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By Lauren Burress

Lauren Burress:
2009 Wrap Up

2009- A full year on the road. We lived in the RV for the entire year, and boy, was it exciting! Haha, well as you can imagine, it wasn’t ALWAYS fun. 🙂 I learned that the faster I helped dad change a blown tire, the faster we got to go kayaking. I also learned its better to leave your wet stinky gear hung up outside the RV, rather then in the bathroom. Meaning the bathroom had an accumulating gear stench, that lived in there the whole summer. I don’t know why I even bothered hanging it up, it’s not like the gear ever had enough time to dry. 🙂


Our winter began in Rifle, Colorado, filled with tons of snow, and sub below whether. Meaning no kayaking. So I flew to Tennessee to paddle with the Jacksons. I paddled a few new runs; Caney Fork, Pine Creek Falls, (a.k.a. Cow Patty Falls). Pine Creek, being 30 ft., was my biggest waterfall decent! Jesse Coombs, Clay, Dane, Owen, and Tommy Hehnen, were there so I had a couple good examples to watch. 🙂 I ended up going just a tad over-vert at the bottom, but rolled up, and was ecstatic about my run of course! I spent a couple weeks with the Jacksons, training at Rock Island, and paddling whatever was running. Then flew back home, itching for spring to arrive…


NAWF- After staying in Colorado the whole winter, Dad was ready to do some paddling! So we drove the rig down to Gadsden Alabama. After paddling some of the local runs, it was competition day. I placed second in both events; Freestyle, & Huckfest (freestyle off the falls). This was our 3rd year coming to NAWF, can’t wait for 2010!


When you think of April, what do you think? Well I’ll tell you what I think; I think RAIN! And rain, means lots of kayaking. So we decided to stay in the southeast, I mean we couldn’t of just left all that rain in the riverbeds UN-paddled! Dad has this list, and it consists of all the runs we wanted to run in Tennessee. (Which we made when they had their drought.) And anytime we get a chance to check a couple off, we get pretty excited. So we checked AW and took our pick. 🙂

Henderson/Richland Creek- We decided the best use of this water would be to finally finish the job, of locating, and paddling, our boats out of Henderson Creek. So we packed up the gear, and headed in. After finding the boats, we had to then actually get them to the water, which was a task in itself. We finally got down the steep, wet, ridge/mountain, and seal launched in. We now had completed Phase 1. Locate the boats, and get them to the river. Phase 2. Paddle the boats safely out of Henderson, then on down, and out of Richland creek. Well Phase 2. became a little tricky, it was getting dark. So we paddled until it was pitch black, then we started gathering up wood to make a fire. We had a tent and emergency gear with us, but, I told Dad I would rather hike out, and then hike back up tomorrow. We were just above the actual start of Richland, so it would be a much easier hike finding the boats. So we hiked our way out, and used our handy dandy cell phone to call Mom, to pick us up. After a good nights rest, we were up and at em’ the next morning. We hiked up the Richland Creek trail this time, crossed the bridge and paddled the boats out, with daylight to spare.

Caine Creek- Well, it was on the list, and running! So we called up Clay for some river info; put in, take out, good level, ect. I think the most dangerous part of this run, is the walk down to it. It was probably about, one hundred yards, from the top to the bottom, it’s really steep, and extremely slippery. But the walks pretty well worth it, lots of boofs, and fun slides. Just don’t get lost in the maze on the way out. 🙂

Crooked Fork Creek- Another from the list, has a nice boofNslide. Along with a fifteen footer, and twenty footer above that. Dad and I planned on running the 20 ft., but it has a big nasty rock right in the middle. Making the landing zone pretty small. But the second drop is just below the 15 ft. and it’s a great boof, off into a slide, then another boof over a meaty hole. Well it’s actually not that bad of a hydrolic, once you see it from the bottom… But from up top it makes you think twice about missing your boof stroke. 🙂


Gore Canyon- Dad and I were making jokes tords the river, and how we literally didn’t know which way it was going, and which way we were to paddle, because it was so flat! Ha, so we paddled out, and we were SLOWLY carried down river. Unfortunately the down fall to this run is the 4 mile FLATWATER paddle in… (at least it seemed that long) But don’t get discouraged, the start into the canyon picks up pretty fast. We ran it at 5,000 cfs, which we found out the next day, once we checked the levels. It was pretty beefy, the last big rapid usually has a high rock boof the the left, and your supposed pull yourself over this meaty hole. Well we were running it at 5,000, and the hole was HUGE, we couldn’t find an alternate line which even remotely decreased the chance of getting beat down. So we decided to portage. Really good run, hope to paddle it again this year.

Wild Wild West Rodeo- Pueblo hosted the 1st annual Wild Wild West Rodeo. I don’t know if you knew or not, but Pueblo is home of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Headquarters, so they incorporated a couple PBR’s into their freestyle event. After suiting them up in wet suits (knowing they were going to be swimming) they taught them how to hold their paddle, and that was it. They threw em’ in some ducky’s and told them to hold on! The Bull rider to stay in the hole, right side up, the longest, won. It was probably the best part of the festival. Be sure to come to the 2010, 2nd Annual, Wild Wild West rodeo.

BV Paddle Fest- I ended up having to hitch a ride with the Griffiths from Denver, due to some mechanical difficulties with the RV. (Btw, thanks again for the ride!) Well the day the event started was on a school day, so we left when school let out. Unfortunately we didn’t arrive in time for pre-lims, but I still had a chance to cheer on team Jackson, and help teach a couple of clinics.

US Team Trials- TT were held in Glenwood Springs Colorado this year, at the new man-made whitewater park. I, being too young to compete in Junior Women’s, went up against the Pros! I went into the competition thinking all I wanted to do was have a good ride, and make the best of what I could do. I was pleased with making it through the pre-lims cut. I then went on to semi-finals, thinking I was going to have to work hard if I wanted to be in finals. I did all I could, and had my best ride throughout the whole competition. But I was still unsure if it was enough to make it threw to finals. I was super excited when my mom told me I made it to finals in 3rd! Which meant I had a good chance of making the team. I did my rides for finals, and unfortunately I dropped down to 6th place, which didn’t cut it for making the team. But it was a great experience. I competed in Pro Womens for the US. Team, and almost made it. In two years I will be of age to try out for the Junior Womens team, and hopefully get the chance to go to World Championships. I sure can’t wait. 🙂


Teva Mountain Games- I was pretty excited for Teva this year, because I hadn’t been to Vail in 4 years! The last time I competed there I was 9, and they hadn’t installed the bladders yet. I was doing pretty well in practice, but I bombed in competition. I don’t believe I got dead last, but I wasn’t far from it. Haha, hopefully I’ll have some better rides this year. 🙂

Lyons Outdoor Games- We were of the first to arrive at Lyons, so we had the hole to ourselves for about a day. After that they all started pouring in. It was like a competition to get there early in the morning to find a parking spot. Lyons had a huge cadet division! A slalom course, creek race, and even a division of dog competitions. Which we tried to enter our dog Rheiner in, it was pretty funny to see him try to go around the dock so he wouldn’t have to jump in, which of course defeated the entire purpose of the competition. But our other dog, Cocoa, had no problem jumping off the dock, but she then had a problem finding her ball. So in which case she swam in circles, until another dogs toy would pop up in front of her, when we could then get her to swim back.

FIBArk- Probably one of my favorite competitions, because there’s actually a full division of Junior women! 😀 I look forward to this competition the whole year. I know it’s one of the few, I can compete at with girls my age. We actually had enough competitors to make a semi-finals and a finals! Hannah Kertez, Taylor Cotes, and I made it to finals. It was a close one this year, but turns out I placed second in my division. Taylor Cotes, taking first. It was a pretty good event this year, I competed in every the possible category I could. Including using my first wild water boat! It was interesting paddling a boat with completely different edges for the first time. When I first got in the water with it, I was extremely tippy, as you would imagine. I was bracing like crazy! Dad was just laughing, I wasn’t so enthused. Haha, I then had to ferry it across the river, I watched a few people and it looked easy enough. Ha, was I wrong. It didn’t want to slice threw the eddy line like I was used too, and then after I was done banging the boat off the rocks, I get caught by the eddy line! I didn’t roll, but was a little frustrated; it wasn’t as easy as I had thought. I did pretty well in the competition, I thought. No rolling, and I didn’t crack the boat, that was my main goal. 🙂

Gunnison River Festival- Gunny was last up for end of the Colorado tour. I had been to Gunnison before, but it wasn’t at a great level. This time I was pretty surprised, it was a nice breaking glassy wave! Kind of hard to retain up to, or to use the rope to get on, but fun once you mastered the technique. Aside from the freestyle competition, they also held a boater cross, which was pretty sweet. We of course couldn’t had of just paddled down the whitewater park, so they tweaked it a little. They made us put in, paddled down, jump out, run back up, paddle down again, then ring the bell. It was funny to see people in dead last win, because they jumped out of their boat faster then someone else.

Upper East- Dad didn’t want me running OBJ yet, for a couple of reasons… (one being I didn’t own a full-face) So we talked with Clay and he thought we would like Upper East. Which is like a tiny version of Oh Be Joyful. Clay of course owned a full-face so he lent it to me to try out. First drop we came to we hoped out and scouted, then jumped in and played follow the leader. It was a really short, fun, run, so we decided to do another lap with no stops. Which was even better. 🙂


I got my NEW 2010 Star! 😀


After a busy summer of mainly trick throwing. Dad and I were ready to do some river running! So we headed back down to the southeast, hoping the abundance of rain hadn’t depleted just yet.

Big Creek- It was added to the list, and checked off the list on the same day. Er, well I guess this one was put on a different list considering it is right on the North Carolina-Tennessee line… But anyways, this run is just above the Pigeon, right in the middle of a campground.

Cascades- The first drop is about the only break you get before the take out. You then have to remember where your at, using your markers, to guide yourself through the huge man-eating hole maze. At 450, there are a couple places you don’t want to miss the boof stroke.. Believe me I know. After a couple *almost* recirculations , you realize you need to paddle a little harder off the lip, if you want to clear the beastly hole at the bottom Still a really fun creek though, hope to go back and do laps some time.

**We of course ran more then two rivers this winter, but these were our newest runs.**


Well, as of now we’re moving back to Glenwood Springs Colorado. (That is subject to change at any point in time.) We’re planning to compete in the Colorado circuit again this year, and I plan to train as hard as possible. My goal for this year is to learn as many new tricks as I can. And learn to do lefties on others. 🙂 I’m hoping to run some new creeks, and possibly some new waterfalls too! 2009 was great, it was filled with newer bigger runs, better and higher tricks, new friends, and even some new boats! 😀 I don’t know how another year could top it, but I’m sure twenty-ten will!

Coming from inside my RV,
Lauren Burress

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