That's Jen, Karl, Ginni and Axel

Nuff said!

This is me running the most technical drop on the section in a Pocket Canyon we borrowed from Alder Creek - thanks guys, we liked it so much we bought one and took it back to San Diego with us.

This is Jen styling in her Nova Prospector 16.
Ginni with a bit of poling action, this was a fantastic strtch of river for four star canoe

Alder Creek

Some of the LoCo coaches wanted to do BCU 4 Star Canoe Training, so we popped into Alder Creek in Portland to Demo some boats. They had just had a delivery all the way from Runcorn. Check out Jen's Chicken SlippersThese Americans love their Pyranha kayaks........

Three Star

Ginni looked a bit lost with teaching Canoe, so i offered to run the three star assessment.
At one point I sent them off with improvised sails to the mouth of the creek, so that they could sail back to the dock, luckily the wind was blowing them back towards me at this point and not into the path of that HUGE container ship delivering Japanese cars to Oregon At last the work was over and we could relax, that's a 24oz can of The King Of Beers right there, gotta love America!

Games at Skamokawa

So towards the end of every LoCo are the traditional games, Greenland Rolling (Skamokawa Style), Proposterous Propulsion and the ever popular Noodle Jousting.
I can't remember what the rules of this game were, but it seemed to mostly consist of pushing people in the water!

Don't feel too sorry, for Ginni here - I'm sure she deserved it!
And It wasn't too long before I had what was coming to me!!!
The Coastguard showed up soon after to make sure we were being well behaved and responsible, we said we were so they repeatedly threw a dummy out of the chopper and then jumped in the sea to get it back again. Looked like fun, I volunteered to be the dummy but they said I was a bit too 'dummy'


The Lower Columbia River Kayak Roundup, was a great event again, it was awesome to meet up with some old friends and meet new ones.
My job was mainly to run a L2 Paddlesport Coach course with my great friend Jen Kleck. This is Jen delivering one of the 'classroom' sessions on the sun porch of the Skamokawa Paddle Centre

Most BCU Coaches in the US are primarily sea kayakers, so canoe is not usually their prefered craft, you wouldn't believe that when you see Djuna making this little Bell Yellowstone Solo dance.

It was tough for the coaches though - this is Jean from Florida, grabbing a well earned kip on the beach at the moth of Skamokawa creek, the Paddle Centre is in the background - it's up for sale at the moment, what an awesome venue!

This photo is looking the other way out towards the Columbia River, those huge container ships seem to pass ever so close!!!

Ken coaching, while Djuna makes observations, it's a tough life being a L2 coach in Skamokawa

Lots going on!!!

Ok, so I've been home for a couple of weeks now, but what with jetlag, a sick PC and just being crazy busy I haven't had time to sit down and catch up with this.
I've just done three Level 1 courses back to back, so i'm just about ready for a change - L2 starting next week!!!

I'm going to try to puit somne stuff up about LoCo, The Clackamas, and the Great American Road Trip!