Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The North Shore Rains April 16th-April 21st

The north shore was fueled with 2" of rain by a strong storm on April 15th. The entire North Shore from Duluth up to Grand Portage received enough rain to make the rivers flow for the entire week. Boaters rallied to the, Lester, Sucker, French, and a Split Rock solo run by Pete Noren on Monday April 16th.

On Tuesday April 17th, crews hit up the East fork of the Beaver, Silver, Sucker, and a three man crew ticked off a memorable run on forbidden fruit.

Nate Heydt on the East Fork of Beaver River 1st drop

Nate Heydt on East Fork of Beaver River 2nd drop

On Wednesday April 18th,  The two man crew of Techno and Japs took advantage of the rains and ventured into the Devils Track River. This was the first time in anybody had run the DT in 2012. What they found were many of trees down and many portages. There were about 5 trees in hazardous locations. Portage down the middle has a tree in the base of the falls on river left center. It is avoidable on the standard line, but if you get typewritered across the base of the falls you are in trouble. They also found that it is best to gauge the water level from the put in. Since the new culvert was installed at the take out, and the river flow has widened significantly there, it is very difficult to get a good grasp on flows from the take out.

On Friday April 19th, many boaters took a half day off and rallied to the Cascade River. Levels were at -7 inches. Some of the North Shore regulars like, Joerg, Alt, Decker, Heydt, Holton, Scheidel, Japs, and Noren were there. Along with new North Shore boater Tony Vavrica. They ran two laps. There is a new tree at the bottom of Hidden Falls. It's 30 feet downstream of the hole right in the out wash flow. All of the crew portaged it except on boater accidentally slipped out of his eddy and was forced to run it. He flipped in the hole at the bottom of Hidden and stayed upside down under the tree. It was a scary moment but all was good. There is a tree down below Long John on river left that is easily avoidable by running down the middle. There are two trees down in the river right line in Cheese Grader Rapid. The river left line works fine. And one last tree down across the entire river as you exit the canyon after Cheese Grader rapid.

On Saturday April 21st, twelve boaters put on the Brule River at enjoyed the last of the good rain fed water flows

Below are pictures of 30 foot "BTL" waterfall on the Forbidden Fruit river. From top to bottom are boaters Ryan Zimny, Justin Japs, and Joel Decker. This was a memorable first personal descent for all three of them. It took them 3 hours to run with a few portages.

North Shore Mini-Adventure March 31st-April 1st

McConville, Schidel, Decker, and T2 at the entrance of Black Canyon of the Cross River

Everyone knew the water levels on the North Shore were low so what else to do. In the spirit of adventure, Japs, Decker, Schidel, T2, Pexa, and McConville all rendezvous at the mysterious Black Canyon on the Cross River near Schroeder, Minnesota. Nobody had any set plans for the weekend but to have a good time, camp at paradise beach, and check out new rivers, canyons, and potential new waterfalls to run. Everyone agreed to check out the Black Canyon. The Black Canyon stands for near death experiences and a frightening kayak tales in Minnesota North Shore Kayaking history.

Back in the 1980's Paul Douglas used to fire up Class V regularly. He had a near death experience in that canyon. He lost his paddling group and found himself trying to figure out where the portage around Black Canyon was. By the time he realized where he was, he accidentally paddled into its depths. He stayed in his boat over the first 2 drops which is a 8ft ledge and a deathly 40ft cascading waterfall. His worse injury was a popped ear drum from swimming over a waterfall and going really deep. Next he swam 4 drops. A runnable clean 20 foot drop, a quick 6foot ledge, right into a gnarly 20 foot reconnect waterfall with a 6foot exit slot, and finally a clean runnable 12-14 footer to exit Black Canyon. After seeing this drop in person it's amazing Paul Douglas lived.  The rest of the story can be found in the guide book Northwoods Whitewater by Jim Rada.

These are the first two drops Paul ran in his boat. The second drop a lot steeper than video shows and very gnarly
After two days of Class VI scouting missions with ropes and climbing gear, a plan was made. Fire up some waterfalls! They all wanted to at least put on a river that weekend and run some drops. So on Sunday April Fools Day 2012 they hiked their boats down to the river below the canyon then hiked into the canyon at river level as far as they could go upstream. It was tough roping boats over class 3 rapids while standing in the river. It took a lot of climbing and serious team work to get upstream.  On one occasion Justin had to quick release his waist throw bag because a boat flipped over while he was pulling boats. The boat filled up with water and was pulling him downstream. Everything turned out OK, only a scull cap was lost from the boat.
When they hiked as far upstream as they could, they were looking at a perfectly looking runnable waterfall which no one has ever run to their knowledge. The crew talked amongst themselves as to who would run it first. Japs got the nod from the crew and fired it up. He had a decent line and found it deep in the pool below. Decker, Schidel, and McConville all fired it up after with good lines. Video Footage will be up at soon.
This is the drop the crew ran after hiking boats upstream

About a week after, one of the crew members ran into a former KCI boater by the name of Jim Morrison. He is 67 years old and living near Grand Marais, MN. Jim had tales of paddling every drop in the Black Canyon of the Cross River in 2003 with Two Harbors boater Greg Williams. That was a really impressive feat. What's even more impressive is that Jim was 58 years old paddling that very serious of a canyon at any water level. Jim and Greg used to paddle alone all the time and didn't paddle with people outside their group. He also mentioned that he and Greg got first descents on the 3rd and 4th drops on the main section Beaver River back in the mid 90's. (The drop with the giant sieve rock and the manky drop with pyramid rock at the end)