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Ben Stookesberry showed his bulldog type of determination today,
completing one of the most impressive sections of unrun rivers anywhere!
This expedition lasted weeks, trying each day to move from the source of the
Alesca River to Tomata Falls, in the hardest of scouting conditions. Here
is what happened today…

Today was a great day for me. I finally got over the hump and became a full
on creeker again, excited to run hard drops and not scared to do them based
on my own assesment of the lines, risk, etc.. We completed a first descent
today, starting with a 40 foot waterfall that is not very pretty, with
undercuts on both sides, but more of a beatdown potential than death
potential. I ran it first today. Ben ran it last night. After that we
headed downstream. Tao, Jason Hale, and John Grace were here three years
ago and ran that waterfall, John swam, but they got out there and didnt got
downstream into the canyon. Everything here is really in a canyon, and
there is no such thing as an easy out, but the real canyons, we have done
three of them, you cant get out once you get in. Todays was awesome.
There was a double drop that we came upon that was the most beatutiful rapid
I have seen since I have been here. It is a small island in the middle
that has a not so good line on the right side of the island, but the left
side only 10 feet away is awesome, and has never been seen by kayakers
before. It is a 15 foot drop that lands on a 3 foot wide boily pillow that
drops another 15 feet down. The line was to boof it hard but with just
enough left angle to prevent hitting the wall, and then as soon as you touch
down another hard boof stroke to carry you out and down the next drop. I
couldnt have been happier with my line there, nor could I imagine a more fun
rapid, especially being that it has never been run before today.

Just below this rapid, however, was a 10 foot drop into a very narrow area
with a huge pourover, and a terrible cave on the left and right that could
be run, but would be death if you didnt make it past the hole, and could get
a rope into the cave. Nobody considered running this one. We got to do a
sweet seal launch in its place just downstream. It went better for some
than others. There was one black eye from a poor push and landing on his
head, and there were some sweet ones too. Ben had a great one.

Hands down, the whole team is sold on the new Rockers as the clear choice
for a full on creeker. Ben came down without a Mega Rocker and after Jesse
had to pull out from his dislocated shoulder, he has been in it every day
since, saying it is the Bomb. Nick calls it the Cadillac of Creekboats and
is very glad he chose it. Eric Seymore, who brought his own brand new
creekboat from another brand, paddled it twice (before Ben switched into it)
and is so excited about it for his own boating now, commenting that it was
the boat to be in. I am so proud of the job the team did in creating the
latest and greatest of creekboats. Phil Boyer with some key outfitting
ideas, Ben and Jesse with some key input on peformance goals, Clay Wright
and his attention to detail, Boyd Ruppelt with his input, and then David
Knight, who worked magic from the bow to the stern, and deck to hull.
David and I were firing on all cylinders on this one. John Ratliff and the
staff team, did awesome work making the new hinged bulkhead system a
reality, and the new foam attachment system for the bulkhead. I cant wait
for you to see the new video, Hotel Charlie:River of Doubt! You will love
the action, and the amount of work that went into completing this expedition
consisting of 35 kilometers of river that has been mostly unrun before this
trip, with most of the sections completely untouched by man previously. In
case you were wondering where the name Hotel Charlie came from… it is code

Well, the whole team is alive and well. There was one dislocated shoulder
by Jesse that was a huge bummer. There were plenty of bruises, cuts, bug
bites (swollen hands, legs, etc), some truly sketchy scouting, some huge
drops, lots of big drops, lots of really difficult drops, and weeks worth of
exploring to get this expedition completed. We now know what the alseca
river holds over a 35 kilometer (21 miles) section. It is unfathomable how
steep the river is for so long, and how big the drops are. 100 footers are
all over the place, hanging valleys, tons of huge waterfalls and quality
drops, as well as numerous no return canyons that required days of hacking,
climbing, rapeling, and probing to determine if we could enter. One we left
for another day, a 100 foot waterfall at the end of a series of rapids.

I am looking forward to getting home and getting the Punk Rocker and new
Rocker in production in a matter of a couple of weeks. These boats will
become the favorite among the hard core creeker pushing the limits, and the
intermediate or beginner kayaker looking for volume, easy to roll, easy to
paddle boats for themselves. I had better let John Ratliff know that will
have to build a bunch of them! It is so fun when you truly hit the nail on
the head and everything comes together to create just what you dreamed you
could. Jackson Kayak hasnt been known as the creekboat company in the past,
and there is little I can do to stop that from happening at this point! The
Mega Rocker handles the biggest person of any creekboat and floats them
really well, offering stability, room, and ease of rolling and paddling.
The Rocker handles the medium to medium/large person (thats ME!) and the
Punk Rocker handles the small to small/medium person. Three sizes so you
get the right one.

We got some serious bulkhead testing, and anyone who had been using the old
style system of metal straps and thumscrews on this trip all are so happy
that they had the new Jackson Kayak Shock Mount system. The foam blocks
are different and the bulkhead flips up to allow access to the bow for
stowage. A big peton in this system is as safe on your legs and life as it
gets. Your boat is still paddleable, your bulkhead doesnt have to break

I used my Patagonia paddle pants, dry top, rescue PFD, throw bag, rash
gaurd, and shorts the whole time and couldnt be happier. My Happy 2 B
Creeker helmet gave me the necessary coverage to be comfortable in the manky
stuff. I wore 5 10 shoes, not booties for great traction on the scouting.

Watershed stow floats kept my overnight and emergency gear dry the whole

Now I am returning home, after a trip to six flags with Nick, Rafa, Ben, and
hopefully the rest of the crew. From there I meet up with Jesse Coombs, Ben
Stookesberry, and Kristine and we fly into Washington, DC for a big awards
party by National Geographic.

When I fly home on the 15th of November, I will carry Kristine accross the
threshold of our new home and it will become the Jackson homestead forever.

Special thanks to the following people for making this all come true,

Kristine Jackson, she urged me to go on this trip and is ever supportive of
my dreams.
Tony Lunt, my partner at Jackson Kayak, who also wanted me to go, knowing
that I can take care of business and kayak at the same time.
Ben Stookesberry and Jesse Coombs for approaching me about being a part of
Team JK and inviting me on this trip.
Rafa Ortiz and his parents for inviting us to their country and making the
logistics possible, including supplying the best shuttle driver and local
liason possible, Isreal.
The rest of the expedition team for their incredible "can do" attitude and
hard work, and being able to fire it up time after time.

Congratulations to Ben Stookesberry for making his vision of running one of
the toughest rivers in the world, toughest to access, toughest to scout, and
toughest to complete, a personal mission, and his tenacity of picking off
one kilometer at a time, no matter how hard, paid off big time, as his
mission was completely successful.

See you stateside and on the Caney Fork River!