Saturday, January 13, 2007

Winter Break Goods

It's now 2007. I'm not sure I have gotten to the new year yet, it feels like last semester went by faster than Road Runner's world record 100 meter sprint. Which is really fast, by the way. Last semester ended with good water, and that same blessed substance to which we dedicate our lives stuck around for the holidays. Thanks Santa.

Here I am having a rather pleasant day on the Linville. Photo by Robin Betz.

Paddle-Fu master Dave Finney came down to the High Country from Blacksburg, VA along with fellow Hokie Robin Betz. The Linville Gorge was the name of the game on this fine late fall outing. Robin brought along a fancy pantsie wingdinger to snap some of the fine photographs you will find for your viewing pleasure, Thanks Dogg!!!

A perfectly executed Flying Swan Stomp off Cathedral Falls by Dave Finney. This line was money, and by that I mean Gold, cause check the rainbow folks. Gold. My line off the same drop could be considered Coal, I guess. I'll have to check with the Geology teacher about that one, but I got about three seconds of down time before being power backendered out of the hole to the point where my whole boat was out of the water.

Did I mention the weather was nice? Dave and Brian enjoy their surroundings in an eddy below Cathedral Falls. It was Brian's first time down the gorge and he had some great lines, congrats man.

After the semester got out I went back to my hometown of Charlotte to have a little relaxation vacation. Thanks to my Family for a great time, and of course the food! (The folks know how to work a stove real nice like!) I worked a bit out at the new US National Whitewater Park, and paddled everyday possible. The rain kept coming, thankfully, and we were able to get out the day before Christmas Eve to the highest I've ever paddled on the Green. Willy White, Danny Stewart and I met up with a buch of hooligans from in, around, and not that close to Asheville. Chris Gragglefunk said that we had about 300-350% in there. I don't know how to read the gauge, so I'm going with what he said. It felt huge, but with a good group, and good water we had a wonderous time. Highlights of the day include Chris and I's runs off Gorilla, (Left at the Notch as in boof into the pothole you usually scout from on the left!!!) Willy's statement "If it's 200 I ain't going," (He went and he liked it) and of course Daniel's first huck ever off Sunshine. Great day to evryone who was out there!!! A couple of days later I went back with Chris and Glen Laplante and got a double at again big water.

After a few days at the beach I returned to Charlotte to find water in the Mountains again! I met up with Spencer Cooke, Chris G., Nasty Nate Silsbee and Eric Chance for another treat of a day on the Ville...

This picture is actually a bit more disturbing than it seems at your first glance. Check Chris and Eric out booty dancing together at the base of Linville Falls. The day Pat runs this drop is going to be amazing, Looking Glass, Toxaway...Hmmmm. Get you some!!!

WARNING: to anyone who plans on spending time in the Linville Gorge Wilderness...When they say you might see some wildlife out there, they mean it!!!

Eric Chance doing the dirty in Cave Rapid. Coming off that boof there's a channel cut out of the bedrock that breaks off the river right, and catching that transition is one of the most fun moves on the river. (Check out the first photo in this post for a better viewing angle of the channel) I think we had four out of five of our crew to catch it that day, rather impressive I'll have to say.

Here's Spencer flying down that same transition channel at the speed of light. I think he blinded my camera.

Huge Thanks to Spencer Cooke of Effort Inc. for filming!!! Check out his website, for some random Spencer humor.

The day before coming back up to Boone, Daniel Stewart and I headed down to Columbia, SC to participate in the Iceman and Millrace Massacre. These events are put on by fellow Team Rioter, Joey Hall. Joey is the man, he does this graphics dealio called Deadman Productions. You've probably seen his designs around on LVM, John Grace's Movies and on web ads everywhere.
Check his site...Deadman Productions

Anyways, we went down and enjoyed a great day of paddling, swimming, running and tubing with some cool new friends. I didn't really know what to expect with these events, I'd heard rumors of what goes down, but you can't really completely get it until you've been there.

The first race is an eddy-hopping race through Millrace Rapid. Racers set off at one minute intervals to complete a course full of challenging moves ranging from circling bouys to attaining up and surfing waves. Our late arrival prevented me from getting any practice runs in, but thanks to some friendly local advice I was able to learn the course from the bank. Kinda. I had in my mind what I thought the course would look like, mentally I ran it as many times as possible before putting in to give it the old College Try. Danny Boy went first and would have probably been in the top three if he hadn't blown the last eddy, but 7th aint too shabby either. I went near the end of the order so Danny could bring my boat and skirt back up to me. I put in and had a great run, coming in 2nd four seconds behind local hero Andy Grizzle.

After the massacre, the top 10 racers go back up and run a head-to-head race through the same rapid, only this time with Tubes!!! I'm not that big of a tuber, but I'll have to admit it was quite enjoyable. I came in 4th, Danny in 2nd. After this event is the Iceman Race. The Iceman is the mother of all endurance racing in South Carolina, probably. It's the most creative and fun, that's for sure. Racers line up for a mass-start triggered by the firing of a cannon. This cannon is on wheels, has a fuse and goes Bang, it's the real deal and the perfect way to start a race. After the firing of the cannon, it's on- you paddle a bunch of flatwater, then a rapid, then a bunch more flatwater, around a bridge piller and back up the flatwater to the end of the rapid, where you get out of your boat, run up this trail next to the Zoo and put back in above the rapid. You run the rapid again and then have to jump out of your boat before the last hole, then, with boat and paddle in hand you swim to shore and turn in your assigned poker chip to finish.

I knew I had to be way out front by the time I swam if I wanted any chance at winning this event. I'm a decent swimmer, but I'm just not that fast. Plus my booties fill up with water and act like weights once underwater for more than 2 seconds. With a solid game plan in my head I charged at the sound of the cannon. By the time I was done with the rapid the first time through I had pulled out front. I wasn't sure exactly where to go, a practice run would have helped, but I managed and was able to get a big old lead by the time I ran back up, ran the rapid and swam. My swimming was just as ungraceful as I thought it would be, but I was able to hang on to my lead and turn in the #33 poker chip ahead of anyone else's!!! Danny Boy was in hot pursuit coming in at 3rd. Bentley from A-ville took top honors in the women's class. Congrats girl!!!

We drove back late that night after a sweet BBQ with a 1-2-4 & 2-3-7 combo punch. Not too bad for being the out-of-towners. I think Daniel mentioned something about wanting to become a pro Tuber, or something like that. Two first places would have been ideal, but that's what 2008 is for! Thanks to everyone who helped us out that day, from food and water to local rapid knowledge we truely had a blast and will be back soon!!!

Until next time, Peace in the Middle East.

-Cooper Lambla