Monthly Archives: March 2012
This past September I found myself with the opportunity to cross yet another item off of my ever-growing bucket list. I had the opportunity to paddle part of the Colorado River. You see, paddling the Colorado has been something that I had always dreamed of doing. The stretch of river that I have often dreamed of paddling is the epic stretch of the Colorado River that runs through the Grand Canyon. Such a trip would afford me the chance to experience some serious world-class white water and take in the beauty of the Grand Canyon from the floor looking up to the rim. I have never seen the Grand Canyon from this view-point. I wish this was the story of that paddle but it isn’t. I’ll have to paddle that stretch another time. However, I was not disappointed. My trip took me through the beautiful Black Canyon on the Colorado River. This is the stretch of river that flows from Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam, south towards Lake Mojave which was created by the Davis Dam. We would put in literally at the base of the Hoover Dam on the Nevada side of the river and paddle down river to our take out at Willow Beach on the Arizona side of the river. As we paddled, Arizona would be river left and Nevada river right for the length of the paddle.
This stretch of the river is slow-moving but still pretty big water. It reminded me of stretches of the Missouri River or Mississippi River that I paddled only moving a little slower, with less under current, and the scenery was a little bit different. Here is one of my favorite photos from the trip…
The water flowing between these two dams maintains a frigid year round temperature in the lower to mid 50° F. This is due to the depth of Lake Mead and the fact that the water the dams releases is released from the bottom of the lake into the river. I would be making this trip with my beautiful wife, Lauren and one of my best friends Manny Garcia and his wife Shauna. My wife has limited canoe and kayak experience but I am pretty sure my friend and his wife had never been in a canoe or a kayak. We decided it was best to join a guided trip down the river with Evolution Expeditions. They would be providing the boats, the paddles, life jackets, lunch, snacks, beverages, guides, and the local knowledge of the river.
The guides picked us up outside our hotel at 5:30 in the morning. From there we had a 45 minute drive through Vegas to the Hacienda Hotel near the Hoover Dam to meet up with the other guide and the rest of our party. We met everybody else on the tour and it seemed like a good group. We all piled into one of the vans and headed to the Hoover Dam to our put in. We talked with the knowledgeable guides and each other and soon had built a sense of camaraderie and knew the day would be a great one.
On the way to the river we saw a big horned sheep on a mountain side up from the road. This was the first time I saw one in the wild and was excited but unable to get a picture due to the speed of travel on a bumpy road we were on. I was assured by the guides that we’d see plenty of them along the river as they regularly came down to water on the Colorado River since we are surrounded by desert. They told us we might get see bald eagles, peregrine falcons, big horn sheep, maybe a rattle snake, and much other wildlife since they rely on the Colorado River for water in this arid region.
We carried the boats down a ramp and over some rocks and into the river. We got a quick how to paddle and what not to do lecture and then we launched our crafts into the Colorado. We took a few minutes to paddle around and familiarize ourselves with the Prion Kayaks. Manny and Shauna were in a tandem as were Lauren and I. Everybody else had opted for solo kayaks. As we paddle around, the guides informed us that our marriages would be tested today since we chose to paddle in tandem or “divorce boats” as they are known in the business. We laughed and made a vow to get along at all costs. We posed for a couple of “dam photos” and soon were headed down river.
Shortly after heading downriver we saw a precariously thin plank walkway that clung to the cliff faces. It was only two planks wide with a little cable hand rail. It was very sketchy, even when it was first built. The planks were constructed in the early 1900’s when a future dam employee walked the planks, crossed the river in a hand basket suspended from a cable, and then walk more planks to check the flow rate and height of the river several times every day to help determine the location of the Hoover Dam. Check out these pictures…
Here are a couple of pictures that I found online but didn’t actually take myself. The first one shows a longer stretch of the walkway and the second one shows the actual gondola that the dude used to cross the river.
We continued down river a bit when we were directed to beach the boats on the right side of the river. We had arrived at our first stop of the trip, the Sauna Cave. This is a man-made cave that was drilled out back when the Hoover Dam was being built. They hit a natural hot spring and the cave is now full of hot water and has a temperature of around 130°F. We stripped down to our bathing suits and got ready to climb up to the cave. As we disrobed I made the joke about going in the cave naked. The people we were with seemed all for it and ready to participate. I quickly backtracked and announced I was keeping my suit on.
After a few minutes of thought, it hit me…the rest of our group was made up of free loving hippies; seriously cool hippies from Alaska. Not the fake hippies you see nowadays but grownup hippies from back in the day. I couldn’t believe I didn’t pick up on it earlier. They were laid back and really cool, down to earth people. Luckily for all, everybody kept their clothes on. We left our lights off and climbed through the hot water to the cave mouth. You could see steam flowing from the cave and feel its hot, moist breath on your skin. We walked single file through the cave, our sense of touch our only guide. The cave bent a bit to the left and soon we were in total darkness. Wet, Hot, Darkness…With a bunch of cool, free-loving hippies. We sat ourselves along the back of the cave and enjoyed the experience.
Soon the rest of our group started to “ouhmmm” all together and chant like a bunch of Tibetan monks. At first it was cool and I even joined in for a bit. But they kept on and on and on with the chanting. I could feel their chants reverberating throughout my entire body. The chants seemed to grow louder the longer it went on. It was cumulative and growing in intensity….Louder, Louder, Louder. My insides were vibrating and I was tingling all over. I get that they were enjoying it and possibly they felt something spiritual by doing this but after 5 or 10 minutes of chanting I was ready to experience the cave in silence. The silence never came and finally it was time to head back to the river. After our sweaty visit to the cave we jumped into the frigid river to cool off. It felt so good and we enjoyed our quick swim before loading back into the kayaks and continuing down river.
Our next stop was going to be at the natural hot springs. Being very excited about the trip, I did extensive research on what we would be seeing and doing on the river that day. During my research, I found that you had to be careful at these specific hot springs because of a rare type of hot water amoeba that lived in the waters. I found this warning:
Warning – Naegleria fowleria, an amoeba common to thermal pools, may be present and could enter through the nose causing a rare infection and death. Do not dive into pools, splash water, or submerge your head.
I was surprised the guides hadn’t mentioned this fact earlier in the trip. There had been a couple of deaths caused by this amoeba already in 2011 (not in Las Vegas but down south in hot, stagnant ponds). As we prepared to hike up the canyon to the hot springs I asked them about the amoeba thing. They played it off and said it was very rare and not likely to happen. But we probably should not dive or submerge our heads in the water. I then asked about the warm waterfall I was just sitting under.
And found out that this was the runoff from the hot springs and it probably wasn’t a good idea to get the water in or around your nose or ears. Seriously? I was just sitting under the falls and letting it cascade down my head and shoulders. Well, too late now. The damage had already been done. (For the next 3 or 4 weeks I constantly blew my nose and thought I was going to die from amoeba infection, but the fact that you’re reading this proves I did, in fact, survive. Whew!) We hiked up the canyon and waded and sat in numerous hot springs. This was my first time in a hot spring in nature and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The guide told us how the Native Americans used to come here for the healing abilities of the springs and how they were sacred to them hundreds of years ago. I haven’t researched their claims, but the hot springs were surrounded by desert. I am sure the Indians came to the river for water, but to sit in the hot springs when it was 100°F or higher? Maybe? I enjoyed their story and decided not to ruin it by possibly disproving it with some research. To me, it is probable that people once came here for the healing properties of these magical hot springs. Did it heal all of my aliments? No, I am afraid not. But it did feel pretty damn good to sit in the hot springs and relax. If you haven’t enjoyed a natural hot spring, do yourself a favor and visit one.
We hiked back to the river and headed down stream in our “yaks”. We paddled leisurely and enjoyed the spectacular weather and the breath-taking views. Our next stop was at the cliff jump. We had some granola bars for a snack and climbed along a cliff face and out on a ledge. We took turns jumping off of a 30 foot cliff into 50° F water. I’ve cliff-jumped plenty but never into the Colorado RIver. It was a great time. The ice-cold water literally took your breath away on the first jump. It was every bit as cold, if not colder than, the Mississippi in early April.
After having a great time on the cliffs we headed to our next stop and one I was looking forward to all day… lunch. As we paddled to our lunch spot we kept our eyes open for a Big Horn Sheep. They are often sighted along this area as they come down to the river to get water. Due to recent rain and the high availability of water, there were no sheep in this area. I guess I wasn’t going to see a sheep along the river…and then, up ahead in the distance we saw something. Our luck improved, we saw a big horn sheep…
We saw a whole wake of vultures in this horaltic pose. As we neared the beach with the dead sheep, we looked at the hillside and saw 7 or 8 vultures in this pose. It is believed the pose is to dry their wings, heat their bodies, or bake off bacteria. Scientists are still studying the reasons for this pose. I have some thoughts on it…It was in the 90’s so I think the vultures were warm, they had to be dry (we were in the desert), so I guess maybe they decided to bake off bacteria as we got close to the beach where they were feeding. My theory is maybe, just maybe they use this pose to look larger than they are in an attempt to scare off predators or other scavengers (or in this case the big ugly creatures in the kayaks). Whatever the reason it was really neat to see. One started the pose and then they all copied the pose as it spread across the hillside like dominoes being knocked over. I have never seen more than 1 vulture in this pose at a time. It was really cool.
After lunch, we paddled down the river. I think some of our group was ready to get off the river. We had a long stretch of very slow-moving water to paddle before reaching our takeout. We broke this long stretch of paddling up by having water fights with water tubes and our paddles. I literally almost sank Manny and Shauna’s kayak by scooping water with the blade of my paddle and throwing it into their boat. Their inexperience in a kayak and using a kayak paddle was my savior. I had a definite unfair advantage as I threw gallons upon gallons of icy water into their boat. Eventually, Manny called a truce and the Lamb kayak was declared the winner. He then spent the next 10 minutes sucking water out of his boat with his water tube. It was a good time and made this stretch go a little faster for those ready to call it a day (I could have paddled all day and into the night, I was truly enjoying the experience).
Soon we came to a spot that one of the guides pointed out to us. It was the exact spot a famous picture was taken back in 1871 way before either dam was built. He pointed out the top of what once was a large rock in the picture. I remembered seeing the picture online, it was a cool picture, but I figured it would all be underwater now. With the guide’s guidance we tried to capture a photo from the same angle of that old photo. I think we did a pretty good job from memory, check them out…
As we continued down river we saw many interesting caves. This one looks like a monster’s mouth or some creature’s jaw with teeth…
Our last stop happened to be inside a cool cave named, “Emerald Cave”. It got its name because with the right lighting conditions the water is a fabulous, deep, emerald-green color.
The sunlight wasn’t hitting just right for the perfect emerald conditions during our visit. We had a few moments of green and then the sunlight went away and refused to cooperate. I still thought it was really cool looking. We packed all of the tours’ kayaks into the cave (I feared we were in for more “ouhmmming”, but thankfully they refrained) and sat there for a couple of minutes. As we were talking Shauna dropped her fancy designer sunglasses into the emerald abyss. Luckily our guides were prepared. One of them pulled his goggles on and jumped out of his boat and into the cold water. It was crystal clear and we could see all the way to the bottom. After a few dives and some directions from the surface, our guide broke the surface with a huge grin on his face…
Here is one more picture of Emerald Cave as we left…
We continued downriver and enjoyed the scenes. We saw double-crested cormorants, a pair of peregrine falcons, and blue herons. As we neared Willow Beach, we passed Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. They raise and stock trout in the rivers and lakes in the region. They also raise razorback suckers and bony tail chubs and restock thousands of these fish each summer into their native waters, the Colorado River. We continued down river and spotted our takeout in the distance. We really dug in and sprinted to our takeout. It was a yet another competition that the Lamb boat would win.
We had finished our trip and had a great time on the river. An experience that we will never forget. We had a great time with great guides. They were experienced, knowledgeable, and had great personalities. If you are ever in the area, even just for a short visit you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t make time for this trip. If you are in Las Vegas for business or pleasure take a break from town and head to the river. You will not regret it, and you’ll create memories that will live forever.
Here are a few more pictures that I couldn’t fit into the report. Check them out.
Four men (and Adam), perfect weather, and 55 miles of gravel goodness. That basically sums up the Boone-Doggle ride back in February. Casey was in town, and Robby Brown, Adam Laffoon, and Aaron Lackman joined us for some fun. We met at the commuter lot near the Katy Trail, and Adam was promptly fired for not wearing his team jersey.
Knowing that I was trying to lose some weight to avoid eating dog food, Robby was kind enough to bring breakfast:
Robby, and Adam had taken a day off from work to ride with us. Unfortunately, Bob Jenkins was unable to
fake an illness find anyone to fill in for him, so he had to miss perhaps the best group ride in history. Aaron, had to work later in the day, so he was going to ride the first half of the ride with us. Oh, and he was kickin’ it old school on this:
Although it was a bit chilli at the start of our ride, the weather was beautiful… Especially for mid-February. We rolled out on the Katy Trail under overcast skies. Casey was pretty excited to ride the Katy Trail which seemed odd to us. I guess we just take it for granted since it’s in our back yard and we ride it all the time.
We soon hopped on some gravel, and I’ll be honest. I just wasn’t really feeling it. My legs felt dead, and I felt weak. Hoping I just needed to spin my legs out a little to warm up, I kept riding.
It wasn’t long before we passed the exact spot where we found Falcor two years ago. And then we rode a monster hill. Well, I should say that everyone but me rode the hill. I got about halfway up when I had to get off the bike and walk. I just had nothing in my legs.
When I finally caught up to the other guys, I told them I might just turn around. I didn’t want to slow them down. They talked me into at least continuing until we reached the gas station in New Bloomfield at roughly mile 24 where I could ride back with Aaron if I needed to. I agreed, and after downing a Honey Stinger Waffle, a Foosh Caffeinated Mint, and half a bottle of my go-go juice, I started to feel a little better. After another 15 minutes or so, my legs started coming back. I’m not sure if I was run-down from being in a caloric deficit or if it was just one of those mornings. I was just thankful that I was back to full-strength.
After more gravel followed by a bit of pavement, we soon found ourselves in the booming city of New Bloomfield. This was just under the halfway mark, and it was a planned rest/refuel stop. It was also the point at which Aaron had to leave us so he could make it back to work in time. Since I was feeling much better, I decided to keep riding.
After saying good-bye to Aaron, we bought some snacks and beverages. We talked about how much fun we were having and how Bob was totally missing the best ride ever. Since Bob was at work instead of having fun, and since he was also trying to lose weight to avoid eating a can of ALPO, we decided the right thing to do would be to send him a pizza.
We ended up ordering him a Large “All the Meats” Pizza from Papa John’s and had it delivered to his workplace. They wouldn’t let me leave a tip over the phone, but they said that I could just add the tip on the receipt. I was a little worried that Bob would leave the delivery person a 50 dollar tip, but it was a risk I was willing to take.
With some food in our bellies and our water bottles filled up, we headed back out for more sweet, sweet gravel. The sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature neared 60 degrees.
Part of the ride had some very fresh, loose gravel. It’s always cool to ride some virgin gravel, but it makes it much more difficult to ride since it is so rough. Now, when I say it was fresh, I mean it was still being smoothed out as we were riding. Seriously.
We kept riding, talking, laughing, and waiting to hear from Bob after he received his free lunch. The anticipation was killing us.
**What do you think he’ll say to the delivery person? How many slices do you think he’ll eat? He’ll either eat all of it out of spite, or he’ll give it away and stay strong. Man, I can’t wait to hear his reaction!**
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I received a text message from Bob. Here is how it went down:
Thankfully, Bob “only” gave the driver a $5 tip. It was more than I would have normally left, but it was worth every penny. We laughed our asses off again. Later he said he was pretty confused when the delivery girl showed up asking for Bob. When he heard that I had already paid for it, he figured it out. And then he ate half of the pizza. In all honesty, though, I felt kind of bad for sending the pizza. It was hilarious, but we really did miss Bob. It’s just not the same without that guy. I can’t quit you, Bob Jenkins!
Anyway… Shortly after getting the text from Bob, we rolled into Tebbetts, MO. The Turner Katy Trail Shelter is there, and it’s a really cool place where Katy Trail riders can stay. Unfortunately it was closed, so we didn’t get to check it out. We took a short break, ate some food, and then headed back out onto the gravel flats near the Missouri River.
Even though this was still fun to ride, it was definitely the worst part of the ride. The wind was simply ridiculous as it always is when I ride the gravel flats. It was in our faces the entire 15 miles or so back to the cars.
At one point, we passed some big mounds of dirt where some kids were four-wheeling. Casey was literally almost run over by a four-wheeler, and in the process of trying not to die, he ran into Robby Brown. I’m not sure how Robby, who is basically half the size of Casey, didn’t crash, but he somehow managed to stay on his bike.
Now, it could have been an honest mistake. The kid may not have seen us coming. I could have forgiven that, but then the kid turned his four-wheeler around and sprayed Casey and Robby with dirt as he pealed out. This was inexcusable. In my younger days, there would have been a physical altercation. But these were just stupid teenagers who had no idea how close they came to being beaten to death. Remember, Casey is an MMA figher. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of one of his fights (and yes I get a little carried away with the yelling).
It could have been a much more entertaining story, but we did the mature (and less fun) thing and just rode away.
Shortly after this, Casey and Robby dropped Adam and me pretty quickly. In our defense, they had gears while we were on single speeds. I doubt I could have kept up anyway, though. The wind was just killing me. Adam and I kept looking at each other in disbelief of how strong the wind was. It was perfect training for the Dirty Kanza 200.
I really can’t tell you how great this ride was. The weather was perfect, I got to ride with some friends, I got to ride with my brother which is a rarity, and the scenery was simply beautiful. Join us on the next ride, wont’ you?
Even though photos never do justice to how cool it really is to be out there, I’ll leave you with a few (and there is a video coming soon, too):
It’s that time of year again. Time to do some non-racing! ‘Twas almost exactly a year ago when we dropped a Deuce on a handful of brave souls, and it was a little over 2 years ago when we held our first-ever adventure non-race (Bob’s report here, Casey’s here, and mine right here). We’ve been scouting and planning hard for this year’s Adventure Non-Race, Carnage At the Creek (or CAC for short), and it’s going to be our best non-race yet.
We know you’ve all been patiently waiting for all of the details of this Adventure Non-Race. Well, wait no more! Here you go…
Racer check-in and pre-race meeting will be held at the Pine Ridge Campground in Mark Twain National Forest. Team Virtus has enough clout to offer you free camping at Pine Ridge! Okay, so it’s free for anyone to camp there, but it’s still a pretty good deal. No showers, though, but there is a vault bathroom and drinking water available. Rumor has it that Team Virtus will be camping there on Friday AND Saturday nights. Feel free to join us before and after the non-race for some more fun.
For directions, here is a Google Map.
Dates and Times:
Non-Racer check-in will take place between 7:30 and 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 21st, 2012. That’s right. It’s the day before Earth Day, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than by non-racing in the great outdoors!
Pre-Race Non-Meeting will start at 8:45 AM, and the non-race will start at 9:00 AM sharp.
Solo, Duo, Trio, Quad, Male, Female, Coed, etc. You can do this non-race however you want to, but please don’t be stupid about it. YOU are responsible for YOU! We cannot and will not guarantee your safety. We are setting up the course, but you are choosing to take part in this non-race of your own volition. If you’re a newby, then don’t try this alone. Find an experienced teammate. Don’t have one? Leave us a comment, and we’ll hook you up.
Both the 12 hour and 24 hour courses will start and end at the same location. Just kidding. Our CAC will definitely be long and hard, but it won’t be that long.
The course will have a 10 hour time cutoff so that even the beginners will have a chance to finish, but a lot of you will finish in roughly 6 hours. We are much more confident with our time estimates thanks to our friend and AR guru, Kelly Sumner of Off Road Fixation.
- Bike 15 – 25 miles including single track, gravel, and pavement
- Run, hike, trek, bushwhack, crawl, crab-walk, or whatever 5-10 miles
- “Water Event” for 2-5 miles (Muwahahahaha! You’ll have to show up on race day to find out what that means)
Individual Gear for the Entire Race:
- Backpack with at least 50 ounces of hydration (bladder, bottles, old Boy Scout canteen, whatever)
- Rain Jacket
- Wool or Synthetic Stocking Cap
- Camera (okay, it’s not mandatory, but we’d love it if you took some photos during the race!)
Individual Gear for the Bike Leg:
- Mountain Bike
- Rear-Facing Red Blinking Light (Yes, this is mandatory since you WILL be biking on roads)
- Spare Tube
Individual Gear for the “Water Event”:
- PFD (That’s a Personal Floatation Device and it’s NOT to be confused with a Portable Document Format or PDF) – If you don’t have one, surely you can borrow one. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and you will not have to carry it with you through the whole race. If you can’t find one, let us know, and we’ll hook you up. You don’t have to worry about paddles or a boat.
- A Five Dollar Bill. Or 5 One Dollar Bills. Half of a Ten Dollar Bill will not be accepted.
Team Gear for the Entire Race:
- Cell Phone in waterproof container (make sure it’s charged!)
- Small First Aid Kit
- Iodine Tablets or other water treatment method
Team Gear for the Bike Leg:
- Bike Tool
- Pump or Inflator
- Patch Kit
Yes, there WILL be awards. Overall winner gets free entry into our next non-race. Other schwag and awards will be given out after the last non-racer non-finishes the non-race by crossing the non-finish line. I’ve finished a race MANY times after the awards ceremony. That ain’t gonna happen at our non-race. Anyone that has the cojones to drag themselves across the finish line deserves to be present for the awards ceremony regardless of how long it takes them.
We will be providing baked potatoes, sour cream, butter, some Rotel Dip (which is delicious on the ‘taters!), and possible some other things. I’m sure we’ll have some beer and soda, but depending on how many people show up, we may not have enough. I don’t wanna make any promises I can’t keep, so you might want to bring your own.
Like I said earlier, we’ll be camping after the race if you want to hang out and have a blast with us. Some of the best memories are made AFTER a race, you know.
If you’re bringing a spouse or friend that doesn’t want to non-race but would like to help out, please let us know.
So that should be enough info for you. If you have any questions about the non-race, please let us know. We really do think this will be our best non-race yet, and if it sucks, we’ll give you your money back. Guaranteed.
One last thing… And this IS IMPORTANT!!!! If you want to non-race, then you need to let us know. You can either leave a comment below, or you can use the Contact Us form. It’s important that we know how many maps to provide, how many potatoes to make, how many beverages, etc. So please let us know as soon as you can.
All skill levels are welcome. This is a great way to get your feet wet if you’re new (It’s FREE for crying out loud), and it’s also a great way to get ready for other races if you’re an experienced racer. So come and enjoy our CAC. We really hope to see you there.
I’d like to do a longer ride Saturday morning. This gravel-jam will begin at approximately 730 am in beautiful Mokane, Missouri. This may or may not be a scouting ride for parts of the Cedar Cross.
Shitty weather will not be grounds for ride cancellation. The only thing stopping me will be the Hams Prarie gas station…their sandwiches are delicious.
Don’t forget dog-spray and gummi bears…and your ipod. and chamois butter. and gummi bears.
I don’t really have anything clever to say on this dreary Friday morning, and honestly, I don’t feel very well. So I decided to be lazy and go back through our photos to find some cool Bike Photos to inspire you to go ride this weekend. Some of these you may have seen before, and others are never-before-seen shots. I hope you enjoy them, and let us know which one is your favorite.