Check out these photos courtesy of Forest Woodward:

Haiti - June 2010

I have fond memories of paddling with my grandparents.  I still remember my entire family huddled under canoes from a lightning storm on the Shenandoah River when I was 9 years old.  Sadly, while teaching a Wilderness First Responder in Georgia, I received word that my 97 year old grandfather, Dr. Hollen Garber Helbert, had suffered a stroke.  I am thankful to Jody Quisenberry and the paramedic team that responded with care for my family.   I feel fortunate that Grandad is with us a while longer,  and I have enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with my family during these uncertain times.  I abandoned a trip to Colorado to help my family clean up and sort about 13 years of memories/junk in order to prepare a downstairs room for granddad.  I found lots of old photos and memorabilia I hope to find time to upload to the paddlelink archives soon.  

While in Virginia, Megan and I were invited to join a humanitarian mission to Leogane, Haiti to document and help out with the renewal efforts.  We traveled down to meet up with an Asheville, NC organization called Cover Haiti who had gathered support from one of my sponsors, Eagle's Nest Hammocks

Eno, Diamond Brand Outdoors, Kelty and numerous Asheville outdoor enthusiasts donated 1000 tents and hammocks to the city of Leogane.  Unfortunately, the container of tents was delayed in Jamaica and is now expected to arrive on July 3rd.  There is no shortage of work to be done in Haiti though.  This years Hurricane  season is expected to be one of the most active in years and the vast majority of Haitian people are living amidst toxic conditions, with no easy solutions in sight.  We helped organize first aid supplies for a small medical clinic in an area that will hopefully also become a training institute that will develop jobs and build an infrastructure.  In the short run, I helped hand clear a lot of rubble and wished I could have used one of the 3 pieces of heavy machinery I spotted in the country. 

We spent a day at the beach and I was able to paddle my first dugout mango tree open canoe.  I think I surprised the boats owner with my stability because after about 20 minutes he traded me for a shorter, sportier, dugout with a lower waterline and less leaks.  It was nice to also give up the rusty bailer with the bigger boat, although the smaller boat still leaked, just not as quickly.  Nevertheless, I am impressed with the effectiveness of the Haitian dugout repair technique.  They nail the sole of a shoe over the crack and then melt the edges all the way around.  They smooth it out nicely and it seems solid.  

I am thankful that I could take part directly in helping Haiti begin to heal. If you feel inspired, contact for more info on how you can help.  Click here for a complete gallery of our trip from Great Smokies Photography.


French Broad River Festival

The French Broad River Festival, located in Hot Springs, NC, is always a fantastic event!  This year, we were blessed with mid-week rains that brought up the Big Laurel Creek to a minimal flow.  I offered a free canoeing clinic for festival attendees and had a wonderful day paddling back to the festival with a group of open canoers.  We took off the river at the festival where we enjoyed the lively atmosphere and great music for the remainder of the weekend.  Check out for the complete visual tour of this year's festivities.

Viva La Mexico!

On February 13th, 2010, The Canoe Guru joined Esprit Mexico Adventures for an exhilerating 10 days of canoeing.  Jim Coffey, Dooley Tombras and Eli Helbert headed off to the Rio D'Oro with LVM's Will Lyons to video some extreme canoeing for the new Canoe Movie debuting this fall.  On the 2nd day, we paddled the Four 4's of the Barranca Grande.  This was a quick trip for Dooley and Will, but I really enjoyed the intro to Mexico paddling with those guys. 

That evening, as Dooley and Will prepared to head back to the Southeastern US by enjoying Carnaval and a small town Mexican circus, the Canoeing Physician's from Arkansas arrived in Jalcomulco on the same flight as the tandem canoeing team of Don and Joe Beyer.  Jim, Eli and the new arrivals spent the next 7 days together canoeing the Veracruz region of Mexico.  We began our week of rivers surfing on the Antiqua River.  On our second day, we visited a nature reserve at the put-in and then canoed the Rio Octopan.  Day 3 we stayed local and paddled the Pescados section of the Barranca Grande.  We then switched river systems and visited the Filo river.  We spent the night in a lodge overlooking the river valley we had just paddled down.  In the morning, we walked over to Encanto Falls and put-in at it's base on the Rio Filo-Bobos.  We drove back across the Volcano to Jalcolmuco where we paddled the four 4's of the Barranca grande for the last day of the week of rivers. 

I was back in solid paddling form at this point and had heard rave reviews of the waterfalls on the upper, middle and lower Tomate run on the Alseseca river.  I had also heard warnings of the polluted water, but our trial turned out to be a broken window and stolen pesos at the takeout.  All in all, it was still a wonderful trip.  After a solid week and a half canoeing, I spent my final day in Mexico paddling 42 miles of continuous whitewater on the Rio Barranca Grande.  This was an amazing experience that makes me interested in the big 50.

An Icy Start to 2010

On January 16th, 5 open canoers from North Carolina braved the artic conditions of the Nolichucky River on the Northeastern Tennessee border.  This was our first day on the water in 2010 and we were all excited by the thaw after 2 weeks of freezing weather.  We ended up portaging over the ice in 4 pools in the 8 mile section.  On the way to the put-in, Danny, our shuttle driver informed us a fisherman had fallen through the ice and drowned 3 days earlier.  We kept a tight grip on our bouyant canoes and proceeded with caution.  With ropes to protect us from the dangerous ice shelf undercuts, we enjoyed this rare experience in southern Appalachia.   Many thanks to Adam Trunnell for the photos.

Instructional Trip on the Main Salmon, ID

The Canoe Guru is always happy to collaborate with old friends.  Here are a few pics from last season's instructional multiday trip down the Main Salmon in Idaho.  We spent 6 fantastic days on the water honing our skills and soaking in the scenery from the "River of No Return".

View of the Main Salmon upon arrival on day 1
View of the Main Salmon upon arrival on day 1
The Salmon River Lodge, Idaho
The Salmon River Lodge, Idaho
Tractor shuttle hauling our gear on the 1st night
Shuttle for the gear on the 1st night
Sandy camping beach on night 2
Sandy camping beach on night 2
Native American Pictograph, Day 3
Native American Pictograph, Day 3
Cool gray morning on the 4th Day
Cool gray morning on Day 4
Side creek flowing into the "River of no return"
Side creek flowing into the "River of no return"
Catching a wave on the fly, Salmon River, ID
Catching a wave on the fly, Salmon River, ID
Big Horn Sheep on Day 5
Big Horn Sheep on Day 5
Relaxing in camp on Day 6
Relaxing in camp on Day 6
Driving back to Missoula with the Canoe Rack shuttle
Driving back to Missoula with the Canoe Rack shuttle

Thanks to Ben Schmidt and the Canoe Rack as well as Idaho Afloat for making this trip perfect!




We look forward to sharing fresh adventures with you this season as we emerge from the drought.





In the meantime, enjoy the Paddlelink archives.

Remembering the Rivers

Paddlelink Archives

Link to: Ottawa 2000
Link to: Practicing in Wausau 25 August 2000
Link to: South Bend Freestyle Championship (NOWR) ( August 2000
Link to: Pre-Worlds Sort, Spain July 2000
Link to: Roc Roi (pre world's) Prelims: 28 June 2000
Link to: Lofer Whitewater Rodeo Results: 25 June 2000
Link to: Plattling Whitewater Rodeo Results: 18 June 2000
Link to: 12 June 2000: European Cup Regen, Germany
Link to: 04 June 2000: Potomac Whitewater Festival
Link to: May 2000: Ocoee Rodeo Report
Link to: April 2000:  News
Link to: 08 January 2000:          Videos of the World's have arrived!
Link to: 10 December 1999:      Unwinding...
Link to: 06 December 1999:      !!! WORLD CHAMPION !!!
Link to: 03 December 1999:      Thanks Everyone
Link to: 01 December 1999:      Round 1 (World Championship Preliminaries)
Link to: 30 November 1999:     Tomorrow is Here
Link to: 28 November 1999:      Life in the rain...
Link to: 25 November 1999:     Thanksgiving
Link to: 20 November 1999:     The Tasman Sea
Link to: 15 November 1999:     Taupo
Link to: Mid November 1999:   Arrival in New Zealand: Auckland, Taupo