Sunday, July 23, 2006

Eastern Canada: Big Wave Landia

Lachine Freestyle Air Video (13mb) Ed Smith Goes Big, Period.
Just got back from a nearly 2,000 mile road trip from my home in Virginia to Foresters Falls (aka the Ottawa River) Ontario, then to Montreal, Quebec, and then all the way back home again. After some 25+ hours in the car driving and many uncountable hours on the river, I still wish I could have stayed longer.

Chris Doing His thing.

The trip started Saturday the 15th at 5:30 AM. The pilgrimage north had begun. Billy and I stopped at Hole Brothers on the Black River in Watertown, NY and decided that it looked too good not to paddle (plus we would go nuts if we drove any farther). So, we paddled; after a short sesh at Hole Brothers, we went grocery shopping and continued our trek north, passing through the border without problems, landing safely at the Ottawa late that night.

The next couple of days were spent mostly at Garb, with a quick Corner Wave sesh in there somewhere. For those of you who have not yet surfed Garb, it beckons with unspeakable force. If you spend more than 4 hours there, paddling straight through, you leave shot, feeling like a wrinkly, tired, old man. Nonetheless, a great feeling.

Stay tuned soon for some video and photos from the recent Ottawa Trip. But, for now, Lachine!

After a few days at the Ottawa, we drove east towards the wicked confusing city of Montreal. If you don't know or live in Montreal and venture into the deep, dark depths of the city with a destination in mind and take one wrong turn, guess what: Game Over. One detour or construction zone can throw you off *so* much. But, its all good if you know where your going (alas, we did).

We spent our days taking 6-8 hour sessions out at the wave. Lachine is located on the 300,000 cfs St. Lawrence River. It can be anywhere from 1/2 a mile to 2 miles wide in some parts. Where the wave stands, it is roughly a mile wide just in that particular channel. Additionally, the wave is located right in the middle of it all.

Just for reference: 50 yards up-trail from the parking lot there is a water fountain and bathrooms right next to the local paddling shop. There usually are not any port-a-jon's near the parking lot. Additionally, there are two wooden changing rooms for kayakers to change in next to the chain link fence.

If you go to Lachine, its best to hook up with a local and go out there, because there can be some fairly nasty pourovers if you head downstream to the wave in the wrong place. The wave has a top eddy and a bottom eddy, then you can use a rope system to pull yourself up a series rocks without having to get out of your boat. It would be a hassle for any 'normal' spot, but Lachine is no normal wave.

Adam Styling With The Water Droplett.

The main wave is referred to as Big Joe. There is a 'setup' or 'staging' wave where you can front surf and be chill (sometimes referred to as "Little Joe"), then, connected with this wave, there is 'The Pitt" where most of the moves are thrown. In a few words: Stupid Good. Let the video do the talking:

Lachine Freestyle Air Video (13mb)

Lachine Freestyle Video (Low Res, Dial-Up Only)

Stay tuned for more later. See you on the river,

-Adam Johnson

PS- Big thanks goes out to everyone at the Riot Factory for helping us out. Thanks fellas'!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Teen Kayakers in Colorado - Huge Experiences Final Report

Click here to see video of the Huge Experiences kids killin' it at the Salida hole in Colorado.

During most of June and the beginning of July I was privileged to be a co-leader on the Huge Experiences summer tour to Colorado and Wyoming. If you'd like to catch up on our trip please go visit the Team Huge Blog . If you don't know what The Academy of Huge Experiences is and you would like to know you may visit their web site at . These kids are so fortunate to do these trips at their ages. The cultural and social learning experience they take from the program is invaluable, not to mention the kayaking skills.

Our last week in CO was spent in Salida where they have a really sweet man made park on the Arkansas River. It is a very predictable, controllable, play feature. By predictable and controllable I mean that the hole itself is not surging or washy and it's not trashy so you are able to be aware of what's going on while you're in there. I couldn't imagine a better spot to learn freestyle moves. Because of this hole, and spending a week there, our kids' skill levels went through the roof. Kids who could barely flat spin left there cartwheeling and looping. Kids who were looping left there doing Mcnasties and Phonics Monkeys. If you watch the video you can see all the tricks we were doing there.

Camping in Salida was nice. We woke up one morning in Big Horn Sheep Canyon and saw all these alligators.

Clean cartwheel at Salida. Wow.

Jason Aytes air flips big. Jason was the other trip leader in Colorado. He also taught the entire past year at Huge Experiences and is now a Southeast regional team paddler for Riot.

Jason wheels.

Jason more wheels.

Jason even more wheels at Salida.

Mcnasty at the Salida hole.

Our last day at the hole was just like any normal day. The kids were practicing all their newly learned tricks and I was on the bank shooting video. Eli Spiegel comes up to me and says that the water has just risen a foot. I hadn't noticed since my eyes were on the camera the whole time, but he was right. The water line that had been two feet from my feet was now six inches away. Each day in Salida there were passing thunderstorms. Some of them produced rain locally and other days we would watch the rain and lightening that seemed to be over the next hill. On this particular day the storm spared us but seemed to pass through several miles upstream, no doubt the cause of our rising water. Ten minutes after the first pulse of water came the real signs of a flash flood.

The flash flood hit, covering the river in spruce needles.

Spruce needles, logs, debris and other objects floated through. Watch the video and you can see some logs that surfed the hole.

After the flash flood hit full force the water became chocolate. If you got in the hole you would without a doubt come out completely covered in spruce needles, dirt and whatnot. I think I had that stuff in my ears and hair for a couple days after that. Nasty.

After our last Salida session, on the way out, we saw this brilliant rainbow. An awesome sight to bring this trip to an end.

Jason and I were happy to be heading back home after a month on the road. Green river here we come.

Click here to see video of the Huge Experiences kids killin' it at the Salida hole in Colorado.

Please don't litter in the theatre. Sincerely,

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Uganda at low level

At the end of April I got back from my trip to Uganda in low level, and it's taken me this long to get round to making a video! Sorry for the delay!
Although very different from the last time I had been out which was at high level the river was just as fun and testing. Initialy I went out with another Pommie friend Jon Best and we met up with friends from South Africa, USA and Canada including fellow Riot Team members Chris Gratmans and Steve Fisher. We all had a great time on the river pushing our skills on the waves and rapids. I look forward to paddling with everyone out in Canada this summer :)

Check out my promo video from the trip - right click then save target as

Hope you like it!

Ed Smith

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kalix river, North Sweden

Kalix river is one of my three home rivers and it offers one of the best rapids I've ever paddled. Pahakurkkio (Bad rapid) is long class IV rapid with great playspots and riverrunning. Lappis wave is located upstream from Pahakurkkio. It's fast, fun wave with good eddy service. It works best on high water, but there is always something.

Tornio river, Kalix river and Pite river together makes Northern Sweden/Finland great kayaking area with lots of smaller rivers. Creeks, big water and big waves. Video from Lappis: Lappis wave

Mikael Lantto, Finland

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Download California/Colorado video HERE (12 MB).
Download South Silver headcam HERE (22 MB).

Hey Everyone,

Just checking in from the banks of the Black River near Watertown, New York. Last week wrapped up a sick one month trip to the great state of California, and it being my first time out there, I certainly wasn't dissapointed...

Check out some previous posts from this trip on the
Level Six Blog.

Anyways, during the last week of our trip, Max Kniewasser, Pat Keller and I were super stoked to get on the Royal Gorge of the North Fork of the American. Justin Patt and family were gracious enough to let us crash at their house near the putin, and we woke up excited and feeling good. Unfortunately it was not meant to be, and the Royal Gorge had dropped over 150 cfs overnight to a super bony level. It was a bummer for sure, but the river will always be there, and I don’t plan on making that my last trip to Cali…

So the plans quickly shifted to a South Silver session for a couple days and then some backpacking in Yosemite. South Silver is an ultra-classic one mile run between Placerville and Lake Tahoe, and it is incredible. It’s definitely one of the steepest creeks I’ve ever run at over 700 fpm, but surprisingly doable for that amount of gradient and not especially scary or dangerous… just good clean fun!

Max hiking up for more action on South Silver.

Because of the ridiculous amount of snowpack this year in California, and the recent boiling temperatures in the Sacramento area, South Silver was at a pretty pushy level, which I was told was really high, but seemed awesome for that run. As you can imagine from a gradient like that, the run is nothing but action from the beginning and the sickest section of river comes about halfway through the run, where the river drops 100+ feet over a series of beautiful teacup boofs, and then a stomping big rapid called Skyscraper.

Max charging on Teacup #2.

Dropping into the first tier of Skyscraper.

Lane Jacobs launching out of the first tier of Skyscraper.

Max dropping into the second tier of Skyscraper above the portage.

Pat stomping that shit.

So one of the more tense moments on the South Silver at this level is the hole above a rapid called Plastic Surgery. It’s a symmetrical hole at the bottom of a slide, and backed up by a wall on both sides, 2 drops above a pretty manky 30 foot or so drop. A surf there would be horrible, and for me it was probably the most stressful drop on the run.

Dropping into Plastic Surgery after clearing the two entrance holes.

Fun boogie down to the take-out.

Anyways, South Silver treated us well for the couple of days that we were there, and I was able to shoot a headcam run of Max's and my second run down. Our trip ended with a visit to Yosemite National Park, one of the most ridiculously beautiful places ever, in spite of the crowds of people there. We were able to get off of the beaten path in the north end of the park and go on a cool little backpacking adventure, so it was a fitting end to an incredible trip.

Max on top of a 10,000 foot dome enjoying the experience.

Download California/Colorado video HERE (12 MB). (Features Big Kimshew, Dry Meadow, Upper East, Middle Thule, and others)

Download South Silver headcam HERE (22 MB).

Good lines everyone.
-Chris Gragtmans