Although my dream of running the North Fork started one year before I dipped my oars into this mighty river, and the fact that I never thought that it was possible, it consumed me. All that I could think about during my off season in Utah was the North Fork. When we first moved to Crouch, Idaho in May of 2015, I started to realize that my dream of running the North Fork was achievable. I had only done the Staircase section of the South Fork 3 times, and I knew if the North Fork was my goal I would have to get a lot more seat time. I got the seat time and experience relatively fast because on the 17th of July, 2015, my dad and I ran our first Lower 5 on the North Fork. In preparation for this run, we hit the Canyon section of the South Fork Payette, ran the warm- up once, talked to experienced NF boaters, and scouted the Lower 5 multiple times. On the day of our first Lower 5 run, everyone was tense from the moment we woke up, to the put in. As we unloaded our boats below Hound’s Tooth, we did not yet realize what kind of addiction to class V water we were going to have.
Our run on the warm-up was full of “Oh Shit” moments and we were nervous about what laid ahead. Our run through Otters Slide made us feel a little more confident in our lines. Before we hit Juicer we decided to stop to gather our thoughts and discuss our lines one final time. After we shoved off, the adrenaline was high and we didn’t know what to expect. Looking down Juicer for the first time at 2100 cfs really made me feel small and insignificant. During our first NF run I was running an AIRE 12’ Wave Destroyer and I continue to run this same boat on harder sections of the NF. After a Great run through Juicer we felt a newfound confidence in our ability and rowed down river towards Crunch. Crunch proved to be harder than I initially thought. Both my dad and I nailed our lines, but it was the longest rapid that we had ever run. When we finally made it to Banks the emotions were high and my dad and I were almost in tears. That first NF run gave us a feeling unlike any other we had experienced on the river.
I now boat the NF regularly and mostly by myself. There are a few people who question my ability and or the fact that my parents let me run this river. Our decision isn’t something I or we can fully explain to those people. I am the most humble person that you will ever meet, and my experience with boating and maturity do not match my age. I am aware of that.. I am not just some kid who always wants to go bigger or better. The river has become my home. I am at peace when on the river. This is why my parents let me do this crazy river. People ask me why we love the river so much, and I quote this from a kayaker who understands the river like I do, “Because to us, it is the one thing that truly makes sense.”
So far in 2016, I have around 70 runs on Staircase, lots of solo runs on the Lower 5, including my personal highest run of the Lower 5 at 3150 cfs, multiple Disney and S-Turn runs, including 3 solos. I have also run Disney to Decision at my highest of 2100 cfs. I got to run the Golden section of the Clearwater at 2500 cfs as well as the Mickey Mouse section with my mentor, Mark Cramer. Numerous laps on the Lochsa including the Dirty Thirty. I just got off an eight day Middle Fork Salmon trip with Alan Hamilton. It’s been a great 2016 but my main goal for this year is to run top to bottom on the NF.
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Look for me in my yellow 12’ Wave Destroyer when you’re up on the Payette River. See you on the water!
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