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Light Up Night On The Allegheny 2012 (November 16th, 2012)

Pittsburgh, PA

On Friday, November 16, 2012, a massive crowd descended on downtown Pittsburgh for the region's biggest event of the year.  800,000 people (including a sizeable handful of Santas) were expected for this year's Light Up Night and with the beautiful weather that evening, actual attendance was probably more.  Folks crowded into Market Square, PPG Place and Rink, Fifth Avenue Place, One Oxford Center, EQT Plaza, numerous other downtown sites, and the Clemente Bridge Party for an evening of lights, live music, treelightings, and other fun.  It was capped off with "the region's most creative and spectacular theatrical production of Zambelli fireworks and pyrotechnics special effects, including a rainbow and Niagara Falls, all launched from the Warhol Bridge."  The best view of all was had by the dozen Explorers and guests, right on the river under the Clemente Bridge.  We loaded up a whitewater raft and shredder and four kayaks, passed a surprise lighting inspection by the local Coast Guard commander, and launched into the Allegheny just at the start of the 8:45 Point Park show fireworks finale.  We then headed upriver to the edge of the river closure and enjoyed an awesome view of an awesome show, as live music spilled over the bridge deck down to water level.  We had that part of the river to ourselves, shared only with the Coast Guard boat enforcing river closure between the Clemente and Carson bridges.  The show included some floating pyrotechnics - multicolored embers resting for minutes on the river surface - and a shower of white sparks that looked like a waterfall as we gazed upstream.  The reflections of the fireworks in the downtown and North Shore buildings added to the glittering color. 

Those of you who changed plans or cancelled at the last minute really missed out!  My learning for next time is to not keep my phone handy in an outside pocket to take calls and messages from last-minute plan-changers, but to leave it in a car (on this trip, it wound up being left on the bottom of the river).  Those of you who missed the announcement should subscribe to explorers-kayaking :-).

Here are a few video clips from Ahmet, on the raft:

Though the video can hardly do it justice, you may be able to gather that the trip was awesome!

-B. Towne

Kayaking 8-19-10

August 19th, 2010

Valley Falls

Kayaking 8-1-10

August 1st, 2010

Valley Falls

Kayaking 7-31-10

July 31st, 2010

Upper Youghiogheny River, Ohiopyle, PA

Kayaking 1-16-10

January 16th, 2010

Slippery Rock Creek, PA

Kayaking and skiing on the same day - how could it not be epic?! Lets just say that everybody returned with all fingers and toes intact, and leave it at that.

- L. Lindzey

Kayaking 11-20-09

November 20th, 2009

Allegheny River, Pittsburgh, PA

Light-up night! You will almost never find me on flatwater, but I make an exception for the chance to see fireworks explode directly above my head =)

I wound up leading this trip accidentally (I skipped the general body meeting, and it was announced that I was leading a light-up night trip ... I discovered this on the minutes). The group was a mix of Explorer's club members and grad students from my lab, and we all had a blast. We made it onto the water just in time to see the first fireworks show from the point. 30 minutes later, the *big* show began, from the 7th street bridge. Best effect of the night was a curtain/waterfall of white fire from the bridge.

In the general chaos, our group got split up, and Eli, Christine, Kent (and others?) missed the first show but managed to watch the 2nd from close enough to touch the barge! I'm jealous - the coast guard kept herding us downstream, but we still had a great view. Best fireworks show I've ever been to, and the night was perfectly capped by discovering that Sharpedge currently has Mad Elf available.

-L. Lindzey

Kayaking 11-8-09

November 8th, 2009

Youghiogheny River, Ohiopyle, PA

This morning started out with me and Andy working on basic skills in class II water. I always love watching a beginner gain confidence - by the end of the morning, Andy was comfortably ferrying, had a good run down Zee, and even tried surfing. I can't wait to introduce him to the Loop! In the afternoon, I did a few loop runs, the first w/ Christine & Glenn, the 2nd with Glenn. I had a great day - this was the first time I really felt like I had smooth flat spins in Donut Hole, and I'm (slowly) getting better at chasing down errant boats in my AllStar (and I got lots of practice today!)

-L. Lindzey

Kayaking 11-7-09

November 7th, 2009

Cheat Canyon, Albright, WV

I'd been wanting to kayak the Cheat Canyon since I first saw it in a raft this spring. It was finally at a (barely) runable level - low, but still fun - this Saturday, so I dragged Nik, Cornell and Matt down to Albright. Only Matt had kayaked this section before, and this was the hardest river Cornell had attempted. It was an absolutely gorgeous day: clear blue sky, sun soaking into red cliffs contrasting nicely with clear blue-green, FRIGID water. A splash to the face gave me an instant ice-cream headache, and rolling made my teeth hurt from the cold. I don't usually get to see the rocks underwater that create the river features I so enjoy kayaking ... and I'm not sure that I like to =)

Quote of the trip: Cornell, at lunch "I am NOT a flower"

-L. Lindzey


October 31st, 2009

Ohiopyle, PA

Last weekend, we decided to do a beginner's trip on the Loop. We met at the storeroom at 8am, loaded boats for Laura, Matt, Glenn, Hugh & Peter, and headed out to Ohiopyle. This was Hugh & Peter's introduction to the Loop, and the first Class III water they'd seen from a kayak. The river was higher than I prefer for a beginner's trip - 2.5 feet, as opposed to the normal summer flow of 1.8 feet, but the weather was perfect and there was less carnage than I've ever seen on a first-timer's loop run. We'd meant to meet up with Cornell and Ivan in Ohiopyle, but they ran into some delays in Pittsburgh, so we missed each other. Rumor has it that they had a great time, and ran the loop twice.

Here's what Hugh had to say about the day:

I thought the loop run was excellent. It was nice starting off slowly in the easier first rapids, because it allowed me to get comfortable on the river again. That made it easier when we got into the more difficult rapids. Also, one of the most beneficial things was being able to closely follow others' lines so that I could learn how best to approach a difficult obstacle/wave. What's also really excellent is that the loop provided a nice progression from the middle: It wasn't a huge step up in terms of difficulty, and getting comfortable on the middle really prepares you well for the lower.

I don't think we could have asked for better weather...72 degrees at 10am on Halloween! And it was nice to do just the loop, because it didn't tire me out too much, and gave me plenty of time to get back for Halloween activities.

And Peter:

As my introduction to class III water, it was a lot of fun. Despite having some control difficulties, I felt pretty comfortable. We got down with only one swim, which was nice. And I was glad to have the unseasonably balmy weather, though the water was plenty cold once I got wet.

-L. Lindzey


October 24th, 2009

Ohiopyle, PA

Today's beginner/intermediate trip was awesome! I had sooo much fun on the water. In the morning, we practiced maneuvering in class II whitewater in Elephant rock and Zee rapids. There was even a friendly hole to work on learning to spin! For this part, we had Glenn, Andy, Peter and Hugh show up to work on skills, with Matt, Cornell and Laura helping out. Everybody had clean runs down Zee at the end. For the afternoon, we took a trip down the Lower Yough. For this, Christine and Jeff joined Glenn, Matt, Cornell and Laura to put on at ~2:30. I'd forgotten how much fun the river is at three feet - I hadn't seen this level in months, and there were features to play in all over the place. This was Glenn's first trip down the Lower, and by far the highest that Cornell & Christine had ever seen it ... by the time we took off, it was 4.6', and the rapids were closer to being class IV. Despite 5 swims and everybody surfing multiple times at Swimmer's rapid, we got off the water by 6pm.

-L. Lindzey

Kayaking 10-11-09

October 11th, 2009

Middle Yough, PA

The Youghiogheny river is the local whitewater playground. Different sections of it are suitable for anybody, ranging from novice to expert. For Sunday's beginner trip, we chose the Middle Yough, a class II river. The purpose of this trip was to introduce complete novices to whitewater kayaking, and to start working on the skills necessary to become a competent river runner. Thanks to the experienced kayakers who helped out - Ivan, Cornell & Nik (who handled most of the teaching - thank you!).

Most of us met at 8 am in the storeroom, and after a chaotic 30 minutes, everybody had boats and gear. Eli and Francesca had left the night before - by luck, we ran into them in Ohiopyle right before we were about to leave to put on to the river. At the put-in, everybody practiced eddy turns and peel-outs, and we had our first swimmer. Everybody learned these new skills remarkably quickly, and we headed on downriver. Class II water is fairly straightforward, but definitely has big enough waves to flip an inattentive paddler. We stopped at a few more rapids to work on paddling technique and/or to fish swimmers out of the river. Despite the temperatures in the 40's, the wetsuits did their jobs, and there was no visible shivering or blue lips - I at least was quite warm =)

As we got off the river, I ran into a friend who was heading off to paddle the Lower Big Sandy, my favorite run, so I hopped in his truck to join that trip. Many thanks to whoever fetched my car from the put-in!

-L. Lindzey


October 19th, 2008

Lower Yough, PA

Ivan, Cathy, and I left CMU Sunday morning around 9:30 to meet everyone else at the Boaters Changing House (the place where everyone meets up in Ohiopyle). We ran shuttle and waited a while for Nick and Allison to get their shredder ready.  We finally got on the water around 12:30pm.  We got in some surfing at entrance and then we all got practice chasing a boat and swimmer down Entrance, which a true Lower Yough tradition. (Laura and her Fuse).  Everyone had good lines down Cucumber.  Piddly made for some entertainment.  I watched one guy go for the attainment and get stuck in the pourover and get worked.  I admit, I was amused.  I was in a giant club boat, The Response, so I tried it as well...and did the exact same thing.  I usually paddle a little playboat, so getting worked in long boat is a lot different, especially a boat that is really really hard to roll.  I believe that is the first time I truly contemplated swimming in several years :)  Fortunately, I was able to eventually roll back up.  The rest of the loop was fairly uneventful.

We got to Dimple and Cathy&Laura both walked it.  We met up with David and Adam at Swimmers.  There were only a few people there and the line was very short.  We stayed there for a little while, but the shoreline was already in shadow and it was starting to get cool down.  We had 1 swim at Bottle of Wine.  At Double Hydraulic, Cathy missed her peel out in her ducky went right through the first hydraulic :)  Everyone had good lines at Rivers End.  Fortunately, everyone also made it down Killer Falls successfully.  By the end of trip, Ivan and I had gotten pretty good at being torpedos hitting the shredder to a point where almost knocked off Allison if she wasn't paying attention :)


Overall, another great day on the river.  Afterwards, some of us stopped at the "Out of the Fire Grille", in Donegal.  It used to be an awesome place to eat, but as David Stone stated so eloquently stated, "They sold out to 'the man'".

-B. Kish

September 21st, 2008

Allegheny River, PA

Met up with David Degerome and Laura Lindzey at the storeroom at 1:00 pm that afternoon to load up a couple of whitewater kayaks to do some flatwater training out at the backchannel of the Allegheny River at the new Three Rivers Rowing Association boathouse near Washington's Landing. After checking to see if they were up for it, rather than just going up and  down the backchannel, we went up and all the way around Heers Island, about a 1.8 mile trip which we did in about an hour and a half.

The objective was to get people comfortable in their boats, work on their paddle strokes, and to develop some boat control. Everybody did really well on this. The section outside of the island, out in the main channel, was a little interesting as there was quite a bit of powerboat traffic on the river, and some of them were kicking up pretty good wakes, giving us some small waves to have to deal with as well.

Got back to campus around 3:20 - didn't take any pictures. Map of the location and approximate track are here.

-T. Marz


Kayaking 9-19 to 9-21-08

September 19th - 21st, 2008

Lower Gauley River, WV

Ivan Jager, Brian Kish, Jeff Johnston and I headed to Summersville, WV on Friday for the largest whitewater festival in the world- GAULEYFEST. GauleyFest is an annual festival that draws thousands of whitewater kayakers, rafters, and other whitewater enthusiasts. The parties are enormous, but the whitewater is even bigger- the Gauley River, fed by scheduled releases from Summersville Dam, has consistent Class V water on its Upper portion, and consistent III-IV water on the Lower portion. We did the lower portion both Saturday and Sunday.

The quote of the trip was heard the very first night we got to the festival. I asked Brian while walking through the festival campground, "Will most people here be doing the Upper or the Lower Gauley tomorrow?" A random fellow we had no association with helpfully chimed in, "Most people here are doing LSD, man." Thank you random man.

We awoke at 7 am both days and did the Lower Gauley with folks from the Three Rivers Paddling Club (TRPC) and from Pitt's outdoors club, most of whom Brian knew. The water was ENORMOUS. Specific examples include: 5 boat hole, a hole which 5 boats could surf (easily) at a time; Koontz Flume, essentially a class IV highway of whitewater; Lower Mash, a 8' tall wave that we attempted to surf (check if the videos we took are up); and Pure Screaming Hell, a class IV rapid with a GIANT hole at the bottom which Ivan attempted to defeat (keyword: attempted) (again, check to see if video is up). All in all, the water, for Jeff, Ivan, and myself, at least, was some of the biggest we had ever seen. 11 miles of paddling a day, a 3.5 hour drive there, and a giant festival of Dionysian hippies and free kayaking promotional deals all made a great weekend :) Return to Pittsburgh was approximately 9 pm Sunday night.

-D. Stone


September 1, 2008

Lower Yough, PA

The Lower Yough (LY) is a classic class III run that is less than 1.5 hours away from Pittsburgh.  We put on the river at 11AM and didn’t get off the river until 5pm!!  That is the longest LY trip I have ever done!  Everyone had a great day on the water.  We played and surfed for a long time in Entrance.  David and Jeff both were able to get their flat spins to work at Donut Hole and Nemo’s Hole.  Everyone had great lines trough Dimple Rapid and we got to witness a lot of raft carnage.  We probably stayed at Swimmers’ Rapid for 2.5 hours!  We were able to have a ‘party wave’ with 5 people in it!   We had a blast at Swimmers’.  When we got off of the river, we even found someone to shuttle 2 of our boats to the car!  It turned out to be a great weekend of kayaking.

-B. Kish


August 31, 2008

Savage River, MD

The Savage is a dam-controlled river that only has 3 water releases a year.  It is a special river because it is essentially one long 5 mile long rapid without any pools in between.  Therefore, a strong roll and boat control are essential.  The release lasts from 9am-3pm and a shuttle is provided, this allowed us to make three laps on the river.  The river is a cold 45 degrees because the water comes from the bottom of the reservoir.  I think that Ivan was the only person on the river who was not wearing at least a paddling jacket!  We all had a great day on the river!  We only had 2 swims, and that is good because it is really hard to catch a swamped kayak on this river!  Unfortunately, David broke his new paddle that barely even had an scratches on it!  Matt got to hand-paddle the rest of the river. After we got off the river, we all camped out at Piney Mountain Campground near the Upper Yough Put-in.

-B. Kish

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