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Cispus River Appreciation


Deep in the wilderness of the Gifford Pinchot River in Washinton state lies the Cispus River. The Cispus is a combination of runoff from the Goat Rocks and Mt Adams. This river usually can be accessed late in the summer when the roads clear from snow, and the water levels become lower. This season, with the low snowpack, this gem could be reached alot sooner, and the idea was born. Spearheaded by Pyranha team paddlers,  Kyle Hull and Chris Morelli, the plan was to host a gathering of the paddling community the weekend after the famous Little White Salmon Race.  The Cispus River Festival/ Service project was an idea that came from many summer laps and missions to camp and paddle. The Cispus river has amazing camping right next to the river at the takeout for the classic class V section, and the put in for the scenic class III, the perfect paddling destination

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Racers meeting, stoke levels growing.

cispus camping

Gorge Paddling Center Van gets loaded for the race!

The class V section holds many great rapids, but the run cumulates with a stout gorged rapid that leads off a uniquely sloping 30 footer, and continues thru a long technical rapid below. A perfect extreme race course. With 27 racers and over 20 other kayakers to help with media and safety the race went off smoother than expected. Half the field finished with times under two minutes, which before the race, racers speculated it might not be possible to break the two minute mark.


 Team Paddler Chris Stafford feeling Jah down Behemoth in the XL Burn.  Photo Abe Herrera 

cispus party


Cispus Celebrations

The other main goal of the Cispus was to clean up the area of garbage. Unfortunately there has been a rise of trash as many outdoor users recreate in this area. The paddling community wanted to come together and clear the area around the river and on the drive up, to give back to the beauty that this area provides! Thanks to Pyranha and Immersion Research who generously provided prizes for those who collected the most trash on the drive up. The commitment to keeping the rivers and nature beautiful is an amazing part of the paddling community.

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Jam-boy jamming out and picking up trash! Photo  Tait Trautman

The day of May 9th provided a great race. And that evening an even better racers ceremony! With the top racers all being within seconds of each other. Congrats to the top three winners of the first inaugural Cispus Race, 1st Isacc Levinson with a time of 1:42  2nd Kyle ‘King Hesh’ Hull an 3rd Louis Geltman, just seconds apart. The night provided many smiles as everyone enjoyed the beers provided by Ninkasi and Everybody’s and everyone danced the night away!

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Team paddler Todd Anderson comes flying out of the bottom of Behemoth in his XL Burn. Photo Abe Herrera

Sunday morning, as the group recovered, everyone went for a lap, and met back at the camping to start an impromptu 50 cc mini bike race on a challenging course. The results were epic, crowing James Byrd as the champion of the dirt. Its things like this that make the kayaking community come together.

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The gang watches as Brendan Wells gives er hell! Photo Tait Trautman

The bonds of friendship that paddling provides is one of the strongest, and to bring the community out to thewoods to enjoy the river is an amazing thing. Grassroots events like this are popping up all over as the kayaking community grows and wants to celebrate these wonderful things we have found. This was a great example of how the community can come together and have a great time, while making a positive impact!

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Big Smiles under the Pyranha tent all night! photos Taylor Hazen

Its amazing to see support from companies to help make events like this even better. Big thanks to Pyranha Kayaks, Werner paddles, Immersion Research, Everybody’s Brewing, Ninkasi , and most importantly, Everyone who came out to participate in the weekend. Lots of trash was picked up, lots of river karma was earned, lots of boofs were crushed and lots of smiles were had!

Cheers! Chris Morelli