Please come enjoy this beautiful new Pendleton Outlet. A sneak peek below!
Please come enjoy this beautiful new Pendleton Outlet. A sneak peek below!
Enjoy this, out third and last guest post from Greg–for this trip, anyway.
Nighttime in the Grand Canyon adds another dimension to darkness for me.
Towering walls rise up almost a mile above the Colorado River to touch the night sky, soft sand wraps around our sleeping bags in a warm embrace, and the river of darkness between the canyon cliffs overhead is filled with so many bright stars that most nights, the ground is visible without the aid of a flashlight. Darkness in the Grand Canyon is filled with light, and my favorite light comes from the campfire after dinner.
Photo by Nate Pickens
We throw another log onto the bed of half-spent coals in the fire pan, sink deep into our camp chairs…and take a long breath. No rapids to scout, no river to run, no boats to wrangle.
The banter is lively as we replay the day – the heroic runs, the botched lines, and the close calls. Laughter and teasing settles into quiet conversation and reflection as we enjoy the flames of the fire and each other’s presence. Together, we unwind from the challenges of the day. Sometimes the only sound in our circle of camp chairs comes from the flickering fire and the river (and occasionally, snoring from Tony). We listen to the river every second of every waking hour and we hear it in our sleep. Darkness in the canyon is filled with the sounds of the river and laughter from the circle.
When we’re talked out, we fold our chairs, and one by one, leave the warmth of the fire. Sometimes two or three of us take the campfire conversation deeper into the night. The smoke from the fire follows us to our sleeping bags and tucks us in. Our best and our worst is on display in the stressful situations of the canyon and in the solitude of my bedroll each night, I sort through which of those “won the day” – and then I sleep.
Darkness in the canyon is filled with the smoky smell of a campfire and self reflection.
Photo by Izzy Collett
Brightly colored tents sit below the steep rock walls of the canyon. Some are scattered between boulders and sagebrush or even clustered in bunches on the sand banks of the river. They glow with a dreamy light.
Some nights there is a special sound to the darkness as Izzy plays a Native American wood flute while she sits on her boat. The rich low sounds are from a different time and place. Authentic music mingles with the smoke trails and travels up the canyon on its way to the stars.
It adds a richness to the experience that I will never forget.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with the haunting sounds of the Anasazi flute.
Photo by Dave Mortenson
In the daylight, my canvas tent blends with the light tan color of the sand. It’s the same material they used for tents and bags on the 1964 trip we are replicating. I use the tent when there is a threat of rain or I want a break from the strong winds and blowing sand.
When we’re not in tents, we sleep on the open ground with nothing overhead except the stars in the night-sky. The distance we hike away from the river to throw our bags down on shore is in direct proportion to the energy we have left at the end of a day spent rowing heavy boats through heavy rapids. Most of the bags are within 100 feet of the boats on the sand banks above the river. Some mornings we wake up as part of a sand dune and have to shake our way out of our bags.
Photo by Greg Hatten
Many nights we sleep on the boats. It’s my favorite place to spend the night. Down here boats are life… they’re everything. We row them through the valley of death and they deliver us from evil… repeatedly. They carry everything we own and faithfully get us to our next campsite at the end of our rowing day. They “connect” us to the river with a bond that’s hard to explain. We love our boats.
All covered up in our warm blankets, we peek out in the dark and occasionally see a falling star in the night sky as the water gently slaps the sides of the boat and the river rocks us to sleep. On “two-blanket” nights it’s cold enough to see our breath – which makes the blankets feel even warmer and the boats seem even cozier.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with cold cheeks, cold noses and gently rocking boats.
Marble Canyon Tunnel – Photo by Robb Grubb
The darkest dark I found in the canyon wasn’t on the boats at night. It was in an exploratory tunnel drilled deep in the side of Marble Canyon where construction had begun in the 1950s on one of the last proposed dam projects in the west.
A couple of us tied off our boats on river left and scrambled up the loose shale to the mouth of the tunnel – a hundred feet above the river. From that elevated vantage point, the canyon looked spectacular. I tried to imagine a dam in this special spot and couldn’t. We turned from the river, climbed over the railroad ties and boulders guarding the entrance, and crawled through a portal into the heart of the Marble Canyon wall.
Marble Canyon Entry – Photo by Robb Grubb
Twenty feet in and we were covered in darkness. Real deep dark heavy darkness…. an eerie black quiet darkness… and I thought of orcs, and goblins, and the Lord of the Rings. We turned on a laser light, splashed our way through the puddles on the packed-dirt floor and tripped over loose rocks that had fallen in the narrow passageway. Walking with an awkward stoop, we finally reached the end of the tunnel several hundred feet from the entrance. For a moment we turned off the light and just stood there listening to “drip…drip…drip” coming from the dank ceiling and falling to the floor somewhere in the blackness. For the first time in days we couldn’t hear the river – it was silenced by the tunnel and it was deafening.
We shimmied back out the portal, slid down the shale pile back to our boats and spent a quiet afternoon rowing through the beautiful rose colored walls of Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon – Photo by John Schroeder
That night, I reflected again about what the trip in 1964 meant to river runners like us. That trip and those guys made a huge impact by shining a bright light on the beauty of the canyon. Their pictures, their videos, and their words inspired millions of people to take a closer look at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and for the first time, many of them saw this place as much more than just a source for water.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with passion.
Last of the Three Part Series by Greg Hatten
Time for another guest post from our friend Greg Hatten, in which he replicates a run from the 1962 trek down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. This one is exciting, so hold on.
We scout the big ones – the ones you can hear for a half mile before you can see – the ones that sound like a freight train when you stand beside them. The ground trembles. Their names are spoken with respect and dread around the campfire at night and over coffee in the morning… House Rock, Hermit, Hance, Granite, Bedrock, Crystal, Lava…
Just above Granite Rapid at mile mark 94, we pull our boats to shore on river-left, tie up, and hike down the river over unstable river rocks to “scout”. It’s rated a 9 + on a scale of 10 by Larry Stevens in his River Runner’s Map and Guidebook to the Colorado River – one of the most difficult on the river. Halfway down this rapid is one of the largest and most violent holes we have seen on the trip. We stop at the midpoint of the rapid to have a closer look. We watch, mesmerized, as water pours over a huge boulder we cannot see and then dives ten feet down with so much force it creates a wall of water that slams back upriver to create a turbulent cauldron and a suck-hole that we must avoid. We are transfixed and for a long moment we can’t look away. I wonder to myself, if a boat got sucked into that, would it EVER come out?
Scanning the river for a possible path through the rapid (the “line”) we speak a boatman’s language of laterals, V-waves, pour-overs, eddies, and cheater lines. There is a seriousness in our tone this morning as we dissect the rapid and discuss what we see. I love the banter, I respect the experience, I trust the judgment of these teammates.
Two days ago my boat was swallowed and flipped in an ugly hole at Grapevine – a Class VIII. My boat took a beating and so did my confidence. It’s on my mind as the hole in front of us thunders away and we continue to search for the “line.”
There are big rocks all the way down the left side which appear and then disappear with the crashing waves. At this low water level those rocks would tear our boats to pieces… left side is not open today. We look at the middle run but everything coming down that V-wave is getting sucked into the hole-that-must-be-missed, so it’s not an option either. The only path we see at this level is a far right run where a ridge of water is formed by the current careening off the canyon wall. The run requires a boat balancing act on a tight wire of white water that’s uncomfortably close to the canyon wall.
The hard part is getting up on that water ridge in the first place. There is a hole above the ridge on the far right side of the river formed by the first steep elevation drop. If you can put your boat half in the hole and half out of the hole, it will pop your boat out and fling it right on top of the ridge for a twenty second thrill ride to the bottom. Hit the hole too far right & you’ll get sucked into it. Skirt the hole too far left and you’ll miss the ridge and be swept into the V Wave and the big dangerous hole we must avoid.
We are all agreed – it’s a far right run.
After the scout, it’s a quiet walk back up to the boats. We are alone with our thoughts and visualizing our moves and I pose the question to myself… again… “why am I doing this”?
Robb goes first – he’s been rowing since he was four years old and makes every rapid look easy. He gives us confidence as he hit the exact line we talked about and has a splashy ride down the ridge. Perfection. He pulls into an eddy below the rapid and sets up for rescue as a safety precaution.
Steph is next – he’s rowing the Susie Too – a remake of the original from 1962 and a twin hull of my boat, the Portola. He takes the Susie Too over the first big drop and disappears. His line is a little too aggressive – his boat is too far into the hole at the top. The power of the hole grabs his right oar and almost pulls him out of the boat. The force is so strong it springs the brass oar lock and releases the oar which is now useless in his hand. He slams the oar back in place just as he gets spit out of the hole, a little sideways and twisted, but up on the ridge none-the-less. A quick correction and he rides the ridge like a bucking horse although dangerously close to the wall. Nice!!
I tighten my life jacket, put on my helmet, and row quietly to the other side of the river several hundred feet above Granite. The approach to the infinity edge is slow. Too slow. Too much time to think about my disaster at Grapevine. I snap back to the moment and reach the edge where I can finally see down the steepness of the other side and know for the first time that my alignment is spot on.
This is the nerve that Craig Wolfson talks about. I’m lined up to hit one hole so I can miss a bigger hole and it’s only two days and twelve miles after almost losing my boat and my passenger in a hole that looks a lot like these.
I drop over the top and everything speeds up – now I’m racing for the edge of the hole on the right. Half in half out – I hit it perfectly and I keep my right oar up away from the turbulence (thanks Steph). I’m rewarded by a clean exit from the hole and a little air as I get deposited right on top of the ridge of water. I ride the waves as they explode under my boat and shoot me down the other side. The canyon wall is cozy and I feel like it’s inches away from the tips of my oars. I go speeding by the hole-that-must-be-missed on my left. It’s so close I can touch it with my oar.
One more big wave at the bottom and it’s over. In 20 seconds. Wow…and then I remind myself – “THIS is why we do this!!”
That run at Granite restored my confidence – which would be tested repeatedly over the next 190 miles. Three days later I would flip in Upset Rapid – Class nine.
It had a bigger hole than Granite on the day it got me…but THAT’s another story.
You wreck a wood boat, you fix it. You flip a wood boat, you dry out your blankets. And that’s how you run a rapid.
Coming up in Part III…read about night-life on the Colorado. Ever wonder what it’s like to sleep in the canyon for a month or how we cook, clean, relax, and get re-charged for a challenging day on the river? Read about it next week and enjoy some beautiful night-time shots in “Night in the Canyon”
A heartfelt series of guest posts from our friend Greg Hatten begins this week.
March of 2014 was a deadly month in the Grand Canyon for river runners. The water level was well below average and even the most experienced boatmen saw water dynamics they had never seen before. Low water created new hazards – holes were deeper, drops were sharper, jagged rocks that rarely see sunlight punched holes in our boats and holes in our confidence.
An accomplished group of nine kayakers just a few miles ahead of us lost one of their team mates to the river below Lava Falls. There was a another serious accident in the group two days behind us midway through the trip.
Some of our wood boats were damaged, a few of our rubber rafts flipped, oars and ribs and teeth were broken, a helicopter rescue was required for a member of our team on Day 4. After 280 miles and 24 days on the water, we reached the end of the Grand Canyon and all agreed we were ready to do it again…as soon as possible.
We are a band of wood boat enthusiasts who came to the Grand Canyon in March to re-run a famous trip from 1964 with our wood dory replicas, our canvas tents and bedrolls, our Pendleton wool blankets, and a couple of great photographers to capture the adventure.
Fifty years ago, that trip played a crucial role in saving the Grand Canyon from two proposed dams that were already under construction. If THAT trip had not happened, THIS trip would not have been possible and our campsites would be at the bottom of a reservoir instead of beside the river. River running on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon would’ve been replaced by “Reservoir Running in Pontoons,” as most of the Grand Canyon would’ve been hundreds of feet under water.
We are celebrating the success of the trip of ‘64 and paying tribute to those men who left a legacy for future river runners like us to run the big water of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon in river boats. We are brought together by Dave Mortenson, whose dad was one of those pioneers.
“Who we are” is easier to answer than “Why we do this.” There are moments on trips like these, when we are at the crossroads of chaos – where adventure and wonder intersect with danger and consequence – and the outcome is uncertain. THAT’s what makes it an adventure. I can only speak for myself – but here’s my shot at answering “why…”
I do this because the Grand Canyon takes my breath away. The first time I saw it from the bottom looking up, I fell in love with this place and was absolutely amazed by the size and beauty of the canyon. Everything is bigger, deeper, taller, more colorful, more powerful, more everything than anyplace I have ever been.
I do this because the Colorado River tests my physical ability as a boatman like no other river I have ever boated. This is one of the most powerful rivers in North America and when that strong current bends the oars I’m rowing and I feel the raw force shooting up my aching arms and across my tired back, I’m electrified and anxious at the same time.
I do this because the rapids on this river test my mental ability as a boatman. My friend and veteran Canyoneer Craig Wolfson calls it “Nerve.” Scouting severe rapids and seeing the safest “line” to run is one thing – having the nerve to put your boat on that line is another. Most of the difficult rapids require a run that puts your boat inches from disaster at the entry point in order to avoid calamity at the bottom. Everything in your “experience” tells you to avoid the danger at the top – but you mustn’t. Overriding those instincts and pulling off a successful run is a mental tug of war that is challenging beyond belief.
I do this because of the bonds we form as a team of 16 individuals working and cooking and rowing and eating and drinking and laughing together for 280 miles. We problem-solve together, we celebrate together, we look out for each other, and we find a way to get along when every once-in-awhile the stress of the trip makes “some” of us a little “cranky.” Sometimes, we experience the most vulnerable moments of our lives together. These people are lifetime friends as a result of this adventure.
And finally – I do this because it brings out the best in me. My senses are better, my mind is clearer, my body is stronger and I like to think I’m friendlier, funnier, more generous, and more helpful down in the Canyon. It makes me want to be this open with people up on Rim when I get back to my regular routine. It’s hard to articulate but for me, the place is magic.
Next….. You can read in detail how we carefully “scout” and how we the run the violent rapids of the Colorado in hand-made historic wooden boats made of ¼” plywood. If we make a mistake we pay a heavy price – which you will see in “Running A Rapid.”
Finally…. You can read about camp life on the Colorado. What it’s like to sleep in the canyon for a month. How we cook, clean, relax, and get re-charged for a challenging day on the river. There are beautiful night-time shots for you to enjoy in “Camp in the Canyon.”
When we opened our store at the Portland International Airport, we partnered with the Port of Portland, which oversees our city’s commerce by river, rail, road and plane. The airport location has given us a wonderful opportunity to share our very-Oregon brand with the rest of the country as it passes through PDX (which is what we call our airport, for you out-of-towners). The Port recognized our association with the Port of Portland 2014 Compass Award at the recent “Tradition of Trade” annual luncheon.
The award recognizes the personal efforts of our company’s president, Mort Bishop, as well as Pendleton’s corporate support and involvement. Said Port Commission Vice President Paul Rosenbaum, “Like the points of a compass, their business partnership and confidence in local operations have helped us navigate and achieve key Port goals such as job creation and environmental stewardship.”
During the award presentation, Mr. Rosenbaum cited Pendleton as one of Oregon’s heritage enterprises, and applauded our focus on building positive relationships with Oregon’s tribal community—the original founders of trade in the Northwest. “Mort and his family have led the Pendleton enterprise for six generations,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “Pendleton’s rich American heritage and deep roots in the Pacific Northwest is a source of pride for all Oregonians.”
Company president Mort Bishop accepted the Compass Award on behalf of Pendleton Woolen Mills. In his words, “100 years ago, there were over 1,000 woolen mills in this country. Today we operate two of only a handful that survive – Washougal and Pendleton. Our facilities are state of the art, providing American jobs, utilizing sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices, employing world class technology. Pendleton uses some of the world’s finest wool fleeces from right here in Oregon…from generations of the same ranch families for over 100 years. When you buy a Pendleton, you are literally and metaphorically buying the fabric of Oregon.”
More than 500 business leaders, elected officials and community stakeholders attended this year’s Gateway to the Globe luncheon. It was quite an event, and the Compass Award is quite an honor.
Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Carly Weasel Child has been having an exciting year. Here she is on a shoot for Avenue magazine at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park on the Siksika Reserve, where Carly is from. She’s wearing a dress made by Janine’s Custom Creations with Pendleton wool.
Well, we have no rabbits. No rabbits, no hares, not a bunny in sight. But we do have some newly-arrived stuffed friends who could hop into anyone’s heart.
First, there’s Hamilton Bear, made of our own non-toxic and washable wool. He’s a little guy with a lot of personality.
Then, there’s Yuji Bear in two colors; a wild and wooly fellow if there ever were one.
They join the usual cast of characters that includes Chauncey Bear and Franklin Horse at pendleton-usa.com. And they’d love to be in a basket!
Have a wonderful holiday.
Pattern mixing can be subtle, daring, or just plain fun. Here are some celebrities doing the complicated work of mixology.
Of course, it helps to have personal stylists. Here are some stylists and bloggers who work their patterns perfectly.
Give you any ideas? We hope so. We’re mixing it up for Spring at http://www.pendleton-usa.com; tweed with polka dots, plaids with our very-Pendleton Native-inspired patterns.
As we head into the final days of our Surf Pendleton pin-to-win contest, we thought you’d enjoy an in-depth look at the making of the board you can win. So here, in their own words, are all the steps that go into making these fine boards–one at a time, all by hand.
Making the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard
Each Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is shaped, painted, glassed, sanded, and glossed by hand in Blackfern’s fabrication studio in Portland, Oregon.
For the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard, a 1960’s era single fin model was chosen. This timeless retro board embodies the lifestyle of the era; clean, simple, and stylish. Many of these retro shapes are having a resurgence in popularity because of their versatility in a range of surf conditions. The board style pays homage to an era in which Pendleton was a vibrant force in Californian surf culture.
The Process Starts
The first step in the fabrication process is to trace out the outline of the board onto a blank, which is a rough-cut piece of foam that resembles a surfboard, albeit not a very functional one. The outline is cut out of the blank, not unlike making Christmas cookies, and the excess foam is removed. The outline is then tuned by a rasp-like tool called a surform, in order to hone the perfect curve that will define the finished board.
The next step is to craft the bottom of the board. This process begins by power planing or “skinning” the protective outer shell of the blank that protects the softer foam within. After the skin is removed, the bottom contours are shaped in by removing material with additional passes with the power planer, surform, and finally, sanding blocks. The single fin model features shallow concavity through the middle of the bottom, blending into a V contoured tail. These contours give the board a loose and nimble feel with higher performance than would be achievable with a flat bottomed board.
At this point it is time to flip the blank over and begin working on the top of the board. Similar to the bottom, the first step is to remove the protective skin of the blank. During this process, I start to flesh out the top contours and the “foil” of the board. Foil refers to the changing thickness, both from the center towards the rails as well as from the tip to the tail of the board. It is during this process that a shaper’s ability to visualize in three dimensions becomes crucial. Knowing where to remove material and in what quantity can be tricky. The goal is to produce a smoothly foiled board; maintaining volume in helpful areas and removing it where unneeded.
Forming the Rails
After the top has been shaped and foiled, its time to move onto the rails of the surfboard. At this point the board has a functional top and bottom but with its boxy, vertical rails, it would be miserable to surf. To form a smooth curving rail, I begin removing rail material in the form of rail “bands.” Bands are sloped ridges that run the length of the board; thickest at the middle and thinner towards the tip and tail. By removing rail material incrementally in these stepped ridges, it is possible to produce a rail that changes shape and thickness in a controlled and consistent fashion. Once the bands are crafted to satisfaction, the board is turned onto its rail and I begin passing a sanding screen over the ridges of the “bands.” After screening repeatedly, the ridges disappears and a smoothly curving rail emerges.
Finishing Foam Touches
The final steps of the shaping process are to install the slider single fin box and to finish sand the entire shaped surfboard to a buttery smooth finish. The board is signed off to the customer who ordered it. I write the customer’s name, the dimensions of the board, and finally “Pendleton Surf Limited Edition.”
Getting that distinctive Pendleton look
The specialized Pendleton artwork is applied before glassing the board. The two color versions vary on their preparation. To produce the characteristic plaid pattern, I start off by creating a series of vertical stripes that represent the four primary colors of the pattern. I then lay out horizontal bands that cross directly over the vertical bands. I use the same four primary colors and spray through a sanding screen, producing the blended color tones featured in the plaid print. Finally, I add a band of dark color around the rails of the surfboard to form a frame of sorts.
For the striped version, I tape off three zones of the board; center, nose, and tail. Within these zones, alternating colored bands of varying thicknesses are laid down to form the distinctive, classic pattern.
Onward to Glassing
Glassing is only achievable in incremental steps, similar to the process of shaping the foam of the board. Glassing consists of four separate treatments of resin that constitute the glassing process; two laminations and two hotcoats. A lamination is the process through which fiberglass cloth, saturated with resin, is bonded to the fragile foam core. A hot coat is an additional layer of resin that helps protect the fiberglass cloth and completely seal the inner foam core.
The first lamination occurs on the bottom of the surfboard. To prepare for the lamination, the top of the board is taped and masked to avoid being exposed to resin prematurely. A piece of fiberglass cloth is rolled out over the length of the board and is cut so that the fabric drapes over the rails, usually extending approximately 2-4 inches below the beginning of the rail. Surf Pendleton and Blackfern decals and fin boxes are dry fitted to ensure that no mishaps occur. The entire surface of the board is then “wetted out” with polyester laminating resin. A squeegee is used to work the resin into the porous foam of the board and to fully saturate the fiberglass cloth. The cloth is carefully wrapped over the rails and the board is left to harden or “cure”.
Once the bottom is cured, the board is flipped over and the same process is done to the top, this time with two layers of fiberglass cloth to add additional strength to the deck. After wrapping the top layers of fiberglass onto the bottom of the board, the resin and fiberglass are left to cure once again.
To hotcoat the board and finish glassing the board, another coat of polyester resin called sanding resin is applied to each side of the board. This process is among the most simple of all the steps of surfboard fabrication – resin is poured out of a small pail and then spread evenly over the surface of the board with a large paint brush. Each side is left to cure before flipping the board a final time to hotcoat the other side.
Hot coating produces a slick, imperfect surface. In order to make it ready for use, every square inch of the board must be sanded. Sanding makes the surfboard finally feel like a surfboard; smooth, strong, and perfect. Many boards are considered finished and ready for use at this stage but the Pendleton boards receive one additional treatment – a gloss coat.
The gloss coat is nearly identical to the hotcoat. The only major difference in the processes is that the gloss coat resin is slightly thinner and is applied to a perfectly smooth, even surface. As a result, less resin is required and a perfectly smooth surface is formed. Even so, the entire board is sanded again to make it ready for use. Successive sand paper treatments, each one higher grit than the last, are used to form completely smooth and scratch free surface.
To bring a shine to the finished product, buffing compound is applied using a woolen compounding bonnet. Finally, a treatment of polishing compound is applied to all surfaces of the board using a polishing pad to give it a candy-like luster.
Tools and hands have passed over every square inch of this board dozens of times and, at last, this Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is ready to ride! Get ready to catch some great waves!