River Log 2016

[Sorry for the hiatus for a few weeks, we’ve been winterizing and moving into a place for the winter. Allison will probably post something about our winter plans in the next day or so but I had this post ready to go so it goes first. Hope you like reading about whitewater?]

I love whitewater kayaking. I’ve been running whitewater for almost 10 years and I’ve been a certified kayak instructor for about 4 years. While I’ve run a number of class V rapids (including some awesome waterfalls), I’ve dialed it back some in the past few years and usually love to spend my time on class III/IV doing the hardest moves I can find. Even still, I almost always try to go kayaking with a group for safety.

For the RV trip, I had to be a little creative as I didn’t have a boating partner with me. Allison used to be a solid whitewater kayaker but has effectively hung up her paddle so that she can prioritize running and yoga (which she’s awesome at) so I was either going to be on my own or need to find partners along the way.

In any event, I ended up kayaking a fair bit this year and it was really interesting to do new runs almost every single time I was out. Now that winter is coming, the whitewater season is coming to a close but below are trip reports from all the runs I did this year with info about meeting boaters and other sections in the area I’d like to go back and do.

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Beautiful shot of Tunnel Rapid on Gore Canyon (the last river section listed)

Arkansas River, Browns Canyon  – Salida, CO

I got to safety boat while my friend Paul Duffy guided a raft down. It’s a Class III run through a very pretty canyon. It was only my second time down the most rafted section of river in Colorado despite living in Colorado for 5 years!

Hoback River – Hoback Junction, WY

When we got to Jackson, WY, we went into Rendezvous River Sports in town to ask about people to paddle with. Turned out we happened to be there the weekend of the Wyoming Whitewater Championships hosted by the Jackson Hole Whitewater Club. Timing issues meant that I could only compete in the downriver race in longboat but I ended up taking 3rd place overall (and the top 2 people both puked at the finish line so I like to think I took “first place of people who didn’t puke” 🙂 )

Yellowstone River, Gardiner Town Run – Gardiner, MT

We stayed in Gardiner, MT just outside of Yellowstone National Park for about 10 days and I got to do the Yellowstone river through town. I stopped by two of the outfitters in town who gave me some beta on the “Mellowstone.” I ended up going solo on the easier section, the “town run,” and just hitching a ride but the Yankee Jim Canyon section downstream also looked pretty cool.

Gallatin River, Mad Mile – Bozeman, MT

When we were in West Glacier, we ran up to Big Sky, MT for an evening, we found out that the Gallatin Whitewater Festival was going to happen a couple weeks later so I made it a priority to stop by for the event. There were three events and $20 got me entered in all three. There was a downriver sprint (I took 4th in the longboat division), a boatercross event (I had a blast but wasn’t in the top 10) and a slalom event (where I tied for 10th in the short boat division). The event description and results are here.

Clark Fork River, Alberton Gorge – Missoula, MT

We accidentally set up shop right next to the put in for this when we camped at the Lolo National Forest and I ended up getting three runs on it. Two of the runs I just showed up at the put-in for but I also used the Missoula Paddlers Facebook group for the third. The run was beautiful, simple, with some amazing surfing in the second half.

Middle Fork Flathead River, West Glacier to Blankenship Bridge – West Glacier, MT

We rented a raft and did this run as part of Nik and Allison’s Summer Fun Camp with my family. Beautiful class I/II with some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen.

Middle Fork Flathead River, Moccasin Creek to West Glacier – West Glacier, MT

Right before we moved on to Whitefish, MT, I did one more run on the hardest section of the Flathead. It was about seven miles long and had two or three class III rapids and a whole bunch of class II rapids in the second half so I took the longboat. Really enjoyed a number of great attainment spots.

Kickinghorse River, Above Upper – Golden, Alberta, Canada

I really wanted to get on one of the main sections of the Kickinghorse but it gets up to solid class III/IV so I ended up just doing about 5 miles with a bike shuttle right next to our site. I never found a good way to meet people up here unfortunately but I’d love to come back at the exact time of year.

Sea Kayaking, Freshwater Bay – Port Angeles, WA

Allison wrote up a blog post about our day sea kayaking and other adventures we had in Olympic National Park.

Middle White Salmon, Husum Falls – Hood River, OR

One of the best sections of the trip. I met some people on the PDX Kayaker facebook group and got to run this awesome III/IV section. The best part was Husum Falls at the end which is a kinda busy ten foot waterfall that is fairly safe that we got to run a couple laps on. It was low when we were there but still totally fine and I had a great day.

Dechutes River, Bend Whitewater Park – Bend, OR

The Bend Whitewater facebook group wasn’t very active when I was there (their season is late fall through spring when lots of rain and snow comes) so I ended up just going to the pretty great whitewater park in town for an after work session where I met a few people who invited me along for a trip on the Umpqua that weekend.

North Umpqua River, Horseshoe Bend to Gravel Bin – Near Crater Lake National Park, OR

The North Umpqua was a fairly mellow section with an easy shuttle and some fun attaining. I took the Mirage and got made fun of the normal amount for my 13 foot long boat 🙂 We also drove right by Crater Lake National Park on our way to this river and decided to take a look on our way home.

South Fork Payette, Staircase Section – Boise, ID

So Boise started off surprisingly difficult to meet people at. I stopped by the local shop, turns out they basically sell SUPs and some kayak parts. I went to the play park, which was a cool man made feature with some baffles to make it adjustable and the guy there said, “just drive up to the takeout in the town of Banks.” That’s tough because “just show up and you’ll meet people” makes lots of people (understandably) uncomfortable because they won’t have any idea what I can do and if I’ll be safe on their trip. That all said, it worked out great and “just show up” seems to be decent advice all year round and all the boaters I met were great.

This was one of the most fun sections of whitewater I got to do on the trip. It’s about seven miles of class III/IV and at the low water we got it at, it’s an eddy catcher’s dream. There are about 3 or 4 true class IVs at this water level and a bit of flat stuff in the middle but it was just a ball the whole way. The group I went with was on their second lap of the day and fourth lap of the weekend. Boise would be a great paddling destination year round!

North Fork South Platte River, Foxton Section – Denver, CO

When we were in Denver at the end of the season, a crew was heading up after work to Foxton (which I have done dozens of times) and we ran three laps of the Boulder Garden (about 1 mile of class III+ at low water). I took the Mirage again and had a ball.

Colorado River, Gore Canyon – Kremmling, CO

Now that we’re up in Winter Park, CO for the winter, I really wanted to get one more time on Gore Canyon before calling it for the winter (though “calling it” really means going to pool sessions and teaching rolls). A group was heading up there the weekend before we moved into the place and the weather looked great for mid November so I hopped on. It was only about 530 cfs but I had a ton of fun and ran the meat at Gore Rapid for the first time (see the featured image). I also had one of the few clean lines at Tunnel Rapid (see above) which made it my first no walk/dry hair day at Gore. A very fitting way to end the season 🙂

5 thoughts on “River Log 2016

  1. Awesome to find your blog. My husband and I whitewater kayak and are planning to full time in our RV next year. Glad to discover some RVers that whitewater kayak! We are In the middle of downsizing now… ugh
    if you haven’t visited NC it’s a whitewater destination, creeking and rivers.
    Hope to connect with you on the road and paddle, if you get to NC reach out. Angie K

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    1. We’d love to come to NC but it means we’d need to go back to the east coast where there isn’t any boondocking 🙂 I’d love to hit the Green and the Nantahala some time though. I probably need to just make a trip of it after a hurricane comes through. Good luck with transitioning to RVing. It is so much fun and really expands the rivers (and other stuff too 🙂 ) that you get to see.

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  2. Yours is the first RV blog I have come across with an active WW paddler. I’ve been running around this country for about 30 years running just about anything that appeared safe to run. (My mantra – what is the worst that can happen,,,) Like you, I’ve run into the ” no body to run with” , and have done much to many solo. And hooking up with others — well you hit on the head – they are wary of your abilities – which most of the time I find I’m the better paddler of the group.. (all my former paddle buddies have “retired” We RV a lot (self mod – Van), and are considering a full time approach, but boat-less. I haven’t seen anything on how you transport your boat. Boat type etc, Just curious. Thanks Russell

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    1. Hey Russell, always nice to meet other boaters! I totally agree with your comment “most of the time I find I’m the better paddler of the group.” I wouldn’t be asking if I knew I was going to be a burden. On the Middle White Salmon, we had someone dislocate a shoulder (fortunately it popped right back in) and I ended up being the one who did the rescue, collected most of the gear, and basically took charge of the situation because no one else had ever dealt with something like that before. Definitely wasn’t expecting that but you never know who you’ll be boating with living this life :-). I actually bring 3 boats with us (don’t judge, they’re each for different things! 🙂 ) but you can see how we carry them in the picture at the bottom of this post: https://therecklesschoice.com/2016/05/22/on-the-road/. Basically we tow a car behind the rig and keep the boats on a rack on top of the car. Generally I take them off when we get somewhere we’ll be stationary for a week or more and just lock them to the RV bumper. Good luck with your travels especially if you decide to full time. It’s a blast! Maybe we can boat something together this year? You gonna be anywhere near Colorado?

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  3. Nik, We hit CO almost every year. although last time I left the boat home. I have bou cou hours on the the ARK, and have enjoyed the Pouder last couple times and have run a lot of other throughout the years, but with no posse anymore, the halcyon days seem a distant memory., Last summer we spent 35 days in AK, traveling across the US, into BC, the Yukon, and just about all of AK. Spent a week on the Talkeetna, on a raft trip, through the gorge, very remote, and COLD water. Flew in on a puddle jumper, three trips to unload, paddle down. was two boats , with 8 total. Expensive, but, hey you can’t take it with you. Wanted to do some other stuff, but the water was to high, they canceled every trip while i was in the area.
    I would like two boats, a creeker, and a downriver/play. but as i don’t get to paddle much any more, the old RPM will just have to do. My shoulders don’t like it much either. Jackson has a newer boat out that looks promising, but,I have too much stuff as it is…..I smiled at your Middle Salmon adventure, I’ve done similar several times. Never forget first time I went with a group up on the Big South Fork, after about thirty min of playing my way down, one of the group commented that I seem to find every play spot, and make everything look easy, Ha, if they only knew. Course a few min later, i got trashed in a sizable hole, while surfing…its been a few years since I was a decent boater, now I’m somewhat out of “practice” I find it takes a day or two on the Ocoee to get my mojo back. But I’ll never be 35 again….
    Not sure what this summer will bring, but I will stay in touch, would love to boat with you. RB

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