August 21, 2003

Skunk Day

Today looked like it was going to be another skunk day, which would have been a drag because yesterday was also a skunk day. Skunk days have nothing to do with skunks and everything to do with wind. There’s an old Gorge saying that goes, “When it doesn’t blow, it sucks.” When it isn’t windy in the Gorge we get skunked.

When we get skunked on our day off from work we cry. Fortunately I was sitting at the computer in the shop all day taking thick draughts of carpel tunnel, so I wasn’t too bummed that the wind was down. Nevertheless, I checked the wind conditions every ten minutes just to make sure I wasn’t missing any fun. I wasn’t, until 2:00 when someone turned the spigot and it was suddenly blowing 15 mph at the Event Site. The wind went from one to fifteen in twenty minutes, and was holding steady. “C’est la Gorge,” we often say, which is French for “It’s the shit.”

And it is. Screw work, there was wind to be had! I grabbed a North Defender 150 kiteboard from the rental shop, swung by my house to pick up Motoshi, and cranked the Green Dragon on down to the Sandbar. Motoshi spent most of his time teaching Mike’s son how to kiteboard, so I was pretty much on my own the entire afternoon. I did really well keeping the kite flown, and I only threw my control bar at the kite twice (quack … quack … BLAMBLAMBLAM … bwe-dop-buh-doo-buh-dop!). Pretty soon that dog is gonna have to find another line of work, cuz I’m workin’ this sucker in the hiz-ouse. Blow up!

I got up on the Defender, which is impressive in its own right because simply getting the kiteboard on your feet while trying to keep your kite flown is an art in itself. I had some pretty good rides, nailed a few turns and managed to stay upwind fairly well. I also nearly killed a family building sand castles.

Then there was my Obligatory Gauntlet of Pain. The wind had picked up and Motoshi had just returned from a run with my Naish Boxer 9. I had been running on a Wipika 6.5 meter kite, but figured I could handle a bit more juice. Motoshi launched the kite for me, but I forgot to check the power level on the control lines (which Motoshi had cranked up to eleven). I immediately got yanked up in the air and skittered fifteen feet across the sandbar before returning to the ground. The leash for emergency depowering got caught in my harness so the kite stayed powered up, threw me to the ground and dragged me twenty feet through the sand before crashing. When all was said and done, I had long red scrapes across my torso, bloody sand-filled wounds under my arm, grains of sand stuck between my teeth and a punctured leading edge.

Motoshi was concerned about whether I was ok or not. I was concerned about how cool the last four seconds of my life just were. I untangled my lines, launched the kite and went out boarding for another half-hour. We finished around 7:00 as the wind and sun were busy winding down. Lately the forests around the town of Sisters have been busy burning down, too, and they made for a beautiful sunset.