Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year End Review

Unfortunately, I needed to work on New Years Eve, so my paddling is done for 2014. I always try to do at least one big trip each month, and here are some of the more significant ones:

January – Pawtuxet Cove
December -  Crystal/Boateater

I didn't do much camping this year - just a couple of overnight trips with the Paddle Across Rhode Island crew and RICKA.   Hopefully I will get to do some more camping next year.  Mike is talking about a trip on the Allegheny River in northwest Pennsylvania, and Tommy is talking about doing a couple of sections of the NFCT: Section 1 - Old Forge to Long Lake; Section 5 - Missisquoi; and Sections 9 & 10 - Rangley to Moosehead.

Some of my favorite trips for the year are here:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Functional Freestyle - December 28, 2014

There is an ongoing thread on on freestyle paddling moves, so I took the Yellowstone out to give it a try.  I was able to capture the Axle, Cross Axle, Post and Cross Post on video, but the camera died while I was trying the Wedge, Christie and most of the sideslips. Here is my narrated version.

For me, the easiest turns, and the most effective in the Yellowstone are the post and cross post.  These are good on flatwater, but in moving water, the Axle or Cross Axle are safer bets.  I can get about 90 degrees on the initial skid, and get to about 180 degrees with subsequent forward and cross forward strokes.

Palm rolls and in-water recoveries are not something that I do on a regular basis, but they do help make the initiation and follow-up strokes more effective.  On the wedge, the in-water recovery gets the paddle into position for the bow pry much easier than tying to jam the paddle in place.  For the onside skidding maneuvers (Axle and Post), the palm roll can link follow-on bow draw and J-strokes to power the boat through the turn. 

My leans are wobbly, my transitions aren't very smooth, but I at least I can get through the turn.  This freestyle stuff takes practice, practice, practice...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day after Christmas Paddle - Crystal/Boateater on the Farmington - December 26, 2014

Santa was good to me this year with a new PFD, helmet, river knife, whistle and gloves, so I decided to go out and try out my new gear.  I saw a post on the Yakkers Facebook group that Matt, Scott, Tim, Paul and Dave were going to paddle the Crystal section of the Farmington.  It’s been a while since I’ve had my whitewater boat out, so I decided to join in.

The day was relatively warm and the river was at a decent level – 1,100 cfs, 6.5 feet on the Unionville gage.  We put-in off Rt. 179 near Collinsville.  Even though there was no snow, Scott gave the seal launch hill a try.

Scott - seal launch at Crystal from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

The run is about 5-miles long and includes a series of easy class I/II rapids with lots of rock gardens with places to play. The first major rapid is Crystal, which is the site of an annual spring slalom race. Its about a quarter mile long and terminates in a nice surf wave. Below Crystal is the Ledge at the Rt. 4 Bridge that we ran to the right. After a short section of flatwater comes the Boateater Rapid – a long wavetrain that we ran just right of center. 

The run took us about 3 hours with no swims – pretty good for us.  Either our skills are getting better, or we are getting old and not taking as many chances.

Surfing above the Crystal Rapid

Monday, December 15, 2014

River Island Park – December 13, 2014

Lots of rivers were running this weekend, but I had stuff to do around the house, so my paddling was limited to a quick run at River Island Park.  The river was at 4 feet, 1,700 cfs – very fluid, but most of the features were washed out.  I took out below the power lines and carted my boat back to the car.  It’s a lot of work for a short run, but at least I got out and paddled.