What’s that in the Tub?

20 04 2011

I got to hold him down!

A dry suit is an important component of any cold water paddler’s portfolio. A dry suit makes a cold water day downright pleasant.

Further, when it comes to safety, a dry suit can save your life! As wonderful as they are, many paddlers balk at stepping up to a drysuit because of the cost. How much? A top Gore-Tex dry suit from Kokatat starts at $900.

Less expensive suits will still set you back several hundred dollars. But the materials won’t stand up like Gore-tex. I took my chances and bought a lightly used NRS Extreme Relief dry suit three years ago for $400.

All dry suits have latex gaskets, which need replacement from time to time. I just replaced my latex neck gasket and latex booties. But this past weekend I was teaching a rescues class, and was disappointed to find my butt wet by the end of class!

When I took the dry suit off, my chest was dry. My fleece pants were dry. But my right foot had a little moisture. Underwear was definitely wet. Where did that water come from?

Thus begins the “find the leak” project. One way to detect dry suit leaks is to plug up the head and wrist gaskets and inflate! Then dunk and check for air bubbles.

But I wasn’t quite prepared for the amusement! Almost right away I felt sinister like I was trying to drown someone in my bathtub! I was pushing that suit around like I was trying to strangle somebody! Positively evil!

So, did I find the leak? No, not really. I pushed air into the legs and submerged. No bubbles. Butt/torso – well, there was one little tiny hiss, which then went away. I never saw any bubbles. I think it came from the end of the relief zipper? I do know I can use petroleum jelly on that end…and stop any water there…I learned how to do that.

But truly I think there is a leak somewhere else, and I just didn’t find it! Grrrrrr. Maybe I need to drown my suit in a pool, which is bigger!

April Powder on Mount Hood

8 04 2011

Some late spring snow – and LOTS of it – fell on Mount Hood in early April 2011. Mount Hood Ski Bowl opened unscheduled on Thursday at 3 p.m. for “night” skiing – well, at that hour in April it was blue bird sunny!

Wow! Pictures are really worth 1,000 words.

A telemark skier takes on the fresh



The deep

Spring Paddle with PaddleNW – Bachelor Island, WA

6 04 2011

Although winter is tenaciously hanging on in this La Nina year and I love snow sports, I’ve begun a seasonal desire to turn to water sports. My 21 times skiing this season has had me ignoring my meetup group. So since I had some free time April 3rd so I scheduled a paddle with my PaddeNW Meetup in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

I was not surprised when 10 people signed up right away. My intuition about pent up paddling desire was spot on!

When I arrived at the meeting space there were many cars with happy folks and brightly colored kayaks on roofs. We waited for everyone to show up and got to know each other…

Then it was on to the water – a trip around Bachelor Island. It’s about 9.5 miles around. One side is protected sloughs, while the other is on the Columbia River.

At this time of year the Columbia is close to max flow. It was so high it covered the wing dams and almost covered the signs identifying the wildlife refuge.

The first part of our paddle was south, against the current and quite a workout. Then we lunched on the south tip of the island.

A duck hunter’s blind served us as a lunch counter. There were shotgun shells everywhere.

The trip with the Columbia current was like warp speed, and there were dozens of spring salmon fishermen anchored. Seems like the fish don’t stand a chance!

We also caught a glimpse of a freighter, which some paddlers rushed out to get a closer glimpse…

We saw a lot of really cool birds. Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Blue Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Geese, Mergansers, Terns, Swallows and Red Winged Blackbirds. But my favorite of all was the Great Horned Owl. That was way cool.

We were done by 4:00 p.m. or so, and we were pleased – a good time was had by all! Looking forward to more paddles this year!

There’s me working on that nettlesome forward stroke!