Jenny Right-Side

Paddling in the Ottawa Valley and all over the world!

Taking a break…

So my job has kept me from travelling and kayaking like I usually do, and will continue to do so until the end of June. It has also kept me from spending time with my friends and family. So although I had originally planned on going to Cheatfest, I owed some time to my friend Geoff and we decided to make a road trip to Jay Peak in Vermont for one last weekend on the slopes. Yes, you heard me correctly. Snowboarding in May!

The decision was also made due to the fact that Jay Vermont was only 3.5 hours away from home, and Cheatfest was 8+ hours (and would involve me driving the whole thing on my own!)

I can ski, but especially after my two knee surgeries really wanted to learn to snowboard. So donning my kayak helmet, a new pair of goggles and boots and borrowed board, bindings and poofy jacket, we were off for some fun on the slopes and some snowboarding lessons!

My first run down the mountain took about an hour, and I spend a lot of time on my butt. Ow! But I soon figured out how to balance, and by the end of the first day was surfing down like a pro! Okay, not a pro, but upright. Which is good for Jen’s muscles and tailbone!


So here’s a little kayaking intermission of Jen’s first time on a snowboard. Photos courtesy of my good friend Geoff.

Enjoy!

Posted by Jenny K

High Water Ottawa and Cherry Popping…

Kate checking out Garvins at 20

Uh…. yeah…. okay….

Anyway,

I was back home this weekend to pick up boats, attend a farewell for a friend, and to check out the Ottawa River at 20 feet.

Sharky, Anna and Joel getting ready to put-in

Sharky, Anna, Joel and I decided to hit the middle, and it was both Anna and my first 2008 run down the Ottawa. The weather started off great, the water was cool and the water was pumping!

Me running Little Trickle at 20

Photo by Sharky

The highest I had ever run the river was 17, and it was a lot of fun so I was psyched to see the river even higher. We enjoyed catching Satlers on the fly, running Little Trickle and avoiding the HUGE boof/pour-over/recirculation of death, looking and leaving Butterfly alone, surfing the Garvins waves, losing our stomachs on the 11-foot tall wave train on Upper No-Name and wondering where Black Velvet went….

Sharky and Anna

Me playing on the second wave and holding my breath?

Photo by Anna Pirko

What a great day. In fact it was so much fun I went back out the next day with Bryson and Kate. This was Kate’s first 2008 day on the river and the earliest in the season she’s ever been in her kayak. She styled the river and had a great day! Now I’m sunburnt, tired and about to sit in my hot tub before getting a good night’s sleep!

Enjoy the pictures of high-water Ottawa goodness!

Bryson Loves Big Dolly

Posted by Jenny K

ASCI Course as you’ve never seen it before!

I found I was having a difficult time finding friends to paddle with on Easter weekend. Something about spending time with family or something….

I spent Saturday outfitting my boats, and cleaning out my truck, made a quick stop for dinner with a friend in VA, and continued on in my search for whitewater. I found myself in Friendsville, MD within spitting distance of the Yough, Big Sandy, Cheat and Tygart.

My friend John Mason is hanging his hat here for a few weeks, building sprayskirts and taking care of his business at the Upper Yough takeout. He had never seen the ASCI Course, and I was wondering when they were going to open for the spring.

So we drove up the mountain and took a look-see. It was exciting to see the same course I had navigated last fall without any water. It was very interesting to see how the course was built and what the waveshapers actually looked like.

So here’s a refresher of what the ASCI course looks like WITH water: Disneyworld of Kayaking

Now, the behind the scenes look at the whitewater course in the winter/early spring :-)

The first waveshaper

The river

The riverbed

Posted by Jenny K

Easter Weekend Rain Chasing


Rich and I had planned a trip south on Easter weekend to get our first spring season paddling in, but Rich’s shoulder is still bothering him a lot so he wasn’t able to go.

I left Cornwall around noon yesterday solo, planning on meeting up with fellow paddlers in warmer climates.

I met up with Jeremy this morning and we headed on down to Holtwood on the Susquehanna. This section was running high, and we actually had to run shuttle instead of being able to attain back up to the put-in. We paddled with Garret, Sam and Brenton, and were joined later by two other eager paddlers whose names I didn’t catch.

Holtwood was just as I remembered it, except with more water. I would describe Holtwood as a whitewater playground. This section of the river is SUPER-wide, and there are fun surf spots that form at different levels in different places. For an idea of its vastness, check out Jeremy’s Holtwood Surf Guide here: http://www.chasingrain.com/surfguide/index.html

Garret surfing Playspot

Sam showing us how it’s done

717 crew making their way back up the eddy

Even though I had plenty of gear, somehow when I grabbed my kayaking bag from my house in Beachburg, it didn’t have any of my underlayers in it. So I was early spring paddling sans fleece/rashguards. Ken had sent me some neoprene layers, so I wore a thick neo-shirt under my new drydeck! It worked fine, I was warm and only started feeling the chill of the air after being out for a few hours when I was starting to get tired.

We finished the great day on the river (my face is sunburnt bright red by the way) with an awesome steak dinner courtesy of Jeremy’s awesome parents, and I enjoyed a toasty night in my old stomping ground, the Airstream Van.

Posted by Jenny K

Canadian Cold

It’s so cold up here in Canada. I’m stuck here for work on an important course away from home and any whitewater. I can hear the wind blowing against my hotel window. It feels like a vast and barren wasteland. My boogers are freezing my nostrils closed and I have to breathe out of my mouth.

The good news is that there are still fun things to do in the cold, like snowshoeing, watching ice racing, snowmobiling and sitting out on the frozen lake in lawn chairs drinking beer. We’ve also made some road trips into the big city!

It won’t be long now, we’re almost a month away from MACKfest (http://www.mackfest.ca), and then the festivals, events and water will pick up.

Snickers is really excited to get back in the water. No Snickers! You can’t paddle today, it’s too cold!

Posted by Jenny K

Canadian Cold

It’s so cold up here in Canada. I’m stuck here for work on an important course away from home and any whitewater. I can hear the wind blowing against my hotel window. It feels like a vast and barren wasteland. My boogers are freezing my nostrils closed and I have to breathe out of my mouth.

The good news is that there are still fun things to do in the cold, like snowshoeing, watching ice racing, snowmobiling and sitting out on the frozen lake in lawn chairs drinking beer. We’ve also made some road trips into the big city!

It won’t be long now, we’re almost a month away from MACKfest (http://www.mackfest.ca), and then the festivals, events and water will pick up.

Snickers is really excited to get back in the water. No Snickers! You can’t paddle today, it’s too cold!

Posted by Jenny K

Gull River in December

Yep it’s true. I’m not sure what we were thinking. It was warmer than the November paddle down the Main Channel of the Ottawa, but dayum!!

It was too cold to even bother taking pics once we were on the river. But hey, you all know what the Gull looks like right?!?


Colin, Jen, Rich and Gary. Hardcore to the max.

Posted by Jenny

Day 9: Makin’ Banana Pancakes, pretend like it’s the weekend now…

This morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast of banana pancakes in Quepos before heading to the dock for our sailboat cruise.

Unfortunately, it was raining and grey… but that didn’t stop us, no! We went out until we found a family of dolphins playing in the ocean. We chased them around for a while. The seas were fairly choppy and I spent the next 30+ minutes lying on my stomach, napping in the lukewarm rain.

We stopped for some snorkelling on the way back and ‘swam with the fishes’. There were hundreds f yellow and blue fish swimming around us. If we dove down a bit by some coral, there were bigger, bluer fish. Someone even saw a Puffer Fish!

While swimming out to the coral, I felt stinging all over my body. Fran suggested it was because I had recently shaved my legs, but then she felt it too! I had little red welts on my arms , side and legs. Jose said it was plankton that did it and we must have swam through a school of them.

This afternoon, Chad, Bill, Linda, Marzella and I took our kayaks out to the beach to give ocean kayak surfing a try. We learned to give each wave a boof stroke to get over and farther out. When a good wave was starting, we’d paddle hard toward shore to try and catch it, just like on a surfboard. Once on it, it was important to rudder and carve back and forth. The waves formed more into hole like features closer to shore and I was able to spin and cartwheel my way in. I even accidentally Donkey Flipped in the foam pile!

It was just important to avoid flipping as a face full of sand was not ideal…

Marzella and I practiced our wave wheels and Marz got one that was textbook perfect (if there was a textbook on how to wave wheel)!

Posted by Jenny K

Day 8: Rio Savegre and Waterfalls

The bottom section of the Rio Savegre was an awesome class III wavetrain. We stopped to surf at the hardest eddy to attain, and then stopped at a beautiful waterfall. I walked directly under the falls and it was like the ultimate shoulder massage! Marzella, Bill and I could stand behind the falls and barely see the other side!

Fran and Kapu were waiting at the takeout to drive us to the Pacific coast. We arrived just in time to catch the breathtaking sunset at Manuel Antonio Beach. We went to a nice place with live music for dinner, and enjoyed watching the locals who could really SALSA!!

It made me remember a bar in Ottawa called Caliente, that gave free salsa lessons on Thursday nights. I am a genuine foot-stomper; not a good dance partner at all!

Posted by Jenny K

Day 7: Division, Savegre and Rafiki Lodge

This morning we awoke to hear that the Rio Division might be too high to run with all the rain we’d been having. We spent the morning waiting while Jose called around trying to get river levels. A family that lived close to the confluence of the Division and Savegre described the Rio Division as ‘nasty’.

We decided to go ahead and take a look at the river with three possible options: 1) we all run the Division into the Savegre, 2) a few of us run the Division and meet up with the rest further downstream where the gradient tapered off, or 3) we all skip the Upper part of the Division.

The bus took us part of the way where we switched over to two 4×4 trucks. The roads went from decent Costa Rica quality to dirt roads, winding higher and higher into the mountains and rain. Every runoff was pumping down the sides of the mountains into the Division. As we descended into the valley, we could see the brown turbulent waters rushing westward.

We took a look at the upper put-in. At lower levels, the Division is a rock dodging creeky run that any of us could have handled. At this level, the river was riddled with rocks and holes, and nary an eddy in sight! I’m not sure I could compare it to any other river I’d been on. A swim here would mean a swim all the way into the Savegre.

We hopped back into the trucks and made our way to the lower put-in. The river was still quite pushy and some of us were definitely feeling challenged! We had a few stops to regroup or rescue swimmers. I was a little hesitant at first… After Jose, Bill and I waited downstream for the rest of the group, I managed to get disoriented, drop into a hole, roll up in another hole and then again! Joey was wondering what had happened to me and why I wasn’t paddling like I usually did.

I sorted myself out though and ran the rest of the river like a champ. It involved continually scanning ahead, looking for drops, holes and any eddies – not just following the person ahead.

Our lunch stop was incredibly unique. We had lunch in the kitchen of a local family who lived on the edge of the river! There was no large village nearby and apparently this family cooked and provided tent pads for kayakers and hikers.

After lunch, we continued on down to the Division and Savegre confluence. Jose pointed it out to me, the two rivers met like a ‘Y’. The water from the Division in the rainy mountains was a rich chocolate brown, and the Savegre was crystal clear. once on the Savegre, the river was two different colours. River left was brown and river right was blue! It was rather surreal…

The Rio Savegre was a big continuous wave train river with huge Phil-sized holes to avoid. The waves were a good 6-10 feet tall, and usually a valley separated me from Jose, who was ahead. Sometimes I couldn’t see anyone in front of me.

The highlight of the day was one rapid with a large hole at the bottom. Jose went first and then signalled to Joey and Chad (who were eddied out river right) that we had to run far left to avoid the hole. I led Linda down and Joey ferried over to show us where to go. At the bottom we saw a HUGE munchy hole. I looked at Jose and said, “That little thing? Pffftttt I’m going to surf it!”

Just as Jose said, “I’d like to see that,” Brian came down centre and dropped right into it! He got worked. We watched helplessly as he was thrown around like a rag-doll. At one point we were hopeful as we say him hanging out in a side-surf and then, WHAM! windowshaded again!

This is when the fun started. We watched in horror as Brian’s boat flw vertical into the air, and landed right-side-up in the backwash, just hanging out there. Brian resurfaced about 20-feet downstream right next to Joey who was frantically searching for paddle and/or paddler. We couldn’t believe our eyes!

I turned to Jose and said, “Uh, I changed my mind,” and we all broke into hysterical laughter.

A few more mishaps and some major big water and we landed at the most incredible place in the world: Rafiki Lodge. A rustic resort on the edge of mountainous jungle, powered by a stream that ran through the property. Our roms were large tents on platforms overlooking fields, ponds and jungle valleys. The stream that powered the resort flowed into a pool below via arguably one of the fastest waterslides in the world. Wheeee!

We were wined and dined by the staff and rested our heads in a 5-star tent city after the most action-packed and challenging day of the trip!

Posted by Jenny K