Spring in the Northwest is go-time for whitewater paddlers. Rivers are full to their banks (typically), and rain boots are are out in full storm (typically)! While spring has only just sprung, this spring is different, as paddlers find themselves praying for rain, watching NOAA's radar for the slightest hint of moisture.
Mid-March starts the Western Whitewater Championship Series: a series of paddling festivals throughout the spring and summer featuring various downriver races and events. The first festival of the season was the Wind River Festival, a 25 minute all out sprint to the finish through class IV/V whitewater. The second festival of the season: The Northwest Creeking Competition took place last weekend, April 21, 22, as paddlers continued to pray for rain. Our prayers were answered as a day prior to events, we had a sudden flash of levels, bringing us just enough water for two solid days of class IV/V racing.
For all the readers unfamiliar with whitewater paddling, or downriver racing for that matter, a downriver whitewater race consists of an individual in a kayak or raft (typically) racing through rapids of various difficulty as fast as possible, for time. Men and women compete, and are generally "on their own" during the race. Safety is organized as designated "hazards", and the individual with the fastest time at the end of the day wins!
Day 1: East Fork Lewis Downriver Race, East Fork of the Lewis River near Battle Ground,WA
Saturday brought the first of three races, the Individual Downriver Race (individual starts), and the Mass Start Downriver race (everyone starts at the same time). Both events took place on the East Fork of the Lewis River In Washington, a class IV rivers with rapids such as Sunset Falls, Sky Pilot, Screaming Left, Dragon's Back, and John's Swimming Hole. The time came for me to sack up and paddle fast... 3,2,1, GO! On "Go", on rallied from the starting line over Sunset falls, and paddled as fast as possible for the next 8 minutes. Evan Garcia pulled off a first place in the Men's Pro division, while I managed to sneak away with my fifth consecutive win at this event-woop ya! Special thanks to Next Adventure, Kayak Shed and Alder Creek for sponsoring the event, providing an awesome BBQ and shuttles all day long!
Day 2: Canyon Creek Extreme Race: Canyon Creek, WA
Day two is always fun-bigger rapids, and WATERFALLS! The Canyon Creek race course starts off with a BANG with a 5 foot ledge drop, followed by a mini-boulder garden, which quickly sends you careening off 20 foot Kahuna Falls. The race is over only after you rally through some boogie-water and send it off two more falls: Champagne and Hammering Spot. Louis Geltman bested Evan Garcia for first place in the men's pro division, while I held onto first place and was crowned women's Champion of the NWCC! Special Thanks to Five Ten for the stickiest paddling shoes on the market!
For full results, visit the Creeking Competition website: http://northwestcreekcomp.blogspot.com
See you on the river,