Nate Kern's Blog - May 2009

Posted on Thursday 11th June, 2009 Times Viewed: 9660
So I was chatting to Nate Kern over email and he was telling me what he was going to be up to at the beginning of May and I thought to myself - this guy is gonna be doing some heavy sh*t. I think our lovely GBer's need to hear this. So Nate has written a blog for us...

Thanks Nate!
Day One (30th April 2009): "On the Road"
And it begins. We set off from Breckenridge at 12 noon, not quite the intended departure time, but we we're off. The previous nights antics at our first NBA game had a little to do with that. But what a game Denver Nuggets against Charlotte Hornets in the Playoffs first round and they won to lead them with a 4 to 1 game victory to the second round! We were stoked and what an experience, one I recommend for any basketball fan to check out! With the car packed full. The five of us, myself, Nate Kern, my girl Tanya, our resident Dutch photographer and filmer Jordy van den Bergh, and of course our two wild Huskies Tundra and Luna. After a quick stop at the bank to cash in my change jar for petrol money and a stop a Walmart for straps to tie down the board bag packed full with all our ride gear, which ended with me buying my girl a new Nintendo DSi for the bet I’d just lost on how much change I had. Some good entertainment though for the 8 hr drive ahead of us.

With blue skies and clear roads we got on Highway I70 west towards Utah. I was the first behind the wheel and drove a smooth 3 hours to Grand Junction, named the white trash capital of America by Tanya, as you will see the lot from Polygamists to the guys with their cowboy hats, chew in their mouth and oversized Chevy trucks. You gotta just see it. Filled up the tank and picked up some much needed Starbucks and Milkshakes, then stopped at a great fenced Doggie Park to let the girls run and let some of their ever lasting energy out.

Tanya took the next shift as we headed across the state line into Utah. Jordy and me occupied ourselves competing for fastest lap on Mario kart on the Nintendo. I only just won! The Huskies made themselves comfy next to each other and slept. We stopped at San Raphel Swell, a few hours past Grand Junction after driving across the desolate plateaus of Utah, to this now changed scenery of the rocky staircase.

Tanya continued to drive on for a few more hours to Richfield, where we finally leave the long drive on the highway I70, which nearly felt like we were on a roller coaster through Utah as the road is like a moguley mountain run. Not what you think of if you have spent time on the smooth motorways in England.

As the sun set I took over again for the last hour stretch on Route 89 to Hatch, Utah, which is the fun part of the drive with windy roads that are great to make you feel like you’re good enough be a rally racer. We pulled into Tanya’s parents just after 9:30 pm to snack on the best homemade bread from Tanya's mum Lori. After sinking into the cosy sofas and chatting we found ourselves in bed before long and out like a light.

Day Two (1st May 2009): "Utah - Bryce Canyon"
Jordy and me started the day headed out from Tanya’s on the Rhino. A cross between a golf cart and a four-wheeler, an off road golf cart. While Tanya went with her sister and mum shopping as the girls do, we took the Huskies and Tanya’s brother’s boxer Turk, or Turkish as I like to call him, with us. Turk like the Huskies had so much energy too just ran along side. We started with the Huskies chilling in the back and cruised around the open space on dirt trails around the shrubby landscape. After some rallying around we let the Huskies run along side also and wore them out pretty quick in the hot Utah heat. We saw a few Antelope, I was surprised that the Huskies didn’t try and hunt them, as they love to do.

After some fun on the Rhino, we headed over to Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s about a 20-minute drive and we also got to travel through Red Canyon along the way. Really pretty colourful red landscape with amazing shaped rocks and archways that were carved out for the road. We stopped at Ruby’s Inn, established 1916 for tourist to come and stay to see the beautiful Bryce Canyon, which is now visited by over a million tourist a year. We had some burgers and then headed into the canyon. Tanya’s dad is one of the top dogs here and sorted us out with a pass to get into the canyon, which is otherwise a smaller $25 entrance. We drove into the canyon and got a map which marked numerous spots to stop that have look out points along with trails that lead into the canyon. We first stopped at Sunset Point look out and wow what an amazing view. The array of fantastic shapes of fins and Hoodoos, varied in shape with a bright reddish pink colour, which has been carved from the Claron Formation. With time, tall and thin ridges called fins emerge. The Fins then erode into pinnacles and spires called Hoodoos.

There was a short trail that leads down into the canyon called the Navajo Loop. Jordy and me thought it would be a nice short hike to make some good photos and fun for the dogs. A fat lady stopped us rudely, now I put fat lady cause it seems they are miserable and go out of their way to ruin it for others. She wisely stated there was no dogs allowed and that we would be in big trouble if the ranger came. We returned to the rim, not only to see that indeed the fatty had come over and gone out of her way to be a smart ass b***h. As Jordy stated we should have said your going to be in big trouble of you don’t loose some weight. Anyway not to be disheartened we saw the trail that goes all the way around the rim that didn’t have any no dog signs and hiked a short way around the rim of the canyon to give the girls a nice little adventure and make a few more photos.

We then continued on in the car to Bryce Point on the far side, with a higher vantage point. We hiked out to the viewpoint and got some great shots despite the weather coming in and clouding over a little. We stopped a few more times at view points and found some spots to wall out to the edge of the eroding fins and was freaky looking over the edge.

We drove another 9 miles into the park to check out the Natural Bridge, formed by stream as true natural bridges are. More accurately an arch carved by both rain and frost erosion acting from the top of the rock. That was real impressive to see in person.

We stopped again on the way out at Sunset Point and hiked down into the canyon the short 1.3 mile Navajo loop. Seemed more like 3 miles with all the switchbacks and little detours we took to get the pictures along the way we had been delayed from getting earlier.

A storm had been rolling in all afternoon and it had gotten late and kept us from checking out some other hikes and the fact that the girls couldn’t join us due to the anal rule of no dogs on the trail. All in all though we had a great day and felt like real tourist. Hoping on the way to return from Mammoth we will perhaps take a detour via Zion Canyon, which is an even bigger canyon in Utah.

Day Three/Four (2nd-3rd May 2009): "Utah - Rock Crawling"
Thought I would combine these two days as were spent doing the same thing. Saturday we drove an hour just west of Cedar City to Three Peaks, a local training ground and competition spot for Rock Crawling. Tanya’s Dad, a local hero nick-named “Krazy Karl” and also rock crawling World Champion was competing with his team mate Dean Bulloch at the WeRock Rock Crawling Championship, a two day event.

We were slow getting there the first day and arrived around noon. The event had been going for a few hours and when we rocked up it was full on in action. Everywhere I looked there were lots of what are called ‘Rigs’ in the rock crawling world. They are ranged from custom built or modified looking jeeps and Suzuki’s with tons of power and roll cages. For instance like Karl and Dean have a custom built Suzuki Samurai with 90 thousand dollars in modifications. Painted bright yellow, with a big name on it - Zuk 2 -and tons of endorsement stickers from their sponsors. Much like the all the others with great colours and names like ‘Torchmate’ and ‘Detroit Locker’.

There were quite a few rigs just parked up waiting to get on the rock courses. While some were in the middle of the course crawling the rocks or giving it tons of gas revving the engine loud to get up the steep faces and wheels spinning like mad.

We quickly found Krazy and Dean who were in the middle of fixing their Rig from their third course, when they broke the power steering on the rig. Unfortunately they had been sitting in first position until then. Now they sat in 5th.

So basically how it works -They have 8 courses each team has to run, marked out with roped flags and then cones within the course. Each team runs 4 courses each day for a final score and try and make the final on one last stage. Each team has a time of ten minutes to manoeuvre the course around the cones in a specific route and with options for a bonus that is a tougher route. The 6 teams with the lowest scores make finals. Scoring works like this. 1 point for reverse, 10 if you hit a cone or the flagged rope around the course, minus 10 points for the bonus route and then 40 point max for timing out (running out of time to complete the course) or flipping the rig and having to be rolled back over or winched out. One team member drives and the other is called the spotter who guides the driver and moves large rocks and small boulders to help them conquer it and make the steep climbs. Often it comes down to the spotter moving the rocks in the right spots, picking the best route and telling the driver what to do acting like is his eyes, so the driver has to have a lot of trust in the spotter.

I excitedly got the video camera out to film some of the rigs run the courses and tried and catch some rollovers. Which I did and it was awesome. These guys have real talent and I couldn’t believe some the stuff they climbed and crawled over. Jordy ventured off to take photos and after some time of filming, ventured to the BBQ for a braut with peppers and onions. Umm nice.

I eagerly awaited Karl and Deans 4th and final course of the day. It was one I had been watching and was real challenging. I had seen two people roll on it already and three or four time out on it.

They were up with and had a good start. With Dean behind the wheel and Krazy Karl spotting, they manoeuvred the course with great skill and no fault, the middle of the course had a steep face to climb and Krazy moved some large rocks to help in the middle where two steep rock faces met. Dean is a real great driver and they take a slow and steady pace to make their moves, unlike a lot of teams who charge the steep climbs and often roll. They slowly crawled the face and were close to the top and started to slip and slide as the rocks were spit out and crushed by the rig. They slipped down and began again and took a little more momentum and nearly made it then there was a big bang and the ring and pinion broke and they couldn’t complete yet another course for today. Not a good finish to the great start they had had. They had the night to fix the rig up for the following day and still had a good chance to make it to the final the next day with some good runs.

Day two was great weather; Krazy and Dean were off to a good start with the fixed rig two courses complete with few points. The third course was a kind of double and they were doing so great and were finishing on the course taking the hard bonus and as they got up and over to head to the cones to clear the course they timed out. With one course to go, two climbs and a good bonus opportunity. They again had a good start and made one of the hard climbs look easy and headed for the bonus and down knocked a cone for penalty. Damn. Then headed up the second climb with ease to the real tight section of the course to clear the cones and as the time ticked down they had to reverse the rig down the last face and back past the finishing cones… As the timekeeper started counting down from 20 and it didn’t look like they would clear it in time and they were down and headed for the finish and to make it on the last second Dean took another cone out. But they were clear and got a better a lot better score than the full 40.

As the other rigs finished their course we waited to hear if they had made the finals and sadly not this time after a ruff time with the rig. But for the first competition of the year for them it was a good run and we had a blast checking it out, and seeing all the red neck fans drinking beers and cheering on the competitors as they made hard moves, and cleared what seemed impossible rocks to get around or over.

We finished the weekend with Tanya’s brothers and brother-in-law out that night on the four wheeler and the Rhino for some spot light rabbit hunting with twenty twos. Think we officially checked the boxes to really experience some true American redneck joys and what a blast hanging on for dear life with one hand and the rifle in the other as we raced around the sage brush desert landscape on the bumpy trails and dirt tracks at 30 miles an hour. With someone shinning the spot light on the hillsides trying to spot the hiding rabbits and the headlights of the rhino ahead of us. A great finish to our short stay in Utah.

Day Five (4th May 2009): "On The Road Again"
We left fairly early Monday morning from Tanya’s to head for California and Mammoth Lakes. Another seven hours or so on the road, and a route that included taking America’s Extraterrestrial highway, for about 100 miles… We joked about aliens and the hilltops where they land… Saw some army fighter jets and guessed they were chasing aliens. We stopped in Warm Springs, which for some reason was sign posted for and is at the end of the Extraterrestrial highway but see from the pictures it is an abandoned place of not much. We saw some little sand tornados and lots of lonely cattle in the open range along the way once or twice having to slow to watch them slowly make there way over the road.

We arrived in Mammoth at 6 and went to a great spot we had been camping at the year before. Also it was free unlike the Forest Service campgrounds. We set up tents and got a nice fire roaring to heat our hot dogs on with sticks. A fun night and headed to bed hoping the winds would settle as they were gusting pretty badly.

Day Six (5th May 2009): "Cinco De Meyo"
Day 1 - Super Park
I was awake early after probably the worst night sleep and camping experience I can think of in my life.

It was so windy the tent was folding in on us every 20 minutes from the powerful gusts and it didn’t seem to let up not to mention that it was loud, then started slamming raining into the tent that was like hammers hitting nails. Also the fact there were a few fallen trees around already and some dead looking ones near by wasn’t the best sleeping pill. Woke early to wirily drive up to the mountain with the gusty winds and what looked like a cloud barrier surrounded the mountain. I felt like I hadn’t slept since leaving Utah and that it was still the same day, so I was hoping a little that it might be a weather day and be held off till the following day so we could get some real rest hopefully. I rocked up to registration and bumped into some locals from Breckenridge and to my surprise Jenny Jones. Stoked that she had come out for the event. Got my credentials sorted and Pat informed us that indeed it was a weather day and they still had machines in there. I was happy and headed back to relax with the girls and hope for a windless night and some better weather for Tuesday. Had a few cold beers, as it was Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican independence celebration. Made some great food on the campfire, corn on the cob and Tanya put together some Hobo dinners for us, which were amazing. A little Utah tradition - basically Hash Brown’s, veggies and a few burger patties wrapped in tin foil and then buried in the red hot embers of the fire. I recommend it! Good night as my head hits the pillow and I’m asleep.

Day Seven (6th May 2009)
Day 2 - Superpark... or should I say Day 1?!
Blue skies and a slight breeze in the air as we headed into town after great nights sleep and no damn wind attacking us. Refreshed and excited to check out the Superpark! Day one is always for me the most exciting and anticipated to see the set up and different features, which are always a lot more unique than your everyday park.

Stopped in town at the bakery for a quick breakfast croissant and headed up to the base area. As we rode the gondola, which has a great view of the whole frontside of the mountain more towards the frontside in a closed off area, I noticed some large piles of snow and what looked to be some big park feature. We exited the gondola and looking down in the back bowl there wasn’t anything going on, ended up being in a complete different area of the resort. We rolled over some untracked terrain to access the park and made some fun turns on the sun baked new snow. As we rolled down it seemed there were a few different runs to choose from and standing by the Gatorade refreshment stand where some eager Japanese photographers pointing us in the right direction.

We rolled around the corner and saw the first two features. Down in front was a large 60-70 foot true looking table and on the run next to it a huge huge hip. Like they had had the year before. As tempting as it was to hit the jump, I did the smart thing and checked it out riding over the table. We carried on down to the second jump. It was a channel gap with a long take off and big wall in front to clear to the landing. At the drop in it looked like a jump through the trees and run that wound down through the trees, more on that on day three. Went on down past the channel gap where it opened out at the bottom to a real wide run. On the left looking down there was a big area with coolers, filled with an endless supply of Gatorade and a huge grill. Basically the chill out zone with some chairs and waxing facilities in the tent. Just down past in the middle of the run was a massive kicker feature with three different take offs. Two smaller fun-size 25foot or so jumps and then cut out in the middle of the two was the main feature that was a huge jump with a big cut out behind the take off and then onto the roll over knuckle. Down past that was a big feature that Loon mtn had made that had a red metal cut out of the state New Hampshire and large letters in the middle of it reading ‘Live Free or Die’. Pretty rad to ride and air over, tap or use it as a hip. Over on the other side was yet another feature that Mammoth had made, hard to describe but basically a few different level platforms with small quarter on top and rail to trick on and then drop off gap on the far side to air over. With four different ways to get up to and then on the corner was also a large sign feature to air up and bong to the quarter style landing. Guess just check out the pics. Wow and that is not it and will mention the other feature to come.

At the bottom was Chair 4, a high-speed quad lift that lapped us back to the top in 4 minutes, figuring hence the name Chair 4. This was already an improvement to last year. So from here on the rush started with that first lap of hitting some of the features and then it was time to start throwing down. I hooked with friend and local ripper from Breck, Eric Willet, to lap and test the jumps. First is always the hard, am I too fast, too slow, is the wind going to blow me past the landing or make me come up short? The wind was a little gusty today as well which is always a factor and when it’s changing so much a pain. We looked and watched and hoped maybe to see another rider hit the first table, the true style we spotted first. After some pondering Eric stepped up and said f**k it and dropped. He went pretty straight and looked good. I followed shortly behind and did a good size straight air over the table and landed in the sweet spot, heart pumping and it felt good. Next the channel and another Breck local, Madison, stepped up dropping in to make some big set ups and shot over the table and looked like he went deep on the landing. Eric dropped and I followed taking some good speed and we both flew over and Eric went pretty deep and I landed about halfway down. The landing was short and had a good compression at the bottom, it seemed like it didn’t match the take off and kind of fell out from under us. We stopped laughing with adrenaline and I thought this is going to be fun. Went down past the big one in the middle and hit the Mammoth box feature and gap. Lap two over the true table and channel feeling good and the wind wasn’t too bad. Now we stopped on the side to hit the big guy in the middle, probably about an 85-foot table, which looked like you got some good height off. Eric goes “you think you can make from here?” I replied “maybe”, but looking down at the jump as the large flags on the landing blew pretty I was unsure. Before I knew it Eric was off, followed by Sage a younger ripper from Mammoth. Eric sent it and went high off the jump over past the knuckle what looked like the spot to land I hoped. Off I was pumped and pointing it straight, put a little check and then I was off. Wow. Amazing. The best feeling flying over the jump seeing the knuckle in the distance, I came down just passing the knuckle to a high sweet spot. Oh boy that was it that was the jump and knew it would get the hell sessioned out of it. From there on the day continued in much the same fashion lapping with Eric and a few others hitting the True table and channel and then the big one at the bottom. A few runs later we were spinning the jumps with 3’s, 5’s and 7s. Hooked up with Cory, the owner of Smith Optics, and JP, the new Team Manager to shoot some photos and do some follow cams that was fun. Hooked up with Jenny Jones and did some runs and hit the Channel with her a few times. That was sketchy though lost the fun with it being easy to over shoot. Then as the wind picked up we stopped for lunch at the tent area and got some great burgers and I loaded mine with the works. A little breather and then it was back to lapping the jumps. A sweet first day at Superpark. Jordy kept busy moving around shooting us on the different jumps along with some other standouts like Chas Guldemond, Eric Willet and Blaze. Around 4 we started to loose steam and heard that the monster was going to get hit. The monster being Loon Mountains jump feature. Simply the biggest step-down I have ever seen. About 110 to knuckle and 30 feet high. A little optical illusion with how they cut out behind the jump, but a scary looking jump and to be honest, big jumps don’t scare me like that one did. We rolled down to check it out from the side up hill of the monster. Some guys rode into and slipped but waited awhile until out of know where this guy comes in cutting wide hard nearly hitting a camera dude and fly’s off doing none less than the biggest back rodeo!! WOW> Insane massive! The rider was Semone Miller, none other than Bode Millers brother. Continued to watch as Pat Moore floated some backside 180’s over it and then Jonas Carlson from DC did some ridiculous backside 720’s over it!

Wow nearly 6 o’clock and that was day one. Pumped and happy to leave with my knee feeling pretty good and a few shots in the bag. Thankfully my amazing girl had been back to the campsite packed up and got us all sorted at the local hotel in town. Happy to head down to a bed and a shower after not having one for 3 days. Nice!

Day Eight (7th May 2009)
Day 2 - Superpark
Day two started bad with a follow run into the true table first jump and the oh boy he was slow. I had to check to be sure not to hit him, as I follow off the jump and land a couple of feet short of the landing on the table my knee pops. Ouch. It was sore and I was bummed same front knee I hurt on the step up before headed out for SP. But now the outside hurt too.

A few more runs and it was tough. The wind got worse then I knuckled the big one and that was it. I called it, sore and tired. Went to chill out and watch some riders hit the bottom feature and then early finish to day two and time to go ice and rest for hopefully a better day 3. Jordy stayed on and got some good sunset shots on the huge hip and wasn’t back till nearly 8pm.

Day Nine (8th May 2009)
Day 3 - Superpark and My Girl's Birthday
Feeling better and rested, day three started with some presents for the girl and a good breakfast at the bakery of lots of pastries and a little piece of cake with a mouse on top… Not a real one, a cute one made of a cherry and chocolate of course.

We headed up and she joined us to, to film the day. The wind was pretty mellow and they had salted the big Mammoth jump at the bottom. We shot on that and filmed it for the morning. Got some good shots and footage of some frontside 7’s. Happy with that we chilled for some lunch and then headed down and took photos on the square multi-feature. I was tail tapping the sign to back 1 and got some nice shoots. Filming it didn’t work out. Save it for tomorrow. A real stand out the last few days has been Jenny Jones showing absolute skills on the large show time booter at the bottom with 3’s, 5’s and then later on I’m sure I saw some 7s out of her! Impressive stuff. Tanya headed back to the car to play with the girls and I headed up to the Loon monster session. It was going off. I wanted to hit it and hesitated awhile, then rode into it for speed, you had to be moving to clear this jump and man the height you were when in the air. Damn! I felt slow and slid up the side of the jump. Nervous and a little scared I head to the side and watched Eric Willet through down some nice 5’s and 9s and then DC’s heavy hitter Lonnie Kauk just destroyed this thing with effortless cab 7’s back sevens and then into a Cab 12. The landing looked heavy and I was put off with my knee being so weak. Hooked up James Fredrick and a Breck filmer to check out the tree gap jumps. I had hit the smaller one earlier and we took a lap through the small one, fun but you had to hit it on an edge as it was at a funny angle. We were eying up the bigger one and saw Pat Moore and Chas looking it over. Watched them hit and then got on in on the session hiking it with them. Pretty big wedge that we hit on the left side to split two trees and then drop out of the sky to a short landing that was a little flat. It was good rush and fun to shred with Pat and Chas who were encouraging. Straight aired over it first then did a few backside 180 melons through the gap and got a real good one-second try. Heavy as hell landing and I was done. Jordy got the shot and was keen to head over to the hip session that was just starting.

Headed round to the hip like last years but instead of backside it was a frontside one. The drop in was long and Pat Bridges sat near by watching closely. There was a good load of riders just getting warmed up and I hopped in it, the tranny was long to the top and was crazy. It shot you out the top feeling like nearly straight up into the sky. I boosted a good 10 feet or so air and then on my third time flying into it with enough speed, hit a rut got wiggly and flew out right onto the top of the deck, landed on the pads which helped with the pain impact on my knee and was bounced back. I was done for the day and ready to go get some good food and drink for Tanya’s birthday. We headed back to the hotel got cleaned up and headed out to the Sushi Rei in Mammoth as we both love Sushi and they had specials for the Superpark riders. We got a ton of rolls between us and of course plenty of Sake. Great relaxed night, good food and drink and bed.

Day Ten (9th May 2009)
Day 4 - Superpark Final Day and On The Road Again
Started as Usual.
Morning stroll.
Organic bakery today. Coffee and Croissant.
Back to hotel pack and load the car.
Not before the mischievous Huskies nudged the door open.
Escaping for a wild run.
Drove around.
Drove some more.
Headed to the spot they had run to last year.
They were there. Get in the car!
Hotel again and check out.
Up to Superpark.
Filmed and shot the first true table and bottom one.
Some bad falls.
Big Bears Huge bowl feature and hip.
Skate lines in the bowl on the board.
Jumping some more.
A few 9s and some snow snakes.
Sore knee, tough landings.
Good crashes.
Painful knee.
Burgers for lunch.
Got the sign shot on film.
Didn’t want to leave.
It was late.
Good bye Superpark.
How I will miss you.
Packed the car up.
Drivers seat again.
Goodbye Mammoth and thank you.
On the road again.
California, Nevada, Utah and onto Colorado.
Not before Vegas.
Bright lights, Money, Outlandish buildings and too many people.
In N Out Burger.
The best all natural fast food.
I didn’t need that shake too.
The Strip in traffic. Jordy took a million photos.
Sleep it’s late.
Wake, Eat.
Back to the road.
Colorado driving fast.
HOME… home sweet home.

What a trip! I had the best time and enjoyed it with the ups and downs. Huge thanks to Mammoth for having Superpark, Mammoth, Loon and Big Bear for the building. Snowboarder Mag, Pat Bridges, Jordy for all the photos, Lori and Karl Munford for their hospitality and Tanya for all the support. The Huskies for being amazing travellers and only going on one adventure.

Thanks for reading. Nate Kern.
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Comments (2)  
  Page: 1 of 1     
 *snowangel (18/06/2009 @ 21:09)
Sweet blog!
 fatbob (12/06/2009 @ 11:46)
Nice blog. More of the same come winter?
  Page: 1 of 1     
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