By: Dwayne Parton

The Cascades

Big KahunaToday was my first trip to The Cascades!!!! The gauge said that the Nanty was running at 1050cfs, so I’m thinking that they were at 300cfs or so. Not sure. It was a great ride, fast, fun, and more than exciting. I felt as though every thing was easily within my comfort zone, as a matter of fact Big Kahuna was the one place I flipped. I made it through the 2nd lap though. So here are a couple highlights.

The Horns of God: Today I just couldn’t seem to run the right line at the horns. The hole before it is pretty pushy and knocks you off line very easily. My first time down, I ran to the right of the horns. It really wasn’t bad, a good boof stroke and it was off to the races. My second round I was considerably tired. When I through the hole I got pushed left. I was determined to hit the right line but my determination ended up broaching me on the left horn. Scary right. Not too bad honestly, I just kept my cool and let the current take me down the left side where I made sure to boof. It was definitely eye opening though.

Big Kahuna: OK so this rapid doesn’t look all that bad from the road, but let me say it hits a lot harder than you would imagine and it is really really fast. Definitely, the hardest rapid I’ve ran. It was pretty hard for me to keep my bearings both times I went down. I stayed left both times to punch the top hole. The top hole shot me right both times but much more so on the second. I missed bottom hole both times but really never even saw it until the second round which I will describe in a minute. So the first time, I proceeded to the left of the bottom hole toward the left side of the drop. It came so fast, I felt as though the floor had been pulled out from under me. I went to boof but I think all I got was air and I went off the lip on edge and flipped instantly. It was exhilarating. I rolled up and caught the eddy asap because there was a pretty much river wide strainer right after the pool at the top of junk yard. So my second round after I went through top hole I felt like I was way too far right. My friend that I was paddling with said if you are going toward bottom hole catch the eddy above it, you don’t want to be in it. That’s what I decided to do. I dropped into the eddy and skirting the skirt bottom hole by sliding down the slab beside it. I dropped in and successfully ran Big Kahuna!

After Big Kahuna it got considerably easier. Junk Yard wasn’t too bad, and Powerslide was completely different that what I had imagined. We took left line on Little Chinese Feet. It was a great line for me, after the first drop, catch the eddy on the left, then peel out and run the second drop. Not too bad. It’s smooth sailing from there with just a few more little drops. There was a tree that people were boat sliding, which was pretty cool, but it’s best for the noob to stay away from that. OK so that was kind of my adventure, now for the most important part.

What’s Important? The Cascades were a great thing for me to paddle, but it definitely brought to light some of my weaknesses. There were times when I just couldn’t go exactly where I wanted. Like at The Horns, I just didn’t read the water well and I missed my line. I conscientiously went right the first time but not the second. That means I’ve got to get better at both reading water and staying on line. The next thing is I felt like when I hit rocks I would loose my line on the smaller rapids. I need to paddle my Diesel a lot more, the way it reacts and the way I react to it are no where near as in sync as I feel like I am with my playboat. I don’t really know how to word it, but I’m just not happy with that part of my paddling. I felt like I kept having to get back into control as opposed to staying in control. There were definitely times where it was just reaction boating for me. It was like I was hanging on and not navigating. I don’t feel like it was bad for my first go, but I need to get better, and I feel like the Cascades are a great place for me to do that. I wanna make sure I’m running them a lot better than I did today before I move on to anything bigger. On the plus side, the only place I got dumped was at Big Kahuna! :D Still smiling about running them. Definitely the biggest thing I’ve paddled yet!!!