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!

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