In January 2010 our crew decided to head out to the Big Island of Hawaii in search of all the waterfalls we had seen on the Internet. The crew consisted of myself Shon Bollock, Cody Howard, Justin Patt, Jake Sanders, and producer Harrison Tobin. Justin Patt and I arrived to meet the rest of the boys at Hilo International Airport on the Big Island, after driving from Mt. Shasta, CA to Portland, OR to catch our flight. The group did as much research as possible prior to the trip, looking at decades of rain charts, and contacting a couple local paddlers. We planned the trip during the rainiest month of year, during El Nino and were sure that we would have plenty of water if not too much. This wasn’t the case.
After we got picked up from the airport by the Huckin Huge team, we got settled into our accommodations at a local berry farm just outside Hilo and congregated about what the most effective game plan would be. Praying for rain all night, we awoke to the answer to our prayers. Pouring rain that woke me up in the morning, and got us fired up to go and search for the goods.
The boys decided to get some breakfast and then head out to look at Rainbow Falls, our number one prospect for the trip. We drove up the Wailuku River with high hopes but were shot down when we saw the small trickle going over the falls. Hoping that this wasn’t a sign for the rest of the trip we drove up stream to see what else was there. Deciding that most of the falls were low and not knowing that this was the most rain we would get all trip, we decided to session a ten footer in downtown Hilo that flowed out of a hydroelectric plant. After the session we got some food downtown hoping that we would get more rain the following day.
That night we did some serious Google Earth-ing and Cody found a tube that seemed to go straight through a hillside that was a little over 300ft long. Since it was a mile and a half from the house we decided to check it out first and then head out to Hanalei Stream, hoping to catch the last bit of rain from the showers on the first night. When the crew reached the tube we had seen on the computer the night before we were all excited to see that it had water……… not a lot, but it had water. Justin and I hiked a quarter mile downstream to see if there was enough water to try and run it out to the ocean but we came to a very low 50-60 footer that was runable but not at those flows. There wasn’t a clear path over the hillside to try and run only the tube; we decided the fastest way would be to hike up the sides of the tunnel. The hike wasn’t too bad, just dark with a few rapids that were a little sketchy. At the top it was a dark hole in the wall and we were stoked to get in our boats. Everyone had clean runs, minus a little pining action for Justin in the middle of the tube. This was the first natural tube I have ever kayaked through and it was a great experience.
We loaded the boats back on the car and set out for a waterfall on the Hanalei. When we arrived at the stream, a few miles from the tube, we saw a 40 footer that landed mostly on rocks. The crew hiked down to the lip to see what she looked like and saw that it indeed landed on rocks. Even though the line was marginal there was definitely a line, just not a super clean one. It could have been the fact that we had no guarantee we would get more water and we were only there for a short 2 weeks, but I decided to give her a swing. I tried to convince Cody to roche me for it because I really didn’t want to go first, but he politely declined. The drop has a little slide entry into a weird lipped drop that I knew needed a big boof to clear the shelf at the bottom. I carried a lot of speed into the drop and wasn’t able to push myself as far out as I wished, resulting in a slightly over vertical landing……. on my face. But finding myself unscathed at the bottom and in my boat, I would call it a satisfactory 1st Decent of 1 in 100 falls on the Hanalei.
With ever dropping flows on the Wailuku River or River of Death, we really wanted to at least run a section of it or as many drops as we could access. The group stopped at the Boiling Pots, a section of drops on the Wailuku, but decided to continue upstream and look at some of the big boys. There are drops ranging from 80+ feet to 10 feet all over this river and the one we came upon was just upstream from a little dam. The drop was about 50 ft. with a stout entry move. Right off the bat I didn’t really like the drop and wasn’t feeling it. But Justin and Cody seemed to like er’, so we hiked back to the car and got the boats unloaded. We were all questioning running a 50 ft. drop with maybe 20 cfs, cause we all knew there would be a big hit and the danger of back injury, but Justin got his marbles together and fired off the 1st Decent of Anacondom Falls on the Wailuku. He took a large stroke off the lip and boof’d 50 feet to green water but got forward at the bottom and some how avoided serious injury. Cody went next and twisted in the air landing on his side and breaking a few of his ribs. I saw 2 (pretty) successful lines and that was enough for me. I grabbed my boat and ran up to the falls to fire it. I drove hard at the crack entry move and got a good straight line off the falls leaning forward to tuck up for the hit. I landed a little over vertical again and took a big hit at the bottom, knocking the wind out of me and ripping the helmet cam off my head. Other than a little bruised hip I felt great and fired up to get er’ done, even if it didn’t quite have the flows we desired.
The group was very fired up after a couple 1st d’s, but felt the pain in the morning. We took this day off and went up to Mauna Kea a 13,803 ft volcano, the largest mountain mass in the world. The rest of the trip consisted of more river exploration and adventure, but little kayaking due to water flows. We zipped lined, snorkeled, and saw everything we could with the time we were given. The group got some amazing footage and there is so much more to be had. We met with the man that pioneered most of the boating on the island and the beta he shared with us is priceless. At some point we all plan to return but with a larger time window to get the flows you really need.
This footage will be shown in Shasta Boyz Productions new film “Slippery When Wet” to release in 2011, as well as Huckin Huge’s new film “Haymaker” which is touring with “Wet Dreams” in May 2010. This trip was amazing with beautiful terrain, no poisonous snakes, and delicious fruit. It was a mission with a great crew and eye opening to the amazing white water that is scattered around the world. Below is a teaser for the Hawaii section featured in “Slippery When Wet”, make sure to stay tuned for more Shasta Boyz, this is just something to wet your appetite…