The Pau Hana crew started off the 2016 season with an adventure up to Colorado to support their athletes at the GoPro Mountain Games.
The Pau Hana crew hauled our way up to Moab, Utah as our first rest stop from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Moab being as beautiful as it is, makes it difficult for finding a camp site last minute. After visiting nearly every campground in the city, we eventually did find a campground on the Colorado river that was near empty. We soon found out why. There were mosquitos everywhere.
We realized the reason no one was there as soon as we opened the van door. We were swarmed by mosquitoes who acted more like bees that just had their hive kicked from their tree. Knowing that there was nowhere else to camp and with daylight quickly slipping away, we manically made the largest fire we could to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
The next morning we woke early to find that we actually didn’t have nearly as many mosquito bites as we had thought. After packing up our equipment, we drove on to arches National Park. Even though it was crowded, the hike to see the delicate arch is definitely something everyone who is visiting or driving through Utah should go see.
For the last few years, GoPro, and before that Teva, have put on a series of extreme outdoor games that take place in the alpine disney-like city of Vail, Colorado. At the event, the top competitors in slack-lining, mud racing, axe throwing, rock climbing, dog jumping, trail running, freestyle mountain biking, kayaking, and of course stand up paddle boarding come to compete at one of the largest outdoor competitions in the world. This year Pau Hana team riders Dane Jackson, Nick Troutman, Christian Edie, Elaine Campbell, Jeff Campbell, and Kevin Cullen drove up to compete in the competition.
Seeing the opportunity to test new board shapes, we had begun work on two prototypes for whitewater river runs a few weeks prior to the start of the competition. Pau Hana founder, Todd Caranto, had a few ideas he wanted to test out on the river after visiting Bend, OR standing wave. So, after making the prototypes and lining them with truck-bed liner for protection we jammed them in the sprinter van and were ready to go to Colorado.
Even if you’re not into the games, there was still plenty to do. The entire town of Vail becomes jammed with people during the weekend of the games. There is an entire section of town cleverly named “gear town” where vendors come to showcase the newest products in the outdoor industry. If walking around doesn’t sound like too much fun then you can always just grab a beer and find some seating by “the hole” where you can watch the best freestyle kayakers in the world just playing around before their competitions. There was also awesome rock climbing walls and slack line courses where it seemed like all the competitors were literally defying gravity. As if that’s not enough, just listening to the commentator, Ken Hoeve, the local weatherman and SUP athlete of Vail, as he cracks endless jokes about everything happening around the games. As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Marley’s son, Steven Marley, came out and had a free show for the games.
The stand up paddle board events are fun to watch, but definitely the SUP cross is the most fun because of the carnage. You have several guys on the whitewater at the same time battling it out and crashing into one another. It makes it the least unpredictable as far as who will win.
Since there were no stand up paddling events the first two days of the games, the Pau Hana crew and team riders spent that time acclimatizing to the high altitude and practicing their whitewater skills at Gore Creek, the river that runs through Vail Village. One of the prototypes that we have temporarily nicknamed the “warthog” after its short, stout, and grisly method of construction worked perfectly for riding white water. We also grabbed a slack line and keyword here, “attempted” to walk across it. Of course, it is a little more difficult when you have to try to balance a beer in one hand.
We couldn’t help but to feed in to our nostalgia from the previous year’s surf session at the Glenwood wave in Glenwood Springs, CO. So, the day after the event ended, we headed back to an unofficial potluck at the Glenwood Wave with most of the same athletes from the games coming to relax after several days of strenuous competition. Beers, brats, and enjoying the surf made for the perfect Pau Hana time to end the trip.
Besides having a ridiculously fun time at the GoPro Mountain games, we got some important feedback on the river boards that are in development. Now that we’re back from the games we’re going to make another river board prototype with the suggestions we got from our athletes to make it more maneuverable and stable. Our athletes that competed did a mind blowing job at the event and we had the best time hanging out with them all in Vail.
Keep an eye out for the new river board for the 2017 season which will be armored by our Ricochet Impact Resistant Technology and ready to surf standing waves and go down the gnarliest whitewater features around. If you haven’t paddled out on the river yet then go check out for places to launch and take out and get going on the river. You’ll get addicted to the thrill of it.
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