Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Black

The Black
location: upper peninsula of michigan

John McConville Rainbow Falls

Looking back through the photos of this spring i came across the photos from the Black! We had a big crew (being it was the day after the Rada Race) and the river was running at a great level... about 550cfs. It had been 2 year since i'd last been on the Black and was looking for some revenge.

The Birth Canal may not be the bigest or hardest rapid ever but man will it dish out a beat down. With a little inspiration from Andy McMurray and Joerg Steinbach i found myself lining back up to this nasty little pour over for another fight. Driving right to left with a strong righty stroke i boofed the pour over, losing all of my speed i pulled through the strong back wash for a successful a run... A few big breaths before going over Gorge Falls and one great start to the morning.

John McConville Gorge Falls

From Gorge Falls down, the Black river is compiled of a bunch of really fun rapids and low angle slides with Sandstone Falls tossed into the mix. Ending it off with a bang, Rainbow Falls brings you back down to lake level from about 80 feet up. I was super happy with my line here this year, 2 years ago i didn't tuck at the bottom so tucking hard into the seam provided a much softer landing with out having to roll. :) Chris Baer also improved his line from a few years past, from being ejected out a few years before he stomped a perfect boof and landing this round.

Chris Bar Rainbow Falls

Finishing up the river marked a changing point in the trip, the water was starting to drop out on the South Shore and many of the North shore runs were also falling. Most of the people from the Rada race had left or was about to leave... But for some this was just another day and the journey was still to continue, Canada was soon to come...

John Kiffmeyer's big swim

Another day in Paradise,

John McConville

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jim Rada Memorial Race

Jim Rada Memorial Race
Location: Presque Isle river camping
Date: 5-2-09

The Rada Race is truly a special time of year. This race was started to remember a man who pioneered many of the rivers we paddle today. Jim Rada, a teacher who loved the outdoors and being on the water. His passion for paddling lives on still to this day through the paddlers of today, bringing together people from all over to celebrate the joy of paddling.

Rada Race competitors

This year was the largest turn out yet! With 11 competitors and many more spectators, there was plenty of entertainment to go around. Manabezho falls definitely served up some interesting entertainment, everything from an unintentional back deck roll off the lip to a Dynamic Duo run off the falls...

John McConville pitbike racing

Getting back to the races, there were 2 events. A timed race from the bottom of the first big slide down to the bottom of Manabezho falls. Top 5 from that did a head to head from the base of the falls down Zome flume and into Lake Superior. The Head to Head was definitely my favorite event, with Nate Herbeck, Jorge Stinebock, Andy McMurray, Chris Baer, Nathan Borth and myself all battling it out for 1st. Not even 1 second into the race Andy and I were both trying to pop each others skirts. Getting that out of our systems we charged over the first ledge... Making our way into Zome flume I went for the pass on Chris but took a bamboo paddle blade to the chest keeping me from moving up in the world. Before to long it was all over and Jorge was in the lead by a mile! I think he had a better start than most of us, congrads on the win Jorge. All said and done we started popping each others skirts and tipping each other over. Must have had 7 swimmers floating into Lake Superior at one point! After a lot of swimming and jumping into the river everyone made it back up for another group run down the last mile.

Nathan Borth and John McConville Dynamic Duo Manabezho Falls

Its days like this that will bring me back to these root beer colored rivers for years to come. As if the day shouldn't get any better, Nathan and I ran the entire last mile of the Press in a Dynamic Duo. Big thanks to Neal Schroeter at Whitecap Kayak for letting us borrow that amazing boat for the afternoon. I was super nervous about taking a 2 person kayak over a 22 foot waterfall. Definitely didn't want to land flat or pencil in due to the shallow landing. After running the first few rapids we both felt super comfortable and confident in the boats ability to handle the task at hand. So we fired it up and stomped her down with a perfect 45 degree entry. Talk about redefining the meaning of team work, both Nathan and I were ecstatic after our amazing run over the falls. Down through Zome flume and into the lake for another perfect day on the Presque Isle. Ending the night with storys from the day around a big warm fire, I sleep well looking forward to the next day to come... the Black

~John McConville

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fully Committed .... Superior Falls

Chris Baer in deep thought

Montreal River (Superior falls)
Location: Presque Isle river camping
Date: 4-30-09

Chris Baer entry rapid

After a much needed night of rest in a super comfortable bed at Tommy's Hotel (thanks so much tommy) we pointed the posse East to Superior falls. No helicopters needed and with way less water than when Tao ran it, Chris Bear after 15 mins of scouting decided to fire up Superior Falls!!! 15 mins later Chris was in the water and paddling over the first 2 entry drops. Pausing only for a moment at the top of the Massive Superior falls, Chris turned his boat down stream and started to line up the drop. Straight down the big V and into the curler Chris charged. 45 mins after arriving at the falls, Chris Baer was back down to lake level. With a huge fist pump and a small scratch on his nose, Chris had styled his line over Superior Falls!

Chris Baer Superior Falls

After watching Chris run this drop made me really think about why "We" as kayakers do the things we do. I think in the long run we're all here to just have fun, at whatever level/skill you personally believe in yourself to handle! Weather its class 3 or border line class 6, that moment in which you believe 100% in yourself that you can do something and go out there and just do it!!! The amount of courage to do that at any level is why we do what we do. Because that feeling of accomplishment after looking back up at what "you" just did is the absolute Truest/Purest moment in life!

So get out there and GET SOME!!!!

Chris Baer Smiles :)

Paradise at the Press,
John McConville

PS: I ending my day off with a great run down the Press with Andy McMurray and Nathan Borth. We Paddled out into Lake Superior to end an amazing day with a perfect sunset over the lake...

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Onion

John McConville Tears for Fears 1st slide

The Onion (Tears for Fears)
Location: Poplar River camping
Date: 4-28-09

Andy McMurray Tears for Fears 2nd slide

So i'm really enjoying sleeping under the stars every night in my bivy sack. Just crawled in for the night, zipping up both sleeping bags! Great stuff, i'm loving it!

Heather Herbeck catchin air 3rd slide

Looking back on the day i find memories of big similes :) and great friends. Opening up the morning with a bang, Chris Baer, Nathan Borth and I fired up The Encampment River with great lines all around. Perfect way to introduce Nathan to North Shore creekin only to follow it up with a run down the Onion River.

Nathan Borth Tears for Fears 1st slide

Meeting up with Nate & Heather Herbeck, John Kiffmeyer, and Andy MuMurray we loaded up and drove north to the Onion. Arriving in the parking lot it was great to see all of my friends super amped to run this Huge slide. John Kiffmeyer the man who first ran this slide and appropriately named it "Tears for Fears" was standing there suited up and ready to go. As everyone made it to the top we ro sham bowed to see who got to go first. Andy won and went 1st with everyone else soon to follow. Ending in the lake we all did a quick roll in the icy cold waters of lake superior keeping the "roll in the lake" tradition alive. Capping off another epic day on the shore we ate 2 for 1 burgers at the ski hill and watched the head cam footage from the day. Its felt good to have the whole crew back together laughing and joking at the dinner table. Its late and cold and everyone is asleep, tomorrow is another day...

Chris Baer and John Kiffmeyer Tears for Fears 3rd slide

Sleeping under the Stars,
John McConville

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Forbidden Fruit

The Forbidden Fruit
Location: Superior Hiking Trail next to the Crow River
Date: 4-27-09

John McConville Encampment falls

Here I am, a week and a half into my trip here in the Midwest and what an experience its been. From the South Shore Falls and Slate Rivers to the North Shore Forbidden Fruit. The Encampment river was once referred to as the Forbidden Fruit of the North Shore and truly lives up to its reputation!

Alon Coppens on the Falls river

Today Chris Baer and I meet up for a late afternoon run down the Encampment river around 3:30. Having been down the week before we knew what had to be done and drove straight into the first true rapid, which is also the lead in to the 30 foot waterfall. Getting rocketed out the hole at the bottom of the S-turn entry rapid I turned to watch Chris get stern endered as well. (Never fails, this wild ride enders you every time!) Turn and burn, out of the eddy and over the sweetest 30 foot waterfall ever! Beautifully walled in on both sides we proceeded into the next rapid called Toney's Touchdown, appropriately name after T-Bone's interesting line a few years back. A few more fun rapids and some sweet slides put Chris and I back in the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Andy McMurray Encampment Entrance

Tomorrow we head back with Nathan Borth for his first run on this North Shore Gem. Followed up with the family reunion with Nate & Heather Herbeck, John Kiffmeyer, Andy McMurray and myself for an after huck fest. Looking forward to the crew all being back together and adding Chris Baer and Nathan Borth to the party. Its been a phenomenal trip so far up to this point and I'm sure it's going to get even better...

Nathan Borth Encampment falls

Camping at the Crow

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 1 North Shore MN

Day 1 Time to Huck
Location: Duluth MN, John Kiffmeyer's Hostel
Date: April 16 2009

Andy McMurray Gazebo Falls

After 2 days of driving and some minor vehicle repairs, Andy McMurray and I were back in town and ready to Huck. Already warmed up from our South Eastern "Boof or Die" kayaking mission, we suited up and zipped over to Gazebo Falls on Amity Creek. Clint Austin a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune, saw Andy and I suiting up and decided to join us to watch the spectacle.

John McConville Gazebo Falls

Getting back in the cold, root beer colored water was a great feeling for Andy and I. It had been a whole year since we had last been here boating the rivers of Lake Superior and I was excited to be Back. Around the time of our 3rd lap on the Gazebo, John Kiffmeyer showed up to join the fun. One more quick lap over the waterfall and the 3 of us were off to another river for a late afternoon treat, the Lester.

Andy McMurray Gazebo Falls

The Lester river is the Local Hot Spot! Located directly in the city of Duluth, if there's water in the river there will be boaters in the water. Being so, getting back to the parking lot for the Lester river after our run was like a family reunion. Everyone smiling from ear to ear, excited to be back on the water again. It had been a long, cold and snowy winter in Duluth MN, and the Spring Season was just beginning...

Chris Baer Allmost Allways