Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Jefe Prototype History

Visit LVM Video, the offical DVD publication of this Whitewater Kayaking Blog.
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There has been much contention about Johnnie Kern's new creek boat the Jefe. In particular the statement made that the Jefe was, "the most tested creek boat on the market".

photo by Nikki Kelly

There are a lot of people out there, Johnnie and crew, who worked hard to make the Jefe a timeless design, founded on safety, function and performance.
Here is the history behind the people and places where the 4 Jefe prototypes were designed.
Main Jefe Prototype Gallery, Click Here

Paddling prototypes is not always fun, the boats leak, the designs are experimental and plastic is fragile and improperly cooked. These factors come down hard when it is a creek boat you are testing, especially on multi-day class V runs.
Here are two prototypes that left their owners’ hanging. Note: When you make prototype molds out of Fiberglass the heat from the oven is absorbed by the glass, where a standard aluminum mold conducts the heat evenly to the plastic. For a graphical representation see below:

The Jefe was taken to every type of environment where creek boats are used. In fact, it was taken to the "Best", the "Top Shelf" rivers of each genre, if you will.

Here is the proof that a lot of hard work went into designing, testing and re-designing the Jefe.

1) Devil's Post Pile of the San Joaquin (4 days class V-V+) 200-900 cfs
Video of Jefe #2, Click Here
Widescreen, Click Here

2) Grand Canyon of the Stikine River (3 Days Class V-V+) 10,000cfs
Stikine Video, Click Here

3) Linvile Gorge (14 mile class V) 800 cfs
Linville Video, Click Here

4) Tatlow Creek, BC (3.5 miles class V-V+) 350 cfs
Tatlow Video, Click Here

5) Green Narrows 200% (3.5 miles class V-V+)

6) Random and sundry other Washington and BC creeks.

7) Rio Blanco al Interior (best run in South America (yes I know another bold claim)) 4 miles class V-V+ 500 cfs
Rio Blanco al Interior, Click Here

8) First Descent Rio Nevado class V-V+ 2 miles
Rio Nevado First Descent, Click Here

Monday, October 04, 2004

Linville- Post Flood Report

To watch video part 1 from Linville Flood Report (10.6 MB Quicktime)=>
Click Here

To watch video part 2 from Linville Flood Report(13.6 MB Quicktime)=>
Click Here

The first river highlighted in this Blog was the Linville Gorge. The river had spiked to an unusually high 7,000 cfs, this dramatic rise was caused by a localized thunderstorm event, and was seen as flow anomaly for August.

Little did we know, but a series of tropical events would follow, making this event seem like an everyday occurrence. The scope of the REAL anomalies that would pulse through this ancient river in the weeks to follow was nearly incomprehensible. First there was Frances, dumping nearly 20 inches of rain in the headwaters of the river. Forcing the river to rage to over 36,000 cfs, scouring the gorge, rerouting the streambed and destroying property.

The USGS graph from Frances

Historical peak flows for the Linville

Of note here is that this graph represents 85 years of data, and that during the first 3 weeks of September the river reached flows of 7,000, 36,000 and 22,000 cfs.

A house sheared off its foundation when the Linville tore through a series of Islands near the takeout in Nebo, NC.

Next up was Ivan, dumping another 17 inches of rain into the highlands of North Carolina.

Ivan’s fury caused the river to once again crest at an unimaginable flow of over 20,000 cfs.
The picture below was taken during this flood.

Compared with this image at low flow, you can see the mutation this place takes on. One can only imagine what it looked like with over twice the flow, merely a week prior.

photo courtesy of Jerry Greer Photography, to visit his site Click Here

Well, with a busted gauge and another tropical storm passing through, we headed down to check out the damage. The flow was a perfect old 1.9, and the weather was soothingly warm.

As we walked down the mile long Babble Tower Trail, the evidence of the flood began to appear. As we neared the river, the creek we hike down was blown out of its banks and a large rubble pile blocked the old outflow, forming a large pool and diverting the creek upstream to meet the river.

There were lots of scar marks, rising up to about 15 feet above the normal water line, and the trees were cleared of their foliage up to this mark.

Video=>Flood Damage (7.9 MB Quicktime)=>
Click Here

A large mudslide in the lower section of the river.

The river changed a little bit here and there, mostly for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Here is a shot of Babble Tower, the first falls on the river.

The first of the ‘Big 3’ is Drunk Tank. The Tank has a tricky entrance, big hole, and two opposing undercut walls, each forcing a jet of water into the other.

To watch video of Drunk Tank (2 MB Quicktime)=>
Click Here

Some random rapid.

Carving the middle S in ‘S-Trun”

One of the coolest rapids on the river is “The Cave” drop. The meat of the flow goes through hell on the middle and right sides of the river. A sneak is possible on the river left. Typically accessed by portaging the sketchy top drop (flushes into hell), and crawling through a cave and paddling out onto a long ‘elevator’ slide. Due to the flooding, the cave is now closed for business. You must run the top, and it takes a good bit of skill to turn and catch the elevator.
To watch video of Cave (2.1 mb)=>
Click Here

Here is a sequence of Toby sticking the transfer.

Nate Elliot Clearing out of the top hole @ Dr. Zeuss

The third big drop, Hommie’s Slot, changed the most out of all the significant rapids. It was reported to us that the boil in the cauldron was too strong to paddle out of and many swims were referenced to hold credibility to said report.

A new line, over what used to be the sieve on river left, was mentioned.
Howard Tidwell running left.

To watch video of Hommie Left (3 MB QT)=>
Click Here

Haven totally eaten shit here on our most recent trip (see Linville post below) Toby was forced to give the main line a go. The battle was reminiscent of Fight Club, and thus the name of the drop was changed until conditions improve.

Toby, breaking in the re-named Hommie’s Slot.

To watch video of Toby’s first battle with ‘Fight Club’ (5.6 MB QT)=>
Click Here

Forced to follow Toby, stepping into the ring…

To watch video of Daniel fight clubbing it out of the pit (4.6 mb QT)>
Click Here

The last Big drop on the middle river is Cathedral Falls

To watch video of Cathedral (6.3 mb QT)=>
Click Here

The rest of the river we kept the camera stashed and paddled solidly to the takeout. There was a good bit of stream redirecting in the lower, with huge piles of lumber stacked 20 and 30 feet high, really reminiscent of Mt Rainer flood plains.

On the way up old 105 we saw some Bear Hunters cruising for a scent.

Video of the Bear Dogs=>
Click Here

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Noah Comes to WNC

On this day, Wedensday the 8th of September, the biblical man himself made an apperance in the highlands of Western North Carolina. He came in the form of Hurricane Francis, delivering up to 16 inches of rain in the region and causing widespread flooding throughout the mountain counties.

We new it was coming. The big flood that is…

After the saturating rains of last week (see Linville Gorge report below), the above shown NOAA 120 hr predictions left a slim-to-none chance that the WNC area would get off with anything less than mass wasting, floods, destruction, property and agricultural losses.

Well, if you thought that the 7,000 cfs flowing through the Linville Gorge last week was a lot, just imagine what 35,000 looked like.

(Wednesday Morning: facing a 6pm flight out of Atlanta to Vancouver, see or=> Click Here )

I awoke @ 6:30 am to head out to Transylvania County, NC to film Pat Keller and Austin Rathman running the large, and seldom flowing, Looking Glass Falls.

To watch pat run the falls=>
Click Here

To watch Austin Run the Falls=>
Click Here

On the way back to Asheville, I received a number of messages from folks at Riverside Industrial Park (home of Astral Buoyancy and Watershed), each more and more alarmed. It seemed that the French Broad River was escaping its banks at a rapid pace.

The messages went something like this:

“Ahhh, Daniel, you better get down here and move your Subaru, the river is at the top of your tires”

-Scott Albright

**I had been storing my second car in the parking lot next to the river.

“Daniel, this is Justyn at Watershed, we need you to come get your care before the river does”

“Daniel, its Scott, Dude, your car is loosing, are you coming to get it?”

“Daniel, this is Phillip, we are currently tying your car to a telephone pole, but its 4 feet from current and its not looking good, where are you bro?”

-Phillip Curry

“Dude, its at the top of your door handles, better hurry up.”

Pat and I raced to the scene and this is what we found

To watch video of the extraction, death and draining of the ‘Ruu’ Click Here

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Linville Gorge

On Wednesday night of September 1st, a torrential downpour delivered between 4 to 6 inches of rain in the highland watershed of North Carolina’s Ultra-Classic, Linville River.

The river reached an incredible high of 7,000 cfs (nearly unheard of) and presented a great opportunity to test out our new boats loaded with gear.

photo courtesy of Jerry Greer Photography, to visit his site Click Here

The Linville, an expeditionary, used-to-be multiday, class V run, remains one of the top bigger river (i.e. not a steep boney creek) Wilderness Runs on the East Coast. First pioneered back in the late 70’s, the run and the 100’s of rapids remain somewhat shrouded in mystery and legend.

photo courtesy of Jerry Greer Photography, to visit his site Click Here

The Plan:
To hike in at Babble Towers (45 minutes from the rim to the river) this is the start of the gradient and cuts off the 3.5 miles of easier class III-IV below the classic Linville Falls.

We would then run the heart of the gorge and hike out at Conley Cove (1 hard ass hour straight up hill from river to rim). We would then rally backup to the top of the river, load up our overnighter gear and put back on the river, this time at the falls. We would then paddle down for a bit and pick out a prime campsite and paddle out in the morning.

What Happened:

We hiked in, put on, had a great run, and got beat down hiking up the hill. Facing a falling river and an impending 2 weeks sleeping out in the BC wilds, we decided to call it a day and head for the comforts of home.

Here is a widescreen video highlight reel of the day.
Click Here

The rapids, in order of appearance, are:
Babble Tower, Jailhouse and Homie’s Slot
Paddlers were: Brad Kee, Brent Meadows, Toby MacDermott, Andy Dodson, Nate Helms, and Daniel DeLaVergne