Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Misto Gorge, Portage fest 2010

Well I wouldn't say Misto Gorge has the best whitewater around, that's for sure. However it is a very cool gorge, and is almost like a geology field trip with some really cool different rock formations. I woke up saturday morning as most college students do with an extreme hangover. I had a hard time motivating, but from past experience I've found it is almost always much better to go than not to go. I rolled out of bed, loaded my kayak stuff up, and drove to meet Kurt Braunlich to do the Misto Gorge for both of our first times.

Hungover much? And no I did not get in a fight, the shiner is from Ernie's canyon, I had an unfortunate interaction with a rock. Im pretty sure it won. Luckily ladies love a guy with a black eye.

Driving over the Nooksack.
Beautiful PNW scenery on Mt. Baker highway.
We arrived at the put-in, my subie(Gnarcar) was looking good as usual.

There is something about kayaking that makes hangovers go away. It could have to do with the cold water splashing your face, im not really sure, but either way its like magic. We put in, and paddled a few miles of flatwater before entering the 1st gorge.
Kurt entering the 1st of 2 sweet gorges.
We came upon this rapid in the 1st gorge, little did we know it was going to be one of the only ones we would end up running. After we exited the first short gorge, we paddled a mile or so of flatwater before entering the next. We came upon the first rapid. After a short scout, the rapid went but had a gnarly hole that fed into a bed seive. It was a no-go. After portaging on a pile of logs, we put in and ran a manky little class 4 rapid just after. Rapid number 2 for the day. We continued downstream, the next rapid, no-go, damn! We portaged again. This continued for a while. There is something about portaging every rapid, it turns more into an extreme walking event with your kayak, certainly fulfilling the adventure aspect of the day.
The lip of one of the portages, which would have been a sweet rapid minus a huge log through it just on the other side of the horizon line, damn! Getting out to portage this rapid was quite involved, we had to set some climbing gear in the gorge wall to safely lower ourselves down to a spot where we could get out of our boats.
Portage fest 2010! hooray.

After this portage, we ran another class 4 manky rapid (rapid number 3 for the day)before coming to this dam, a sweet clean 12ft damn that was fun for freewheelin.
Kurt killin the freewheel.
We then took out above Nooksack falls, a nice 60ft ish waterfall that lands pretty hard on rocks.

Nooksack falls.

We ended the day, and decided it would be one of those runs that maybe you do every couple of years, just to say you've done it.

Hope for rain, things are dry right now.

Middle Fork of the Nooksack

Well lately up here in Bellingham, there has been not very much snow, but lots of rain. This is good and bad because well, we want snow for spring runoff, but we love rain for the good mid-winter runs on the different sections of the Nooksack. My personal favorite is the Middle Fork, if you link the upper and the lower, it could be some of the most quality kayaking i've done, combining two awesome styles of whitewater. The upper consists of class 5 boulder garden style rapids with tons of sweet boofs and some big holes to punch. The lower, or the "Canyon" consists of a sweet gorge with some great bedrock pool-drop style rapids with even more sweet boofs and beautiful scenery. I couldn't be happier when the MF is running, I skip all the classes I can afford to, and MF becomes the focus. Here is a video that shows all the major rapids on the MF over two sweet days of boating. Check it out.

Middle Fork Nooksack POV from Fred Norquist on Vimeo.