Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It only took 4 years...

Cali has waves too. Photo: Ben York

I first heard rumors of this wave four years ago. With little beta until last year it was merely paddle lore. I think with the two day mission to the wave, we pretty much dialed in the levels.
Somewhere in northern California
We brought surf boats the first day in case we got skunked, good thing, the wave didn't get good until dark.
Dustin and myself shredding the green wave


Just after we got dressed, packed the truck and loaded our boats there was a fundamental change in the wave. Martin couldn't control himself, he grabbed his boat and threw on his cold, wet gear for a little lovin'. 
The first sign of a steepening feature at sunset

Martin was stoked

Naturally, we returned early the next day after a sleepless night of wave wet dreamin'.
The next day, it was on.   Photo: B. York

Straight chillin', park and play at it's best.    Photo B. York

Re-fueling between surfs. 

Clean.  Photo: B. York

Ben gettin' artsy on us.

Ben going large. 

Peter Malkin throwing a big back stab.

Clear Creek is rad...

Making the move. Photo: Ben York

We ran Clear Creek a few weeks ago. I didn't know what to expect. I can't believe no one had ever said anything about this run, it was about a 2 hour drive from Arcata. It had quality rapids and easy access. The section accessed by a short hike down the trail at the end of the road boasts some of the best drops. Here's a few.
Peter lining up the move...  

The Russian, aka Peter Malkin, Stompin' the line. 
Clear Creek was clean...mostly. *Note sieve in the upper part of the photo above. The same sieve is clearly visible in the next photo. 

Scouting sometimes looked like this...

There were lots of juicy holes to punch, fun boofs and a good amount of boat scouting. 

The holes, were like this.    Photo: Ben York

And this.   Photo: Ben York

Clear Creek.

Rock grind.   Photo Courtesy of Ben York

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cali Burn Fest 2009

My old computer died on me this fall. Incredibly the hard drive was recoverable. Here's the once thought lost photos from the BRG race last fall.

Martin Belden boofing across the finish line.

This year was my fourth Cali Burn Fest. For anyone who has not been to this awesome weekend before, it begins with an informal surf comp. at the beach on Friday at whatever local spot is breaking that afternoon. Then, Saturday morning everyone meets at the Burnt Ranch put-in, hungover, for a head to head race down the first half of the Burnt Ranch Gorge, a beer slalom through Hennessy Falls (a paddler and spectator favorite), and a notorious party Saturday night. 
The beer slalom event is loved by all.

When many other regions are feeling whitewater withdrawals as summer ends and fall creeps in, here in Humboldt, we are gearing up for another six months of swollen rivers, manky creeks and solid surf. This festival is a great way to ring in the new season and rendezvous with parted paddling buddies while drunkenly swapping paddling epics and first D wet dreams. 

Everyone hanging out at the finish line, Burnt Ranch Falls #2.

With baseline flows out of the upstream dam being navigable, paddlers from all over the west come to this  annual fall event to feel the good vibes of cali and enjoy the dependable flows. 
Paul and Emily after an epic finish line flip.

Paul helps make this annual event possible as well as all of the regulars that keep returning to this rad homegrown event. 


Rush winning the downriver race.

Orion Meredith styles Hennessy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Photo: Will Parham
What does Arcata, California and British Columbia in November have in common?
Torrential coastal downpours, huge trees and chilling northern winds.
Oh, and great surf in the winter. We felt right at home.
After 9 months of shoulder pain and surgery, I am back in my kayak and its time to throw down with some homies. The journey started at 3:45 AM, the goal was to drive for 15 hours and catch the 7:30 PM ferry to the Sunshine Coast in BC.

Photo: Will Parham
Colorado affiliates, Leif and Natalie, drove for more than 20 some hours to make the ferry with us. After a long day of driving we all met up at the ferry terminal and headed for Skook.

Photo: Leif Anderson
Upon arriving in Eggmont we all promptly passed out, only to be woken up 5 hours later at 4:20 AM with big air on our minds.
As you approach the narrows in the black of the night all you can hear is the promising sound of Skookumchuck rapids below in the darkness.

 Photo: Leif Anderson
It was cold, but my drysuit made it toasty. With so much rain over our 4 days of paddling, pictures and video opportunities were limited but we managed.

Lovin' the Skook, Photo: Leif Anderson

Leif clean blunting at sunrise, Photo: Will Parham

Til' the break of dawn, Photo: Will Parham

Photo: Leif Anderson

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's officially fall and el nino is looking promising...

The west coast kills it.

The water is cold, rarely over mid-50’s even in the summer months. The air is frigid and the sun is elusive. Rain and fog dominate the weather reports for weeks on end. The waves are mushy messes of peaks and storm-swollen energy, did I mention there's wind too? The scarce seals only remind you of how outnumbered you are by sharks. The water is clouded and the breaks are fickle sand bars. The coastline is often rocky and threatening at best. Most surfers wouldn’t get near this whitecap wasteland and the ones that do probably don’t take kindly to your type. There are few people and never a bikini clad sorority on these clammy beaches.

Almost sunny...
So why travel all the way to the 51st state just to go to the foggy beach? Because the Jefferson state knows how to go huge, end of story.

Dustin Stoenner picking up speed in the Flyer down the line. October 2009

Will Parham going for the bread and butter on a relatively small day, 2008.

Once you get out beyond the breakers you can usually catch your breath. Sometimes you can pick your wave carefully and with ease and precision. Sometimes the wave chooses you.

Paul Gamache holding on with a wheelie just before sunset. Photo: Will Parham

The combination of raw energy delivered directly upon the west coast and consistent storm intervals makes for months of reliable surf. The waves are messy more than anything, but if you are in a kayak this can make for the most ideal conditions. The north coast contains miles of rocky coast with rips that will pull you out to sea before you can fasten your seatbelt and affix your mandatory anti-implosion device.
The north coast delivers punishing rogue sets and unpredictable walls of water. If you don’t get worked one day, the next day you’ll get throttled for an hour and never even make it out past the breakers. There’s always a chance that paddling out in a kayak will be impossible.

Leif Anderson bracing and gaining some forward momentum on a huge clean-up set. Photo Will Parham

Swims here can entail hundreds of yards of swimming into rocky shores and scant beaches. If you take a swim out here you may be all on your own, if your lucky your buddy will be there to help you.

The swimmer here had no implosion device, luckily, he was able to empty his boat and climb back in with a little help and avoided a very long swim with  strong currents. Photo Will Parham

Paddling out and dropping in can be intimidating and demanding but is usually worth it…

Dustin lookin' back and sizing up the wave. Photo Will Parham

And if ya don’t know... now ya know.

An early fall swell rolls into the bay at sunset, September 27, 2009. Photo: William Parham

Dustin Stoenner throws a nice flashback way out in front of the pile in his Fyler during a fall swell 2009. Photo Will Parham