Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Black, Upper Silver, Falls, Lower Silver, and Yellow Dog

This was an action packed three days. I drove back up to the south shore of Superior for the third time in a span of about a week or two, hungry for some more action - and I wasn't dissapointed! I showed up a little late, so I missed quite a wild night of partying out on the town with some of the crew, but I probably needed the sleep.


Started out on the Black with a huge crew of great paddlers - you guys sure know how to have fun on and off the river! A bunch of cats fired up Potowatomi and Gorge Falls, but I saved it for next time.

The hero(?) line on Potowotami.

Boomer somehow emerges from the womb of "the birth canal" - a very rarely run pourover with recirc 20-40+ feet back.

The standard line on Gorge, with Birth Canal right above it.

I left my house with the intention of running Rainbow Falls, but once I arrived at the falls and scouted it the line looked marginal so I carried my boat around. When I reached the front of the falls I saw my line. After watching some good runs of it, I decided to fire it up.

Where's Waldo? I'm in there somewhere.

A hard hit at the bottom!

THE SILVER - a L'anse, Michigan area classic

Me, Zoolander, John, and Chad headed over to L'anse to hit the Upper Silver, and it was at a good flow of about 8.3'. This river has some serious gradient change for the midwest, and is a blast the whole way through!

The steepest part is called "the cabin section."

John powering through a chunky hole.

THE FALLS - an in-town L'anse run

This is another L'anse classic. Less gradient then the Silver, but still fun. Good luck catching this one when it's running - it doesn't happen too often. John and Zoolander had to head home, so me and Chad decided to hit this one before returning to do the Lower Silver. The Falls starts of with an awesome rapid followed by Powerhouse Falls.

Chad nails his boof on Powerhouse.

The rest of this run is mostly boat scoutable class III - III+ ledges and boogie with a couple IVs mixed in - pay attention! The action doesn't subside until you hit the takeout at Lake Superior.


This is another kick-ass L'anse run. This section doesn't drop quite as much as the Upper Silver but it definitely has some gradient, dropping towards the lake with lots of fun slides and continuous rapids. A person doesn't ever get bored on these L'anse runs! I don't have pics of this one... Chad and I were trying to make it through before we ran out of light. Combining the Upper and Lower Silver with the Falls makes for one long day! Especially since neither of us had run it before. It sure helped save time to have Zoolander leading us down the Upper Silver - thanks dude!
By the time we got to the last drop on this run it was getting quite dark, but I felt pretty good about Lower Silver Falls. It's a constriction that drops about 30 feet in a hundred foot constriction with a meaty hole at the bottom. This water was moving fast! By the time I finished scouting my line and got in my boat it was dark. I hit my line through the meat of it, but went sideways into the hole at the bottom.

By the time I fought my way out I looked up and saw the moon shining bright - what a long day!

THE YELLOW DOG - Eastern Upper Peninsula, Michigan

So the next day, me and Chad headed a few hours further from home to hit the Yellow Dog, our 5th section in 3 days. The Yellow Dog can have quite a bite, and she's a b@tch. Think lots of portaging downed trees in the flat water. Downed trees lining most eddies and the sides of almost the entire river. I got pinned under a tree near shore in some swiftwater, had to come out of my boat and lost my shoe while Chaz was upstream stuck in an eddy where to come out meant going into a strainer - this dog is a biatch. By this time we were pretty tired, but we definitely enjoyed the rapids. If you do this run you'll probably meet "The River Walker," a man who watches the Yellow Dog and helps with conservation in the area. He also makes sure to keep the rapids wood free - thanks man!

Despite some of the undesirable parts of this river, the rapids are friggin awesome. There are about 7 class IV-V sweet rapids - all runnable, all fun.

We decided not to run Barking Bitch Falls. At this level the right side lands on rock, and the left side is okay, but has a manky washout into a beefy hole.

Lots of rapids looked similar to this, if not longer and/or better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More South Shore Creeking

Me, Chad, and Paul headed back up to the south shore of Lake Superior to do some more boating. We started on the Baltimore.


The level of this one is determined by measuring down from the downstream river-left side of the bridge at the get-in. It was at 11ft. down when we ran it and I'd say this is the bare minimum. I would want it much higher the next time I do it. This run starts out with about 2 miles of flatwater and ends with two miles of flatwater and has one mandatory portage. Though this falls may be runnable, most will choose to walk.

After the first two miles the first rapid is a 10 foot riverwide falls with a deceptively sticky hole. Not too bad though.

Paul plays around under an unnamed falls.

Chaz smooths out the bottom of his boat on the sandstone.

This shot reminds me of a California creek.

All the rock in this riverbed is sandstone, so where one would normally be cruising on granite the sandstone can stop your boat. The more water the better. There is some real quality whitewater in this section, but at low levels like this there's lots of grinding out.


This is another L'anse, Michigan area run. It's about a mile of continuous whitewater in a sweet gorge - awesome! We ran this at about 600cfs - the AW suggested max. I think it could be paddled higher, but the holes would be pretty meaty!

The run starts out with a nice 10 footer.

After the falls is a wild ride of fast moving water through a canyon with 20+ foot walls, Wa-Hoo!
Didn't have time to get many photos though.

Here's the last rapid of the canyon.

DAY 2 (cont.) - PRESQUE ISLE

We were hungry for some more whitewater and levels were dropping around L'anse, so we decided to hit the final mile of the Presque on the way home. Always a good time, with the highlite being Manabezho Falls.

Hitting my boof and bracing for impact.

Chaz shows us how to catch air!

After Manabezho, Zoom Flume is an awesome end to the run, bringing you to the mouth of the river and onto Lake Superior.
There is an awesome rodeo hole at the end of the run, and maybe even some waves to catch on Superior.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Presque Isle Jim Rada Memorial Race Weekend

Midwest spring creeking kicked off this year for me with the first annual Presque Isle Jim Rada Memorial Race. Thanks to Kiffy for organizing it and everyone who showed up for making it an awesome weekend! The race was on the final mile of the Presque Isle in the upper peninsula of Michigan, which consists of three sets of falls seperated by some flatwater. There were 12 participants and a handful of other paddlers and spectators.

I believe the level was between 6.5 and 7 feet

The First - Nawadaha Falls

The Second - Manido Falls

The Grand Finale - Manabezho Falls

The race times were recorded when you landed Manabezho - a good riverwide 20 footer. Taylor AKA Hansel (he's so hot right now) took home an awesome hockey trophy, trophies with kayaks are hard to come by, and Rada loved hockey so it was quite fitting actually. The race went well except for two pitons off of manabezho. Jesse AKA Zoolander crushed the front of his solo with no major injuries. Brian wasn't so lucky... he lost momentum at the lip of the drop causing him to pencil sharply down. Although some other people had taken this same line and seemed to go in at pretty steep angles, he wasn't so lucky and ended up pitoning and breaking his leg and ankle. This necessitated a difficult extrication up and out of a steep gorge. We all are hoping for a speedy and full recovery for ya' Brian!


The next day quite a few people headed over to the Black River also in the U.P. This is a real gem with lots of good falls and some fun rapids. The river was high - somewhere around 650 cfs.

A few of the boys ponder Birth Canal and a meaty Gorge Falls

At this level most people shyed away from Gorge Falls but one brave boater gave it a go and was successful.

I didn't have my camera in my boat this day so I didn't get many other pictures, but had a good time watching a few runs of Rainbow Falls with mixed results. Here a couple paddlers ponder it at a more moderate level.