Monday 26 July 2021
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How to push yourself safely

Progression is a key aspect in all realms of whitewater kayaking. A playboater looks to stick the newest

moves, just as a creekboater looks to run a new river or drop. Doing so safely is the key to being able to

continue this progression in the long run.

Everyday things you can do to push yourself safely:

Class II-III moves made Class V

I cannot stress enough the importance of honing every move, every eddy, and every attainment can

feasibly do on a class II, III, or IV stretch of river. Micro moves are what makes macro moves easy and

safe. With a little bit of creativity, you can find just about any variation of challenging moves on your

local “flat-ish” stretch of river. While attending college in Atlanta, GA, I made a point to capitalize on

the 10-20 feet per mile gradient on the Metro Hooch section of the Chattahoochee River. By doing

attainments, tempo sprints, and slot moves, I not only got into great shape for racing, but I also taught

myself micro-control moves that come in handy when I need them on creeks.

Class 2 attainment moves can be harder than class 5 downriver moves. With this being said, the

consequences are obviously lesser doing the class 2 attainments. Point being: one can hone difficult-

level skills in a safe environment. Moreover, these safer environments are easier to find and routinely

visit for the majority of the US metro and suburban population. I am not suggesting that you stay in

town over the weekend to do attainments. Rather, attainments are a great way to get out mid-week

before and after work.

Just as other athletes weight-lift and train, to experience your full potential as a whitewater kayaker

you must boat often and with intensity towards honing skills. This does not mean to go huck yourself off

of the most difficult rapids you can safely run all of the time. It can be daunting and quite inefficient to

hone skills on very difficult whitewater. Whether it be a local class 2 stretch close to where you live or a

semi-local class 2-3 (4) stretch where you can take routine weekend reprieves from daunting steep creek

sections, do consider utilizing these stretches as training grounds. Training can be really fun!

The Chattooga River is my backyard training ground. Here are a few moves I will share with you:

New Rivers and Rapids

While stars may align for a certain river to be run on a day you may not be working, this does not mean

that the river has to be run on that given day. The river is not going anywhere. You may consider taking

a step back to consider a few things that can help good decisions to be made before and during your

paddle down a new river / tougher stretch.

A few things to consider…

1. Who’s on your team?

a. Creek boating is a team sport. We may make our own direct decisions on the water, but

b. Does everyone have at least a throw rope?

c. What are the strengths a weaknesses of your group?

having a symbiotic support crew to watch your back is essential.

d. Be honest with your crew about your skills and weaknesses. In return, expect honesty from

i. Will the weaknesses be safe on the river / in the wilderness?

ii.At the very least, will the strengths be able to take care of the weaknesses in a

tough situation?

your crew. Otherwise be blunt about any safety concerns. Issues come when someone

overstates their abilities.

2. Beta: Information is essential

a. Maps: finding the take out and put in can be half the trouble of getting down a creek. Make

b. River Info: knowing where the point of no return on that 200 foot un-runnable waterfall is

c. Scout often if you are not sure. Whether it be a new alien run or a familiar section, make

3. What is ego? What is reward?

sure to do your research by the day before you plan to run a creek so that valuable daylight

is not wasted driving back and forth on dirt roads.

the most important information you can know before putting on a run. Do your homework.

sure to scout if you have any questions about a drop or section. It may take an extra 5-30

minutes, but it could save your life. Nothing makes my gut churn more than reminiscing

on a few scenarios similar to this process: on the fence about scouting, decided to scout,

found a massive tree across the river at the bottom. Decisions made on creeks are very

important. Never let ego or time get in the way of making good decisions.

At some point most seasoned kayakers will come to know the meaning of this question.

While whitewater kayaking is very fun and creates many social benefits to those who

participate in this great sport, it can be rather dangerous. In my opinion, the more honest

a kayaker is on his/her skills, goals, and motives, the more likely that kayaker will enjoy this

great sport for many years to come. Three points I consider in this statement:

a. Rivers/rapids rarely change and will almost always be there another day.

b. No matter how good of a kayaker, safety expert, or swimmer a human can be,

that person can only hold their breath for a short amount of time. (accidents

may not be controllable, but decisions are almost always controllable)

c. What is the risk/reward? This is a personal decision for each individual kayaker.

i. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” –Socrates

ii. Counter-Question: Why do we as human beings feel the need

to potentially risk life and limb for something with such little

utilitarian value?

iii. Counter-counter: There is utility in examining life thoroughly.

Therefore there is a solid means to saying there is a reward for

risk. (This is the personal decision part)

d. -When considering the act of taking on risk: Kayak for yourself. Not for how cool

of a video or photo it may make.

-When considering why you are taking on such said risks: consider those who

love you and what they would have to say.

Most importantly: have fun and be safe, but do weigh those important factors. What is fun and safe is

the goal.