Posts Tagged ‘Rafting’

By Cameron McKirdy

McKenzie River Trailhead Sign

An hour East of Eugene, the McKenzie River Recreational Trail waits to be conquered.  A 26 mile path skirts the cold, rippling waterway.  It’s one of America’s premier destinations for bikers, and hikers.  Outdoor enthusiasts can also be spotted during the summer on the water in rafts of all shapes and sizes.  Survival Bros floated it.  However, here’s what’s its like to attack the upper part of the wilderness trail on my bicycle.

The 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon is locked.  Bike is ready.  God bless my vintage Univega Alpina Pro mountain bike.  It’s a hardtail with tire liners for extra protection, so I shouldn’t have trouble pummeling porous lava rocks.   This will be my first ride with it off of pavement, or graveled logging roads.  Exciting.  Water, check.  Mechanix gloves, yes.  3M safety shades, on.  Let’s crush this.

And I’m off.  Going downhill mostly, to Clearwater Lake from the top of the trail.  I will have to fill my stainless steel water bottle at the campground.  Problem is, it’s hard to know what’s undrinkable, and what’s potable with all the well pumps around.  I may have to take a chance, because I’m not buying water.  I’m looking forward to adding 2 packets of Airborne Plus Energy into my drink for flavor, vitamins, and minerals.

The plan is to tackle the challenging section of course around the lake first, then take an easy trail back uphill to my vehicle.  OK, get centered.  Where are you?  In the moment.  Faster!!!

Root!  Pop the front wheel over, and peddle.  Good.  Lean into this corner.  Branch…We’re bushwacking today.  Alright, NOW break.  Shift weight back, coming off the seat.  Who put this tree down here?  Ever heard of a chainsaw?  Pick up your bike.  Thankfully, it’s lightweight, full chromoly frame.  I’m so happy I invested in tuning this vintage ride up.  The guys at Canyonview Cyclery took care of me.  This is the video I produced at their shop after the Univega was restored to glory.

 There’s the edge of the water at Clear Lake.  I’ve never seen water so pristine.  I bet I could drink straight from the lake.  Ducks do it.  I almost hit one fowl in my way.  Move mallard.  Already, I’ve narrowly avoided about 10 chipmunks, and a large rabbit too.  I’ve seen squirrels try to take on bikes before.  They ended up in the spokes without a head.  That would ruin my day.  I need a bell on this bike of mine to signal wildlife.  

Now comes the hard part.  Negotiating lava rock fields on two wheels.  But I’ve been here before.  Only I came from the opposite direction last time.  I’m going to have to push it up this long hill.  It feels great to get off my butt, and work other muscle groups.  I like my new bicycle handle bar ends.  Now I have more hand positions, and can really pull myself up steep inclines.  

I’m flying.  Let’s not forget our 5 D’s of mountain biking: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!  Corner!  Hard left.  Leaning into it, and looking where I want to go.  Holy guacamole.  I almost sailed into the lake.  The canoers would have liked to see that.  I’d rather not be fishing.  This is what I came to do.

Bump.  My nuts.  Watch the nuts.  You’re going to need those.  Oh God, I have to split between a root, and a rock going fast.  No room for error.  Arrghhh.  Made it.  But that took all of my upper body strength.  I haven’t screamed that loud since…oh, let’s keep it PG.  I’m dumping sweat.  This is my hell workout.  Put it all on the line.  Gasp.  Exhale.  Breath.  Sigh.  Focused.  A few more miles of rocky road, and then a less technical section to savor.  The McKenzie River Recreational Trail is damn tough.  No wonder it’s one of the World’s most celebrated biking areas.  I can do this.  Finish strong.  I’m the man.  BEAST MODE!

mckenzie river map

Map courtesty of the USDA – Link to info on the McKenzie River National Recreational Trail

Watch an exciting video I produced with my GoPro Black Head Camera mounted during another ride here.

I had a horrible mountain bike accident on the McKenzie a few years ago.  I’m still healing from the traumatic crash, but here’s tips on healing bruises and scratches from that with gruesome injury photos for you to marvel at.

bruise legI’m lucky I didn’t break my leg! 

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Produced by Cameron McKirdy

My dad and I just got back to the Oregon Coast, after a 4 day trip playing on the McKenzie River and the trail. First we geared up, and hit the rapids with the Oregon Whitewater Association. A group of 70 extreme outdoor enthusiasts floated 14 miles down the river. The water was brutally cold, at only 47 degrees. I fell off our cataraft for the first time after we smashed into a log along the bank. I didn’t have time to be fearful. I was just trying to catch my breath from the shock of the water, and keep my legs up as I floated down. Of course, I had a class 3 life jacket on. I swam to the back of the boat, but didn’t like being where I couldn’t see the rocks ahead of me. Plus, I didn’t want to get trapped under the massive military grade raft. So I separated from the craft, and tried to swim to shore, but the water was moving too fast, and nobody there could help me. I swam to the side of the raft, and was barely able to climb back on. I had to quickly jump off the river bottom to boost myself up. I was fatigued, and just wanted to sit down and assess my injuries. I hit my knee on a rock, and bloodied by shin up. I was only in the river for a few minutes, but it wouldn’t have been long before my body started shutting down, and hypothermia set in. It was intense.

I had my iPhone 4S in my pocket with a LifeProof case on when I went overboard. It worked. No water got in thankfully. In my other pocket I was carrying the new Coast DX335 rescue knife. It stayed clipped on, but luckily I didn’t have to use it. You’d be surprised how many people die on the river getting tangled in ropes. Below is a funny clip I took with the LifeProof case on my cell. It took great video, and you can hear my dad yelling at me to put it away. He thought it was going to get splashed, or fall in as we hit the drop in the rapids. Also below is an HD video review of the Coast Products knife. I will update this blog as I get media online. I used my GoPro Hero 3 Black camera to record my treacherous mountain bike ride down the McKenzie River Trail. That will be up soon. Thanks for visiting Survival Bros. Follow us on Twitter, Youtube, and join the community on Facebook. Peace.

 

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By Cameron McKirdy

About the video: To film this trip I used the Panasonic Lumix TS4. It’s waterproof, and takes quality high definition video. In the past I’ve used GoPro Hero cameras to film sports, but the audio was poor. This Panasonic sounds better, and is rugged. The TS4 is even high visibility, with a safety orange color. I took nearly an hour of footage. This is the best 15 minutes. I still need to get a better wrist strap so my camera floats. I handled it well, but with all the passengers falling into me, it could have slipped into the blue. Speaking of, the water was remarkably blue. I haven’t altered this footage in any way. It’s beautiful country near Tillamook. It’s fun to film out there, and on water.

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Yesterday, a group of 30 people including myself, rafted the powerful Wilson River. I took these photos, and lots of HD video.

My Dad and I went on a paddle boat with three others from the Oregon Whitewater Association. I don’t have the gear the other boaters have. I’m more of a mountain man. They had dry suits, but I didn’t even use my wetsuit and booties. I wore hiking boots with waterproof socks, sweatpants with rain gear, and three layers for my upper body, plus a life vest, and a HooRag bandana. Going in, I knew I’d be cold. It’s rafting during the winter in Oregon. In the end, every rafter was freezing, and glad to be off the water. It was a long day. 14 river miles in 6 hours.

Our greatest challenge was getting people through a tiny 4.5 foot gap. My craft got stuck in between the two massive boulders pictured above, so we let air out of the sides and floor. Then we wiggled through. I filmed everyone making it. The group used ropes to pull one man’s cataraft over the rocks here on the upper Wilson. We all worked together, prepared for the worst, and got in position to help if needed. People were climbing mossy river rocks to signal, and help. They were ready. Also, everyone wore a helmet, and gloves, but me. I couldn’t film and wear gloves. The feeling in my toes and fingers did come back. I’m surprised.

It’s a real challenge to raft this time of the year. Everyone had to follow the plan. Safety was the name of the game. We had two people go into the drink. One guy wanted to swim, but our guide, the raft owner, got bumped out as we hit a rock wall. I look back, he’s floating there. Should I film this? Or pull him in before he gets crushed on some rocks? I put down the camera, and yanked him in with two others. We experienced Class 2, and 3 rapids. Whitewater for sure. I was soaked. We also cruised by a guy that snagged a huge steelhead. It must have weighed 9 pounds or more. When we finally got to land, I got a ride to snag our car back up river. Then it got dark. The group and I left my dad behind at the boat ramp. Problem is, I couldn’t find the damn thing. Dad’s soaked, it’s pouring. I was driving around, feeling like I left him for dead. I figured he’d wave me down on his walk back into Tillamook. There was no way to reach him. But suddenly, he text me from inside a fisherman’s truck. He was safe, and not angry that I made him wait. Then we got mexican food. Lots of it. In the end, the trip was hardcore, but worth it, and an amazing workout. It was another learning experience.