Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Down the River Clean-Up; Recreational Restoration at it's best.

With 350 eager volunteers, the 7th annual Clean-up on the lower Clackamas River last Sunday was a huge success.  Not just because the river is now cleaner than it was last weekend, but because this year marks the hopeful beginning of something more...Something bigger.

The people came out in force!  Bright orange buckets tightly clenched by glove covered hands were filled with shards of broken glass.  Big hunks of metal, plastic, and rubber were piled high on rafts, drift boats, and canoes.    

As in years past, people gathered together along the banks of the Clackamas River last weekend with the common goal of cleaning up the garbage left behind by the masses.  A near constant barrage of overheated Portlanders flood the Clackamas River Basin each summer in search of relief from the sweltering heat.  When the hoards of overly intoxicated inflatable k-mart coffin riding tubers go home, not all of of the beer cans, used prophylactics, and busted pool toys make it home with them.      

The presence of abnormally oppressive summer heat this year meant our work was cut out for us, but what makes this year's clean-up stand out is not the magnitude of the task before us, but the birth of a new non-profit called  With the creation of this new entity comes the possibility of expanding the effort to new rivers and even new watersheds here in Oregon and beyond!  

People rose before the sun.  They ventured out beyond the comforts of their respective lives to slog shoulder to shoulder through the muck and mire...not only did they show up in mass and put forth amazing effort to clean the river, but they had a great time doing it!  That's just what is all about..."Turning Restoration into Recreation"

Kristin Dahl, one of the three original eNRG kayak instructors who got things going with a simple river trip including 60 volunteers and a bunch of trash bags back in 2003, was announced as President of the new organization. Sam Drevo, another original kayaker, serves as the vice president, with further support from board member Kate Ross, Community Outreach Director for Willamette River Keeper and Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, and Jacqui Bishop, who provides legal counsel.

We Love Clean Rivers hopes to expand the scope of the effort and bring a river clean-up to your watershed...SOON!  Look forward to the Willamette River Clean up happening this October 3rd.  Visit Willamette River Keeper to find out more!

In addition to the new non-profit, The Ripple Effect has spread since last year.  They are the group of artists that take some of the garbage found in the river and turn it into works of art.  They then have an exhibition where they sell the art to benefit the cause.  There are 17 artists this year!!

The Ripple Effect mission is to "Inspire sustainable lifestyle changes through individual, innovative artistic efforts. The RIPPLE Effect is a movement supporting individuals who embark upon sustainable artistic endeavors. They believe that art is inspirational alone, and through artistic exhibitions they hope create an annual event that will resonate through the community for years to come."

  Be sure to check out the show October 24th at Roof Top Studios at NW 14th and Burnside from 4pm -9pm and be ready to buy some clackamas river clean-up art!!  
"We put together a team of diverse artists to work with recovered river debris with the hopes of inspiring a community to make sustainable lifestyle choices. You don’t have to be an artist to inspire change. It is through the reformation of the thought process, getting people to think outside of the blue recycling bin, and becoming an active recycler." 

If you missed this year's event, make sure to get it on your calendar for next year!  Better yet, visit to find out how you can help make next year's even even better!!                                                                                                                   
Check out some of the photos from this year below.  I am working on setting up a photo sharing account, but for now I have selected a bunch of my personal favorites from the day.

Brent Dahl (event organizer) already hard at work.  - 6 am  Yes, it's dark...completely dark.

Kate and Patti help Brent prepare H.Q. as the sunrise emerges through the trees. 
Grand Central Bakery donated breakfast and Jacqui made the delivery.  The bag was big enough that it made anyone who carried it look like a bagel Santa. 
Sue digs into the huge Santa sack O' bagles and starts slicin and dicing

 Each pod got a standard issue bucket full of supplies for the day.

We had an awesome T-shirt design this year by Jenn Huckinns being shown off by Kristin Dahn. (left)  Brent Dahl (right)

Safety first!!  I was the Safety Coordinator for the event this year.  This is me giving the safety chat to the pod leaders the morning of the event.   
Bob and Kristin work to make sense of all the changes due to no shows.  It's always crazy trying to sort everyone out.
The main event site was at Barton Park this year 
Lianne, Corey, and Kate enjoying some laughs
Brent addresses the huge crowd of volunteers.   All the first timers are raising their hands in this shot.   

350 volunteers showed up this year!! 
  Kristin tells it like it is.  She is being interviewed by Randy with Channel 8

 If you look hard enough you are rewarded with river booty.  This one was un-opened and found at the put-in!  He was just opening it to pour it out of course. 
Pod 3 representin'
Each pod consists of several kayakers, rafts for passengers and garbage boats.  

Picking up trash is fun for everyone...

...even river dogs!

While everyone was off cleaning the river the event staff at HQ found a few moments of peace before the crowds returned 
 Some found more peace than others. 

After people came trickling in, the band got things started at the Bar-B-Que

 The silent auction was a great success thanks to all of Rod's hard work.  There were some great deals out there on some sweet gear!
Such good deals infact, that Rod needed to physically remove some of the more enthusiastic bidders 
Next Adventure was supporting the event with the traditional post clean-up Bar-B-Que.
Sam getting his fill 

 Some of the younger participants this year...super cute!!

  At the end of each section garbage sorters and artists sift through the dumpsters sorting out what is trash and what is potential beginnings of a master piece. 

Whoa!  Check out the sweet Michael Jackson move over the trash pile!  
 At the end of the day we packed everything up and left the park as we found it...only cleaner.  Just like last year, only ONE can of garbage was generated by the 350 volunteers who attended this year's event.  By making efforts to compost and recycle almost everything, event organizers have managed to reduce the impact of the event dramatically.  
The clean-up is sure to grow and expand to a river near you.  Go to to find out how you can get involved!   
See ya next year!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

B.C. Creekin for "The Season"

Bryan Smith's latest project called, "The Season" follows five athletes from the Northwest as they test their skills and chase that next epic adventure that will complete their respective seasons in style.  "The Season" will air as a WebTV series on Outside Magazine's website this spring. 

Bryan has really stepped up his game in the last year so expect to be amazed by some of the footage he has managed to capture.  It's unlike anything I've seen to date.  A film festival cut for Banff is approaching completion and Bryan seems really stoked about it.  Don't be surprised if you hear more about this project beyond the web series.

My segment in "The Season" will obviously be the paddle sport scenes.  I am super excited by this opportunity to combine whitewater and sea kayaking in one project.  I have managed recent success in the world of sea kayaking, but my heart and sole is that of a whitewater boater. 

We had a couple days to nail the shots we needed for the segment including a lengthy personal interview.  Christy Glissmeyer and I loaded up her rig and headed to Seattle where we met up with Fitz Cahall, creator of The Dirt Bag Diaries.

  From there we began the trek North... 

Fitz is an amazing writer and is assisting Bryan with production.  Once the three of us were headed north it took no time to reach Squamish, B.C. where Bryan is lucky enough to now live.

Time was of the essence, so we busted straight out to the Cheakamus River.  We met Steve Rogers at the store on the way.  Steve is a very talented photographer in Whistler.  Click his name to see his main site or check his blog    .  He was nice enough to provide me with some of the images he captured during our time in B.C.  All the photos on this post are by him.  Thanks Steve!!

This classic B.C. run was crankin' when we showed up at the take-out.  The sun was out and the temps had reached the upper eighties in the mountains so EVERYTHING was melting.  I remember it being 2.8 on the guage.  (The upper end of good).

The put in is fifty meters above a demanding must boof drop with a pushy cross current landing that takes you into the river right wall.  Nothin like having to scout the put-in drop on a new run to get the butterflies going.  Christy and I both picked lines and went for it.

  Landing the put-in drop on the Cheakamus

The first run down we just got the feel for things.  On the second run of the morning we slowed things way down and Bryan and Steve Rogers got some shots.  The water was a beautiful silty blue/green color and coursed through a corridor of giant moss covered trees. 
The Cheakamus (Bridge Rapid) 
Bryan and Fitz can be seen filming from the bridge
Scouting the last drop of the "Cheak"
After the Cheak we slammed down some lunch and made our way over to another B.C. classic...The Callahan! Bryan wanted to get Christy and I down the Callahan that evening in preparation for filming on it the next day.
We were both pretty spent from driving and paddling all day so we both had a beat down or two on the way down.  I became intimately familiar with the biggest drop on the run.  I spent some quality time in the vail getting cartwheeled relentlessly.  I managed to pull my knees back under the thigh braces after they were both dislodged a time or two.

The current rolled me back up eventually.  It felt like someone just grabbed me and flipped me back up right.  When I looked back to see who it was all I saw was the 25 ft wall of water that was right on top of me.  Still in the vail, the only thing I could do was get a few more breaths and wait to be spit out.  I rolled into the curtain for another round of cartwheels and was released after a few moments. 

After rolling up and chatting with Bryan we determined that even though I hit my boof  I was too far to the right and got a bad surge from the boil at the bottom.  He had never seen that happen to anyone on that drop...leave it to me to find a way to get beat down by the cleanest waterfall around. 

Most of the next day we spent filming a series of rapids that started with a fun lead into a sweet 12 foot drop then onto "Brazilian Wax Job"  for the flushy exit.  I must have run this one atleast 4 times that day. 
  Christy and I scout the 12 foot lead in drop.

We had plenty of time to scout.  In fact we had to wait for the sun to get high enough in the sky to illuminate the whole rapid.  Since we were planning to film from a zip line over-head the entire rapid needed to have consistent light.  The results are incredible.  The footage pulled from the zip line cam look like you are riding on a helicopter over the paddler's head.  Bryan is able to control the camera remotely while checking the shot through a monitor that is set up bank side. 

After a long scout and much anticipation I launched off the first lip.
Now onto Brazilian Wax Job...
Filming that day went off without a hitch.  We got some of the best quality whitewater shots to date.  Bryan and Fitz seemed quite pleased with their work.  It's all worth it when you nail the shot. 
Keep your eyes peeled for "The Season" this Winter.  I will be sure to make a post when the episodes start hitting the web.