Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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)