Sunday 26 September 2021
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Waterfalls are the place where kayaking truly enters the vertical world. Similar to smaller drops they are caused by water flowing over a rock ledge or shelf. The difference with a waterfall though is that they are bigger and as such carry their own challenges and concerns. Waterfalls can be the ultimate adventure playground for kayakers however, they can also be extremely dangerous and not safe to paddle at all. Treat them with respect.

Learn how to paddle waterfalls with experienced kayakers and treat them as you would any other rapid. Assess them carefully, built up from easier more simple, often smaller falls to larger more complex ones as you become more experienced and skilled.

One of the most important skill sets you will need to run a waterfall is judgement. You need to be able to look at a drop and understand it. You then need to be honest with yourself and your skills. Waterfalls can be some of the most exciting features for kayaking. However you must make sure you are capable of running the drops you choose and have good safety set up.

When you are attempting waterfalls for the first time, try a drop that is safe enough to jump off without a kayak first. As a rule of thumb don’t boof drops over 20 feet and be careful if your not sure of the depth of the bottom pool.

Have fun but be careful out there. If in doubt, Walk!, seek additional advice or gain more experience. You can always go back another day.

Waterfalls, Gorilla waterfall on the Green River Narrows NC. Paddler: Taylor Barker, picture by Jez