Playing With Water

March 19th: Base Camp Cullowhee Kayak Demo Day

Demo Day Flyer small

Alrighty y’all, the time is coming! With March 19th and Base Camp Cullowhee’s Demo Day quickly approaching, all paddlers around the Southeast will soon be given the opportunity to try the latest and greatest in whitewater kayak designs. With 2011 heralding new boats, such as the 2011 Jackson Hero/Super Hero, the Rock Star and the Project X (game changers), the BCC Demo Day will be one of the first chances for the southeastern paddlers to hop in and huck it.

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Starting High Noon on March 19th at the Eternity Hole, demos will be available for the first half of the release. At 2:30 the focus will shift to a Hometown Throwdown, where competitors can select their boat of choice and battle it out in the Eternity Hole for the glory of awards such as best ride, biggest air, most powerful window shade, most ends, goofiest move, and the elusive Despeaux award. Don’t let the word competition scare you away. This is a very laid back event. Come kayak with the friends; laugh, cry, and enjoy the experience of a Hometown Throwdown.

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After the throwdown, we will relocate to the University Center Illusions Club. Here, we will gorge ourselves with Pizza, raffle of some awesome schwag to participants, and watch some quality paddling porn. Questions, Comments, Concerns? Check out the Facebook Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=205366269479558 or shoot me an e-mail to get the answers.

See y’all on the water soon.

-Kleberg

Whee Whitewater: Ocoee!

Whee WhitewaterThe Ocoee River is a staple run for any paddler looking to progress; a stepping stone to the more difficult runs located in the southeast. The class III, roadside nature of the run makes an excellent location to experience dynamic rapids with ample recovery time.

Whee Whitewater Ocoee 2

The river has several challenging rapids, including Double Suck and Table Saw, all presenting different play spots and eddy catches over the course of the run. With a holiday in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and a lucky release, twelve students from Western Carolina University and the Whee Whitewater group made the 2 ½ hour drive to paddle the middle stretch of the Ocoee from Grumpy through Hell Hole.

Whee Whitewater Ocoee 4

Whee Whitewater Ocoee 3

With a few solid combat rolls and fewer swims we made our way to the end, stopping for some play at Double Suck and again at Hell Hole. Thanks to everyone who made it out. Stay tuned to Whee Whitwater for updates on future whitewater outings.

Kleberg

First of 2011

For the past three winters, Rock Island has been my first paddling destination of the New Year. Traveling to the middle of Tennessee has always seemed to get the year started with the right stroke and is quickly becoming a yearly tradition. The first week of 2011 was no exception, with 5,600 cfs spilling at Rock Island and a whole bunch on new Jackson Kayaks in the works. 2011 will be one for the memory book with the short and sweet Hero series and a new playboat to rock your socks off; the Rock Star!

JK Factory

Stopping by the Jackson factory is always a fun experience. Seeing isles upon isles of fresh kayaks, all wrapped and ready to hit the water will put a smile on my face every time. The girls out front are great as well, and Tara is always as helpful as possible. As Chris walked me around behind the scenes, the excitement in the air was palpable, a very real reminder of the new kayaks to come. With a Villain S, All Star, and Fun loaded up on the truck, I headed toward Rock Island for my first taste of the 2011 Hero!

All Star Isle

For the numerous times that I have been to Rock Island, I had yet to paddle the waterfalls upstream of the hole and Sieve City. EJ, Emily, Clay, and Owen were all ready to go, and I found myself in the seat of a prototype Hero, working my way down the left bank and toward Triple Drop. First impression: STABLE! The Hero’s hull design for 2011 creates a very stable, very responsive craft. A soft edge can be easily engaged and the Hero will whip in and out of eddies and ferry across current with ease.

Going over the bigger of the first drops shone a light on another perk of the 2011 Hero; it resurfaces flat and fast. Upright is always the best way to be, and this kayak will keep you that way.

Triple drop, Rock Island

Moving to the other side of the river kept the fun coming; we were rewarded with sunshine and a sweet double drop boof called the Warm Hole. With the short stern and ample rocker, the Hero boofs like a champ! Thanks for the pics EJ.

Warm Hole Boof

With a great day at the falls under the belt, it was time to head downstream to the hole…boat of choice: Rock Star. Clay, Stephen, and EJ were more than willing to let me paddle one. Sitting in the Rock Star you immediately feel a change in the knees and the additional volume in the stern. The boat is stable and balanced, making cartwheels much easier. I sat slightly higher in the Rock Star as well, making me feel more in control of this freestyle machine. On the waves and in the hole the increased amount of control is undeniable. The Rock Star makes lightning fast carves and is truly amazing when in the hands of the Rock Island locals.

With these two amazing boats slated for the spring of 2011, the New Year is looking promising indeed. If paddling the sickest boats is part of your New Year’s Resolution, by all means try the new Jackson’s…you won’t be disappointed.

Stay safe and paddle hard through 2011!

- Kleberg

West Prong 11/17/2010

Heading into the middle of November the forecast was looking dry. Green Race had come and gone, leaving a thirst for natural flow in the South East. A mere 11 days after the big race, a small storm blew through the mountains, bringing enough rain to quell everyone’s aquatic craving. With the skies breaking loose and a small gap in the class schedule I was able to venture into the Smoky’s for a personal first descent of the upper and lower West Prong of the Little Pigeon. Arriving at the picnic area we found the gauge reading 1.2, a solid first time level.  Jay, Mark, Bone, Howard, and I all put on to the 1.8 mile Upper stretch with plans of multiple laps.

I had my breath taken away from a potent combination of natural beauty and continuous boulder gardens. Bone and Howard fall into the category of experts on the West Prong. The beta provided by Howard was flawless with move by move directions on how to run the drops ahead. A little out of boat scouting was done by both Mark and me, giving Mark a chance to point his GoPro as the boys paddled down. The whole run flows together in my mind with a few standout rapids. Dinosaur is the first rapid that pops out with. The final drop of this rapid has a sloping ski ramp off the bottom right and a nasty looking little crack to the left. Driving far right resulted in some air time, landing a boof to aerated water and riding a pillow into the eddy below.

The next significant drop was Metal Box, a sloping slide off a drop and into a hole. This was the most exciting experience of my Upper West Prong day. Banging down the slide resulted in a kickflip of sorts off the drop, chalking my paddle between some rocks and leaving me without a stick. A few failed hand rolls and I found myself swimming into the large river left eddy. Jay had the presence of mind to grab my paddle while I pulled my boat and myself out of the river. No lost gear! Always the best way to end a swim.

After picking up the pieces and getting back into the boat we were headed back downstream toward the final big rapid of the Upper stretch, Big Tree. Big Tree is a straight shot down the middle off of several back to back boofs; keep the bow up and pointed straight. Easier said than done and I found myself running the final 8 footer backwards. After reaching the picnic area, the group decided to finish off the day by paddling down the 2.5 mile Lower and taking out at the Campbell Overlook. It was an amazing first time experience with a good group to kayak down a new run with. The short hour and a half drive from WCU to the West Prong makes it all worthwhile. Gotta love having the Smoky’s in the back yard…I will be back.

Love Thy Self – 2010 Green Race

High noon on the first Saturday of November means one thing in the Southeastern Whitewater Community…GREEN RACE! I have always heard it called the “greatest show in all of sports,” and these words could not contain any more truth. The 15th annual Green Race boasted 88 competitors in the long boat category and 69 in the short boat, coming to a grand total 157 laps. With this year’s race drawing the largest group of racers to date, word on the water was that well over 1000 people hiked in, creating a coliseum from Go Left through Rapid Transit.

My first Green Race experience was an epic one. I registered a good two weeks in advance, at 8 am on a Wednesday morning before going to class. I had run the Narrows a good handful of times and felt comfortable in knowing the lines. Catch 22; school was, is, and will always be hectic and being a full time student made getting practice runs was hard. I had a grand total of three race laps under my skirt prior to the big day, with an over the bars piton experience at Gorilla a week earlier.

Sitting in the eddy above Frankenstein gave me time to see some good friends leave the line, with Clay Lucas and Jay Mahan setting the pace a few racers in front of me. My time came and I was off. It was amazing how quickly you get winded between Frankenstein and Go Left (where you first start seeing people). I was gassed by the time I reached Flying Squirrel and executed an exciting barrel roll to cartwheel combo. I rolled up, paddled into the Notch, and instantly felt myself turned backwards. I had heard of the elusive backwards Gorilla line, but I had yet to experience it. In true NASCAR style, the cheers on the bank let me know that today was obviously the day.  Into the crease backwards and off I went, rolling up behind the Speed Trap, still in my boat and prepared to finish.

Hitting the finish rock below Rapid Transit left me completely exhausted. I had never been as tired in my kayak as I was after the race. With a final time of 6:30, I had successfully completed my first Green River Narrows Race. November 5th, 2011 is the date for the Sweet 16, and I can’t wait to be a part of it again. Congratulations to everyone who raced! See you all on the water again soon.

-Kleberg

A little photo sequence of my Gorilla Carnage:

Barrel Roll

Barrel Roll

Cartwheel

Cartwheel

Notch Time

Notch Time

Backwards?

Eddy?

Backwards?

Backwards?

Yep...Backwards!

Yep...Backwards!

Going...

Going...

Going...

Going...

Gone.

Gone.

Thanks to Tim Boring for the pics. Check out the rest of his Green Race Album at: http://picasaweb.google.com/tjboring/GreenRiverRace2010#

Blog?

Well here it is…my first attempt at a blog. I would place myself in the not so technologically savvy group, so it will take me a little while to learn. Blogging was always something I put off doing, simply for that reason; computers have always challenged me.  The ultimate goal of this blog is provide an outlet for me to share some of my adventures through the wonderful world of whitewater. I am an avid paddler hoping to instill a similar passion for water in everyone. Paddling is the only activity I have found where I live entirely within the moment. At the end of the day, all I want to do is boat.

Right now, the southeast is bone dry. So….pray for rain. Until it returns,

- Kleberg