Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finishing February: We Have Water

Moats Falls on the Arden Section of the Tygart at around 14 grand.

February has been a cold son-of-a-wench here in WV. That said, I can only imagine what it has been like for places more northern than this (my guess: brutal). Most of February is fairly "locked up" around here. The rivers freeze over, the water leaves and everything gets white. Alas, the snow people have their time.

Fortunately enough though, the past few days here have let up, bringing warmer temperatures and some rain. I had the opportunity to paddle the Tygart River the highest I have ever been on it (I think the gauge read something like 12'/~14,000cfs and rising) and I had the opportunity to run the Upper Blackwater once more the day after.
This is a dam on the Buckhannon River, right out my back door. Notice the massive chunk of ice on the left, and not to mention the 4' tall death boil backing up the hole.
The above picture is the creek at the takeout for the Upper Blackwater near the parking lot. The gauge was off the day we rain it (reading 580cfs, when it was actually 320cfs). The river was a blast. Getting down to the putin proved to be somewhat challenging. One has to hike down into the Canyon on a semi-steep trail. Fortunately for us, the snow on the trail had built up over the winter causing some of the deeper spots to be waist high with snow.

The run was very nice . Since it had been low, then the big flux of water came through, causing whatever ice there was to blow out and disappear. The Upper Blackwater is roughly three miles long and allegedly has many of the same characteristics of Mans Creek (WV). Pure, continuous, steep, and sivved out! Lots of boofs, frigid cold water to the face, and unpredictable rapids made for an interesting run.

Another view of the Buckhannon dam at high water. I saw a tire, plastic soda bottle, and a basket ball recirculate in there for the entire time I was there. Not a good place to be.

The best part was the takeout. For the Upper Blackwater (as well as the North Fork) one has to hike up and out of the canyon for a little less than a mile, then hike back to the car via an old rail trail, roughly two miles. On this day, everything was coated in snow (sounds fun, right?). So, we ended up finding the "trail" up the hill, proceeding carefully with the snow afoot, while trying not to fall of the side of the mountain.

The rail trail happened to have about one and a half feet of snow on it, so we ended up following each others' footsteps and trying not to break through the lower ice crust. This hike is through an area that has come into question with local logging companies. Go to Save The Blackwater to find out more information and take action to save this beautiful wilderness (take action HERE , takes less than 1 minute). The Blackwater Canyon is a beautiful place and it would be awful to see it logged.
This is a sign on the side of the river from a landowner on the Arden section of the Tygart. Some of the landowners around that area are quite sensitive about trespassing (and parking!), so be careful if you head out that way.

A gargantuan hole at Undercut rapid on the Tygart at high water. Yehaw, the West Virginia HEEHAWWW!

That's it for this post. Spring is coming, hooray. Soon enough most of us will be able to get out and paddle.

See you on the river,

-Adam Johnson
Whitewater Freestyle

Friday, February 23, 2007

Riot boys do well at the Iceman Race

The Millrace Massacre and Iceman Championship is a race held in Columbia SC on the Saluda river every January. This race has been organized since 2001 by Andy Grizzell, and draws a bigger crowd year after year.

There are two main races. The first, the Massacre, is a time trial that has required eddy catches, and is limited to shorter boats. The second race, the Iceman, is a mass start head to head race that involves paddling Millrace rapid, attaining back up the current, running back to the top of the rapid, paddling through again, and finally swimming with boat and gear the last hundred yards or so. People compete in everything from sea kayaks to slalom boats to canoes to tandem sit on tops.

Team Riot fared well at this years race, with lots of top finishes:
Massacre Time Trials (top ten finishes):
1. Andy Grizzell 2:16
2. Cooper Lambla 2:20 (Riot Magnum)
3. Alan Young 2:27 (Riot Magnum)
4. Bigtime 2:30
5. Joey Hall 2:31 (Riot Magnum)
6. Regan Norris 2:33
7. Andy Gates 2:36 (Riot Magnum)
8. Kevin Ryan 2:40
9. Daniel Stewart 2:41 (Riot Magnum)
10. Matthew West 2:52

In the Iceman portion of the race, Cooper Lambla blew the competition away to earn the crown of "Iceman 2007"
Here is a video of the Massacre and Iceman

The highlight of the day was an additional suprise head-to-head Inner Tube race, featuring the top 10 paddlers from the Massacre time trials. Hilarity ensued....
View it here:

Here are a few more pics:

Daniel Stewart

Andy Gates...Wondertwin #2

A confused Cooper Lambla

Alan Young...Wondertwin #1

Oneself....I managed to tear my shoulder up even worse that day.....

The pack during the beginning of the Iceman race

Coopster making his move to the outside

Cooper Lambla....Iceman Champ....and proud American

Joey Hall

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Turbo... tried and true

Hey Everyone,

Just reminiscing about the best year of paddling of my whole life, and figured I'd share some pics of an ultra-classic wave on the Black River in New York... Inner City Strife.

So one thing that I love about working with Riot Kayaks is the fact that their line is just so versatile... the boats cover the gamut of what anyone could possibly want in the world of whitewater, whether that's a forgiving river runner, a full-on creekboat, a forgiving wave-oriented playboat, or a sick all-around aireal machine. and I've enjoyed being able to use the boats to learn different styles of doing the same tricks, or running my favourite rapids. The Turbo is a perfect example... this boat has been around for a couple of years, but can still absolutely kill it on a wave.

The boat has a narrow hull, and two stingers leading up the stern, so its specialties are the airscrew, helix, and backstab/back panam. The thing just launches backwards...

Clean blunt.

And another backy...

all pictures by Fergus Coffey

Anyways, Happy Birthday everyone, and good lines.

-Chris Gragtmans

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Ville

"All other kayaking is just training for the Ville," said Adam Herzog. He told me this right before I ran this spectacular gorge for my first time. Since that warm summer day I've been hooked on the Linville like no other. Every rain brings the question, "Is the Ville gonna' run?" At the end of Winter Break I was able to meet up with the likes of Spencer Cooke, Chris Gragtmans, Nathan Silsbee and Eric Chance to spend a pleasant winter day paddling our hearts out. I thought I'd share some photos of our excursion...

Nasty Nate hitting the transition in Cave Rapid. This-here rapid is one of my favorites and you don't see many fellers flicking their hips like Nasty does into that-there, rock spine.

The man behind the lens, the Cookemaster coming off the top drop, just about like a spider monkey does her.

Here's the spider monkey in it's natural habitat looking for the answers of life.

This is a picture from an earlier trip, of me running Drunk Tank. Drunk Tank is probably the scariest rapid of the day, due to the thin line between a cave and a hard place. If you are in the gorge, make sure you scout this one from the river left, lower rock and know where that cave is, you can't see it in this picture. Big Thanks out to Robin Betz for snapping this photo!

Robin also shot this photo of Mr. Dave Finney launching one off Babel Towers. When you run the gorge, you hike in and this is the first rapid you see. You put-in, and two strokes later your're at the lip; it's the perfect start to a rockin' day.

The MAGNUM, whip of choice for the day. Words don't describe the feeling of riding one of these puppies. Just go get you some!!!

Check out Downstream Movement for more Linville shots.

Cowabunga Dude.

Cooper Lambla

Friday, February 02, 2007

Greetings All

A big and friendly Hello to the Riot World. My name is Andy Lichtenheld and I am a recent and stoked addition to the Riot squadron. I currently make my home in Portland, OR where I have recently moved after a short safety boating stint in Costa Rica and a much longer stint in the Midwest of this fine country. I am an ACA certified instructor of both whitewater and coastal kayaking and I currently work as a wilderness guide for a therapeutic wilderness program.

Husum Falls on the White Salmon, WA

I am loving life on the northwest creeks in my Riot Magnum. Since coming out here I have had a chance to get to know the class V classics on the Little White Salmon and the Green Truss section of the White Salmon, got in some great ocean surf out at the coast, been a part of an amazing second descent on the magical Siouxon Creek in Washington, met an awesome paddling community, taken a multi-day wilderness trip on the Rogue River, finished 2nd in the Wind River extreme race, witnessed the birth of a brand new class IV-V classic Portland after-work run and had some incredible days on the river with new friends.

Midwest Style - Rainbow Falls Black River, MI

Here in Portland we are just wrapping up one of the driest Januaries on record. The amazing thing about this place is that in spite of the lack of recent rain and the time of year there are still classic class III, IV, and V runs all within an hour and a half drive. It's a pretty amazing place to be a boater.

On the lip in the Wind River race

I am looking forward to being out on the water and livin' the dream this summer and spring. I'm working on scheduling a trip to film some creek boating in the midwest this April with the folks of and over the summer am planning some touring out west with the PBR tour ( So, exciting things are in the works. I am happy to be here and glad to be a part of the Riot team.

Hope to meet you on the water soon,