September means a few things for us here in the PNW. It means pumpkin-spice lattes and Uggs will be returning to our lives. It means sweating is almost done for the year. Disgusting. It means that we get to get back in our drysuits soon!
September also means Chelan.
This year the action was off the water for me.
Seven weeks post shoulder surgery had me sitting on the sidelines and watching the action from the canyon rim. But I had good company and cold beer, so life was good.
Right out the gate, I knew the weekend was going to be different. Sara and I pulled up to a line of cars a couple miles outside of Index, at almost 9pm.
A semi-truck rolled over on the two lane road that is the most direct route to Leavenworth. We had cold beer and a happy dog so the wait was bearable. After a bit the lawn chairs came out and the camera got set up for some long exposure shots.
The stars were out in full effect. Not a lot of light pollution in Index.
Following the kayakers from river right; the topography of the landscape surprises me. I'm so used to seeing this canyon from river level. It's gorgeous!
The flat water stretch that boaters have to get through before Entrance Exam looks so out of place in Washington.
The water that courses down towards the Columbia is almost a neon blue color. It's the visual equivalent to that first sip of cold beer after a long day in the sun.
Entrance Exam sneaks up on you. One minute it's canyon sightseeing and the next its falling into this deep crack in the Earth.
The entrance ledge.
The first ledge.
The middle ledge.
Entrance Exam is the make or break for me. I love this drop but I hate that last hole!
One of the hardest things I had to deal with while shooting was the intense winds that are racing up the gorge, towards Chelan lake.
With the camera on a tripod and two human bodies as a windscreen, I was still getting too much camera wobble at anything over 200mm to get a quality shot.
Jeremy Bisson lays down some treats with a super clean Entrance Exam line.
Ryan Young drops in to say hello.
Chelan Slide is a beast of a drop. Sam explains the pros and cons...
It just wasn't the same without Brett Barton to show us all how it's done.
Most op for the safe left line.
The entrance to the main drop has a terribly sticky hole.
Sometimes people step up to the plate. Alex Podolak with a super sick line.
Photos by Sara Yoshimura.
Immediately below is 6 feet of glory: Super Boof.
Like always; the intense Eastern Washington sun destroyed my hopes of having the correct exposure.
The wind also wreaked havoc while taking off and landing the dji phantom.
One of these years I will convince a team to wait until noon to put on so that we can get the canyon while it's completely lit up with sunshine.
Super Boof looks intense from 400 feet above.
Throne is immediately below Super Boof. Sara Yoshimura grabbed some photos of the boys running it while I filmed with the dji.
Issac takes a shot at the Throne.
My first two trips down the Chelan Gorge, Pinnacle was a mandatory portage. People stopped to look at it but that was it.
That all changed when Rob ran it and showed the masses that it went better than it looked.
Due to the lay of the land, I was not able to get a good shot of Pinnacle while the boys were firing it off. I could essentially only see the entrance, first move and the exit from the drop.
Watching was a nail biting experience; waiting for your boys to get to the bottom after they commit.
Next up is Extra Credit:
Sam stands guard over the nasty sieve that makes Fat Lady such a white knuckler. Everyone had great lines through this big girl, and made the last drop look like a breeze.
All in all. another amazing Chelan experience in the books. The folks over at Chelan PUD are some of the coolest, most stoked non-boaters I've met.
Their warm welcome, hospitality and understanding of kayaker customs is out of this world.
The takeout is nothing but smiles and exaggerated boofs.
This amazing weekend is only possible because of the hard working folks at AW. Pay your dues, donate your time, do what you can to support a cause like American Whitewater.
Until next year!
Chelan 2014 Teaser from daniel patrinellis on Vimeo.