Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Relevance, Style, Semantics & Carnage-Filled Attempts

I like when friends come to visit me here in Seattle. Whether it's for a specific purpose like kayaking or surfing or snowboarding -- or for no real purpose at all -- I can almost always find us something fun &/or troublesome to get into. And with the always entertaining cast of characters I run with, I can usually guarantee that my boring demeanor will be more than made up for by the likes of people like "Utah", "Shrtl", & "B-Rock".

Such was to be the case last week when my pal Evan, from the dry, brown, state of Colorado, came out to immerse himself in the essence of life, which flows in such abundance here in the Promised Land. From the git-go, the plan was focused on our annual Spring pilgrimage to that great Island of Fantasy to our north, which has provided reliable adventure, discovery, & story fodder in years past .. so it seemed a logical destination for early May, but with the caveat that the ever-wonky NW weather would almost certainly keep us on our toes up til the very last second. Heading over to the Island can be a bit of a financial investment & time-suck, so best we make certain them rivers is full before committing. And besides, mainland options would abound, so at least Evan was assured some good BC kayaking no matter what. From the git-go this was the plan, & a team of 8 was on board.

As luck would have it, neither rain nor sunshiny heat would hit the Island in time to justify our intended departure .. so the Mainland would have to suffice in the meantime. We could always just blast over to the Island for a quickie if flows cooperated.

Our 5-day trip began as a leisurely afternoon on the local favorite Robe Canyon. Prior to our trip, I'd only been kayaking like 3 times since Fall, so Robe's a good way to clean out the cobwebs & great introduction for our desert-livin', low-water mank-lovin' friend to the watery ways of the NW. From there we'd blast north to B'ham to drop off the Corey-dog at the dogsitters. It was there that we learned from our non-kayaking dogsitter friend that our trip -- before it had even begun -- was already being called a skunk fest. I was kind of shocked at her ability to see so clearly into the future & so I asked her if I would ever make enough money to buy a nice 3 BR craftsman in Seattle. Turns out, she didn't have the clairvoyance superpower, just a direct line of communication to one of the naysayers who had apparently decided early on along with 2 others to opt out of the plans.

No matter. In reality the exclusion of those guys almost certainly simplified things in a lot of ways. Coming to consensus on anything amongst the existing group of 5 was difficult enough without the addition of 3 more equally opinionated dudes:

"Where are we going today?"

"I dunno, I'll do whatever, as long as it's not this or that .."

"Can we stop & get some coffee?"

"No, seriously, it's almost noon, where are we going today?"
"I dunno. What's even running anyway? Maybe we should go into town & get online & look at the levels.."

"And get coffee!"

So at this point, the crew would be set at Schertzl, Tretwold, Evan & me .. & so onward we pushed, headed for Bryan & Lise-Anne's place in Squamish, with the promise of sunny skies & boring Elaho/Ashlu stuff in the a.m.

Just for fun, here's Sherdle cozying up with the unpredictable Stein Weasel

Just before our trip, I picked up a copy of the recent "whitewater issue" of Canoe & Kayak magazine, & was pleasantly surprised to find that The Range Life was mentioned by writer Joe Carberry in a list of "best whitewater blogs". Since TRL’s inception, we've invested lots of time & energy into building this site. But obviously, in the last year our bloggage has been a lot less prolific. One reason for that is cuz I work full time. Another reason is because we are, collectively, kayaking less; there's a lot of other fun/exciting/adventurous stuff to do other than just kayaking. And yet another reason is that the proliferation of kayaking blogs has kind of turned me off to polluting the airwaves with more of my own mediocre drivel.

Seems the only way to get a leg up in the blogosphere these days is to either point it off a really tall waterfall (preferably with a minimum of 3 Hood River photogs/filmers/bloggers on hand to document it), or more importantly, by loudly proclaiming how "sick", "hella big", "extreme", "dope", "next level" "gnar", "core", etc you & your friends are when you “give ‘er” & “fire that shit” & "get it done".

For every decent, humility-infused story that Darrin or Kirk posts, there’s like 25 other chest-poundin’, fist-pumpin’, “next level” bloggers cloggin’ up the Intertubes like cholesterol. That TRL is even considered relevant in this environment is very flattering, but definitely a little puzzling -- not only have we not been posting regularly, we haven't kept up with conventional WW blogging techniques.

And apparently we created an unintended outcome: Joe’s comment about our “carnage-filled first-descent attempts” gave us some laughs. And a little bout of indignance, like, "Dang! Really?? People read us for the carnage? What carnage??" Hmmm... first off, our trips are rarely carn-fests. No, really, they're not. Seriously, guys, they're not, I swear. Stop laughing.

Also because we rarely label our exploratory missions as "first descents", so how would you even know we're doing 1D attempts when we carn out? How did this happen in spite of all my efforts to the contrary? Shit.

Anyway, getting back to the point .. driving up to Squampton with the crew, comments about our impending "carnage-filled thousandth-descent attempts" were being tossed around liberally. As well as comments about carnage-filled "most-complete descents", "most-successful descents", "first complete-descents", "possible first-descents", "highest-water descents" & "second-descents".

You've spotted this trend, right?

If you're a sponsored kayaker, or even one of the top pros, it's not enough to go explore a river & document it for public consumption; you apparently must brand the experience so the reader makes no mistake as to exactly how "hella sick" you are & how important your kayaking trip will be to the future generations of kayakers. Sometimes it's also important to point out that you're just doing it for the love of the sport & that you're just trying to "progress" the sport. A "second-descent" of any river or big drop, while not as earth shatteringly “killin’ it” as a 1D, apparently serves to bolster the credibility of what would otherwise be a totally pointless day of kayaking .. so you gotta claim that shit! Claiming "highest-water descent" will surely earn you a spot on the Badass List, when you run something that has been paddled more than once or twice before. I was impressed recently to learn about the "most complete-descent to date" of an exotic river .. which is just like saying, "We weren't the first to try this run & we didn't run everything, but we're pretty sure we ran more drops than those last guys who tried it, so, clearly, we're more awesome."

Publicly qualifying your carnage-filled attempt of a river in any of the ways described above (& if you could invite a minimum of 3 Hood River photogs/filmers/bloggers, that would work best) will ensure that your trip to Tibet or Sumatra or Bolivia or Yakima is justified in the eyes of your sponsors, ingrained in the collective conscience, and that you are legendary on the World Wide Web. Just lay down some hella tight beatz on yo film footy & you got a next level trailer to drop on all those headz in the forumz.

“Good morning, Viet-Squam!” Irony is when the UV-addicted Rocky Mountain kayaker comes to the PNW looking for “hella sick” rain-fed rivers & all he gets is dry & sunny, just like back home ..

But that ain’t so bad, really .. is it?

Shrtl ain’t skeert.

Is this “the brown”?? I dunno. And where the hell is Mt. Zion, anyway?

Tret getting squirrelly on Fear

Evan splatty in the funny water

Shrtl lookin’ good in the run-out after stompin’ out the portage. Quote of the day: “My lady loves it when I style the portage line on the big drops!

Chris in the pinch

Evan, with what we think might be Mt. Zion in the background .. For all you Ras Trent’s out there, stay true to the path ..

Pretty nice little afternoon we had .. but we weren’t done yet. Bryan was doing some carpentry work out the Squamish valley & wanted to meet us for an evening blazer down the Ashlu Box. We got to the bridge & the level looked good enough. I mean, we were hoping for “highest-water descent” material, but that wasn’t the case, it was just a boring old “medium-perfect”. We’d have to go for some other monumental distinction on this run.

Turns out, we nailed it! I successfully logged my “most incomplete-descent” of the Commitment Canyon of the Ashlu when, after blowing it at Kernage, I ended up in a hungry hole & became permanently separated from my vessel. Complacency is a crime. ”Running the brine”, it turns out, is not. The upper canyon of the Box is not an easy solo egress. I made it up a little crack in the wall a couple hundred feet to a ledge where my hopes of “walking” out would be dashed. I’d have to hunker down & wait for my pals to return on foot, with ropes. I ended up ascending the last little bit of slimy vertical wall with the aid of a pair of Tiblocs.

So there’s the “carnage-filled” epic our loyal readers have come to expect from us! Now where’s my effin’ boat? Count that as my first-ever real sacrifice to the river in many years of whitewater paddleboating, cuz that Everest was never seen again. And I hate littering.

Next day was more Ashlu Box. Here are some “hella sick” angles.. these angles are definitely “next level shit” only available to the hardcore pro photog on foot who isn’t encumbered by a heavy plastic boat.


Tretwold finishing up Triple Drop

Dang! This angle on Kernage definitely illustrates how a fella might free himself inadvertently from his vessel, right? Is it “the brown”?? I think it could be ..

Man Chris, this is some "extreme brine"

Evan Dotcom, guide book author, “fired that shit” whether it was “the brown” or "the brine" or not.

So did Schartel.

First drop of Twin 10’s as illustrated in-sequence by several different paddlers.

Looking up the lower canyon at what could be Mt. Zion in the background

Interestingly, Shertyl logged his own “most complete descent” of the Box just a day after I logged my “most INcomplete descent”.

Last thing on the Box..

Oh man oh man! I was really hoping to get to say “huck” a whole bunch! That’s another one that’s a guaranteed winner for bloggers. I’m in luck with huck, cuz we spent an afternoon conducting a “huckfest” at Britannia.



Huck!!! Even though I love this shot, this is actually kind of embarrassing. Media Frenzies ‘R Us! This isn’t even kayaking. Next time, let’s go kayaking eh?

Bonus: Furry goes un-hucked

Try as I might, couldn’t convince anyone to "give 'er" or "fire that shit". Guess it was too “brown” to huck.


The last day of Evan’s little vacay would be a bit more exploratory. I think we can safely call this one a “possible 5th descent” of Ruby Creek, which is pretty rad because the “possible” implies that we could actually be farther up the chain than #5. Maybe we were #3, which is only one slot down from the coveted “second-descent”. And since no one really knows much about this creek, I might as well go ahead & claim the “possible 2nd descent” & throw that out to the forums, cuz no one will argue. Booya!




We knew there would be a nice waterfall series in here. It was kind of hard to scout from above, but what we could see looked pretty great. I volunteered to go first, mainly cuz I wanted to take photos from downstream, but also cuz I hate dilly-dallyin’ above big rapids & I wanted to just get it over with. I got pretty nervous while I was trying to scout, but that’s exactly when I realized that someone had just survived a 186-foot waterfall & that it was totally ridiculous for me to kook-out about a 30-footer. Seriously, think about that the next time you’re in your boat above that 15-footer that’s giving you the willies – 186 feet. Thanks for that Tyler.

Ev in sequence.



After this thing, we had to portage a ginormous cascading mess. Chris was expedient in setting up the rappel. I went down first & received 3 out of 4 boats before requesting another man. Again, I wanted to take pics. The next hour was spent getting hypothermic in the mist zone while god knows what was taking so much time up on top of that cliff. I never got the real story on what the hold-up was, but I have a suspicion it might have been the result of a fierce Stein Weasel attack, but maybe we’ll just never know..

Evan finishing the rappel

View of zone from downstream

You can barely make out Chris rapping down in the upper-left of the shot

Nice little thing to exit the waterfall series.


So that was pretty much our skunk-fest of a weekend.

One week later, *everything* is running at primo levels, it's sunny & warm ... but all I can think about is going surfing. Why is that? Maybe that's what is causing my blogger-relevance-insecurity complex, Joe Carberry. The swell sucked this weekend so i should've gone boating with my friends .. but I ended up riding my bike a lot, eating too much food, & drinking too much beer. I think I can honestly claim a "most successful run to date" of the Ballard Farmer's Market today. Seriously, when you factor in the out-of-season organic beets I magically scored, & that I sat next to & ate pizza with that hot, tattooed, Uma Thurman lookalike girl that I see around sometimes, man, it was a pretty successful & relatively carnage-free attempt. And to you folks who doubt the intensity level or "brown-ness" of it, try riding fixed, fast & brakeless through the hordes of Fremont gapers on a sunny Farmers Market day, with a bag full of fresh organic produce & farm-fresh cheese, & a beer in hand. Hey, move it, man! There's a beverage here!

So sick.


Hale said...


Your sarcasm, bluntness, and humor actually get me to read the trip reports. Your photos are pretty good to even with all those teeny tiny drops you guys run.

You might be the most well written mediocre kayaker in the blogosphere.


Anonymous said...

For somebody who doesn't "read" other blogs, you sure seem to know a lot about them. Maybe your all-knowing editorial style and concern for how others should blog got you so complacent and carnage-filled ... again, that you actually validated that Paddler rag.

I wish I could have enjoyed the trip report in the usual TRL style without the diarrhea this time.

Joe Kayaker

Anonymous said...

You forgot to say "stout". Please learn the lingo before posting the kayak blogs.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. Joe K, I think you should re-read his post. The brilliance of it is that he freely admits to validating the Paddler article. And has some fun making fun of everone else and himself along the way. Lighten up dude.

Monk said...

Great post, impressive drops. Ruby looks even better/bigger than Chris implied after his Google Earth assisted scouting mission.

The background topic almost sounds like the AW rag a little while back, about pushing the "edge" and what defines said boundary. And, by not really defining anything, you make a good point.

Plus, maybe those other readers don't really get the northwest, where rope-assisted canyon extractions are par for the course, and can't really count as carnage.

Anonymous said...

Yo Yo Range lifer's you guys used to inspire me to get out and run some good big drops and go down those oh so pristine canyons... What's with all the badgering on some of the kayaking community out there. Just because yazz couldn't pull the Brine Brown down when you had a frown and walked from the Huallaga back to town. no treats laid by the range life crew out there. The brown would have been that so called "70 footer" on dipper the "TRL" was too "old" or "smart" to run... I'm pretty sure Todd Gillman is the coolest/best internet kayaker on planet earth, who has the authority to make fun of everybody else's good times. None of us readers get you hardcore, missionary, expeditionary, northwest kayakers so, go run bigger shit and put someone else on the the blog updates before Todd burns all the bridges you have. Not so sick...

Anonymous said...

yo son u need 2 chk urself kayaking is street 4life 4real and 4eva. how come your pictures aint got no soundtrack, son? where the beatz at??? i have hella talks with mtv sponsorz and shit yaddadamean cuz my w-falls footie sell records no doubt. hella people be askin me when i am droppin a mixtape but i tell them i aint tryin to drop no mixtape... just bigazz briny stout waterfallsz.

so when i am poppin krystal at the take-out w/ all my bros and dozens of sloozies u know i am livin it large just like in beveragely-hills 90210. hella kayakers be eatin mac and cheese and all that ghetto shit but i am pertty much just on osetra caviar and crunk juice. plus i get power bars and kayaks for free and am hustlin an image trade deal for watches so you know im livin large. who you know be getting power bars and watches for free? profeshiognarl athletes thats who. u know what they say dog "if u cant stand the brine get out of the oshun""

Anonymous said...

Yo Yo Anonymous, don't you have trust fund to squander?

Anonymous said...

hey guys,

I get an email when ever you guys update your blog from feedbuzz or something like that. because I'm always stoked to see what all you are up to. i just got one this morning so I am here. I have to say I'm very disappointed in how immature you really are. So funny making fun of people who can't spell or use slang words to describe the kayaking they do. I could have expected it from some of those other less professional blogs, but never from TRL.

-A truly disappointed fan

Anonymous said...

i love this. all you commenters need to relaax a little bit and have some fun. the post isn't harsh it's sposed to be fun. seems like the dude hit a nerve. no need to get personal.

michael said...

TRL is over the hill and they are going down like the brown in the innerwebz...Yeah ball!! Dont be a hater cause other bloggerites are huckin' gnarly sick burl extremer stouts and bloggin it.

With all your innerwebz shititalking negativity I think you are now going to be classified as Ballardite yuppies!


p.s. keep it positive brotha! it's a life skill.

Todd Gillman said...

hi michael/ILLEAGLE, at least you have sack enough to put yr name on yr flame. thanks for that. i'm not too worried about the blog's popularity declining or "burning bridges" cuz kayaking & blogging are things i do in my free time, which is very limited. i'm also not too concerned about being called out for walking "the brown". i've been around the scene for a while & have nothing left to prove in this sport & refuse to get hung up in pissing contests about "quien es mas macho?".

about the post .. it was all in good fun. settle down, take a deep breath, read it again with a smile on your face .. & learn how to laugh at yourself & not take things so seriously .. that's a life skill too Michael.

& EG, if that's you up there, i wasn't taking aim at your blog. i actually really like your blog & the funny lingo you guys invented. it's fun & funny, which is ultimately the point of my post -- keep it fun, keep it funny, keep it honest, less ego, less claiming, less self-absorprtion.

make sense?

fc said...

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear, does it actually make a noise? Sometimes, we all need to ask ourselves this question and that is all that Todd's doing -- posing a question.

How has marketing changed the essence of our sports? If you don't have an Internet connection, probably not all that much. For the rest of though... Seriously, when everyone is 50 they'll realize that all this stuff we do is fleeting bull shit and all that really matters is that we do these things so that the beer taste better and that the conversation is livelier for the shuttle home.


michael said...

hey Todd,
definitely all in good fun... I just gotta clear things up a bit about the earlier comment in my name. not that I necesarily disagree with it, but somebody else wrote it and published it from my computer while i was signed into my account. hahah i'm not ILLEAGLE but i think its some funny ass shit.
anyway, keep runnin' the brown!

Steve Arns said...

Well written indeed - it gave me a good laugh here at lunch hour.

Ruby looks great - did you guys start at the Ruby/Garnite confluence, and do you have any idea what flows on the Norrish might have been when you were in there?

Anonymous said...

more chics please.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of tupac and biggy, you guys better chill out and make up before the bullets start flyin and we loose some of the most entertaining bloggers to the BEEF.

Anonymous said...

funniest blog post in a long time. how can anyone possibly get offended by a guy who ends his rant by saying he went to the farmers market to buy beets instead of kayaking?????? lighten up francis!

Anonymous said...

Yo's, don't be hatin' on my steezy way. Just coz yo' daddy don't own a gear shop and funded yo' kayakin tripz since yuz been in hi-school don't mean you cant run dem shitz like me. Itz a lifestylee yo.

Justin said...

Well, I must be gettin' old too because I really enjoy this blog more than any other ones out there. TRL showcases some of the most beautiful places I have/haven't seen. And I love that.

Yeah the young bucks can post loud, irreverent, carnage filled blogs. And for the young dumb and full of @#$# that's cool, I guess I tend to believe that the majority of Kayakers out there enjoy just getting away from their 9-5 and enjoying mother earth before we damn it all.

Please keep finding time away from your responsibilities, it is appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Awww shit! Rap Battle! Dance-off!

E.G. said...

mmm... yes you got me, must read my blog, for my broken writing and misspellings are unmistakable. I do agree I love writing funny stuff on my blog and throwing out some good humor. Even though all this post says, is all in good fun... it seems like it takes a lash at the demshitz, hucking, hood river, young, blogging community. If you decide to write some "witty banter" like that, don't expect everyone to be "chill" about it. I try never to publicly ever talk s*&% about anyone... and from me to you. There was some shit talking in there. I'm no egotistical sponsored big waterfall fiend... I love getting out on any river just as much as the next fool. Lets make nice and go boatin'. I remember when all I read about was all the sick missions you boys used to get on.
I love the farmers market bit and the dude with the watch and power bar sponsor.... truly funny

Shane Robinson said...

Ok, so some think negative, old, and all washed up.

Todd and others say, lighten up and relax and look for the humor in the post.

I suggest, enough about what tone to read the post in. There is truth in sarcasm, and truth in humor. As Fitz suggests, there is a question being raised by Todd that our sport is celebrating the claim more and the style less. Does it matter if its a second descent or just a good day on the river? What about a high water decent or having a fun and slightly scary mission with your bros. What about running a 80 footer on your head or styling a 15? I tend to the think its the latter that matters.

Is the claiming just a loud minority, or is it becoming the majority of our sport, in which case maybe we are too old and have "missed the boat."


Ps. Always in appreciation to those who claim their opinions and sign their names!

Pps. Nice work to those who actually did the paddling in this trip report. The carpentry work I was doing did not compare, but I might have topped the farmer's market, although I do like me some beets :)

Anonymous said...

Shit was said tyres will be slashed

Anonymous said...

TRL is great shit as always..

Anonymous said...

Ebert and Roper says 2 thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

First off, this was a sweet mission. TG made it possible for me to sneak out the house for an extended weekend and get into some amazing rivers. I'm not the only one he does this shit for. He hosts paddlers from out of town ALL THE TIME and shows them the brown so they can lay some treats.

You can't take this shit seriously. The Demshitz talk has got be some of the best lingo to hit the paddling scene ever... but if you think people are going around saying their about to run the brown and not laughing hysterically after they say it you might want to re-think the poop references. I've paddled with a good chunk of the Demshitz crew and they are without question some of the best paddlers I've had the pleasure of sharing the river with.

This post wasn't directed at you guys in particular but the overarching kayak blogging culture right now. It's all about honesty and truth. Sometimes it all just seems like a big act these days. When's the last time anybody else blogged about themselves swimming the brown?

Whether it's out of the time it takes or just what the community thinks people want to see, pictures of the big drops with a single caption continue to dominate over the more in depth coverage of the experience. This is why TRL IMO has been so popular. The honesty and the raw kayaking life that they represent with their, and when I say their, I mean with mostly Todd's posts.

And the whole hood river references? Is it funny? Hell yeah! It's funny and true. That's why it's so funny. It's RAD to see my bros giving her huge in the winter with the icicles and shit at Outlet Falls but there were easily more photogs/bloggers/documentors than paddlers who ran the falls. TG has more peeps in HR than in Seattle and I can't imagine them taking offense.

TRL are old, washed up, and don't even really get after it anymore, actually they never really did. But when you're up in BC pinching yourself cause your about to run the 90% cocoa extra special dark chocolate stout brown waterfalls on Dipper Creek, remember they spent two years climbing in and out of that crack in the earth to even determine if it was "maybe" runnable and all you had to do was peer in and look for wood, take a seat, and lay some treats.


Anonymous said...

respect to both both sides, but Im pretty sure demshitz would beat the shit shit out of trl in a rumble a smoke off or a drinking sess any day of the week,
nothing need said about the boatin, we ALL know

Anonymous said...

TG can suck my balls after that post!

no longer a fan.

E.G. said...

Keep it coming yinz...but no more hating please! There were some lows blows tossed out. (I am) this is making me feel bad about kayaking and kayakers... we are all in boating for the fun and adventure of it. no need to flex nuts at the friends we share the river with. I'm not innocent, but a part of it as well... I just had more fun, and laughed more reading this than I did watching south park. Sorry for the shit talk... I just got riled up reading someone repeatedly mocking me (and my boys) for no apparent reason? I've never even met you Todd? Why the lust for writing all the things you wrote??? Plus I did stomp the brown out of a red light on my way to crush a stout taco this evening, that was a rather carnage free complete endeavor as well

jimkennedy said...

I read this article on Sunday before the flame-war started and on revisiting it, I'm taken aback at the unexpected (to me, anyway) negativity of the comments. The way I see it, Todd is making a call for higher standards of reportage in our sport; a long-overdue call. People talk a lot about progressing our sport, but if you don't have someone to tell the world about the progress you're making, then nobody will know. What's wrong with demanding better of paddlers in telling their stories? The 'street' lingo stopped being amusing a number of years back. If your blog is written in text-speak, people are just going to glance at your photos and move on. Most of them won't come back. Half the blogs I see in kayaking these days look like they were written by LOLCats.

I've paddled in Hood River and those guys and girls are brilliant paddlers and great people to boot, but, man, is it difficult to follow a conversation in a group of boaters over there. I mean no disrespect to all the folks who looked after me over there, but I found it really tiring trying to figure out what was being said half the time. I thought it was just me being from the other side of the Atlantic, but I'm starting to hear and read the new lingo over here too, and it's depressing. Damn you America and your cultural colonialism! To my mind, the new language impedes the acceptance of our sport in the mainstream. In the written form on blogs and kayaking magazines, it makes us look illiterate and fails at the primary purpose of the written word - to communicate.

Case in point - go into your local bookstore and see what's on offer in the mountaineering literature section - lots of erudite, well-written, and informative accounts of travels and expeditions. In the kayaking section? Just guidebooks and older accounts. What I want to see there is stories from the likes of The Range Life.

Mainly though I'm posting to cheer on The Range Life - perennially the best-written and most-informative kayaking blog around. If these guys move to the Sahara Desert they would probably continue to turn out the best kayaking blog around. The people taking offence at what the article says would probably do well to study this blog and figure out just why it so great; and why their own only has amazing photos.

Shane Robinson said...

Loving the discussion ya'll. Wish I had as much talent to write a post that inspired such a reaction.

Here at tRL headquarters, we have never once, not ever moderated a comment (besides some obvious spam). Regardless of how you feel about what Todd wrote, his name is proudly displayed on the post taking full ownership of his opinions. If comments like "suck balls" and "slash tires" are continued without ownership of such views, I for one (and I am currently speaking only on behalf of myself - not Todd or Bryan) will reconsider moderating disrespectful comments.

Please, keep it respectful (ie. sign your name!) and keep it coming.

Also, thanks Jim for the thoughtful comment.

See ya'll on the river.

Todd Gillman said...

Let me try to clarify/confuse .. again.

EG, I wasn't "mocking" you or your friends. I cribbed yr lingo cuz I think it's funny, & it was easy to throw in this post cuz we were literally saying "the brown" & laughing about it during this whole trip. I can see how my use of your slang after my rant, would come off like I was mocking you or aiming this post at you guys. Apologies, that was never the intent .. so call off ya dawgz.

My post wasn't about lingo or those who use/invent it. Look at our archives & you'll see plenty of that. That shit's fun. It was not about kayaking .. or who runs the sickest brine (which, as we all know, isn't a crime).

And even though I mentioned em, my post wasn't about pro's or sponsored athletes .. or people in general, or any single person in particular. & it wasn't about the community in Hood River (even though you can't sit down for a shit in HR w/o the photogs/filmers/bloggers circling like vultures) (which in the end is evidence of a great, tight community) (but it's still funny. & true.)

It *is* about how we -- all of us in the online community -- behave & talk about kayaking before & after the actual kayaking. It's about how we represent ourselves & our sport. It's a tongue-in-cheek commentary on super common, cliche & questionable behavior & media representation based solely on fluffing egos & forcing kayaking to be "cool" or "sick".

We, as a community, try way too hard to be cool. Why do my non-kayaking friends think kayaking is the kookiest thing since rollerblading? Cuz that's the conclusion they come to when they see the majority of kayaking media. (Umm, have you read the book by our most visible representative to the outside world?)

They see a bunch of affluent young white guys playing in the woods with cameras & laptops, acting like snowboarders from the mid-90's, claiming "I'm the tuffest guy I've ever met! My crew is sick!". That's the truth. We try to make kayaking something it isn't by portraying ourselves as something we aren't .. & if you step outside of it all for a minute & look back in on how we behave, you might get a laugh. I think most people agree that kayaking is special not because of how "sick" we all are or how much "respect" we deserve for putting our lives at risk for fun, but because of the places, the friendships & the experiences it offers us.

So why then do 90% of kayaking media-makers focus only on trying to convince everyone how hardcore/epic/sick they are? Why, in spite of what's real & true, are we so attracted to that? Which is what I was getting at in the "highest-water descent" rant. Think about it. (& to you anonymous tuffys that keep commenting about how everyone runs sicker shit than we do, read the memo: I do not care & will never in my life care about that)

I'm not saying I'm innocent of the very shit I'm calling out -- I have a camera, a blog, strong opinions & a big ego (that I constantly do battle with). I simply realized a while ago that I haven't watched kayaking movie in years, & can hardly tolerate most kayaking blogs .. & have been trying to figure out why ever since.

To me -- & this is my blog, so I'll risk saying what I want -- it comes down to substance AND style. Substance is not just how huge or sick you get on the water. A picture or vid shows me that. Substance is the shit that happens in between drops, the inside jokes, the personalities, the place & the experience. (This is actually why I like EG Creekin). Style is harder to peg, but it's how you present that. (& believe me, I'm questioning my own style in posting the rant on my blog.) If all I see is self-importance "check me out, check out how sick I am", then immediately I'm out.

And I can't be the only one who is turned off by this.

I could go on, but work beckons. In the end, just know that I got no grudges & I'm not pissed at anyone in the blogosphere/industry, even you "tyre" slasher (yet)& you balls-licker. Just would like to see kayaking catch up with the rest of the world in terms of how it's being presented. And I suspect that starts with turning down the ego, turning up the honesty, & just being more creative.

Anonymous said...

Can I get a AMEN!?!?

E.G. said...

Yeah I second that for sure. My blog is written like a 13 year olds journal in english class. My my mom gets even tells me that. That's just me being impatient and lazy. Its also egcreekin style. and i also love the sport as is, small and tight. I am a kayaking nerd as well so I take blame for spending too much time on the internet. On the other piece, I'm a pretty subtle and quite kid, i can't promote myself at all. So I use my blog to help people see what My friends and I are up to. It comes off as look at all the kayaking we do! Just out there fighting the struggle in these economic times of hardship... anybody want to come raft the White Salmon and help us eat?
run the brown y'all see you on the river

Anonymous said...

Just stokin the fire boys, your tyres are safe lol

'Tyre Slasher'

Anonymous said...

I did get the impression you were exactly as Todd portrayed the goofy people of the blogishpere. How you have responded has been mature though, very cool. I was expecting more of a high school trash talk but you made me want to root for you instead. I check your blog more than anyone else's cause of all the very cool stuff you and your boys do. This last week it was pleasant to read your most recent report about Summit creek and actually learn about the creek and the talk about the thought that went into running some of those drops(while not giving in and loosing your language completely). That is why so many people have read every Oregonkayaking trip report a million times, because it is more of a story. It has its share of Coombs and his exploits but it only adds to the sites appeal because of how it is not the focus. I just love reading about those guys going into the woods on their days off of work and discovering something new for everyone else in the area while their egos are left out of the stories. Its awesome that you guys are such awesome brineslayers, and its fun when "the brown" is thrown in here and there(it is clever) but it just got carried away, (I think that is what you were getting at anyway?) But it only works in that sense when it is amidst an interesting depiction of your trip. Given that I am a mediocre kayaker it really intrigues me as to what goes through your head and what your processes are before you drop an enormous drop.
The Dipper creek reports were probably the most interesting reports I have seen on the web. I was blown away by what you guys committed yourselves to and how safely and efficiently you pulled that trip off. The way you wrote it made it 20 times more appealing than reading about some big 70 footer far away where it seems like the people who ran it are so cool so they do it everyday and its no biggy so why should I care either?
Good work everyone, the more blogposts, the longer I can put-off school work.

Anonymous said...

So far my favorite part is when Todd addresses the "tyre" slasher & "balls-licker". Any you boys (SR & TG)know I'm always up for a good debate!!

In all honesty, you guys know I enjoy TRL, and EG, I do really like you blog as well. As Jacob mentioned keep the posts coming, it defers my efforts in the office!

Anonymous said...

speaking of hype

Kubos said...

Hey Todd,
I haven't seem so much discussion about the kayaking for looong time. You surely hit it on the right spot. Way to go Todd, TRL is definitely one of the most influential kayaking media around.
Why some of these guys are so offended by this "hella" fun post? Is there anything which makes their ego broken? Is the kayaking in their minds about the fun or about the style? I tend to believe that the style means everything for some of these guys if they can be so harsh on you about this post. I think you are dead right about most of the stuff in this piece. I have looked at some other blogs mentioned in the comments and I have almost never finished reading the post. It is mainly because it is unreadable. Even though you are the coolest person on the earth and huck the biggest shit around, you should be able to make blog post which make sense and it is written in understandable language. In fact there are zilion "cool" blogs with pictures of big waterfalls but only few worth the reading.
Keep the good work and come over to the island for some kayaking (and beer drinking)...

Mikkel said...

Great Post !!

For the record EG Creeking and The Range Life are my two favorite paddling blogs and the only two I read every post. Both for different reasons but great content regardless. Keep up the good work both of you.


AdrianTregoning said...

Awesome blog. I've always loved it. Who cares what anyone thinks about anything? Just paddle because it makes you feel good :)

Anonymous said...

You guys a a bunch of geeks, this makes me think kayakers are just a bunch of fags who likes to hang out in the woods with the hope that one day they might get to spoon with their bros.

Big ups Tyre slasher dude, if you dont do it I will. and Ill put some human shit under the door handle.

Fuck kayaking and kayakers

Todd Gillman said...

Guess we better re-raise the terror threat level to Orange, which indicates high risk of terrorist "tyre" attack &/or "brown-under-door-handle" attack .. which is sweet. Blog credibility is earned when said blog incites anonymous terror threats. I'll be at Robe canyon this weekend. My truck's the lifted Tacoma with Oregon tags & Dakine & Smith stickers all over it.

Shane Robinson said...

AT ... Don't forget your AT Stickers!

Level orange ... I'm skeered ... can I catch a ride with somebody else to Robe?

Monk said...

Can we make it all the way to 50!

Monk said...

Anonymous shit smeerer has got some DEEP issues.

Or is perhaps 12.

Randy Jackson said...

Great to have you guys back. TRL is the best of boat bloggins.

But BC? Pssshhhh! Take away the unbelievable rivers, almost endless water supply, incredible mountains, and dozens of other great outdoor sports, whaddya' have? Oklahoma.

Chris McEniry said...


Your write-ups are always funny even if they have jumped the shark in your mind. You need to write about you, me, and Beavers awesome adventure in Rocky Mt. National Park and our amazing 1st Descent, where we left our boats in there and barely got out long after dark. Keep blogging, it is what keeps those kayakers forced to live in the flatlands from climbing the bell tower with a high powered and well scoped weapon.

Chris McEniry

Ross said...

Hi Guys,

Great discussion following a great blog post. Is kayak blogging that important in the grand scheme? Probably not. But...........

- I love TRL, great missions with good writing and images. Makes me wanna go live in BC.

- I also love EGCreeking, the enthusiasm alone is enough to run a small country.

Two very different styles that entertain us all. What more do ya want(NEED)?

Keep the blogs coming and fair play to EG for not taking the "young hot head over-reacting" route in this thread.


Ross Redmond, Ireland

p.s. Watch out for Jim Kennedy (above), he writes for a living!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hahah, this is great. I couldnt get through all the coments, your all sick, everyone keep doing what your doing.

Danm you Chris, quit stealing my 2nd descents, stay in Washington!!

Kidding, call me with some Runy info . . .

BC Ryan

What the Chuck said...

Hey Gang,

As a true old-timer -- paddling now for 30 years, and skating up on the big 50, I'm way happy to read all of it -- EG and TRL.

Guys, old man on the stoop here -- all your reflexes will eventually go, and you'll be forced to quiver in your knees for something as tame as a high-water Lochsa run. But the thing you'll never forget is all the fun trash-talking and the beer drinkin' with your bros. And after y'all have families, and kinda sorta settle down, I got some bad news -- you'll realize that it never gets any better than those days.

But look at it this way -- at least you truly will have good old days. Most people never will.


Anonymous said...

I guess thats the difference b/t HR and Seattle. We sleep in our cars, paddle welded boats, and do this shit every day! Where's the love? Where's the love? hateing is contagious, I just love to kayak. word

-Angelo Pappas

Anonymous said...

If you're still doing that in your 30's I'll be surprised Angelo. I know for a fact that at least two of the TRL guys had their days of being bums running the shit and living out of the back of a van but that would have been many years ago. You may not have even been kayaking then. I still don't see the hate in this post. I think you commenters are inventing that to stir the pot and create contraversy.

bethany said...

Been reading TRL for a while and I have to say, this is one of my favorite posts. I love the pictures and the prose. I've only been boating a year and am not running the gnar, but for some reason I have always felt like I have had a place here as a TRL reader. I like reading other blogs, but I quickly get worn out with them. Todd's sharp wit, superb descriptions, and stunning pictures will always have me wanting to read more and more. And more than that, I can put myself in his expeditions and that means more to me than reading about running the dankity dank that I'll never actually have the nads to run.
So, thanks TRL. Well done. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Longest Comment thread EVA!!

Shane, what's the best all around kayak these days?

Shane Robinson said...

Yo Capt. P ... since I'm only runnin the hella gnar these days, the best all round boat is the Jefe Grande, but I hear the Everest cartwheels pretty well.

We love all the comments - keep 'em coming on this post and beyond.

However, I think some people are still missing the point of the post. No one ever claimed that anyone likes or doesn't like kayaking any more or less than the next boater. I think the post was more about the relevance of a 2nd highest water decent or 4th decent with only 2.5 portages or even a first decent for that matter, versus just a good day on the river.

There was also no Seattle v. some other city showdown, although there will be a showdown this coming weekend when the [Coffee] Bean Town puts the hurt on B'ham to claim the Robes!

lovin' the haters,

Chris Bozeman said...

I feel like I need to get some Brown off my Chest pubes. I am infact the "Brown under door handle smeerer"
Ive been going through a lot of Brown in my life lately and have been talking a Brown load of Brown.
Its that time of year when its time to stop talking brown and get on the river, Im browning my pants but now feel better to get that brown off my chest.

Sam Sutton said...

Who you calling brown?

Anonymous said...

Chris - you just won the "best scatological post" award. Nice. Now go take a friggin shower.

Hilarious post Todd. Looking forward to your race report.


Todd Gillman said...

oh man, Chief McEniry! good memories from 2000-ish with you & Charlie. the things i remember most about that day are: being (still) drunk from the night before during our hellish early a.m hike in; the endless log portages; the 5.11 free climb you & i did in the dark; calling a taxi cab from the convenience store in estes park at 11 pm because we didn't set a shuttle. what a disaster ...

how have you been???

Rob Coffey said...

hey Ben Brown you cunt..we all know your real name isn´t Brown, you just chose it for media purposes. A bit like Tao`s real name being Cody.

And while you Squamish boys are at it, why don`t you bring expat lakes boater sickboy Steve Rogers with you when you run the Ashlu Box? I know he`s lazy and whines a lot but he`s still good for a laugh.

Bryan Smith said...

Wow...Bozeman you are the "brown under door handle smeerer". Interesting to reveal your identity here in Squampton. In case you forget I live only a couple blocks away from you. I walk my dog past your house every night and often wonder were to toss her brown. I wouln't leave that Jackson to close in sight.

I hope everyone is out kayaking this weekend!

River Gypsies said...

This is by far the best blog post I have ever read. Great comments too.

River Gypsies
Here for the River

Christina Russell said...

That was AWESOME! I have so much appreciation for you all. Way to keep it chill and honest. oh and about running "the brown" or whatever those words were...I have no idea what they mean either ha ha ha ...

Alley Marshal (fatcatsUK) said...

Id like to run your BROWN Christina!

Christina Russell said...

ha ha ha ...what? I dont want to know

Fred Norquist said...

Demshitz style is the style of the younger generation of kayaking, where we do it to have fun whether we are running brown or chillin on class 3.(which was the style of the older generation too, we just are too lazy to wright crazy good reports like trl) We all love this sport, we just got different styles of writing what we do. Both are good. lets go kayaking you know we love that shit, we be doing it all the time!! Yes we all run the brown.Brine!!

Garrick said...

Love your ability to poke fun at yourself and the current "I'm more of a badass than you" mentality that seems to be everywhere.

Really hones in on how it's all just about having fun even.

Kim Russell said...

Nice work Todd! Epic post. I have to agree there's a little too much "brown" and "brine" these days. Props!

Christina Russell said...

ha ha agreed sister :) brown just reminds me a of a turd in the porcelain bowl ha ha ha...and I'm part of the "old generation" apparently? Say what?!

Anonymous said...

All hail the best kayakers in the world!!!! if you aint demshitz then quit talkin like dem. if you dont like the talk... make up your own shit-nobody asked for all deez fucks aids opinions..... give er everyday... think a lot and say damn little... shut the fuck up and go kayaking...get off the fucking computer!!!! TRL is the shit. Demshitz is the shit. you are the shit. everyone is the shit. this world is the shit. hate and be hated. one word. love.

Todd Gillman said...

trl has officially embraced censorship. kinda sucks, really .. but this is a blog, not an open forum for anonymous BS. you'll notice i left up all of the comments criticizing me &/or my post. i'm totally fine with that. but if you're being a d-bag, or leaving blatantly offensive comments, we're going to take 'em down.

Anonymous said...

For all those offended: You would only be offended if you take yourself too seriously. Lesson: Don't take yourself so seriously.

And I can't believe any of you would say these guys haven't run the shooshoo. Sorry, but running the "stouts" 70 footer 1000 times in a row when someone else did all the legwork is nowhere near as impressive as rapping in and out of a scary dark crack in the earth day after day before even dropping in, and then finally reaping the rewards. Showing up after the buzz and running the shit is only part of the equation. And it is about more than stroking the ego and running big stuff. Unless you plan on dying at age 45.

Which brings us to the point that life is more than kayaking. It sure is good, but if you don't plan your future, and incorporate dynamic change into your life such as education, career, family, and spirit, it doesn't matter how high you ran the middle kings last year, or how many words you make up to describe the sickness of your crew. Life will eventually seem stale and one dimensional.

So don't hate on TG for doing some inner and outer reflecting on both himself and the paddling community. We are all guilty of making the claim. It is being aware of that and being OK with the our imperfections and quirks that make it all of the sudden just another funny conversation, and less of an afrontal to our egos.

Tim and Colleen said...

I just read this for the second time...and still love it!

Kevin said...

TRL is the brownest blog out there. Props to those who run "the shit" and that is everything from class pool sessions to VI. If you are pushing yourself and/or having fun that is what makes kayaking the best damn sport on earth.

I can't believe I just read comments for an hour when I could have gone down to the play wave. I guess that is how lazy I am or how much I suck at playboating.

EG,Fred,Evan,TRL, whomever keep up the good work.

Eric Adsit said...

I read this post a while back, thought it was funny.
Read it again and still thought it was funny, but this time it really opened my eyes to my own paddling/ bragging. I'm still stoked about 5 footers, so I can't compare with the stuff you guys are running...or can I? As long as we are having fun that is all that matters.

I read some of the flames, but I just couldn't get through them. There isn't a point flaming another paddler. I appreciate the honesty in your responses.

Thanks for all the beautiful photos, informative trip reports, and good humor over the past years. And thanks for helping me realize how the focus on image and claims has been prying its way into my boating, maybe I can step back and take a look at my claims before its too late. Always have been a fan, and always will be.

Eric Adsit

Patrick said...

It's strange: Based on all the time I've spent hanging around with my fellow boaters, I'd say that everyone gets along pretty well no matter what differences we may have. What makes this so different once we are online?

Some blogs will focus on the experience and some awe us with huge drops that (for me anyways) are hard to even imagine. So read what you want. And yes, sometimes we can poke fun at the differences in style. It's called joking. So lighten up.

PS- Yes, I realize this whole thread is a bit old. Oh well. After reading all these comments I couldn't resist throwing this out there.