If I weren’t already planning my own mountain adventure for this week, I’d seriously consider this. Speaking from limited experience, whitewater rafting is pretty fun. This activity will not only give the opportunity to learn how to raft the rapids, but will teach you how to lead such an adventure.
The following is from Bill Becquart of the Oklahoma City Outdoor Network. Read on, and if the urge hits you, sign up!
This is going to be a GREAT Learning Experience for anyone wanting to go Whitewater Rafting
Even if…you have no desire to lead a trip yourself
This will make you a much better and much safer rafter on your next rafting adventure
IF this trip interests you…please respond with a Yes or a Maybe
Also, although this is thru the OKC Outdoor Network, Non-Members are welcome on this outing
Whitewater Rafting – The Upper Colorado River (west of Denver, CO)
For $65 per day, per person (food not included)
OKC-ON Member John Bowen’s rafting company
“High Plains Outdoor Institute” will provide all the gear
(including cooking stuff to cook our food and the porta-potties),
the instruction and the guides
(his expenses are fuel, rafts, guides and insurance)
Where over a period of up to 4 days you will learn skills on
“How to Guide” a Whitewater Raft yourself on a Colorado river
(below is a description of the class)
The class below is for 4 days,
but for those people that can only do 2 or 3 days…it can still work for you !!
Since we will be camped at a particular spot, and the idea of the class
is to repeatedly run one section of the river so as to learn how,
then if someone wants to spend less time, we will be by their cars
quite a bit and they can leave whenever they need too
We are looking at the week of June 14
(w/the actual days/dates TBA)
The Rafting Class, Learning to Guide:
Venue: Upper Colorado River – Little Gore Canyon, Class II-III. groovers’), and their care and use. The session will finally involve rigging the boats, setting up the kitchen, and cooking for groups on a whitewater trip, including all the many government rules and regulations.
On this forgiving river, you will learn the basics of whitewater rafting on oar rafts and paddle boats, the same as professional guides that we train for our own trips where each person learns to be the captain. The four day trip will include safety, group “expedition behavior” (the health and safety of the group is the health and safety of the individual), rigging boats, reading the rapids on the river, learning about the physics of swift water, rescue, boatmanship, and how to command a paddle raft through rapids and the people skills necessary for a fun trip. Cooking, serving, and cleaning which are a big part of guiding, will also be included. Subjects are trained in all aspects of rafting from assembling the boats to reading rapids. The participants will learn all the skills to run the boats through forgiving rapids themselves, coached by professionals.
At the end of the class, the students will be required to run the river with all the rapids practiced, with the guides as coaches with veto power.
Proposed Preliminary Schedule:
Day 1 noon: Meet the students and teach the basic ethics of camping on the river, sanitation, rules, and expedition behavior. We will also discuss the logistics of a multi-day whitewater expedition, the difference between private and commercial trips, permits and other legalities. The theory of moving water and river obstacles will be presented, discussed, and safety considerations to work around them will be explained. We will also discuss camping, cooking, the mobile portapotties (the infamous ‘
Day 2-3 morning to evening: These days will teach and practice boatmanship and how and why a whitewater boat is run, both oared craft and paddle boats. We will also intensively cover swiftwater safety, self rescue techniques, swimming in swiftwater, as well as boatmanship, basics of reading whitewater, and river hazards how they work, how to scout and and what to do in them. We will discuss and practice bank and boat based rescue, flipped rafts and re-flipping the rafts. We will graduate to learning and practicing boat based rescue, and equipment extraction techniques including the z-drag, and rope based rescue techniques.
Day 4 Morning to noon: The students will pack, rig, embark and scout and run the final rapids, then de-rig the boats and load them into the trailers just as done on private trips. The guides will act as silent passengers with veto power. Boats will be de-rigged and returned to the trailers.
It was on a rocky, somewhat steep uphill stretch that I finally gave up.
Woefully out of shape, dragging the group down and fed up with the weaknesses of a borrowed mountain bike, I dismounted and walked the bike to the top of the hill. The universal mountain bikers’ sign of surrender.
Two friends and I were on what would ordinarily be a pretty cool off-road bike ride at Roman Nose State Park. We were following horse trails in a semi-wooded patch of the park, navigating semi-rough terrain that had a few stumps and rocks as well as plenty of uphill and downhill stretches.
My friends, Jeff and Trent, had sweet rides. Both were on Cannondales. Jeff is all about outdoor sports. When he skis, he telemarks (a difficult style of downhill skiing) and does it on expert slopes. He runs. Hunts. Fishes. And he enjoys off-road biking.
Trent is much the same. Except his biking resume includes several years of competitive road and off-road racing.
Like I said, I was in pretty lousy shape, in terms of heart/lung conditioning. Sure, I could lift some weights. But that doesn’t do much good on a bike.
And then there was my bike. At the time, I didn’t own my own wheels, so I ended up borrowing some. I appreciated the thought, but this bike wasn’t the light-as-air, tough-as-nails specimen that my friends owned and cherished. It was more like something you’d buy on the cheap at Walmart. Or at a garage sale.
It was heavy. The gears slipped constantly. The seat was hard as a rock, and no matter how much I tightened it down, it kept slipping out of place.
Needless to say, I did not enjoy this experience as much as my friends. Which is too bad. There’s a lot to be said of enjoying the outdoors while pushing yourself physically. Lord knows, Trent had it down to an art — he could fly down a dirt path doing 40 mph and call the hair-raising experience fun.
I got to thinking about this as I contemplated my wife’s pending bike purchase. She’s set to compete in a sprint trialthlon in Austin on June 6. Her current wheels are not up to snuff, so we’re looking at getting her a new ride. She loves biking, and it seems to be a natural thing for the two of us to start doing together more often.
If I were to revisit that trip to Roman Nose, I’d like to have a bike that’s up to the task. I’m in much better shape now. And perhaps we might be able to find a way to retrace the path I tried to take on those horse trails, worry less about a crummy bike and relish the challenge of busting through the woods without having to stop, look down in defeat and walk my bike back to camp.
SPEAKING OF ROMAN NOSE, MOUNTAIN BIKING, ETC…
Just so happens that the state park near Watonga is having a bit of a shindig for mountain bikers on June 7, the Roman Nose Mountain Bike Festival. This is a big deal and is part of the 2009 Tour de Dirt. You can get more info on the race by checking out this Web site: http://www.tourdedirt.org/Flyer%20-%20Roman%20Nose%20Mtb%20Fest.pdf
Remember a post I made awhile back about weighing risks? The decision of adventure has to do with measuring risk vs. skills. Well, here’s a video that shows someone with extraordinary skills taking huge risks. And for Steph Davis, it paid off. The video shows her free solo climbing a rock tower in Utah and, more incredibly, solo free climbing the Diamond on Longs Peak in Colorado — a 1,000-foot sheer rock face that is one of the ultimate big wall challenges in the country. Enjoy.
Picked this up from 14ers.com. Enjoy!
I did get a valuable lesson on bears from a guy here at work that hikes a lot as well and is going to Yosemite this Year.
He said to tie bells on the backpack and carry pepper spray. According to him black bear scat has berry seeds and undigested nuts and small rodent hair in it and stinks.
Grizzly scat has bells in it and smells like pepper spray.
Tromping around in the boggy marshes of a remote, unnamed stream, I was on a search.
In search of the perfect meal.
I’m not going to pretend to be Anthony Bourdain or any number of other celebrity TV foodies. No exotic locales. No special recipes or little-known cafes. Sometimes the perfect meal is not found in the kitchens of the culinary elite. Sometimes you have to find it all on your own, coax it out of its wild environs and then take matters into your own hands in terms of preparation.
Nothing — I repeat, nothing — tastes better than trout right out of the stream.
My memory of this goes back a ways, when I was first introduced to stream fishing by my brother-in-law, Mark. He’d spent some time learning the ins and outs of trout fishing and was willing to share with me what he’d learned.
We went with ultra-light tackle and fished the streams with spinners. Brook trout were the most common fish in this stretch, but there were also small rainbows and browns. Beaver ponds proved to be particularly bountiful. Finding those calm spots in the river, working the currents and figuring out where the fish would be looking for food — these were all elements to what I consider to be the cerebral art of angling in a trout stream. It’s you, your tackle and your wits vs. the fish — unseen and on their turf — in a modern version of predator vs. prey.
That said, we weren’t geared-up as much as we should have been. No waders between us. In other words, we discovered new ways to soak ourselves from the waist down as we forded streams, waded to islets and fell into deep, hidden mudholes between hummocks of grass.
So, yeah, we earned this one. We fished the valley hard, tromped around for hours and managed to haul in enough keepers to make a meal of it.
We were car camping, so there was plenty of room in the pickup for a decent camp stove, pans and all the things needed to turn these little panfish into something special. So we cleaned the fish and switched into cook-mode.
We kept it simple: corn meal, eggs, salt and pepper. A little oil in the pan. Batter up the filets, plop them in the pan and sear them until they’re done.
Doesn’t sound very gourmet, but the truth is if you’ve spent any time in the outdoors, a hard day of hiking, climbing and bushwhacking can make granola bars and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste five-star. Our fish? Nothing short of fine dining.
Sounds good to you? You don’t have to go far. The Blue River. Beaver’s Bend. Lower Mountain Fork River. These are just a few within our borders.
— Bob Doucette
That was the word shouted from above as a 10-pound stone bounded down the slope toward me. I dodged it, as did other members of my group, and watched it continue its rapid descent down the slope and toward the river below.
Falling rock was just one of the issues confronting us as we clambered up a rib of the Black Canyon on our way toward what was promised to be a sweet fishing spot on the Gunnison River.
The Black Canyon, located in southwestern Colorado, is one of the deepest canyons in the country. The Gunnison flows quickly through the chasm, its cold and heavily churned waters making an ideal place for trout to live and thrive. The trouble is the most accessible parts of the canyon are pretty much played out in terms of fishing. To find the fish, you have to work for it. In this case it included a scramble up a rock buttress littered with loose scree and, in some places, notable exposure to falls.
The crux of the climb: a short, albeit blind bouldering move that has you reaching for a handhold you can’t see, then swinging over to the other side of the canyon rib.
For taller people, not a problem. They can maintain their grip on one side and feel for the handhold on the other. I’m not tall, and neither were several others in the group. So that made it a little trickier. The move isn’t hard, but you better land it. If you don’t, you won’t stop falling for another hundred feet or so — a guaranteed cartwheeling tumble down a steep and rocky slope that likely ends with a crash against massive boulders at the bottom. More broken bones than you can count, for sure, provided you live through it.
I know for most anglers, such rock-hugging maneuvers just aren’t worth the trouble. But I’ll tell you this — the fishing was worth it. Nearly everyone who traversed the rock rib caught a bunch of fish.
So what the main point of this little story? It’s about weighing risk.
Mention risk to most people, they think about investments. Most of the things we do for fun entail very little real risk of injury, illness or death.
Like to play golf? It’s only dangerous in the thunderstorm. Summer softball? YMCA basketball leagues? Volleyball? Sure, there are some risks of injury here. But no one takes it to the rim or rounds third base wondering if this particular action will cost them their lives. Basketball courts, softball fields, golf courses — these are man-made places designed to be tame, by outdoor standards.
Wild places like canyons, mountains, rivers and forests are not designed with the same rules in mind. That makes them incredible to be around. But it also makes interacting with them less safe than heading out to the local park for an afternoon outing. Weather, terrain, wildlife — all these things are variables that are governed by nature. No one made the Grand Canyon wondering if the lawyers thought it was safe.
We’re getting into that time of year where people will be outside more often. With that in mind, think about your adventures with risk on your mind.
First, weigh the risks. What risks does your activity involve? Car camping a Lake Keystone? Not much. Attempting a 5.12 pitch in the Wichitas? A whole other matter. And of course, there’s a whole range of activities in between.
So think about what things could go wrong. And then do an inventory of the skills you have to complete your goal, as well as those skills which might get you out of a jam. Just how good of a climber/swimmer/diver are you? Do you have the right gear and clothing for this outing? What do the weather forecasts look like? What kind of shape are you in? All of these (or some variant of them) are important questions to ask before you step out the door. And they’ll help you make your decision.
It will eventually boil down to categorizing risk in one of two fields: acceptable and unacceptable. For me, my limited climbing skills, gear and the conditions in the canyon that day didn’t make the climb risk-free, but it put the risk in the acceptable category. And I caught a lot of fish. But if someone were to invite me on a climb of El Capitan in Yosemite, the Diamond on Longs Peak or one of the many 5.8 or greater pitches here in Oklahoma, I’d have to pass. Even under ideal conditions and with the best equipment, I don’t have the skills to do much of anything that involves 5+ pitches. The risk would be unacceptable for me.
I’ve been on the wrong end of bad decisions involving risk before. The consequences were not fun (lucky to be alive). But I’ve also been on the right side, assessed the risk correctly and enjoyed the rewards of challenging myself.
Traversing the rock rib was a lot more dangerous that jacking up a three-pointer in a pick-up game. But there’s no moment on the basketball court that will compare to the memories I took away from the Black Canyon and the many fish we caught.
And that’s what enjoying the outdoors is all about.
– Bob Doucette
GETTING OUT AND MAKING PLANS: Thanks to Susan from Tulsa, a reader and friend who shared with me a little of what her family is doing and will do in the great outdoors.
This week, she took her kids to the Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa, just north of Mohawk Park. She says:
“We went out to Oxley nature center. They have 4/5 hiking trails–it was fabulous. Our next big outdoor adventure will be rafting this summer.”
Awesome. Any time you can bring the kids into appreciating and enjoying the outdoors, it’s a big deal. Being outside does wonders for the mind and body, much more than any computer or video game ever could. If you want to know more about the Oxley Nature center, check out this link: http://www.oxleynaturecenter.org/
And I really want to know more about that rafting trip.
Keep ‘em coming, folks. Share with me and other readers what you’re up to. Comment here or e-mail me a email@example.com. If you want, send a photo!
BEAR BILL: A bill that proposes to create a bear hunting season in Oklahoma is one step closer to becoming law. It’s now on the governor’s desk. If he signs it, it becomes law . In my past post on this subject, all the comments I got were against the bill. Any more thoughts on that one? Comment here or e-mail me.
Here’s a summary of what the bill would do:
Under rules approved by the Wildlife Conservation Commission last week:
- The hunting season would take place in Pushmataha, Le Flore, McCurtain and Latimer counties.
- Hunters could only use bow and arrow or muzzleloaders during the proposed black bear season.
- The archery season would begin Oct. 1 and run through the Friday before deer muzzleloader season, which begins Oct. 25.
- Cubs or females with cubs could not be killed.
- The annual license fee would be $100 for a resident and $500 for a nonresident.
- Only 20 bears could be killed in a year.
Today’s awesome weather begged me to get outside and enjoy what may have been some of the finest weather we seen all year so far. And that got me to thinking about future outdoors plans.
With the exception of the die hards who don’t mind late spring skiing, the books on winter sports are pretty much closed for the season.
As of now, I’m seriously plotting some outdoors adventures, both here in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Those include:
1. Some more quality time in the Wichitas. Can’t get enough of that place. There are some peaks there I want to summit.
2. Going to Austin with my wife to watch her compete in a sprint triathlon. That happens June 6!
3. Heading to Colorado’s Missouri Gulch for a snow climb up Missouri Mountain, then a combo summit of Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford. This is in mid-June.
4. Heading back to Colorado with my two brothers for another summit combo, Grays Peak and Torreys Peak.
5. More trips to the Wichitas, or perhaps Robbers Cave. And in August, maybe another foray into the Rockies. Really wanting to explore the San Juans.
I know some of you are into the outdoors. Big-time. So what are you planning? A big backpacking trip? Some quality lake time? Water skiing? Fishing? Scuba diving in the Caribbean? Fishing for salmon in Alaska? I’d love to hear about it. And any suggestions you might have. Comment here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring fever is here! The only way to cure it is to pack up your gear and head outdoors!
Many times, we like to get into the outdoors to escape our normal lives. If you’re like me, you find that being outside and enjoying nature gives us more than just sensory pleasure. It feeds and nurtures our souls.
With nature being so generous to us, it’s a pretty good idea to give back, wouldn’t you say? The Oklahoma City Outdoor Network is offering just such an opportunity. Check out the information I’ve posted below, and if you have the time, head on down, enjoy some free grub and help keep the refuge clean (there’s a link showing where this place is if you don’t already know).
Saturday, April 18
8:30am – 1:00pm
A Free Lunch will be served after the cleanup
The OKC Outdoor Network will have people in canoes/kayaks with trash bags (on the water) cleaning up the river that runs thru Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
We will also have people from the OKC Outdoor Network
working the cleanup from land
IF….you would like to participate in this cleanup
just respond to this email
and let us know if you will be participating
or by Land (on foot)
and also…how many people you expect to bring with you
* If by chance the water level is too low to cleanup by boat
the boaters will move to the land…to help with the cleanup there !!!!
For more information on this event, e-mail at email@example.com
This isn’t exactly new news here, but I’ve seen a lot of debate about the death of Shane McConkey. For those who don’t know of him, he was an extreme skier who performs stunts no other human on the planet can do. Simply put, he could ski any line and, in more recent times, combined skiing with BASE jumping to make for some truly amazing feats. But were the risks he took too great? He left behind a wife and child. It’s a debate I’ve seen rage over the past several days. I figured I’d put this to you.
Check out this video of McConkey in action. And feel free to comment here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.