Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 4 Unlocking Wyoming's Secret Stash

Adventure is our sought after nemesis
Living is the force
The unknown is the energy we all seek


Forest Noble styling some of the tight moves

Before you even read further first watch this video below, it is a peak into our exploration and the experiences we shared along the way into the unknown!

Wyoming Mis-Adventure from Mike Copeland on Vimeo.


This Wyoming segment will be in the new film by Mike Copeland and Stone and Water Productions. Thanks a bunch Mike for making the trek out and I promise next time will be incredible.

I have taken gear for a hike numerous times in my pursuit to chase ice and water. About a quarter of those times I did nothing but hike and was completely shutdown but I can honestly say I enjoyed most of those steps taken. Of course there were times when I cussed myself or my partners did it for me but we all knew we were in search of uncharted waters.


The crew chasing the unknown…..

Perhaps sometimes im not the best communicator and I know a few people that would jump all over that bandwagon of criticism. This trip was one of those miscommunications of sorts. Tom Sunderland and I raced towards Casper Friday evening meeting with Gary Edgeworth, Mike Copeland, Davis Gove and Forest Noble. We had a great crew journeying from as far as Colorado and Idaho. We met up for dinner with our head logistic coordinator Casperkenny for what would be bad news for the entire group. Chasing water in this range is like trying to predict your next date in Cody, Wyoming “ The odds are good and the goods are odd “. The creek I had targeted was too low so we were forced resort to another creek that I had very little beta on.



An hour out of Casper we found ourselves staring into a ditch with very little water. We continued trying to drive downstream along a muddy road only to find ourselves getting stuck every 100 feet. To escape Gary’s verbal arsenal I decided to hike downstream with mike and forest.


Gary E psyched to be on a mission! ha

As we hiked further it looked like it gained more water and the streambed opened up a little bit. Water seamed to be draining off the mountain everywhere so we decided that perhaps a few miles downstream it would double the water ( We Hoped) . Nobody seemed super enthusiastic about the run including myself but we figured we were here so we better go ahead and give’er.


The unsuspecting crew. From left- Forest Noble, Gary Edgeworth, Tom Sunderland, Casperkenny, Mike Copeland and Davis Gove



Moments after putting on……


A couple of hours later, Forest hiking it


Gary trying to get as much water time as possible. I must say he ran some serious mank that day thru bushes and trees that I would have thought was not possible.

Hours of class 10 eye gouging bushwacking , fence ducking and eventually just hiking next to the creek brought us to the middle of nowhere. The hiking ended being pretty easy considering there was an old road right next to the river most of the time. Some of the group tried to stay in the river and others of us just resorted to hiking for numerous miles.


Forest says “ And that’s where the asshole is who brought us here”


Gary really pissed of at me…I can tell you at this point of the trip things were very hostile.

8 miles into the run we finally took a break and tried to figure out where we were. We were all battered physically and mentally and ready to be done but with many miles between us and our shuttle drivers we were forced to stick to the creek. I knew there was a steep gorge ahead of us somewhere and I just hoped that it would all pay off at some point. I think Gary’s thoughts in the video spoke for the entire group on how we felt at this point.


The river is changing!

The character of the river started to change and horizon lines and massive boulders started to fill in the skyline. The water was still low but it was starting to be very constricted as it pooled up in massive boulder gardens. A few drops in and the first smiles of the group started to surface as we boofed and slided our way in to the canyon further.


Gary going deep


Mike boofing thru the room


Gary running one of the more technical double drops


Mike running the double drop with the nice room behind it!


One of the few portages in the gorge


Mike Copeland


Big Pools


Mike Copeland

Things seemed to be shaping up for us, more drops and slides brought us to a big 30 footer that with more flow would go for sure. Luckily for us we were able to portage the falls in the walled in gorge on the right. This was the kayaking we had come for but the price admission was high and the water was low. The drops had the same character as the rest of the range and I finally felt like perhaps there was some redemption.


Tom Sunderland a the base of the big one


Mike on the first of many slides below the waterfall


Mike is smiling…

Finally a very big horizon line came upon us and gary got out to scout, he comes back with a huge grin and says “Mulkey its your turn just boof” I knew Gary was pissed off at me so who knows what he was sending me into and he wasn’t giving any more beta then “just boof”. A fast slide down a granite hallway led me off a sweet waterfall into a massive pool. There is nothing like that rush of running something blind especially on a drop that has not been run.


Tom on the blind one


Gary launching


Mike Launching


Tom getting ready for the ride!


Mike Copeland

As the gorge petered out we were met with about ¾ of a mile of more bushwacking and eventually met our priceless shuttle drivers that were able to get creek side on a huge ranch that gave them access.


Mike enjoying the last few drops of the gorge

This run has some great potential BUT…… it has private land issues. We crossed a great road just above the gorge that is on the ranch and is accessed thru their property. If you put in here the run would be very worthwhile. Im going to work on some access this next year and hopefully we can all enjoy the run for those that feel its worthwhile?




Tom getting his Electric Slide on....

The day after everybody had long drives, so Tom and I were left ready to paddle a little more before we hit the road and decided to also do some public relations work. Casperkenny’s friend Jacky Carter owns the ranch that the Box Elder run is on and she is a very old Wyoming ranch women that thinks kayakers are crazy but likes us so far. She needed some help up on the ranch and wanted to talk with us about a proposed power project that was a major issue in the community. Go here for more info on the Northern Laramie Range Alliance. As of today it looks like they are re-routing the project thankfully.

After giving a hand and talking with Jacky we headed for the river!


Tom on Wild Turkey


Tom in the action


Tom doing the Electric Slide


Tom running Dung Ball. This drop has a super sticky hole and doesnt seem to flush very well. Tom got pushed into the left hallway and was not able to get out after numerous attempts. Luckily I was able to get out and throw a rope to him and he was able to grab the rope and get out narrowly escaping a bootie beer.

After making the hike out Jacky Carter was there watching us and invited us back to the ranch for a homemade meal and pecan pie, it was an incredible meal and as much we wanted to get on the road we knew it was in our best interest to stick around.



Dont miss the last segment of Unlocking Wyoming's Secret Stash as we venture into the Big Horns in search of some Waterfalls...


Mulkey Probing the big one... Photo: Matt Mcfadden

2 comments:

Mike Copeland said...

nice writeup man. I would go back if we can access from that road right above the gorge and if there is more water. It was a pretty fun 2 mile run (too bad it ended up being about 16...)

- Mike

Pete said...

Best post I've seen for awhile. I do a lot of the same kind of stuff here in Oregon except you guys are way better boaters and have harder rivers over there. Keep up the good work even with the ocassional debacle.