Living the examined life, examining the landing zone.
99 problems, South Branch of the Middle Feather.
Photo: Leif Anderson.
Well it's time to put my feet to the fire and see if I'm holding my end up with my 2011 New Year's Resolutions! Original resolutions are in normal type-face, check-ins are in italics. I am doing pretty well, but have some room for improvement through the remainder of 2011.
1. I resolve to drive some shuttles this year to pay into shuttle karma. You know how awesome it is to get shuttle sorted out by an adventure chaser (politically correct term for shuttle bunny). I will pass that feeling unto others when opportunities arise.
Well, I un-did shuttle for one group during my hike-out of Royal Gorge, driving their put-in vehicle from Soda Springs to Auburn. Thankfully, I was able to hike back in to resume the run the following day. I also un-did shuttle for a group doing a lay-over day on Upper Cherry when we retrieved our own put-in rig. This shuttle Karma was realized when Matt and Sophie sorted out Fantasy Falls shuttle, Jess offered to drive Postpile shuttle, and Wolfgram offered to drive Middle Kings shuttle, thereby saving days of driving.
2. I resolve to continue to clean up rivers. The other day I picked up a ruined cell phone off the bank of Shirt-tail creek. Later at the take-out I was rewarded by finding a nice hatchet!
Just yesterday I participated in the South Fork American River Clean-up and realized some instant karma when I spotted from atop my SUP board... A WATERPROOF DIGITAL CAMERA IN WORKING ORDER, NO LENS SCRATCHES!!! Instant camera! I tried to ascertain the identity of the owner based on the photos stored on it, but found no useful clues, other than that they were out-of-town inner-tubers who likely do not know of boof.com or its lost and found page.
3. I resolve to do some more exploratory runs in 2011. Even though it is unlikely one will find the next instant classic, the fun of figuring things out reminds me to keep the overall adventure in mind when river running.
Before I shifted sights to the classics in the late summer, I suffered my way down the Middle Mokelumne with Cody Howard, and enjoyed my way down Reed Creek into the Clavey with Jake Greenbaum, making the first descents of these streams. You never know, it could go magic or tragic... I also put in some leg work scouting Kaiser Creek of the San Joaquin, which seems too tiny to kayak, and the Upper Middle Merced, which is epic but illegal. I also breathed whispers of the remote Falls Creek of the Tuolomne, which was then kayaked by a strong team and found to be quite worthwhile.
4. I resolve to paddle my long boat on more rivers. The added challenge of negotiating rapids in a long boat is rewarded by big boofs when all goes as planned!
I paddled the dagger green boat down the rarely running and ultra-classic Rubicon River and loved it! I was able to bridge the gap of one large drop, landing my bow before my stern took off!
5. I resolve to keep enough sunscreen in my PFD to share. This is very important to me in particular, being very, um, susceptible.
I kept it in my dry bag, but I did share. I should keep one of the stick varieties in my PFD as a back-up. There is a debate as to whether the chemicals in the sunscreen will give you cancer before the UV rays, but I'm going with the scientific consensus on this issue.
6. I resolve to eat fresh vegetables on overnight kayak trips. This is based on the runaway success of burying a sweet potato directly into the coals of a campfire at Heath Springs Gorge on the Royal Gorge of the North Fork American. Carrots, onions, squashes... I will place no limits on the vegetables that I might bring.
I found my favorite fresh thing to bring was a cucumber because it's crisp, cool crunch on bagels and holds up to the abuse in the dry-bag as you take a few slices at a time. Green Onions, Garlic, and Limes have a big fresh impact for their tiny size.
7. I resolve to take at least one kayak safari. Maybe out of the country, maybe just up to the North Coast Range of California, I will break out of my familiar environs.
Ooohh, I need to hold myself to this one... There is talk of a trip to Brazil, but I went for broke literally in the Sierra this summer and South America seems awfully far away at the moment.... Na-na-na-na... wait till I get my money rii-iii-ght!
8. I resolve to paddle my playboat on the North Fork American when it goes above 15, 000 cfs. This super wet winter we are already having in California has brought in a few days with some amazing eddy-service waves. The section from the confluence of the North and Middle American down to the reservoir will see great flows again this spring
Even peak summer run-off in this epic water year did not deliver the Confluence Run... It seems that it needs a rain-on-snow event such as we get in the winter and spring. I'll be ready.
9. I resolve to submit comments when state and federal agencies ask for comments from the public. I did this in 2010 for Yosemite National Park in hopes that there will one day be legal runs on the Merced Gorge and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne.
Filled out my Rubicon Survey so hopefully Hilde Schweitzer can bring it back to life! Thank you so much for your efforts!!!
10. I resolve to start making notes of flows, flow correlations and shuttle directions on trickier runs to have for future reference. I have some friends who keep good notes and it really enables one to sound legit while stating wild guesses as facts.
My friend Thomas Moore showed my how he just sets the dates of put-in and take-out for a given trip and has dreamflows draw the graph for those dates. Then he saves it in a folder for that river. This way you have a clear picture of what the flow was doing the entire trip, not just one number. This high water year showed that correlations can vary significantly from a low-water year to a high-water year.
I won't be going on the motivational speaker circuit any time soon, but I will keep following Socrates thesis that the "unexamined life is not worth living," examining all the while.