Sep 24, 2010

Chelan Gorge Is An East Side Nugget

         Fish, Gordon, and AJ consider Entrance Exam

The road is such a great place to be. Anything can happen and
usually does. Since I first left for Ecuador, I've been
travelling and boating as much as I can handle. It's been a good
run and I see no end in sight. For the inspired and adventurous
'lifestyler', putting in the O T on the passport is a gateway you
might not be able to come back from. All of these great photos are
courtesy of  Creek Sides supporter and fellow 'styler', Danimal
Patrinellis. Thanks, bro!!

                            This boof is super

Adventuring about is a fabulous way to spend one's time. Cruising into canyons you know no one has been in for a while, if ever, is what we're here for. Discovering sick drops and runs so others can explore and so we can come back to these gems is why we do it. Like Ben Stookesbury said, "just getting in there to experience the canyon, even if you never run a single drop, to experience a place few to none have ever seen" is why we do it. 

Not all of these trips strike paydirt. And you can't spend all your time on bunk adventures. I mean, someone who's motivated could spend days and days "discovering" runs that just don't need to be found, if you know what I mean. I get excited about getting into the woods and finding things that NEED finding and I was sure that there was far more whitewater to be found out there than Chelan.

                           Brian Burger stomps it!!

The calls went something like this:

me: what're you thinkin' this weekend?

someone: uhhh.. i dunno.. you?

me: i'm thinkin' about the...  i know it goes.

someone: what about Chelan? i think that's running.

me: uhh, yeah. (try again)

me: you boating this weekend?

someone else: yeah, what's running?

me: well out on the O P...

someone else: the O P? do you have to hike in?

me: well, uhh...

someone else: isn't Chelan going?

me: yep (next)

me: hey man, you boating this weekend?

some other guy: Yeah, bro!!  CHELAN!!!!!!! IT'S GONNA BE SICK!!!

me: isn't Chelan reeeally short?

some other guy: IT'S SIIICK, BRAH!!!!!!!!!!

me: ohh..

some other guy: let's FRICKIN' RALLLLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

me: who's going? (next)

   Fri night (late)

me: yo... boating?

them: thinkin' about it. what are you thinkin?

me: there's this sweet little...

them: isn't Chelan this weekend?

me: yes. (painful grimace)

them: have you done that one? it looks sick. warm water, too!

me: (teeth gnashing) no.

them: i heard a lot of people are going.

me: (gulp) what time should we leave?

And so it came, Chelan was to be my fate. Now Chelan doesn't look like a bad run, but it's real short. Access is easy, you can scout or portage anything not to your liking. AND you can watch all your friends style each rapid (or get hammered). The drive isn't bad from Seattle, but get an early start if leaving in the morning.

We had 10 in our group Sat. A beautiful start with warm temps and water. Paddling in, we found ample warm up that lead us to some fun class III. Then, very quickly we arrived at Entrance Exam. This is the longest drop on the run. Entrance Exam starts with two sloping ledges into holes, followed by a 16 foot ledge with a
powerful seam-hole at the bottom. Paddle hard coming out of that hole because you have to punch a huge hole immediately after on the right. Catch the eddy and catch a breath for the final move. A full-on power drive, uphill across a full jet of current, avoiding the backed-up-beat-it-up right half of the river, punching the strong jet of current coming from the left, entering the 'pinch'. Dropping through the pinch, have as much speed as possible with a good forward position. Drive hard and continue digging in when landing to pull yourself out. Eddy out. 

               Rob drivin' hard through Entrance Exam

                             Rob McKibbin makin' the grade 
                                        at Entrance exam

Welcome to Chelan!! The locals liked seeing us in there paddling the gorge so many of them had hiked when it was dry. One guy was convinced we were all insane, but that he 'understood' and knew that we 'just had
to get it out'. There is something to that. I get a little cagey if I haven't had a good sweaty paddle in a while. Does my body go into adrenaline withdrawl? I think, really, we just crave the abuse. To wrestle, sail on, and stomp a good river is quite a lovely way to spend the day. And folks, we're only at the first drop!!

                                Chelan Gorge is pretty

Double Slide is next. This drop consists of two or three short ledges, eddying center, then drive left hard through a small backed-up hole that will deny you and send you right if you ain't drivin'. Hit that hole HARD and stay way left to squeak through a boat-wide chute on the left bank. It's a shallow one, so drive hard or get denied and go right. Once through this little slot you are home free and bump down a low stress 30 foot slide. 

            Harms styles the left Slide

                                 Kurle slides as Fish watches

Now right goes, but it is not a low stress line. It's tight and requires a cool nerve because there are lots of rocks in and around the boof flake that will screw you. And you want to hit that flake well, trust me. 

                    AJ heads right at Double Slide

                               McKibbin about to drop in
                                     to the Meat Locker

         In-between at Double Slide

Hit that flake hard with some right angle and stay on top of the massive fold trying to blow you all over the left wall before you disappear at the bottom in an explosion of white!!! The right side goes... and is a pretty sensational line, no ego required. Roll up in the monster boils at the bottom and paddle to safety. Weee.

     Fish  lookin' pretty for the cameras

Up for the third drop? Yeah?? Great, it's at the end of this pool. This is Super Boof. The name says it all, so I won't bore you with how dope this drop is. Right stroke, how high can you get your bow above your stern...  BOOOOOOOFFfff..... That was fun!! Right? 

           Gordon airing it out

                                             Matt Kurle

                                             does it right

                                           at Super Boof!!!!

                                               Like buttah

                              AJ cleans up 

"What's next? Let's get this thing!" is what you're feelin', right? Relax. You're getting out of your boat again because Throne, a 20-something sloper into a hole, rolling off into unrun class VI just downstream. Run on the left half of the drop, stay off the "funny rocks" at the bottom. Catch that eddy. Plenty of time to roll, just wait for it and paddle in. Relax, this is the Chelan Gorge. It's dumb, remember.

     The "Danimal" smoothes Throne

           In case you didn't know where it was...

What's next? You say your mouth just started watering? Well, we portage around Pinnacle, a sick bloater with a horrible hole at the bottom. That hole is a bloat-pig fer sure. It made my tummy hurt a little, just looking at it. Eww.

                           AJ gittin' some

                          Rob champin' it

                        Mike Harms gets 'er done

                   AJ about to enter the Meat Locker

And at the bottom of Pinnacle, on the other end of the 30 foot moving pool? Death Sieve. Scootch over the wet rock on the left, but be careful not to get stuck in the hole at the bottom. Yep, this sieve is so burly it has a freakin' hole at the bottom!! FACT: Unless you're a total stud, have someone on the rock here cuz it would be real easy to take this one lightly, not get enough speed and get sucked into the sieve. Don't do it!! This is a serious move.

                 AJ takin' it at Entrance Exam

What's that you say? Is there more? More?? Yeah, there's more. Extra Credit is just fun. Boat scout down to Fat Lady and make sure you have good communication through here. Stay left, generally, as several routes pinch down into sieveyness. One sievey spot got somebody in our group Sat and it was almost a really bad scene. Fortunately, Ian was right there, flew out of his boat and made the save. It's tight through here. Be on your toes. Fat Lady doesn't go on for too long before you get to the bottom and the take out.

And we're doing it again this weekend!!!! Stay tuned...

                 Chelan Gorge is a great place to be

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