Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Bunny-hop, Boof, and Bushwhack"

If I were 25 -- instead of 50 -- and feeling the urge to start another blog, that's what I'd call it, "Bunny-hop, Boof, and Bushwhack"as I guess those three words represent three of my three favorite outdoor activities.

Jon Underwood took me out on his latest creations, the mtnbike trails at Kincaid and I had to tell him that those Hillside trails now get a B grade compared to the new Kincaid ones. They are sweetly banked and somehow seem longer and more varied as well as more technical. The fall colors spilling across the ground and the sweet smell of autumn in sun were great.

But an even better high than that was running Upper Willow with Tim Johnson, John Combs, and Matt Peters, three Alaskan kayakers who knew the worth of thigh-strapped packrafts and SE boaters Trip Kinney and Bo Wallace, who had yet to see first hand Timmy J boofing off the countless drops in there. All of these guys are super good/fun boaters and paddled with big smiles on their faces as they made their playful way down the boulder drops of Upper Willow.

Paddling with people who are having fun is contagious.

Tim, Luc, Tony and I had run Upper Willow last year, too, finishing super psyched. Last Fall was a real turning point in packrafting as a handful of us ended a full season of thigh straps with Upper Willow, Magic Mile, and Upper-Upper Bird. Hoping to get a repeat of that this year, too, but I'd be happy with two more runs down Willow, really. It's like the boof-master writes in "Alaska Whitewater" on page 198, "This is easily one of the best (and most serious) whitewater rivers in Alaska."

It's amazing to read what Embick wrote twenty years ago about Willow Creek's "Upper-Upper Canyon", giving it ZERO stars out of his five star rating (Happy River and Charley Rivers each get five -- so does Alsek and Kiagna). He wrote in his 1994 guidebook: "Class V+ or VI- with five portages; not really recommended except for kayakers of extreme skill, willing to accept a high degree of commitment and risk......Andrew Embick made a solo run on May 29, 1986, in a Dancer.....No one has been back since. There's a good chance no one will."

My how times -- and boats --have changed. Granted, we ran it at 250 cfs, but it gets run regularly by the boaters in ANC at 800+ cfs. And for a handful of packrafters, there are so far only two portages.

Anyway, it left me feeling so good with its deep canyon multiple drops and clean water that I couldn't sleep the night after and I can not wait to run it again.

"Hi there. My name is Roman and I have an addiction. And that addiction is low water creeking at 400 feet per mile!"

Hopefully this weekend.......A few pictures from Trip's SLR, above ("Pancake") and below ("Gazebo" look for Timmy buried in the second shot and boofing like a rock star in the last):

So far, all of the drops have been packrafted except "Triple Drop" and "Aqualung", and everything is good down to and including "Maxwell House."

I am hoping to learn to boof half as well as Timmy on this run before I am 55. Oh and the 2011 boat still shines on techie little creeks like this, too.

And thanks again to Trip for the photos and all that crew for the good times.


  1. Nice updates Roman! Here's a tip if you want to get your boof down before your 55th. It's all about the timing. You want to take your boof stroke at the last possible second before going over a drop. Plant the face of your blade on the face of the drop and as you take your stroke pull your knees to your chest. In the first series of pictures, taking a right hand boof stroke in the second picture would launch you :) Hope you guys have fun this weekend!

  2. Thanks Paul, You need to get out with me and give some pointers on the water!

    Looking forward to the big water vid -- have fun and be careful, but I know you always are.....


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