Saturday, October 31, 2009

When Packrafts are for Real Boaters

Over on the Alpacka Forum “Esben” posted a response to Tim Johnson’s Roll where he referenced “Paddling Regression”s comments on thigh straps:

Esben said,

“…we should not forget what Paddling Regression said in the thigh strap thread:

Paddling Regression wrote: ‘In a packraft, at least IMO, they seem like more than is necessary even at the upper end of whitewater. IMHO if you feel you need thigh straps you should probably think about improving your technique or further developing your skills. Weather it be reading the water better and seeing the clean lines and hitting them or simply spending more time in the raft, one needs to have skills. Given their design, there are just certain things that will be difficult no matter what you do. eg big holes on big water. These things are already about as idiot proof as it gets. Don't get me wrong, there are probably a hand full of people that could really push what is possible in a packraft with thigh straps, but for most it will simply be a substitute for skill and ultimately not help them in the long run. In fact I'd be willing to bet that most packrafters would not be able to roll a raft even if they were glued into the thing. It is certainly more difficult than a kayak by a long shot. Not to mention much harder on one's shoulders as well.’

Although vastly appreciating the benefits of it, I agree, the addition of this feature will distract from the simplicity, the core idea of packrafting.”

First off, idle speculation and opinion is not as valuable as first hand experience. Not sure exactly what Paddling Regression is running in his packraft, but having seen more than a dozen people in Class IV up to 5000cfs, I can tell you that these thigh straps are going to give all of us a much better time on whitewater. Bandersnatching will not be as nasty. Lateral waves, a frequent bane, may be more tolerable. Boofing will be easier, turning, carving and bracing much more effective.

My feeling, having only limited experience – like two minutes – in Tim's beefy thigh straps is that it’s like putting on rock shoes after climbing in mountain boots, like running in lace-ups vs. crocks. Sure we all need to improve our technique and further develop skills, but boy when I put on rigid crampons for the first time I was able to go where I’d not gone before, places even Yvon’s flatfooted French technique in flexible crampons coudn't have got Gaston Rebuffat.

As far as big holes in big water, these thigh braces may well give you the ability to muscle through them – now you have something to lever against, a way to hold onto your boat besides pushing with feet and back and using your paddle like a tripod.

Yes, Regression is probably right, most of us may not be able to roll the thing “even if glued into” it, but the control that the thigh straps give you will be sufficient to justify the 8 ounces or so of additional weight.

As for the core idea of packrating, I’d opine that the core idea is versatility divided by simplicity. Packrafts are the most versatile craft out there, by far. We all know you can fly around the world for long wilderness trips, battle your way down big rapids, thread your way down local congested creeks, cross icy fjords, pack bikes or game – all in the same boat. Thigh straps will not detract from that versatility. They may well enhance all of that, and they are removable. If you want simplicity, you can paddle an open boat without a seat, you’ll just be wetter, colder, and more out of control than a seated boat with a deck and thigh straps, and the boat will weigh under five pounds rather than seven.

Hig and Erin style flatwater likely does not need straps (but I don’t know as I generally avoid flat, dead water). Looking for caribou on easy water or long wilderness trips on canoe-style rivers, no straps needed – although they might make portages quicker using them as shoulder straps. But Grand Canyon? Steep creeks? You bet. I will swim far less often with these in my boat.

Claiming that “for most it will simply be a substitute for skill and ultimately not help them in the long run” is like saying skiers shouldn’t use fat skis and should learn to ski powder on boards with no side cut; that if you want to rock climb you should learn to hand jam wearing sneakers before you get rock shoes; that you should learn how to make rocky descents on a road bike, sharpening your handling skills that way, before getting fat tires; or that you should climb ice with soft boots and flexile crampons so you learn how to place tools in the right spots and hang from your bones before getting rigid boots and points.

While I am not a kayaker, I sort of doubt that kayakers develop skill and abilities by paddling a long, fiberglass boat with no flotation, no spray skirt, and no wet suit, to really be sure that they can read water and balance their boat and paddle the line before they let the creek boat, helmet, elbow pads, wet suit and all the rest substitute for skill. It’d be a good way to become skilled, but pretty frustrating.

I am continually amazed by how many people have more “HO”s about packrafts than they have time in the boats! The honest opinions about packrafts and self-bailing, about their durability, about their spray decks, about whitewater and big-water, what’s runnable and what’s a tube…. While pioneers are able to enjoy an exciting sense of discovery they also have to endure scorn and speculation.

But, you know, it’s worth it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

News Flash: Let the Revolution Begin.

We know that packrafts are real boats. The main problem has been that we users have not been seen as
real boaters.

Packrafts have been perceived as boats for people who can’t roll.

Until now.

Tim Johnson, author of Alaska Whitewater, bought a used packraft last week and did what we all want to do: he rolled it for real!

An Eskimo roll, twice, in Bird Creek with ice in the water and icicles on the cliffs.

This changes everything.

Anyone up for pool practice?
NB naysayers and armchair designers: The key were the bomber thigh straps he put in the boat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

09 Observations on Gear and Technique

One of the great things about packrafting is you can feel like an explorer -- and not just on landscape crossings or the steep creeks and big rivers claimed unsuitable for packrafts -- but by exploring gear and technique. Many people enjoy tinkering and experimenting with their boat and their gear. Just look at the assortment of pack attachments on packrafts!

After our round the world trip where we used a single packraft for wilderness trips in five different countries, I came back to Alaska with a new focus on running Class IV creeks and remote rivers. Fortunately, an assortment of skilled and athletic enthusiasts invited/joined me. These are creative, observant and intelligent adventurers with lots of water and wilderness experience. Watching them and tinkering myself left me with a few observations at the end of the 09 boating season:

  1. Many whitewater boaters favor bigger boats (i.e. Llama sized) for their stability and have found the main disadvantage of long inside length is fixable by putting in a space filler under the deck in the bow. For example, on the Happy River Thai put all his camping gear “under the hood”, so to speak, so he could push against it with his feet. Thai is not tall but he does weigh 190 and so likes the stability of the Llama but his legs don’t reach the bow. With the weight and the space-filler up front, Thai found his big boat not just more stable, but also very maneuverable. Brad, who is tall but for a time crammed himself into a Yak, has gone so far as to take a box-wine bladder, blow it up and put it into a dry bag, itself velcroed under the hood at his feet. He feels locked in and no longer must shove himself up all the time after bigger drops. Nathan Shoutis of Media Feliz fame also fills the foot area of his Llama with a dry bag full of stuff. What we really need is a more centered seat, preferably adjustable. Then you could feel like you’re sitting in a Yak but have the stability of a Llama. What would go behind you? More air in a bigger back rest, perhaps? Bottom Line: sure, a Llama is too long, but shove some stuff in the feet for a stable and snug-fitting boat.
  2. The spray deck of 08 was great a qualitative improvement with its inflatable codpiece. Speaking from experience (I paddled for maybe four years with center entry Velcro and always had the driest boat – the air dam around the waist on my old skirt was great, but the codpiece is better) it’s not the center-entry Velcro of earlier boats that allows water in so much as it is the waist fit and the small width Velcro. Small width Velcro also wears out much too fast and peels open at the waist far too easily. Brad put in snaps to hold his closed waist closed. I am not as skilled at gear modification, so I sewed 3 inches of Velcro along the opening and this stays shut and keeps water out. But the stingy stock Velcro on the boats is a design flaw. If my experience with zippers on jackets, gaiters, pants, tents, packs and everything else is any indication of zipper weakness, then having a zipper on the spray deck indicates weakness, too. Why doesn’t Alpacka listen to Brad M’s suggestions? If Alpacka is listening to somebody who paddles more than Brad does, I’d like to meet them! Bottom Line: for a drier boat, sew on more Velcro – 3 inches wide from opening to stern.
  3. As an advocate for the “packraft roll” -- that is, falling out of your boat, up-righting it while swimming and reentering the boat -- for several years now, I must say that I have more trouble getting into the side-entry boat with the codpiece than I did with my old center-entry boat with an air dam. Three inches of side-entry Velcro is sticky and holds the deck shut, especially with the codpiece preventing the boater’s butt from seating on re-entry. In contrast, a center-opening three-inch Velcro deck with an air dam was far easier to get into as the Velcro (also three inches) was much less likely to re-stick unless done so manually. Bottom Line: boats need to be made more safe by making entry easier, maybe with a center entry.
  4. Over a three week period my poor boat got damaged three times: the rear skirt was ripped off, I dropped a tripod on a tube, and I bumped a dry granite shard. Over the season I saw two other punctures and a floor rip on other people's boats. Everything but the floor rip and one of the punctures was repaired with duct tape. I ran waterfalls and remote Class IV and made a week-long trip with these “temporary repairs” and never had a leak. Take-home message: Duct tape around the paddle 3-4 times and a piece of dry cotton in your kit to dry off the wounded area is all you need in the field for 90% of damage.
  5. We had several trips where weight was hypercritical, both because of weight limits for fly-in trips and because a totally unloaded boat responds a better in Class IV+ (‘cause I’m not as good a boater as I’d like to be and any weight makes my boat response a bit more sluggish). So I took to packrafting without a pack. I simply strap my folded boat (I’ll post a video on this easiest, fastest and most compact way to prepare a boat for carrying) onto the back of my foam PFD (unlikely you could do it with an inflatable one). TIP: try carrying your packraft strapped to your PFD back and leave the pack at home.
  6. Thai is a real proponent of abstracting gear. He likes to “use his dry suit as a dry bag" to keep gear dry inside it. Me too. Unfortunatley my vintage 1996 Kokatat Dry suit isn’t so dry, so rain pants and rain gear inside the dry-suit keep me warm dry and happy. I also like to overdress in my drysuit as I seem to swim more than everyone else, but somehow don’t need gloves, even when it’s close to freezing. Tip: dry-suit sorta slithy? Try wearing rain gear inside it. Your butt and elbows will stay drier and you’ll be warmer.
  7. JT Lindholm has a short, fat, and four-piece paddle that I desire. While a long paddle is still better for long days on flatter water and for beginners, the high tempo and aggressive “man-hands” of something like a Werner Sho-gun or Player shows itself useful on steep creeks and waterfalls. A four-piece -- not because I like to break it down all the way, ‘cause I am fine with two pieces (I seem to lose one when they’re in quarters), but because I have taken the little sticks out of the blow-up bag and put them in the "paddle-to-blade space", the compartment where the blade meets the shaft. Then I can paddle without poky sticks anywhere dangerous. On the topic of paddles, the wooden Sawyer is tough and Brad uses it on his bigger water fly-in trips, and it's adjustable, so would be great for the float-a-river-paddle-its-steep-creek-trib trips too, as he proved on our Happy River journey.
  8. As for technique: Thai Verzone has taught me a lot about creeking, how to work with a partner and "swing leads" down a series of drops. And I’d like to paddle stroke like Paul Schauer. What this means is I need a shorter paddle and to go with him when he’s in a packraft. He’s positively beautiful to watch. Finally, Tim Johnson in a packraft was good to watch as he put kayak body English into his hucking moves. If you can get a Class V kayaker in a packraft, go creeking with them. They'll learn that packrafts are fun and you'll learn a bunch of new boating skills.
  9. The Kokatat Orbit PFD I bought has hampered my ability to self-rescue, as has any PFD with pockets I stuff with food, camera, tow ropes and other do-dads. The bulk hampers my re-entry, so I have gone to a simple and cheap and super light LTI Livery PFD. Much easier to get in as long as I don't fill my clothes pockets with food and gear inside my drysuit!

I don't really expect anyone reading this to follow my advice. Just looking at how people continue to strap gear on their boats and roll them for packing and all the other things they do is enough to tell me that my ways certainly don't appeal to others, but I thought I'd write all this down here now, so that when next season comes around, I'll look back and see what I learned this year.

'Cause this year was the best year yet for packrafting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Season Finale -- Three Cups of Tea from a Tin Can

Tim Johnson schooled me in real hucking at Turnagain Pass when he dropped and I spilled Tin Can's Tea Cups on Saturday evening. The Tea Cups are destined to become a packraft-flipping favorite.

On sunny but chilly Sunday, Brad, Luc Mehl (who in the 15 days since he's owned his dry suit has run Echo Bend, Bird, Six Mile, Talkeetna, Montana, Chickaloon and some other creek as well as Kings), JT, and I ran Kings Lower Canyon with Palmer local Mark Oathout (his first time in a packraft), which is beautiful up to and including the crux "Got a Give 'Er" out in the Talkeetnas. Worth doing once, but a long walk in and a long float out from the main attraction.....

I think my boating season is about over so I compiled a greatest hits of 09 video:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Talkeetna Canyon Video

The clear, warm waters of the Talkeetna Canyon fully met my expectations. Perhaps the rapids fell short of what JT had pictured, but they likely surpassed what Becky had dreamed.

A real boater on a variety of watercraft, JT had waited 10 years to run what Embick wrote as “possibly the best all-around whitewater river in Alaska.” For Becky, it’d been an apprehensive drive up the Parks Highway to Talkeetna.

For me the Talkeetna felt as I’d hoped the Happy would: rolling, white-cresting waves and churning, bottomless holes. A river-scape I’d been edging toward by packraft since the mid 1980s, when its gray summer flood made its way onto Fairbanks cabin walls, projected but frozen on suspended sheets with hardshellers in long boats and copper-colored helmets wrestling muscular flows.

Foolishly I asked if it was packraftable.

“No way!”

“There are riverwide holes in there.”

“That river flips BIG rafts.”

Packrafts aren’t real boats.”

And for some reason, while none of these people had ever actually been in a packraft, they all somehow knew what was packraft-able.

I decided to find out first hand.

In September 1990 Mark Stoppel and I took a single Sherpa Packraft, open and long, with yellow 10-inch tubes and parallel sides, from Yellow Jacket Creek to Prairie Creek, he walking bars and catching a ride in the boat for crossings, me paddling with double packs. It was packrafting abstracted to its near purest functional expression: one boat, two people, big country.

In 1990 we feared the Canyon – like we had the Happy’s the year before -- and walked highlands to Gold Creek. We raft-packed as much as packrafted. But we had only rain gear and foam pads, no dry-suit or even PFD and just the single boat.

Seven years later, Bob Kaufman and I pedaled from Eureka Roadhouse to Yellow Jacket where we met a friend of Bob’s with two big rafts we rode down the high waters of July. Even steering Bob’s little Puma with a paddle in the “fourteen miles of continuous whitewater” I think felt like JT had – something near disappointment.

By 2003 Alpacka Rafts were fairly well established and the first condom-style spray decks were out as prototypes. With a spray deck and a drysuit I discovered whitewater to Class IV. No longer did a packrafter need suffer out of control in a swamped boat full of water. Spray decks opened up clean runs of Six Mile’s three canyons, Little Su, Ship Creek and the Talkeetna’s Entrance Exam, Toilet Bowl in “Outhouse” conditions, Washboard, and the longest rapid on the river about an hour downstream, maybe called "Pearly Gates"?

The Talkeetna that Autumn at the 3k-4k cfs showed itself ideal for packrafters; there just weren’t any packrafters out there who felt ready to do it.

Now there may be dozens. If you can paddle Six Mile’s first and second canyons cleanly and practice self rescue and throw bags to your partners, then you can packraft the Talkeetna below 5k cfs, especially since all the biggest rapids (at most six I’d call PR 4 or Class III+ to Class IV-) are not only scout-able but portage-able

This last weekend I had the honor of joining a group of close friends who honored me with their humor and skill.

I thank Brad and JT for inviting me; and Becky, Tony, and Luc for joining us. …. Such a wonderful trip.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Talkeetna Canyon: 24 hours after work

We had warm, dry weather with the Talkeetna gauge (above the RR) reading in the 4500-5000 cfs range -- ideal for packrafting.

Here are the basic stats: six of us in two 206s (Brad, Luc Mehl, JT, Becky King, Tony and me) flew in after work on Friday to Murder Lake and were in our boats by 6 PM.

The paddle down shallow Prairie Creek to the Talkeetna the pilot said takes "rafts" 4-6 hours. We were down in one and a half, camping just upstream of Cache Creek by 8 PM.

A clear but shockingly warm night for October gave way to a cold, frosty morning with ice on our boats, even when we put in a little after 9 AM. By 10:30 AM I'd dropped into the Entrance Exam without studying and failed. Fortunately at the low flows of fall, the Toilet Bowl below Entrance Exam is not flushing ("The Outhouse"?) and I self rescued easily. The others studied their lines and passed with flying colors. They are so good!

The Washboard immediately below offered a variety of lines among exposed boulders. Some good students went right, some diagonaled left, most stayed upright. I went down the middle and swam again! Both swims were due to my limp response to lateral waves tipping me into the beautiful blue water -- not the ugly gray of summer.

Fortunately I wore a layer of wool, two layers of synthetics, and a big, puffy jacket beneath my 15 year old "dry suit". I never shivered nor even felt chilled the whole day.

The third swim was another lateral wave that got me in what seems to be the longest rapid in the Canyon, about an hour below the Entrance-Washboard complex. In between these two "Class IV" rapids was a river-wide hole that got everyone but me and Becky. She styled all the Canyon and swam nothing.

Miraculously I had somehow managed to stay upright in the river-wide hole but failed to get video of the colorful carnage of boats flipping like dominoes. With so many swimmers I had to practice whitewater triage.

My last swim was in a groovy wave train -- one of many that make for exhilarating but stable rides-- that I was running one handed, trying to capture something of the feel of the Talkeetna's biggish water feel (see above).

We camped at Sheep River by 6 PM, off again on Sunday morning at 9:30-ish and out to Talkeetna where we went and ran S. Fork Montana Creek's lower canyon.

For $130 each and gas money to Talkeetna, this had more value than the Happy River.

It's also totally doable in a 12-14 hour day from Murder Lake in packrafts with a small, skilled group. Our group was plenty skilled, but biggish, and wanted to camp, socialize around the fire, and do all that other fun stuff.

Me, I can't wait to run it all in a day.....Thai, maybe this weekend?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Flight

It's amazing the effect that other people have on me.

Even three decades after my first alpine climb with Carl Tobin, I still kick steps in loose snow the way I saw him lead on the ridge descent of "10,910". Paul Adkins showed me to ride the way water flows, Steve Sillett taught me the California big tree way, while Ryan Jordan inspired me to wash my socks on wilderness trips. More recently, I find my packrafting techniques borrow from others: Scott Solle's runaway boat tether; Nathan Shoutis' butt-boat boof; Thai Verzone's eddy-hopping and wave surfing; even Forrest McCarthy's 3/4 spins!

But of all the influence of my current stable of partners, it's Brad Meiklejohn who's pulling me to the dark side with fly-in trips.

Now I wish I could tell you that I'm a purist, someone who eschews flying because it's not "fair", not as "good" as walking/boating/biking/skiing in, and honestly I do feel that way, that it's most satisfying to "earn your turns". I mean, if you're going to fly, why not just take a snowmachine/ATV/jetboat in?

But that old-timey wilderness-guy feeling may simply be self-apology for being too poor most of my adult life to fly into the wild places I so like to visit. Or maybe because I feel motion sick too easily. Or maybe because looking out the window of a low flying plane at the heart-melting landscapes of Alaska is a bit like going to the Great Alaska Bush Co. -- look but don't touch.

But Brad has influenced me in these various ways. He does it without really trying. Like day before yesterday we went to Bird and I was planning to just "flip it" like usual, but we ended up walking the full hour to the regular kayaker put-in and I actually enjoyed all the upper drops and cruisey, boogey water mini-canyons. Or like last July when we -- dare I admit it -- flew in to the Happy River.

So Brad and I and a handful of others he has under his spell are flying in for a weekend run of the Talkeetna Canyon.

I'd like to do it in 24 hours -- mostly 'cause we could if we had the light -- but instead we'll have beautiful blue water with lots of rocks and tongues, holes and fall colors and likely a couple camps.

The Talkeetna before freeze-up is the best time for a packrafter. The water's clear and low and offers more interesting features and less ugly gray volume. I went in there back in late September of 2003 and ran Entrance Exam, Toliet Bowl and the Washboard, as well as everything upstream and a couple drops downstream in an old Alpacka. This was back in the day of pull-on spray decks and I was actually there with a bunch of APU students in open boats and rain gear with ice on the boats every morning (see above). We'd walked there in Classic style, from Eureka, and floated from the Canyon mouth to Talkeetna.

But a lot has happened in six years. Back then I'd been the lone (crazy) packrafter on Ship, Six-Mile, and Little Su at 600 cfs. Now lots and lots of people run those former test-pieces and don't mess their dry-suits doing it.

So this trip this weekend with some of the most experienced whitewater packrafters in the state should be something else.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Flipping Bird

Bird Creek had a reputation: unrunnable falls, death wood. But as with so many creeks and rivers with reps, only a run can display the reality.

In Bird's case the reality surpassed expectation. Sure there're the "Mushroom", "Entrance", and Bird Falls that look bad for packrafters, but between Mushroom and Bird Falls' "Entrance" drop is the lower canyon. The run that Tim Johnson's called "Inner Sanctum" and Embick "The Labyrinth" was not a death-defying series of drops, but something Disneyland might offer if America didn't have a tort law-problem.

Thai Verzone led me down it a year ago at a midflow-level and we sniffed an instant packraft classic.

Now, what makes an instant packraft classic? For me, it's water that's best suited for a packraft -- of course, walking or biking is involved; it's small; maybe congested with rock walls or boulders; low flow; pool-drop and steep, but with no more than a couple (vertical) boat lengths in any single drop. It's something that gives a potent snort of pasty adrenaline -- no, not just a snort, but deep, repetitive inhalations -- with the option of running the good stuff again, immediately.

Not just the "if you flip on a drop, you can get out and run that drop again" option, but the get-out-and-walk-back and run the whole canyon, again and again and again. In fact this activity of "doing laps" needs some sort of verb-gerund.

The word "flipping" might work. It is what we do in packrafts when we fall out of our boats -- we flip. And if we flip, generally we want to give it another go and do it without a flip.

So, "We flipped the run" could mean to run something again in quick succession, like the entrepeneurs of the early 2000's "flipped" houses. To really stretch the analogy, "fix and flip" is to re-run in search of a clean run after a swim. Just plane old "flipping" is multiple clean runs.

I invite any of you reading this to come up with a word. Maybe kayakers have a word for it, but they probably don't carry their 40 pound loads repatedly to make a five or ten minute run. Maybe "yo-yoing"? Do backcountry skiers have a word for this sort of activity?

For the sake of the post, let's go with flipping and get back to why Bird's labyrinthian Inner Sanctum became an instant classic yesterday.

Flipping a run is approximately ten times easier with a packraft that weighs four pounds than with a hardshell that weighs forty. In addition, shallow, steep water runs may have a higher danger:difficulty ratio in a kayak than in a packraft. Upside down in a shallow creeks still sitting in a kayak might ruin not just your day but maybe your pretty/handsome face. It also looks like a kayak might be more boat than you need on a low water run, but I don't know. I have only watched kayaks and been in one in whitewater twice.

But for a packraft, technical little creeks with low flow make it easy to pause and pivot, drop your lines and slide your tongues. Plus an upturned boat more likely results in a bone-bruising swim than a bone-breaking one (knock on wood). Sure, swimmers still have to be wary of foot-entrapments, undercuts, wood snags, and sieves and all the rest of moving water's hazards -- and yesterday we cut a boat bottom, broke a paddle, and even got hung on some wood (downstream of the fun stuff in the salmon-slime butt-wiggle to the takeout), but a pinned packraft looks to be easier to deal with than a pinned hardshell, especially since it's harder to get pinned in a packraft in the first place.

Let me reiterate: all moving water is potentially dangerous! A packraft's forgiveness offers no substitute for safety training or experience reading water, but it does offer the whitewater enthusiast a craft suitable for places and activities where a hardshell might just be a pain on the back-side. Anyway, just my two cents for why I'm still packrafting every chance I get.

Yesterday, JT Lindholm and Tony Pirelli who have flipped Ship Creek and Echo Bend as often as anyone, came along, as well as some hot hardshellers: Tim Johnson and Paul Schauer in packrafts (with Tim in an NRS open boat -- watch for his Jolly Green Giant in the video) and Elizabeth Embick in a vintage helmet and a hardshell with her friend John. Luc Mehl and his winter Wilderness Classic Ski race partner John Pekar came, too, in their matching blue and orange Alpackas and Luc's new drysuit (he's trying to lower the cost per unit swim, apparently).

With all those boats there seemed to be more people than eddies at times. Thank goodness for "Bird Bath" below the "Bird-Brain" entrance drop, and the pool between Center Falls and the "Whirly Bird" slot where we could all collect.

It was a party and the packrafters "flipped the Bird" four times. I got a couple good flips and a couple fix and flips.

Tomorrow, I'm going back for just pure flipping. It's too good to pass up in the beautiful fall colors, snow dusting the peaks.

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */