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October 10, 2007

By Brad Sutton

It all started a few days ago with a call to Flex about paddling and to share Thanksgiving weekend together for Turkey Dinner. Which his girlfriend Colleen Gentemann made with many amazing dishes she cooked up for the special weekend. Flex wanted to go to the Elk River Canyon section which had an epic put-in, but this put-in he assured me was not like any other put-in I have ever done! Once we showed up at the canyon we all walked down and picked our lines around the wood inside the canyon.
Colleen said she would take photos of our epic adventure down into the 400-foot face canyon walls with her special lenses she assured us was super awesome for taking long distance shots.

So then, Flex and I got suited up for the descent down into the canyon. I follow Shon through a barbed wire fence. We show up at a 70-75 degree railway cart and track system, which absolutely looked sketchy, I could not even imagine going down the cart. Shon said he and I would descend down the track, I was feeling weird about the whole thing. Hiking straight down a gigantic ladder around a dam and into a four to five hundred foot canyon felt “Huge” to say the least!

You had to hook your webbing from the grab loop or security bar of the kayak around you clipped in with a carbineer so it would not fall below me and hit Shon. Colleen showed me how to get started and I descended my way down as I got to about a third of the way. The track became, suspended away from the canyon wall as the ground beneath it was eroded away. This was a scary feeling standing so high up climbing down a giant ladder, but I felt good about the descent, as I would look below me and see Flex nearly at the bottom safe and sound.

I asked Flex once I was down at the bottom if that was the biggest part of the day he said not even close! I was sure glad I brought my Creek boat while Flex ran it in one of his play boats.

The first big part was the initial canyon you could see from the put-in which had a class 4 plus moves with class 5 consciences’ if you missed your line with the wood at the top and bottom. There was endless eddy hoping down micro eddies and boofing over ledges around logs, which was easy if you where ready to catch micro eddies. We had to squeeze through one slot at the beginning to miss the lower log.
As we made it through the top part of the canyon, Flex caught a straight surf and I boofed off of boulders and ledges. Once through the first rapid the second immediately started with the canyon completely tightening up to about 40 feet wide. Horizon lines approaching you from every direction you look with no eddies below in sight and the feeling of a chute or drop coming very soon.
Flex started to paddle for a boulder near a wall and boofed off doing a kick flip off the rock and landing next to the wall into a spout of water and sticking the eddy. I followed behind and hit a huge boof off the rock and aired it out landing into the eddy below.

The third and final big one had a huge diagonal hole next to one of the canyon walls. The river was only about twenty feet wide with a huge boil coming off the left wall and sending the water straight into another diagonal wall, which was extremely under cut and had no boil next to it. It looked like swimming towards it would not even be an option if you had to bail out of the first hole boof combo landing on the boil and then paddling hard right to miss the lethal undercut. Flex assured me at this point I could lead by easily boofing over the ledge onto the boil facing the wall with the boil and all would be good. Since I had the Creek boat, I agreed and get myself pumped up and went first on the last one with confidence and stuck the boof onto the boil and paddled away with ease from the ominous looking undercut. Flex would follow suit pin balling through the middle with a bit up a stern squirt and then forward stroking like a Ninja away from the undercut boiless wall.

At the end of the day Flex and I took photos of the cool walls in the back ground and a photo of us before ascending out of the canyon along switch back paths and a miniature staircase.


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