Droppin' in the first double drop. Photo by Bret Howard
It wasn't until I was standing on top of Heath Springs 1, that I realized that I had forgot my sleeping bag back in the put-in car some 8 miles away (see our road was snowed in). But I couldn't have cared less....for I was about to drop over one of the most holy falls in whitewater. The run was awesome and needless to say, I spent 3 sleepless nights next to the fire, burning every piece of gear I owned.
Huckin Mini Curtain. Photo by Bret Howard
But after the three days of pure boater's bliss, myself, my brother Bret and buddy Nathan, came away with a trip to remember. 5 months later, I was sitting in a remote canyon with JD Batove and he quoted, " No Sierra overnighter is the same after the Royal Gorge. " Which brings me to my next top run of the year.....
The First Descent of the Rio Aguililla, MexicoBashing down a random nasty, photo by: Rocky Contos
This was what every expedition boater looks for. Remote, unknown, steep, sketchy and long (60k). We instantly knew this run was going into the books as a good one, when the President of the town of Aguililla had his police escort us to the put-in. We had a hiccup when we ran into some military and had a discussion about what we were about to attempt...but all was well when they just figured we were plain crazy. After putting on, Day One took us through "mota fields" and massive drops, that were runnable.
Lookin' for a boof on "Moulin Rouge", photo by Rocky Contos
Day Two took us through even more classic granite boxes. The highlight of the day was a tucked away, nasty double / pinch drop dubbed "Moulin Rouge". After a long look, I gave 'er and came away smiling. Fast-forwarding a bit, we made it down in 4 days and did my first Source to Sea river. What a great find this was!
My favorite picture of the year: JD Batove w/ me standing by. Rio Aguililla. Photo by Rocky ContosPoland Creek, AZ
Gettin' some on McLovin. Video still from The Risen Sun
I led a group of willing paddlers into the 1st Descent of Poland Creek, AZ. This ended up being more than what I was originally expecting. We discovered a granite paradise with everything a paddler could hope for...falls, boulders bigger than cars, and outstanding scenery. All in my backyard (semi). We extensively filmed this stretch for the upcoming film, The Risen Sun. This proved to slow us down a significant amount and combined with the relentless canyon, we spent a very long, cold night, huddled under a self made hut of yucca / agave plants.
On a spilt decision run of "Orion". Video still from The Risen Sun
All in all, we came away with a great story and an itch to get back in there and duke it out again. This run would wrap up one hell of a year and begin the start of an amazing Arizona season. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store...we have big plans....and it's going to be huge as always!