REAL Team in the Gorge

Some of the REAL Kite Team traveled to the Hood River Gorge to compete in the 2nd Wind and Slider Projects Slider Jam. This is a recap of their travels. Be sure to check out the video and slide show.

By: Claire Lutz

Bryan Elkus pulled into my driveway at 2:32am for the ride to the airport. My bags were packed, waiting by the door. For the next two hours, Naish Pro-rider Sam Bell and I traded off resting our heads on each other’s shoulder until we pulled into the parking garage at the Norfolk airport. The yellow glow and hum from the fluorescent lighting in the parking garage made everything feel surreal.

The REAL team went through security checkpoints, took off shoes and beeped through scanners… all the while attempting to pretend we were still in our beds. We boarded the flight and nestled into our seats in a race to pass out before the in-flight movie could trap us with a terrible plot.

The Team awoke to clouds parting as our plane descended into the Pacific-Northwest. Every ounce of exhaustion and angst was immediately blown away as our plane banked into its final turn and the magnificent Mount Hood came rotating into view.

By: Laura Vroman

Upon arriving in Hood River, Oregon I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty the area possessed. We were surrounded by mountains (some with waterfalls) and had the river to our left. Everything seemed so “untouched” it was hard to believe there was a thriving town in the middle.

The riding spot was located on a sand bar in the river. The view from the sand bar included Washington State, river side train tracks, the Hood River Bridge and occasionally a giant barge; huge difference from the REAL Slick. The people were just as nice as the area was beautiful. Everyone welcomed us with open arms. There was definitely the small town vibe that we are used to in Hatteras.

By: Sam Bell

2nd Wind and the Slider Project put on a great freeride event. From the minute we got there the stoke factor was out of this world. Everyone was working together to get the final touches done. The REAL team all got to work to help out the guys that have already been grinding for months. The Slider Project had built a new fun box and you could tell everyone was ready to shred it. It was a blast to go somewhere different and ride other people’s creations for a change. All the riders had amazing sessions on all of the sliders.

You really have to give the gorge crew credit for making a slider park out there. The conditions vary so much with the water being different levels, the wind cranking and two river currents coming together.

By: Brandon Scheid

The first time at the Sandbar in Hood River, OR thousands of questions enter ones mind; where do I launch, what’s with the current, is it cold, what size kite do I ride, and what’s with that huge barge? Part of any kite trip is to get outside of your kiteboarding comfort zone.

Going from Cape Hatteras to the Gorge definitely put the REAL Team to the test. After talking to a few of the locals and getting the scoop it was time to ride, the new problem was paying attention to kiting when there are so many new things to see and experience. Don’t let the beauty distract you; you always have to be on the watch for stumps, rocks, and the occasional waist high river swell.

The scene at the Sandbar is really unique, they have sliders, flat water, and a lot of great people. Being able to pump up your kite and walk out onto a sandbar in the middle of the river is awesome. It offers the ability go kiting in a very party-like atmosphere every session. I can only compare it to the vibe during a Kite Point pool party. The best part about kiting in the gorge is that it’s only one piece of what makes Hood River one of the coolest spots in the world.

By: Bryan Elkus

Apart from the scenic and fun kite sessions to be had, the gorge has a lot of other activities to offer. The REAL crew dove in head first to experience all that the Gorge had to offer. There was the most amazing skate park most of us had ever seen in person, and it was only a block away from our house. The REAL Team rode the skate park nearly every day. It was a huge concrete park with a deep Mickey Mouse bowl, snake path, wall rides and nearly every other feature you could think of. The park supplied everyone with endless lines and possibilities.

On one of the light wind days the REAL Team joined up with the 2nd Wind and Trew crews to head up to Mt. Hood for a snowboard session. Trew drove all of us up to the mountain in their RV. It turned out to be a beautiful clear day a top the mountain.

The highlight of the trip was the mountain biking. Jake and Joby Cook lead us through the craziest downhill runs full of steep paths, narrow bridges over water, rocks, jumps and other wooden obstacles. Everyone had a blast and better yet everyone made it out relatively unscathed. The gorge was a great place to kite and do some different activities but were all pretty glad to be back to the steady and consistent winds in Cape Hatteras.

By: Jason Slezak

Having the REAL Team in the Gorge for the 2nd Wind/Slider Project Slider Jam event was awesome! I had been traveling to the Hood River, OR and the Columbia River Gorge almost every summer since 2001 and had always traveled there solo, but this year was different.

The REAL crew consisted of Sam Bell, Bryan Elkus, Claire Lutz, Brandon Scheid, Laura “Lulu” Vroman, and myself. It was great to see the excitement on each of their faces as we drove out of Portland and into the wind funneling Columbia River Gorge. From the first sight of the Hood River sandbar and kites in the air, the REAL Team was ready to hit the water. Coming from Cape Hatteras everything is different in the Gorge, fresh water instead of salt water, rocks instead of sand, a RIVER instead of the ocean, scenic snowcapped mountains in view while you ride, trees, and hills!

The REAL Team went off! From everyone helping with the event, to riding every day, going out at night, and enjoying the Gorge to the fullest. The 2nd Wind & The Slider Project crews were both appreciative of all the help and smiling faces from Cape Hatteras.

Props to Pepe from 2nd Wind, and The Slider Project crew; Forest, Joby Cook, Jake Cook, Dylan Thompson, Ian Daley, Nate Appel and the rest of the crew (you know who you are). The REAL team will definitely be looking forward to heading out to the next slider jam these guys put on.

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