July 2019 Full Immersion Whitewater 1

Every paddler has to start somewhere.

Almost exactly a year ago, I found myself in the same position as the eight students who joined us this July for a weekend of learning how to kayak in swift water.  My own experiences led me to buy my own boat and paddle relentlessly all over Oregon and Southern Washington. One year later I found myself right back where it all began, paddling from Barton Park to Carver Park on the Clackamas River, but this time I got to be the one giving pointers to the new paddlers.

After an evening of playing around in the North Clackamas Aquatic Center, we found ourselves on the Clackamas for two days of building skills on the water.  Some were a bit more nervous than others, but everybody was stoked just to spend a weekend outside.

Paddle on the Mighty Clackamas River

The course as a whole is very educational and each skill builds upon the last, but the real fun takes place on Sunday when we get to run the river!  The day begins with some practice ferries across the river and then we approach our first rapid of the day.  After scouting and discussing the features we will be coming across, we hit the water.  Huge smiles from everybody the whole way down and not a single flip.

A little further down the river we came across some rocks that were perfect to run right into.  As whitewater paddlers, we have to learn to love rocks because without them there would be no rapids to run.  After giving the rocks a big hug, some of the students paddled out into the middle of the river where there was a perfect wave to learn to surf.  Everybody who took the challenge crushed it, and we also saw our first swimmers of the day.  They came to the surface with ear-to-ear grins, emptied their boats and got right back at it.

At the end of the day, every student has the basic skills needed to run class II whitewater – a pretty big accomplishment considering where we all started.

Tyler O’Donnell 

Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe

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Whitewater Kayak I

By Brian Cornelison Kayak Classes