Monthly Archives: December 2010

Whitewater Rafting Cargo Nets: the better way to tie down a load

For the past couple of decades I’ve been tying down my rear raft load the old-fashioned way. I’d pile dry bags in vertical positions, stuff roll-up tables and chairs along the outside, then create a web of straps spanning the tops and weaving in and out of the dry bag handles until I was sure the bags wouldn’t come out if I ever flipped the raft.

I was aware that by creating this web I was also creating a hazard. If I ever got caught under the boat and somehow got my foot wedged into the web, it could become a lethal foot entrapment. Not to mention walking onto the raft from the rear was hazardous for tripping.

I tried different tie down methods but always ended up just using the straps. I didn’t think there was another way until my in-laws bought me an NRS cargo net.

Of course, rafting cargo nets have been around for a long time but I always assumed they weren’t very reliable. However,after using the rafting nets last season I became a believer. Not only are they incredibly easy to use, they are very effective at keeping all the gear inside the raft, even if the raft is upside down.

No, I didn’t test that last statement myself, but a friend of mine did. He put in on the Illinois river a few days after we did, and actually flipped his 14 foot raft in the green wall (a notorious raft flipper).

By the time the raft was put into its normal upright position, it had been inverted for about a half hour. It had gone through whitewater, been slammed into walls and been wedged on rocks but not one bag from under the cargo net came out. I was impressed and happy to know that my new cargo net could be used on even the gnarliest rivers.

How to use the Cargo Net

Of course you can’t just throw the net over the top of the bags and hope for the best. You have to actually tie the net to the raft.

The way I do this is simple. I place the net over the bags then connect a long piece of strap or rope to the very back of the raft frame. Then I weave the line through the bottom edge of the net and through the safety rope I have strung around the raft. This secures the net to the raft without leaving any gaps. I keep weaving the rope until I’ve reached the very back of the raft, and tighten and tie off the strap.

Then I do the exact same thing on the other side. When that’s done I secure the net to the frame directly behind the rowers’ seat with some short straps.

If I’m doing a river trip on an easier river, like the Rogue, I don’t weave the line as many times through the net. This makes the process easier and makes getting to the bags at the end of the day easier too.

I’ve always thought the rafting cargo nets were kind of cheesy and actually useless, but now that I’ve used them and seen them in action, I’d never go back to my old ways. What am I gonna do with all those extra straps?

Mt. Ashland: Opening Day of Ski season

On Friday December 3rd Mt. Ashland opened the slopes and cranked up the lifts for the earliest opening since 2002. As luck would have it, I had that day off, so me and my wife headed to the mountain.

The upper chairlift, Ariel, wasn’t open so the lines at Windsor chair lift got kind of long, but since it was Friday they never got horrendous.

The skiing was terrific. We weren’t there until about an hour after opening so there wasn’t much untracked powder to be had, but there are always stashes here and there if you know where to find it. Were locals, we know all the spots.

We skied hard and my legs are still feeling the abuse days later. The snow was light all day with the temperature never rising above 28 degrees. The powder was about a foot deep with a nice solid base beneath. The turns were effortless, truly “hero snow” conditions.

The best run of the day was traversing over towards Ariel and skiing the untracked swaths of powder on Dream. There were many 30 to 40 foot sections of untracked powder; Melyssa and I ate em up.

Once all that was skied out we started staying closer to the Windsor chair lift. Chair-line of Windsor was very good. Darting in and out of the trees on the left made for some spectacular face shots as I’d burst back onto the main run through the trees. It also ended in one epic crash. My ski released and was only a couple of feet above me, but the snow was so deep, it took a lot of effort to travel the short distance.

I ended the day by skiing over to the south side and skiing, “the void”, aka, “the worm hole.” I don’t usually venture into this area this early in the season because there’s a lot of fallen timber and it takes a lot of snow to fully cover the wood. I took it slow, though and stayed out of the deepest parts of the trees and was pleasantly surprised at how much coverage there is. It was deep and very light, a great run to end the day on.

This is the first year in 3 years that my family actually bought season passes to Mt. Ashland. The early season and the great conditions make me happy we did. If things keep going the way they’ve been going, we’ll definitely get our moneys worth.

The upper chairlift, Ariel opened for the weekend, but we didn’t ski. Hopefully we’ll get up there sometime in the next few days and hit the stuff off the upper chair.

Yeeha! ski season is upon us and I’m stoked for a great upcoming year. Mt Ashland Lives!!