A new feature length documentary film explores the history of the Appalachian Trail and what it means to people today. Find out more at www.theATmovie.com!
The Raffle Details:
Enter to win 1 kayak from the Liquidlogic and Native line of boats (excluding the Mariner and Ultimate Multisport series). Raffle tickets are $10 each, and entrants need not be present at the film night to win. Raffle tickets will be available for sale at two locations after February 3rd:
1. The Southern Appalachian Brewery Tasting Room, 822 Locust Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Open Wednesday thru Friday, 4pm to close, and Saturday thru Sunday, 2pm to close.
2. The RiverLink offices, 170 Lyman Street, Asheville, NC 28801. Open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.
3. Diamond Brand Outdoors, 2623 Hendersonville Rd., Arden, NC 28704. Open Monday thru Saturday, 10am to 7pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm
4. Our Voice offices, 44 Merrimon Ave. Suite 1, Asheville, NC 28801. Open Monday thru Friday, 8:30am to 4pm.
A huge thanks to our business partners who are making this event possible:
Joey Jarrell and I went up to the Russell Fork the weekend before the race, and from the first moment I took a forward stroke in that boat I was in love. I have not paddled Liquid Logic boats and am not sponsored by them; so you can take my opinion for what it is: truly unbiased. This is an awesome boat! Pulling forward strokes, I felt the boat come right up to speed and track smoothly through the eddy. It felt like I was effortlessly cleaving the water with my bow (no resistance), and the boat tracked smoothly forward without veering. On our three runs through the Gorge that first weekend I found the Stinger to be easy to maneuver and a delight to paddle. I remember an irresistible grin spreading across my face as I tracked smoothly into Tower and spanned that long boat off the boof. Later, running the right side of El Horrendo, I melted the ledge and took all twelve feet of Stinger for a mystery move. The only complaint I could find all weekend was that you could sometimes feel the extra length in back banging around behind you on dry ledges, but it was a small issue given the fun (and speed!) provided. Joey and I practiced the bike and paddle legs of the Baddlun coarse that weekend and endlessly talked over our strategy for the upcoming race. A week later we found ourselves back at the Ratliff Hole parking lot lining up shoulder-to-shoulder with twenty other bikers for the start of the race. I’d been hydrating all morning, had carbed up and lubed my road bike, and I felt ready to go. We were cramped there at the starting line, hardly room to breath as we all clipped in and quieted our minds. I absolutely love starting off in these grass-roots style events: It all comes down to a bunch of friends standing side by side, waiting. One guy with a stop watch gives the thirty second warning, the ten second, and then we’re counting down to zero. Go! I stood up on the bike and cranked up near the front of the pack. I had three or four bikes ahead of me as we came into the bottle-neck exit from the parking lot and turned up the brutal hill leaving Ratliff Hole. Our tight cluster of bikes moved like a school of fish, conforming as a single unit as we entered the tight right-hand turn. Then, before I could fully grasp what was happening, Delaney Albright swept out to the left in front of me, leaving the formation. I would later learn that Gareth had thrown his chain ahead of us and Delaney was swerving to miss him, but at the moment all I knew was that my front tire was about four inches off of Delaney’s back tire, and I could not adjust quickly enough. Delaney’s rear while swept my front wheel off the pavement, and I was down on the ground with sixteen other racers trying to get around me. I jumped up and got out of the way, thankfully avoiding causing any other wrecks. Joey had to un-clip to avoid hitting me, but he was soon back in the saddle and climbing the hill. I waited for everyone to get past and then climbed back on and prepared to climb. My chain was off. I dismounted and re-set the chain, and then I had to walk back to flatter ground where I could get on the bike again. By the time I started the climb the pack was out of sight. When I was panting half-way up the hill, I could see the main body of riders making the turn onto the level gorge road. The leaders were long gone, but Joey called down encouragement, “C’mon, Chris. Catch us!” I was off the bike for maybe forty-five seconds to a minute, but in bike races such a delay gets compounded by other factors. You’re suddenly riding alone, unable to cooperate and gain efficiency with other riders. The good news was, my fall off the bike had given me a surge of adrenaline that propelled me forward. Once I topped out the hill and re-gained my breath, I was riding a wave of anger up the gorge road. I caught the main body of riders in the first descent, and I made it up even with Joey at the bottom of the first hill. After that the spacing between racers became much broader, and I started focusing on catching one rider at a time. I caught up with Taylor on the long hill–he was toughly grunting it out on an old road bike frame that probably weighed double what the rest of us were riding. As I passed Taylor, I could see two more racers far ahead of me, and I slowly closed the gap on them for the remainder of the ride. I came even with the first rider at the top of the second long hill and discovered it was Delaney. I knew even then that it probably wasn’t his fault that I wrecked, but I couldn’t help feeling some vindictive pleasure as I made the pass and left him on the downhill. The last rider I could see ahead of me turned out to be Gareth. I caught him as we began the final down-hill towards the river, and we were able to work together on the descent into the gorge to increase our speed and efficiency. We caught Charles as we came even with the river, and the three of us peddled into the transition just as Brian Menzes was making the change ahead of us. It looked to me like I’d made it back up into third or fourth position, though I remember wondering where on earth Jay Ditty was. We all dumped our bikes and began scrambling into boats. I was feeling very winded; so I focused on making a deliberate transition and not wasting time with foibles. But as I put on the river, it was clear I’d lost a lot of time: the other three racers were already a hundred yards down river in a pretty tight group. Throughout the paddle leg I was able to catch occasional glimpses of the other three ahead of me, but it was quickly evident that I’d spent my wad on the bike. My arms felt limp from the outset, and I made up my mind to paddle smoothly rather than to sprint and risk a mistake. I was thankful to be in the Stinger, which was easy to paddle and did a lot of the work for me. Going slow and steady paid off, and I caught up with Brian Menzes at the end of the river leg. We started running up the steep, rough logging road with maybe forty yards between us. I had nothing left to give as I scrambled up the trail. Within the first quarter mile I let go of trying to hang with Brian and just walked, intermittently jogging for spurts. I hoped that I had enough of a gap on the racers behind me to hold them off, but about halfway into the run Delaney came cruising up beside me, looking very fresh. I made a half-hearted attempt to fend him off, but there was no way. He loped past me easily, and I struggled forward in his wake. On the downhills I had searing cramps in my sides; most of the time I felt like I couldn’t breathe if I was jogging. I was constantly looking back for the next racer behind me. I thought to myself: this is fun. I finally caught a second wind as I came back to the river gorge, and I was able to jog up to Ratliff Hole and back stroke across the river, limping into sixth position. The rest of the racers rolled in close on my heals, and we all spent the warm afternoon recovering on the beach, talking and drinking beers. Jay Ditty won the whole deal, and that only using one blade on the river and choosing to portage around Fist. Crazy! I could kick myself for the mistakes I made in that race, but at the end of the day it’s not all about what a bad-ass athlete you are. These events are fun for me because they’re a test. They expose my weaknesses, and they punish me into being a stronger human being. Most importantly, the races are an opportunity to enjoy great fellowship with a fantastic group of people. Three weeks after struggling through the Baddlun I would return to the Russell Fork to put up another disappointing performance in the Lord of the Fork Race. Who knows, maybe I’ll never get to enjoy the perfect race that I envision. If I don’t, at least I feel that I’m still getting better and getting stronger, bit by bit. I look ahead to this year’s Green Race with the usual mixture of fear and excitement, and I’m going to try like hell to have a clean race. If I don’t, I know that sixty or so good friends will have my back out there and will make the day a worthwhile experience. It always is. My prediction for this year’s Green Race: Team Liquid Logic will be a force to be reckoned with. I think that the Stinger presents less of an advantage over the Green Boat on the Narrows course than in a long format race, but that design is fast on any water, and Liquid Logic is bringing out the big guns this year. Mike Dawson ran away with the Lord of the Fork Race, and that after only one trip down the river. He’ll have had several weeks of paddling on the Green under his belt when it comes time to race next Saturday. Will the title of Green Race champion stay local, or is this the year we see the event taken by an international talent? It’ll be a fun day regardless. I’m looking forward to seeing you all out there and to getting good and scared on the river together. Here’s a quick video that I shot at this year’s Lord of the Fork Race to whet your appetite. Have good lines out there this year, ChrisRacing is not my strong suit. I’ll say that right out of the gate. When I’ve participated in whitewater races in the past, I have historically lost focus, messed up logistics, or otherwise sabotaged my chances of performing well. I almost always leave a race thinking of one or two (or more) points in the race where a different decision or mindset could have made a huge difference. I like to think that I have not yet reached my potential in racing, that my best races are still within me, but at some point you have to trust the evidence–maybe I’m not a naturally good racer. But I’m drawn to compete again and again, and I think it’s largely because of the challenge involved. I like how competition demands focus. It places you, mind and body, in situations that require all you’ve got to give. I came into the fall season this year looking forward to the race circuit that I usually participate in (Russell Fork Baddlun, Lord of the Fork, and Green Race). As usual, I did not put as much time into training as I’d planned, but I did manage to fit in more preparation than in previous years–more road biking, long boating, stress-management, etc. Also, I’d worked it out to borrow a Stinger from Liquid Logic specifically for the Baddlun Race. I thought I had a pretty good change of placing top three in that event this year if I had my best race (if, if, if).
here. In anticipation of Katie’s arrival, I went back and dusted off some of the old footage we worked on together. I’d hate to see this content go to waste, and I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to license some of this content to news outlets that want to tell Katie’s story. This short video reveals a bit about Katie’s anticipation of her journey as well as some of the tensions that emerged amongst her family as she pursued her unconventional dreams: Katie Spotz – Row for Water Interview from Horizonline Pictures on Vimeo. Just before my visit with Katie I spent two weeks touring the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, kayaking a handful of world-class whitewater runs. Part of my trip took me north into Canada where I got to boat three beautiful, wilderness rivers with John Alt, Pete Gehrels, and a few other good friends. John contacted me the other week asking to see some footage of a beating he took on the Cypress River on our first day out in Canada. Rather than just post the video to facebook, I thought I’d work it into more of a finished piece–a small preview of the extensive content from the North Shore that I will be producing with Rapid Transit in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more! The Cypress 30′: a North Shore Preview from Horizonline Pictures on Vimeo. Thanks for checking in. Let me know your thoughts on the videos and on shorts. -Chris keep readingLast spring and summer I was working with Katie Spotz towards making a documentary about her plan to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In May we filmed a series of interviews at and around her home in Mentor, Ohio, and we continued to seek financing for the project throughout the summer and into the fall. As her December departure drew near, we both realized that we lacked the resources (both time and money) to complete the project at a high level of quality; so we amicably parted ways. Katie is currently several hundred miles off the coast of South America in her rowboat Liv, and it will only be a few weeks before she lands at her destination in Cayenne, French Guiana. She’s had a hugely successful journey so far, and it looks like she will finish her trip well ahead of schedule. You can follow her adventure
Two days after our layover at Whitmore Camp we rose before dawn and floated one final mile downriver to our takeout at Diamond Creek. Drifting out of the Canyon in the pre-dawn stillness felt like a fitting way to conclude our trip. This journey down the Canyon took me by surprise in so many ways. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life. I’m grateful to the folks at Diamond Brand who supported me in this journey, and I thank you readers for participating in the story this far. In closing, I’ll leave you with two final images from the Canyon. Here’s to adventure and to sharing it with good friends:Last August, when Adam Goshorn offered me a spot on his winter Grand Canyon trip, I thought at the time there was no way I could swing it. The base cost of permits and travel combined with the extensive gear I would have to acquire loomed large. But the idea lodged in my mind, and after it worked on my imagination for a few days I laid down the $100 permit deposit to hold my spot. Flash forward four months, and I’m standing on the beach at Lee’s Ferry with the six other members of my group preparing to launch onto the Colorado River. In the weeks prior to our December 5th launch date I had managed (with extensive help from my local outdoors shop, Diamond Brand) to put together the equipment necessary to make this journey–a three-season tent, 15-degree sleeping bag with fleece liner, gloves, wool socks, drysuit and insulating layers, etc., etc. With these items packed away in my drybag I was feeling pretty confident for the journey ahead, but the ranger giving us our orientation that morning seemed to have other ideas. She went to great lengths to impress upon us the seriousness of the expedition we were embarking on, warning us about the various critters that would try to steal our food and share our sleeping bags at night all the while making foreboding references to a heavy winter storm coming our way. In reference to the whitewater we would encounter downriver she said simply, “You’re going to be surprised.” Once we slipped our four kayaks and two rafts into the cool, green waters of the Colorado, we quickly forgot the ranger’s gloom. Our group of seven had pulled together around the gravity of Adam’s organization: there were his four college buddies from the Radford University Outdoors program (Chris “Odie” Odell, Brandon “Beadle” Dale, Herb Crimp, and Dave Goodman), there was his co-worker (and the only woman on the trip) Kim, and then there was me, a friend made through several days spent together on rivers around the Southeast. If there was any common characteristic that bound our party together during those first days we were getting to know each other, it was that we shared a vibrant sense of humor–a cardinal virtue when you have to spend fourteen days in the wilderness together. The air was comfortably cool and the skies clear and sunny as we floated down the river that first afternoon. The canyon walls began to rise around us, and a still quite replaced the bustle and conversation that had dominated our morning preparations. We drifted beneath the Navajo Bridge (the last sign of civilization for many, many miles), and the tiny silhouettes of people high above looked down and waved at us. We whistled and waved back and forth to them. This river journey was unlike any boating I had ever done, and I had a lot to learn. I learned how to efficiently pack my personal drybag. I learned not to pitch my tent beneath the tamarisk trees. (While setting up, the prickly needles dropped down my pants and stuck to my longjohns). I learned not to thaw the congealed olive oil in the pot of hot water intended for drinks. Day by day our team of seven tightened up our routine and the distribution of labor. Due to scheduling conflicts, we had allotted only fourteen days to complete the Canyon (normal winter trips take nearly twice that long). This meant that we had to average twenty river miles each day, which was a heavy load for the rafts. Our three dedicated oarsmen (Kim, Herb, and Dave) all had minimal rafting experience and were learning the slow-moving, eighteen-foot oar-rigs for the first time. I found the rafts to be an exciting challenge and took many opportunities to share in the oar work. Lining up for a class 4 rapid is pure fun in a kayak, but in a huge inflatable weighing over a thousand pounds it becomes a daunting challenge. To my surprise, one of the greatest challenges in the raft proved to be the flat water. The river would often meander through mild stretches of long oxbows and pools. In certain pools, nearly all the current dove below the surface, creating a river-wide eddy current that the oarsman would have to fight to cross. In swifter water, the main concern was being swept into a recirculating eddy where the swirling current would trap the raft behind eddy fences and keep it spinning in circles, unable to re-enter the main flow. On our third day out, the character of the river bed was particularly fickle and the effort of downriver progress exhausting. We stopped at Lower Nankoweep Camp in the early afternoon, and as we unloaded the rafts a light rain began to fall. The winter storm had finally caught up with us, and it rained off and on throughout the afternoon as we hiked up the canyon walls to visit the ancient Indian granaries. By nightfall the rain was falling steadily and gave no indication of letting up. Kim and Adam had managed to pitch their tents before things got really wet, but the remaining five guys all elected to huddle up under the kitchen tarp for the night. I attempted to set up my tent fly and poles under the tarp, poking several people in the face before all was said and done. A cold, windy front blew through camp as the darkness became complete, and the tarp overhead soaked through until it sagged and dripped all over. A few sleepless hours into the night, a major gust lifted the edges of our tarp and brought pots and pans cascading down atop the heads of the guys trying to sleep beneath the kitchen tables. A chorus of colorful language followed. Shortly before midnight, the falling rain and sudden drop in temperature conspired to set off a series of rock slides on the canyon walls around us. It was an eerie, thunderous sound–each long rumble was followed by expressions of awe from beneath our tarp. Balled up in my sleeping bag and trying to stay dry, I thought to myself that if there was anything that could redeem this miserable night, that sound was surely it. The next day dawned clear and very chilly. The night at Nankoweep would be the worst weather we encountered on the trip, but it set off a stretch of persistently cold, wet days that were trying for our group. There was a tradeoff of this miserable weather, however: the wintry conditions produced some of the most beautiful scenes we would witness during our time in the Canyon: It took me a long time to get used to the size of our group in the Canyon. Many nights, while sitting around the campfire, I would look up and wonder who was missing, only to count and rediscover that we were just seven, and all present. For me, this new sense of scale was the most impressive part of the experience. Being way down in the Canyon truly puts a person “in his place.” We’re forced to recognize how small and insignificant we are in the context of creation. This is a humbling thought, especially in light of the out-of-scale impact that we humans frequently have on the natural world (for example, the two enormous dams that bookend the Grand Canyon). The Canyon is an embarrassment of riches in natural beauty, and for the avid photographer it can be a challenge to simply pull back from the lens and be present. As our journey progressed, I found I had to remind myself to spend time apart from my cameras in order to take it all in. Here’s more evidence that I was not entirely successful in this effort: In addition to the wonderful scenery, the Grand Canyon offers a lot of high quality whitewater. Our whole journey down the Colorado I lived in dread of a raft flip, and as luck would have it, I was the only person to come close to actually tipping a raft over. We were fortunate, though: Our three oarsmen/woman navigated every challenge with grace. The whitewater of the Grand Canyon can be pretty well summed up thus: big waves, big holes, big fun. We made our mileage quotas, and by day eleven we were able to take a layover at Whitmore Wash Camp. We slept in, hiked to a nearby pictograph panel and continued up the adjacent lava flow to the rim, and in the evening we ate as much of our remaining food stores as we could stomach. At Whitmore we savored all the best aspects of the Grand Canyon in winter: no crowds, no motorized traffic (helicopter or boat), driftwood campfires, and minimal threat of embarrassing exposure while grooving by the riverside. After nearly two weeks on the river, I’d finally grown used to the small size of our group and the remoteness we felt each day in the Canyon. As our journey neared its end I began to feel some reluctance about re-entering the “real world.” You might understand the quotation marks here, for in many respects a wilderness trip like this is much more of a substantial experience than the day-to-day grind that forms our customary routine. That’s why we hunger for wild places. The natural world is good therapy for the culture-addled mind and heart. Take away culture, take away cell phones and television and the Internet (and yes, even cameras sometimes), and you begin to pay attention on a different level. You watch the play of light across the carved landscape, you smell the dry sage aroma of the desert in the morning, and at night you hear the river and are exquisitely aware of the absence of any other sound.
http://www.athenscine.com/intro.php), and it is free (thanks to the UGA Whitewater Club!). From my unabashedly biased perspective, I can report that this is an excellent movie that introduces the viewer to a collection of unique individuals, each of whom add something different to the film’s exploration of why kayaking is such an engrossing and enjoyable pursuit. The movie also gives an in-depth look at the Linville River, a remote, class V gorge in North Carolina that ranks among the elite whitewater runs of the world. Spencer Cooke wrote, produced, and edited the movie along with the collaboration of Rapid Transit producers Daniel Windham (From the Darkroom), Chris Gragtmans (Catalyst Media), and myself (Horizonline Pictures). For more info about the DVD, click here: http://www.rapidtransitvideo.com/blog/?p=207#comments. Also, on January 20th (Tuesday) between the hours of 8 and 10, Riot Kayaks will be hosting a boat demo and roll session at Ramsey pool on the UGA campus. Contact the UGA Whitewater Club for more info on this. There will be two other premieres for The Eddy Feelingcoming up on February 5th, 9:30PM at the Brew’n’View in Asheville (http://ashevillepizza.com) and on February 25th at Cabin John, Maryland (http://liquidadventures.org). I am personally very excited about this first movie to be released from Rapid Transit. It represents the core of what we’re about as a group: telling rich, exciting, fascinating stories from the world of river running adventure. I hope you’ll take time to check it out, watch the flick, and that you’ll forgive the poofy, bowl-cut hairdoo in my brief appearance in the film. We all have bad hair days. Much love from the Southeast, ChrisThis Thursday, January 21st, Rapid Transit (a collective of kayaking film producers of which I am a member) will be hosting a premiere for our first DVD, The Eddy Feeling. The show will start at 9PM at the Cine in Athens, GA (