Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spreading the Kettle love near and far

The All-Trac in prime form

It feels like now is a pretty appropriate time to check back in and start blogging again. I keep hearing "Dan, why haven't you been posting on TeamKettle lately?", so there are two answers: 1) I just haven't had any big adventures lately that justify posting; or 2) I've been so busy doing super-cool exciting things that I just can't decide on one thing to write about. So here's the short version of my Spring/Summer. Check The Water Cycle for more detailed reports.

In March, I finished/dropped out of school and move back in with Travis & Verelle in Ashland. I spent the following two months driving the All-Trac around Califoregon with kayak on the roof and Kettle chips in the trunk. I got on several classic rivers this spring including the Smith rivers, NF Yuba, Pauley Creek, Kidder Creek, Clear Creek, and the Cal-Salmon. Additionally, I spent two days on a self-support trip down the Lower McCloud.

My new favorite move on Upper Clear Creek

Once late May rolled around, it was time to venture back to Idaho. I started the season off with a high-water 350-mile decent of the Salmon River. I launched on Marsh Creek with four other paddlers and ran down to Indian Creek Guard Station on the Middle Fork. There we joined the pre-season OARS-Dories training trip which ran for the next 11 days onto the main Salmon and down past Riggins. At the entrance to the Lower Gorge, all the rafts took off and my brother Mike and I self-supported in our kayaks running 75 miles in less than a day. With the river flowing 40,000 cfs, we were running the river higher than most people will ever see it: twice the flow where commercial outfits call off trips as a safety precaution.

About to get swallowed by Devil's Slide, 40,000 cfs

For the rest of the season, I guided a variety of oar rafts, paddle boats, and dories on the Snake and Salmon Rivers. It's my job, but I hate to call it work when summers are so much fun! The season was highlighted by several adventures such as safety kayaking for ROW on the Lochsa River, running the class IV South fork of the Salmon as a three-day self-support trip with other guides, and hiking in the Wallowa mountains of northeastern Oregon.
Lightweight Kettle Chips are crucial on overnight kayak trips

I am now back home in La Grande making final preparations for my next big adventure: Peru. My brother Mike, our friend/co-worker Zak, and myself are traveling to the Southern Hemisphere on October 5, where we'll spend the next three months with our kayaks searching out new rivers to explore. We don't yet have a very concrete itinerary, but several rivers are on our to-do list, including the Cotahuasi, Colca, Urubamba, Apurimac, and Paucartambo.

While down south, we will be facing many challenges including language, transportation, disease, and whitewater. For now, however, our big challenge is just getting down there. We have plane tickets for ourselves. Our boats are another story......Stay tuned for updates on the travel debacle!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oregon's Top Ten Adventures

Hello blog readers. I'm sure that we, Team Kettle has already made it painfully obvious that we love adventure. And while we still have considerably more journeying to do, we figured it was about time to create a post of our top ten adventures in the beautiful state of Oregon. We are not trying to be partial to the beaver state, it just happens to be the one in which we reside and play the most.
So, although these are not all adventures which we have participated in, YET, we believe that they are all worthy of being on our top ten.
Listed in no particular order, here they are:

#1 Kiteboarding the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River
If you are one of those individuals that enjoys being a trendsetter, get to your local water sport dealer and buy yourself a brand new kiteboard. Kiteboarding is a young sport, but is quickly growing in popularity. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, the kiteboarder straps a board to their feet, not unlike a wakeboard. The kiteboarder also holds a large kite, which they control, to propel themselves across the water.
According to, "the Hood River Sandbar is the only sandy kiteboarding launch in the Gorge, it is also one of the most consistently windy spots in the entire country." And who can resist an excuse to visit Hood River anyways. With their local breweries, Big Horse Brewing and Full Sail Brewing, and their conveniently close location to such beautiful orchards, Hood River is the ideal place to strap on a kiteboard, eat a bag of Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips, and wash them down with a cold pint of local brew.
Kiteboarding instruction and gear is available from Big Winds.

#2 Rafting the Illinois River
With two members of our team being trained rafting guides, there was little question as to the best river to raft in Oregon. The Illinois is incredibly scenic and has fantastic rapids. And, according to our very own Dan, rafting the Illinois is "the most remote overnight rafting trip in the lower 48. For 33 miles, the river carves a steep canyon through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in southwestern Oregon before meeting with the Rogue. The 'river trail' is high up on the north rim and only comes down to water level once. The only way to see this canyon is from a boat. There are no roads, no houses, no damn jet boats, no hikers and, because the flow window is so narrow, usually no other boaters."
Sounds like an exciting and intimate rafting trip!
Of course, while rafting with a local guide company, like Momentum River Expeditions, we recommend warming up around your campfire with a bag of Death Valley Chipotle. Spicy!

#3 Cycling the Vineyards of Willamette Valley - The Vine Ride
Any avid cyclist in the Portland area can attest to the beauty of seeing beautiful, rolling hills, blanketed in row upon row of fertile grape vines around every winding corner.
You can go for an intense century ride that includes a hilly loop around Henry Hagg Lake. Or opt for a more leisurely ride through some of Willamette Valley's small communities, like Dundee, Carlton, and Yamhill, being sure to stop at some of the wine studios for tastes of their world-class wine.  Wether you are a dedicated cyclist, or just looking for a relaxed and scenic cruise, the Willamette Valley has something to offer everybody.
You can participate in the Vine Ride that happens each August, or plan a route of your own (Willamette Valley Wineries Association is helpful). Either way, if you pack a bag of Tuscan Three Cheese chips to munch on, you will surely feel as though you are gliding through the hills of Burgundy, France.

#4 Climbing Smith Rock
Just north of Redmond in Central Oregon is world-class climbing at Smith Rock. 
With more than 1500 routes, Smith Rock State Park offers beginning through advanced climbing routes. Even if you don't climb, the park is a beautiful place and worth a stop. 
There are also too many other attractions near the park to even mention, but if you are fortunate enough to also see a concert at Bend's Les Schwab Amphitheater while on your climbing trip, then you are really in for a treat. 
If you do climb Smith Rock, we highly recommend that you bring along a bag of Cheddar Beer chips. Savor the view, savor the flavor!

#5 Fly Fishing the Deschutes River
About 2 hours west and slightly south of Portland is the small town of Maupin. The town is a bueaty, and people come from all over to fly fish near the portion of the Deschutes river that runs through the town.  The trout and steelhead fishing is world-class. 
The river also has something to offer rafters: class I-IV rapids!
The town is also very quiet and relaxing; so a trip to the Deschutes, wether for fly fishing, rafting, or nibbling a bag of Sour Cream Onion & Chive potato chips, is always worth the drive.
If you are looking for a great guide, we recommend Charles "Chuck" Gehr or any of the other helpful folks at Deschutes Angler.

#6 Mountaineering Mount Hood
If you are looking for some real, hardcore adventure, consider summiting Mount Hood. 
At 11,249 feet tall, Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and is home to twelve glaciers. About 10,000 people attempt the climb each year.
The best time to climb Hood is in April, May and June. It is necessary to be in great physical condition to do the climb. For those who are not experienced mountaineers, it is crucial to hire a guiding service. They can provide you with necessary equipment and skills, and even a ride halfway up the mountain. The Mazamas Organization has a lot of great information.
Wether you pack it to the top, or enjoy it afterwards, a bag of Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper chips is absolutely necessary to reward yourself.

#7 Surfing at Otter Rock
Most folks don't typically think of the Oregon Coast when they think of hanging ten. But as long as you are outfitted with a proper wetsuit and booties (and maybe even gloves and a hood), the Oregon Coast is a great place to catch a few waves. Typically, even the hotspots are not too crowded, and the other surfers tend to be far friendlier than those found in other surfing Meccas around the world. 
Otter Rock State Park is located south of Lincoln City, and north of Newport. It is about 2 hours from Portland, and well worth the drive. 
If you are just getting started surfing (or even if you've been doing it for years), the dudes and dudettes at the Oregon Surf Shop have always been incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They can help you with gear rentals or purchases, and they provide lessons. Bring them a bag of Spicy Thai chips, and they might be your friend for ever (just don't forget to bring a bag for yourself as well). They are also a great place to stop and get a picture of yourself riding the giant fiberglass wave that sits next to the store. 

#8 Snowboarding/Skiing Willamette Pass
You might have expected to see snowboarding or skiing on the list of Top Oregon Adventures, given that all members of Team Kettle are ski bums. But you may not have expected us to choose one of Oregon's smaller mountains for the list. 
We chose Willamette Pass because, while it is a smaller mountain, they do have a six-person chair lift, along with four tripples, a tube lift, and a magic carpet. They have a small, cozy lodge and the very friendly staff is certainly worth mentioning. Day passes are also very inexpensive at $40 for an adult day pass (compare to Meadows on Mt. Hood at $54-$69!). 
Willamette Pass is a great choice for families, college students, or anybody looking to make some turns and avoid the big mountain crowds and mentality. It is 70 miles east of Eugene on Highway 58, almost halfway to Bend. Bring two bags of New York Cheddar with Herbs, one for the ride up, and one for the ride down.

#9 Hiking at Crater Lake
Going for a hike at Crater Lake National Park is for EVERYONE! The trails around this gem range from very easy to difficult. 
You could begin with hikes Annie's Creek Trail or Castle Crest Wildflower Garden (1.5 hours and 45 minutes, respectively); each offer gorgeous views of wildflowers and butterflies in the late spring and early summer. 
Next, step it up a notch with a necessary hike: Garfield Peak. The hike begins at the historic and majestic Crater Lake Lodge, and offers some of the best views of the deepest lake in the U.S. 
If you are feeling ambitious then hiking Mount Scott is recommended. The summit, also the highest point at Crater Lake National Park, offers views of the lake, the east side of the park, and  the Klamath Basin. There is also a fire lookout at the summit. 
Crater Lake is AMAZING. And we could go on and on about it, but you really should just see it for yourself. Pack up the hiking shoes, a day's supply of Buffalo Bleu chips, and your friends or family, and spend at least a whole day taking in the views of this incredible park.

#10 Crane Hot Springs in Burns
Most people think of the lush forests, mountain peaks, and abundant streams and rivers when they think of Oregon. But often overlooked and forgotten is Eastern Oregon's high deserts, that make up a very large portion of the state. 
Hot Springs are very abundant in Eastern Oregon. And since this part of the state IS so often overlooked, it is also a great place for a quiet, often secluded, and inexpensive trip. One of the best places to begin that trip is Burns, Oregon. 
After hiking Steens Mountain above the Alvord Desert, relax in the natural and soothing hot springs at Crane Hot Springs. Swim in the natural outdoor spring reservoir and take in the sensational desert scenery. Or opt for the private and enclosed soaking tubs to enjoy the mineral-rich waters. 
Cabins and camping are available for this retreat, but BYOCBPC (Bring Your Own Classic Barbeque Potato Chips), because unfortunately, they do not keep them on hand. 

There are so many more Oregon Adventures, like mountain biking Mount Ashaland, dog sledding in Bend or horseback riding on the coast; obviously too many to mention. We recommend trying a few, on the list or others, and letting us know which ones you think are the best. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Canada in Seattle?

Teamkettle has been nervous lately about the current state of things within the government. One particular concern has been over the presidential elections that is currently going on. So, we decided to set up a back up plan just in case McCain wins the election. Travis is a first generation descendant of a Canadian citizen, therefore he is eligible for Canadian citizenship. However, in order to gain his citizenship there was a lot of paperwork and applications to be completed, and in order to get everything completed he and his brother made a trip to Seattle.

Why Seattle? Because Seattle is the nearest location with a Canadian Consulate. Since they were going to one of the premier cities in the Pacific Northwest they had to stay true to form and do some playing. 

The first activity on the docket was America's past time. A baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. The discovery of how expensive a pint is at a baseball game was quickly discovered, but that didn't slow down the fun. After a few pints and a basket of fish-n-chips (complimentary from the extremely intelligent staff at the concessions stand) the game was under way, and at the end of the nine innings the Mariners were victorious and Travis and Brad were ready for their next portion of adventure.

Next on the agenda was going to the Pike Street Market. Pike Street is famous for it's fish markets along with an array of other fresh produce, flowers and hand made products. Pike Street Market is a must see place if you are going to Seattle. Remember to watch out for flying fish.

With the buzz from the game wearing off and with hunger setting in Travis and Brad had to find a place to eat and grab another classic pacific northwest pint of beer. The Pike Brewing Company it was!
The Pike Brewing Company has some of the friendliest staff around, and that doesn't even begin to compare to how good their beers are. There was no bar hopping to be done because Travis and Brad could not imagine any place being more fun or having better beer. Knowing that the next day was going to consist of paperwork and playing the waiting game at the consulate the boys made sure to play it up.
The next day feeling a little bit tired from the fun the night before they set out to make their Canadian Citizenship official. Thanks to help from the Constable their paperwork along with baby nephew Jonah's paperwork was complete and submitted. Knowing that they would be receiving their citizenship card in about nine months made both of them, along with the rest of Teamkettle, very happy! 

Hopefully they can still get enough Kettle Foods products to satisfy them if they have to make the great migration north!


Will came back to the pacific north west recently under the premise he had to work a trip, but we know that it was really to visit Teamkettle!

Will has been having another great summer guiding rafts in Idaho for Idaho River Journeys (IRJ). We can't wait for him to come back again.

We Love Will!