Exit Drop on Tumwater Canyon

This past week I kayaked Exit Drop on Tumwater Canyon for the first time. I had no intentions of running this rapid, but everything fell into place so perfectly I decided to fire it up. It was phenomenal! I felt good that day, I had been working extremely hard at my boating all summer, run Tumwater 30 times since Highway 2 reopened, and I was with some of the most gifted kayakers I've ever met who have been pushing me since I showed up in Leavenworth 5 months ago. There is no feeling like committing to an enormous rapid like this Class 5 beast, it is the biggest piece of white water I have run yet. I am excited to continue to hone in my skills and technique, and keep charging!

Exit Drop

Fuqua, Pat, and I after running Exit for the first time, I look up to these guys A LOT!

Tumwater is the perfect creeking training grounds whether you are a Class V or Class III boater, it has a lot to offer. I started running new lines, catching as many eddies as possible, boofing everything, and even guiding others down the canyon. I clocked 51 laps through the Canyon in the past 4 weeks, and even fired up Exit Drop a few more times! I also got to spend some one on one time boating with Rob McKibbon who is not only a phenomenal kayaker, but has an incredibly positive attitude, is extremely encouraging, and doesn't mind scouting and taking the time to break a rapid down for me, all things I appreciate immensely! 

Dropping into Exit!

There's no better feeling than successfully styling Exit!

This summer has been incredible, however lately the days are becoming cooler, leaves are beginning to fall off trees, the rivers are getting lower; autumn is approaching and as the seasons change I find myself reflecting on the past 5 months I spent in this beautiful place with some of the most incredible people I've ever met. I knew I would have fun living in Leavenworth, but as the summer unfolded I could not have possibly foreseen the countless surprises, experiences, and the many new friends that would pop into my life. 

Blanca Lake with Austyn Heinlein

Blanca Lake with Austyn Heinlein

When I moved to Leavenworth this spring the Wenatchee play run was the only white water available. First, I had no idea how to play boat, and secondly, I have never really enjoyed going into holes when creeking, so learning to surf and throw tricks in holes was not exactly high on my list. However, I gave it a shot and became hell bent on mastering these new skills. I developed a real passion for surfing and learning new tricks. During high water I was able to surf Rodeo Hole and Trinity at some meaty flows; I couldn't get enough! I now understand how spending time in a play boat was probably one of the best things I could've done to excel as a creek boater. 

My family came out to Leavenworth to visit for our 3rd annual Wenatchee river rafting trip. This started after I first began guiding 4 years ago and we all look forward to it every summer! Sheldon, Ryan, and Matt even stuck around for my first commercial Skykomish river trip with Alpine Rafting, which was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding times I've ever had as a guide! 

1st Commercial Skykomish trip!

In July, I started running Icicle Creek. Low volume, steep, continuos creeking is a challenge for me as I'm much more comfortable in bigger water. I started Icicle season with a swim on the Lower Icicle in a hole I was not able to get out of on my own. My friend Brian was able to hit me with a throw bag and pull me out, but I was in the hole for quite some time. This swim shook me up a bit, but I came back the next day to face any potential fear and ran the section 3 more times in a boat I had never paddled before. This experience was a defining moment for me in that it made me a notch tougher. I continued onto the Upper Icicle and Middle Icicle where as I felt more comfortable I would add on rapids and sections, eventually running everything but Ricochet.

Roadside rapid, Upper Icicle Creek

Once Icicle season ended there was a 3 week gap where there was nothing to boat in the Leavenworth area, so I took advantage of this time and traveled to White Salmon, WA. My primary goal was to buy a new  boat; I had no idea it would be such an adventure. I showed up to the put-in for the middle White Salmon and ran into Tom, Kira, Casey, and Hilary who I joined and we paddled all the way to the Columbia River.

Husum Falls, Middle White Salmon River

The Lower Gorge of the White Salmon was only recently opened to paddlers following the removal of the Condit Dam. The river is now able to flow freely through basalt canyon walls eventually narrowing into a gorge. I had never been down this section of river before and was blown away by it's beauty. When we arrived at the confluence of the Columbia River with Mt. Hood well in view, it is impossible not to revel in the beauty of the Gorge, there is something truly magical about this place.

The following week I made a second trip to White Salmon to escape the smoke in Leavenworth and go skiing at Mt. Hood. I met up with my friend Brian and we had a blast skiing corn, I also channeled my inner McConkey and skate skied for the first time! 

Afterwards, we stopped at Eagle Creek and hiked up to Punchbowl and Metlako Falls. I've read about these waterfalls and seen pictures, but there is nothing quite like seeing them in the flesh. At 86 ft. Metlako Falls is the largest waterfall a woman has run, maybe I will run it someday, but for now I will remain inspired.

Metlako Falls

Next we stopped at the Little White Salmon and hiked into Spirit Falls. This place is truly magical with aqua blue pools, cascading waterfalls, and powerful hydraulics, this river is a HUGE goal of mine. 

Spirit Falls

After trying out several creek boats on the Middle White Salmon I decided to go with a Medium Pyranha Burn! I love the way this boat handles boofs, low volume creeks, tight slots, big holes, edge control, and how incredibly comfortable I feel in it! 

Outfitting my new boat!

Back in Leavenworth the Carlton Complex fire continued to grow into the largest forest fire in Washington state history, the smoke was thick and ash was falling from the sky. 

Tumwater canyon was closed due to the Chiwaukum Creek fire for 2 more weeks, so I headed up to Whistler, BC to meet my friends Ash and Alison and do some kayaking. I did the Whistler triple crown for the first time, which includes the Callaghan, Soo, and Upper Cheakamus rivers. The Callaghan had a 25 ft. waterfall, the biggest drop I've ever done, it was AWESOME!

When I returned, the following day within an hour of the Canyon opening, Tom Potter and I were on it! At 1800 cfs. it felt so good to paddle this beautiful piece of white water again.

The Wall

Over the past 5 months Leavenworth has become a special place for me as I've met some of the most amazing people, had the most incredible experiences, and been able to kayak almost everyday. It's been the most incredible of summers, but it is finally time to leave. I'm looking forward to going back to school and can't wait to keep charging down the creeks on the other side of the mountains! So here's to fulfilling a limitless potential with no boundaries but the one's we give ourselves. #shegoes

Tumwater lap #51 with these two!

-AL

Comment