Good Times in the Wenatchee Drainage–2010 PP Ball

The Leavenworth, WA area is one of the best weekend paddling destinations around when the water is running. The list of runs goes on and on including runs such as the “play run” and Tumwater on the Wenatchee, Icicle Creek, Nason Creek, and many more. It’s this abundance of awesome whitewater that makes the drainage the perfect setting for the annual PP Ball (that’s the Professor Paddle Ball to those who aren’t familiar with Seattle’s premier kayaking forum

Looking up Icicle Creek, you can really get a feel for the river’s continuous gradient and amazing scenery.

The PP Ball (aka Professor Paddle Ball) was an excellent event hosted on the banks of the mighty Wenatchee River. This is exactly what we are talking about—a kayaking festival by kayakers, for kayakers. Besides some fun events (huck ramp, down river race, and rodeo) there is some amazing kayaking in this area this time of year. If you are looking for playboating the Wenatchee between Leavenworth and Cashmere is top notch. Then, there is some great intermediate to advanced creeking on the Upper and Lower Icicle Creek, Peshastin Creek, the Little Wenatchee and Nason. Then, if you really want to scare yourself there’s Tumwater Canyon at high water and Middle Icicle. Day 1 we ran into Brian and Ben who talked us into running Tumwater at 7500 cfs. They were right, it’s totally good, but nerve racking nonetheless. The best part of that run was the Dam Rapid. I really wanted to scout (being nervous about the big water and all) but Brian said “no, don’t scout, you won’t run it if you scout, but I’m telling you, it’s good to go.” So, I trusted Brian and he was right. I followed Ben off the lip of the Dam and held on for an awesome ride. Both the Dam itself and the huge rapid afterwards were some of the most fun times I’ve had in a kayak in 2010! sorry, no photos:(

Darcy navigating holes and wood (2 pretty typical obstacles on Icicle)

Sunday Rob and Ben took us down the Middle Icicle. We started out on the Upper section with some new friends we met at the festival. Due to some time constraints and cold weather, most of them got out before the Middle really kicks into gear. Once we dropped into the Middle, I was pretty wide-eyed. That shit is steep in there! And the water felt super pushy. Even the Legend Rob McKibbin said it was “pretty high.” From Ricochet on down to below the Plunge is some pretty full on boating at higher flows, but Rob was an excellent guide and we had another kick ass day in the Wenatchee drainage.

Besides all the great local whitewater, the PP people organized some fun events as well. One particularly popular event at the PP Ball was the kayaker hucker ramp. It’s pretty crazy how much momentum the huck ramps have gained lately…but I have to admit, it’s kind of fun to watch–especially with characters like Rob, James, and JP around. See below for some more good ramp photos and a video of the hucking.

Rob M., Index local and kayaker extraordinaire on Icicle

If you like really great rivers, fun people, and a super cool festival, go to the Professor Paddle Ball (PP Ball) someday. One of the better events we’ve been to this season.

Here’s event organizers JP and James trying to coordinate the PBR drop off the ramp

James was to drop, and JP was to catch…

And they were oh…so…close!

but fell just a few inches short in the end. T’was a crowd pleaser none-the-less.

And here’s a little video of the hucking action that Don put together. Enjoy, and turn up the volume, Rob’s commentary is not to be missed.

And, now, for the important stuff…Casey W. didn’t claim his 1-year subscription to Kayak Session Magazine so we’ve drawn a new winner for this prize–Congratulations to Dan B. who we met at the Chilliwack Paddling festival in BC. You’ll now be reading cool kayaking stories for the next year.

We’ve also drawn the June 1st winner who is now the owner of an IR Thin Skin. Perfect paddling layer. Congrats to Katie M., and thanks for being a part of our contest. Don’t forget, you are still eligible for all our other summer prizes, so keep up with the blog and website.

Happy Paddling to everyone

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