Monday, March 26, 2012

Sproing.

Maybe not where you are. But here, now?

Yeah.

Almost too much, too soon, with 80* temps, dust, wind, and allergies, and even (so I hear) forest fires starting already.

"Engine room? Need water, stat!"
My weenie elbow continues taking it's sweet time healing, which means riding, when it happens, is on pavement. Flat, mellow, boring-as-hell-but-beats-the-alternative pavement. I'll spare y'all the pics of that.

One variation on a "ride" lately involves tossing 90# of ballast (boat, paddle, Fang) into the trailer and pedaling down to the river.

Fang + water (any form of it) = happy.

L inflates, Fang masticates.

I'll give ya three guesses what L thinks of the water temp. Correct answer rhymes with "hucking bold!"

This was L's first real outing for the year, and first time in her redecked boat. So I didn't give her any grief when she took the weenie line through at first.


But after three weenie laps I said something, somehow, that convinced her to punch the bigger holes.









And after every lap you get a personal escort back to the top.

I've been practicing my rag-doll skills by attempting to surf the waves L is punching above. I've also been practicing humility by trying to learn the packraft roll. It is wonderful to have a vertical learning curve again.

Thanks for checkin' in.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Twenty.

Inconceivable though it seems, last weekend marked an anniversary of sorts: Two decades of missions in and around Moab.

The best part is how little I feel I've seen in that time--so much more 'sploring to be done.

Chops and Fettucini were champing at the bit to get their feet wet packrafting, and for a brief few days I found myself in possession of three boats. They came up with a plan that involved mellow floating--to allow them to figure things out with little stress on the water--and with mellow riding to keep my as-yet tender elbow happy.

Chops and I strapped boats, bags, and bivies onto our bikes and rode out to Fettucini's place.

A minor amount of fiddling and gawking there before we headed across the street, literally, to put in.




Usually a good idea (especially early season) to paddle a short distance, take out, readjust, retemper, and re-cinch, then start fresh.






The river doesn't so much flow as ooze this time of year, thus if we wanted to make progress it was largely up to us to put our backs into it. Dodging sandbars and reapplying sunscreen became the most challenging aspects of the day.

Around about here I called a powwow so that we could run the numbers. We'd taken but one break in ~5 hours of paddling, yet had covered far less than half of the distance to camp. And with only three hours til dark, it seemed we needed to make a change. All agreed, so we deflated the boats, put wheels back onto bikes, and continued downriver.




We doubled our mileage for the day in less than an hour of easy pedaling. There the road ended at a boat launch. And hey whaddya know--we've got boats!

The canyon had constricted a bit, giving us a minor amount of current to enjoy. The river oozed us along, the light got creamy, and all we had to do was occasionally dip a blade to adjust our view.


The sun vanished as we reached our takeout, giving us reason not to dally as the temps dropped at water level.




We rode out a wash, found a rough track that became a road, then ascended a few hundred vert to gain a few degrees of warmth. No wood meant no fire, which also meant that we all tucked in fairly early.

Cookin' dinner:


Moonrise, hours later.


A quick breakfast for the boys while I fixed a flat, then we got back on the bikes.






A quick regroup for views and layer adjustments at the top, then down we went.




No blood had spilled, no one swam the frigid river, we'd all even gotten some good sleep. Thus we were all smiles as we rolled back into town, vowing to do it again soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lost and Found: Ten+.

Lingering in camp didn't happen, primarily because we were all low on water and there would be no hot breakfast nor coffee to linger over. We briefly discussed our route for the day, options for which were only two: My preference was to 'schwack immediately out of camp for an unknown duration over to the head of Dundas Bay, then paddle with little tidal benefit for the rest of the day, hoping to achieve an exit of Dundas into Icy Strait. The topo's showed that the scenery would be splendid, fjordlike, and I liked the idea of avoiding the big tidal currents (whirlpools!) I'd been indoctrinated to fear.

But that was just what I wanted to do--no one else seemed interested in the initial 'schwack. So we went their way, dragging bikes and boats through slime (my GPS insisted we were under 14' of seawater) until we could put in, then paddling through the gorgeous North Inian Pass. All hail democracy! The route my compadres chose featured stunning alpine and marine scenery and a host of curious (sometimes frighteningly so) aquatic critters.












The water was calm and winds were light--we had nothing to do but paddle consistently and take in the world around us. That world included seals and sea lions, puffins and porpoises, an enormous quantity of humpback whales. Our mode of travel did have one minor drawback: We sit so low in the water that by the time we'd heard the whales blow, breach, or slap they were already gone from sight.

We rounded Pt. Wimbledon and tucked up into Dundas a bit, hoping that the trickle we saw on the map equated to fresh water on the ground. It did, so we lunched at that inches-deep creek while waiting for the slack tide to turn in our favor.






We crossed Dundas Bay in a confusing chop where the tidal flow split, tossing our wee boats about and keeping conversation minimal. Once back along the protected shore past Pt. Dundas the roiling waters calmed and paddling, talking became easy again.

Eric's boat has features the rest of us didn't get.

At high tide we pulled out on a protected beach and had a late dinner, nice fire, then slept a bit before waking early to catch the next incoming tide. It seemed odd to be intentionally shorting ourselves on sleep, but paddling against an outflowing tide makes even less sense.

The morning was breezy at first, then calmed as we turned into Glacier Bay proper. Whales were everywhere, but only if you happened to be looking exactly where they blew could you catch a glimpse. Limited sightings aside, it just felt neat to share the water with 'em.



You know you've arrived when...

5 hours after leaving our brief beach bivy we pulled into Bartlett Cove, stinking, smiling, punch-drunk, elated.

Minutes later a penis-implant-candidate NPS ranger busted Dylan ($160 fine!) for pissing at the waters edge, then harassed all of us for failing to pull permits for our "little grandiose adventure". As if anyone in the NPS could summon the wherewithal to imagine much less give permission for such an endeavor. We laughed, joked uncomfortably in his presence--the way you do when you pity someone but feel powerless to help them.


Bikes reassembled and boats stowed, we flapped our beach gears feebly down the paved road to Gustavus in search of sustenance--and an airplane. Roman took full advantage of his 2-speed setup to keep the pace high all the way in. It felt like a race. Hell it *was* a race. Inch your wheel in front of his and he'd immediately ramp into a 140rpm spin to beat you back down. We played that game for every inch of every mile to town. With a well-timed hyper spin I cleaned their clocks in the stop sign sprint that landed us on the lawn of the pizza joint.

The waitress brought pizza and beer as we laughed, ate, reveled in the last of our awful jokes.

* * *

The trip ends there--but I'll wrap it up with a post on gear geekery (what worked, what didn't, what I'll do different next time...) when I get a chance. Feel free to ask pointed questions on gear, the route, Roman's hairpiece, or anything I've omitted above, and I'll include those answers sometime next week.