I'm off paddling massive white water now. 450km, 16 days, one Grand Canyon.
Special thanks to: Matt Sephton http://gingerbeardman.com Creative Genius and consultant to Two Fish One Chips for this great release.
Ant Bull Point B Comms Comms and gaming inspiration.
Christine Tan and Mo Jiwa Bestest testers.
Richard and Davo Design and gaming gurus
I sincerely hope you enjoy the game. Please tell your friends as every sale will bring me closer to another game and another river.
Thanks and happy paddling Matt
The Grand Canyon - 04 - Flying
I had my first awkward moment with an airline check-in person today; they seemed to think it was MY duty to inform them of where I was flyibg to. Aside from naming the wrong city followed by the wrong flight number I now have my large bag and trusty paddle stowed on-board.
My flight is delayed. I bumped in to colleagues in the Qantas lounge which was lols. The bubbly here is ace actually. And lammingtons. mmmm.
I've been pretty sick so have bailed on training lately. I managed a short run yesterday and short swim at Bondi. It was incredible. The water was (just) over 20'. Not bad for winter! (And odd as it is so much colder in January).
i've purchassed a tone of camping goodies from Kathmandu and kayaking goodies from Fergs Rock n Kayak. i am ready to go.
Flight time. USA here I come. After one more wine...
The Grand Canyon - 03 - a week out
Quest For The Canyon - Getting There
Leaving countries, moving in to a new home, sorting HMRC obligations, sorting IRD obligations, acquiring Grand Canyon gear, interviewing for jobs, training and coding towards a big release all seem to be quite time consuming. I'm scrapping the Grand Canyon Yakin release due to limited time and limited fun (and potentially unlimited liability?) in favour of new and improved levels, a sound training system, and leaderboards integration. So there is a big release coming. Just you wait.
As I sit here on my flight out of Wellington to Sydney for a day of meetings I get to play the game of what have I left behind - it's togs that I've forgotten, again, and this is why I have accumulated nine pairs over the last two years. This marks the start of the journey towards the Canyon.
My training schedule has been significantly hampered by a lack of time (I have only managed to catch up with two friends during my 10 days back home) but in NZ I have managed four pool sessions, two hill-sprint sessions, and a few days out in the surf too. Is this enough? It's the minimum. My roll is pretty ace which is important. I am mentally prepared for zero swims, and I intend to do 20 rolls per day on the canyon (or >200 by the time I hit Lava Falls). Final training will consist of a run, and a body surf session in either Bondi or Crunella.
GEAR Tent, clothes, everything. Kayak: I wish I'd booked an Axiom 8.5 - these boats handle a bit like Canoe Polo boats so I really enjoyed a 2 minute session. I have booked a: [INSERT KAYAK NAME]
FOOD sorted by others
Time to crack out the laptop and continue coding. Bye for now.
The Grand Canyon - 02 - yak choice
Boat choice matters. Apparently.
At first I was pretty keen to take my beloved Blissstick Super Rad 180 (pictured above) on the Colorado River/Grand Canyon. We've been through a lot together. On many occasions she has gone to great lengths to protect me from vicious rocky rapids, and I in return have swam after her to rescue her from a life unknown. This would be my way of properly thanking my yak for the years of loyal service.
So I've started training. During training it quickly became apparent that I might want to reconsider my boat choice. I get cramp after a few hours, I cannot paddle faster than a crawling speed, and I've gained enough weight that more often than not that I wonder whether I am indeed controlling which direction the boat goes or if it is happening simply by chance. And so the Grand boat hunt begins.
And this is going to be quick. I had a chat with one of the chaps at Lee Valley who thought for a sec, and then responded with "If I was to paddle the Canyon, it would be in a Jackson 4Fun". Worth a shot. I like it.
Pros of the Jackson 4Fun: o a couple of strokes before you're up to speed o glides like a dream through the water, for a semi-playboat at least o so spacious o comfortable (at least for the hour I hired it) o is pretty comfortable punching through white water o extremely stable and easy to throw around o is comfortable in holes!
The last one kinda converted me. I played around in other boats too: Jackson Fun Runner Jackson Fun (as opposed to the 4Fun, above) - this is probably more of a weight-of-the-paddler scenario (I'm 6'1", and between 85-95 kg, depending on whether or not my friends are reading this). And finally, to get a feel for a creeker, the WaveSport D75.
Despite the lack of comfort offered by the ironically named WaveSport - it is clearly a cheaper kayak than a Jackson, from plastics to design to outfittings - it is still respectable and would make an excellent choice for anyone I am sure. This punched through rapids pretty well, and I was genuinely amused having never paddled a bigger boat down rapids to find how it made the rapids feel about 10cm tall. It effortlessly glided over most water features, and that was nice and relaxing and nice and calm and nice. I decided to up the session and play in all of the holes, and this is where the WaveSport (and I am assuming all larger kayaks, but yet tbc) fell down. I was out of control, uncomfortable, and stuck. Calmly navigating out of this not small, but relatively not large, hole was extremely tricky. The boat would catch, and want to spin around awkwardly to face upstream, all the while I could neither fight it, nor let it easily go with the flow.
Smaller kayaks on the other hand tend to be a bit harder at punching through the waves and rapids. You're more aware of features because they can mess you up a bit on the way down. So you might be a bit likelier to get stuck in a hole. The flip side is that if this happens to you, controlling the boat in there is going to be orders of magnitude easier. And this is where I felt extremely comfortable in the 4Fun. I was able to accurately carve around and out of each feature, completely in control of what was going on. The incredible stability meant I hardly had to think twice; adopt a smart brace, and have fun. Which might be where it gets the name from.
So, speed on the flat water is good. Handles like a dream. I am amazed that there are so few kayak designs like this. I perceive this to be so much easier and fun than a creeker (of the three creekers I've paddled I'd have rather hit a river riding on an alligator...I don't like creekers).
The Jackson Fun: I imagine might be a similar experience for less chubby paddlers than myself. The Jackson Fun Runner: again, maybe a weight thing, but amazingly I felt slower and less in control than the 4Fun. I feel as if someone tried to make a new boat have the appearance of how the Fun handles, and thus somehow made an inferior boat that's slower, awkward, and harder to use. I mean, marginally, it's still a superb boat.
I haven't purchased a 4Fun yet. I am feeling obliged to trial a Waka Tuna, Jackson Zen and a Dagger Axiom, if I can get my hands on any of these. That said, if any sponsors might be reading this do get in touch :)
-Matt CEO and solo-game-dev of 2Fish1Chips
The Grand Canyon - 01 - consenting
I awake to find a message from an old paddling pal enquiring whether I might be keen on going for a wee paddle down a rather big river. I immediately Googled images and videos and concluded that this was simply ridiculous. I have no big-water experience, I'm about to spend six-months game-deving, the last thing I would want to do would be blow my savings on a suicide trip down some massive rapids in near-frozen water for two weeks!
I said yes.
Am I really able to paddle the Colorado River?? Well this has been plaguing me for a week now. Others' photos are terrifying. There are rapids, literally the size of houses. I'm out of shape, out of practise. I mean, I've been working a full time job, had a wedding, bought a house, and released a game, so I've had no time for exercise. So physically, can I do this right now? Not a chance. Does the thought of that terrify me in to getting up early to go running most days? You betchya!
I'm going down with seasoned experts who have done this before. Plus I'd rather not keep 14 days worth of food and clothing in my kayak anyway. Having expert river runner's advice on how to handle the river is going to be invaluable for this noob journey down over 230 miles of treacherous waters. For my level of paddling anyway.
I guess I should expand on where I sit skill-wise. I like white water, but I'm a solid grade three. I still swim. I've spent over a decade paddling all sorts of water, yet I've only ever hit a hard grade III (or an easy grade IV if you wanna make it sound cooler). Big water is a concept I have no familiarity with. Okay, that might be a lie. I did run safety for The George race back in the Hutt one year. This was relocated to the Akatarua river due to extreme flooding, and I decided to run safety to help out any stragglers. Normally it takes me about 3/4 an hour to reach the best play-wave in the river, which is normally a pitiful wave at best. On this day I think it took all of about 10 seconds to reach. Or so it felt. Early on I started to get motion sick as wave trains resulted in giant peaks and troughs; fellow paddlers would be hidden from view as they were plunged in to the depths of another rounded wave. I wasn't feeling comfortable. We were flying down a normally placid river. Where there were usually rapids there were none, where there was normally shore, there were giant rolling swirling turbulent messes.
High on one rolling wave I spotted a blank space. Reading the river, I read, big hole. I paddled to river right. Nope, can't escape, that's a terrible line. Let's try left. Okay, not going so well, then I see it. The big gaping hole. I'm not going to make it out. I go from plummeting down the river at breakneck speeds to hitting a wall of water face-on. My boat stops, and I momentarily hang in an adrenalin fuelled panic. The back catches and I'm straight under.
I should have attempted a roll, but I just didn't have the experience in big water to know what was going on. I freaked right out, pulled the deck, and spent about three minutes swimming down raging waters.
Interestingly, I managed to haul myself out literally 10 meters before everything turned in to a gorge. The prospect of spending a night at the river was fairly near.
The terrified swim had been agony. I was filled with adrenalin which was no longer needed, so then my body flipped over to shock-mode. I just lay on the shore panting for a while, feeling quite literally sick to my stomach.
I learned a valuable lesson that day; always always always install airbags; the guy who saved my boat never forgave me for being too cheap on this front. As it turns out this investment is not necessarily for you, but more for the poor sod who has to pick you up and get you back on your feet. It would almost make more sense to buy airbags and then put them in your pal's boats, to save yourself potential hassle!
From memory that river normally flows at 6m^3/s, it's paddleable at 18m^3/s, and on this occasion it was 180m^3/s.
So, am I familiar with big-water? Well no, but when I finally hit it I'll know I did worse in less.
[Edit]: It's not a guided nor catered trip, as I had originally written.