Yack Attack and Cleaning the Clack
I have been working on improving my kayak roll in dynamic conditions. With a free day, warm weather, and our Yak Attack White Water kids camp wrapping up, I decided to tag along. The plan was to float Barton to Carver on the Clackamas, an easy stretch of class two with clean eddies and some fun splashy drops. This makes it our favorite training ground for beginner to intermediate paddlers.
After meeting at the takeout we loaded up and made our way to the put in, Barton Park. As we pulled in we were the only people in the park. The kids were tired after four days on the water with Ethan. That is relatively tired.
As soon as we started getting ready they were eager to get on the water. After applying sunscreen and parking the vehicles it was time to launch. A few minutes were spent warming up. To get limber we did a little stretching before doing some easy attainments and a cross stream ferry. If you don’t know, attainment is when you make way upstream against the current. This is achieved by using momentum to hop from eddy to eddy so you don’t wear yourself out just paddling against the current. It also requires good boat control and an efficient forward stroke. Once we felt limber it was time to float down river.
On the River
The first major rapid is arguably my favorite on the entire run. It is a nice drop with a large eddy river left and a few smaller eddies river right. I caught the first of those smaller eddies and took some pictures as everyone paddled by. It was so cool to see the young boaters working on their skills. They were catching eddies, ferrying across, doing s-turns!
All with big grins on their faces. As we hung out a few other river folk started floating by. It was a good day to be on the river. After some more fun it was time continue our journey. We floated through the next rapid, charging through the waves into the calmer current below.
Farther on there was a shelf river right where we landed to do some swimming. Everyone jumped off the bank into the water. Some of the kids did spins or flips before splashing into the water. As we floated back downstream to our boats we practiced our defensive swimming position with nose and toes in the air. Then it was back in the boats and moving on to loving rocks. As we worked on skills and made our way down river there was a flash that caught my eye, a beer can on the bottom. Leaning forward I was able to grab the can and stash it in my boat. Ten feet later there was a second, then a third. One of the coaches for the day, Alex, started picking them up as well. We started keeping an eye out for more.
We stopped on the river bank to have lunch. After eating and relaxing for half an hour we jumped back onto the river. I wanted to practice my roll but prefer staying upright in my kayak, funny right. To achieve this I started trying to do stern squirts in my kayak, an old Necky Jive. By practicing a new skill I hoped
I would flip over naturally and be forced to practice my roll. It ended up not working as well as I hoped. I kept bracing and never flipped over, but it was still a lot of fun. Then Alex found two cans in a row and said he was ahead. Game on!
Every time I saw a can or bottle in the water I would reach down and pick it up. These cans were deeper than the first few. Not a problem. I flipped over, stretched down and grabbed the can. Time to practice the roll! Setup, sweep, snap.
Like a dog with too many toys I was paddling all over the river, flipping over to grab a can or bottle, then rolling upright to stash it under my skirt before finding the next. Soon I was paddling upstream to get back to ones I had passed over. As time progressed so did the group, and my boat filled with garbage. Soon I was full and my skirt bulged with the contents hidden inside.
It was an incredible day on the water. I had so much fun watching the kids in the Yak Attack Kids Camp charge the river and having a blast. It was also great to find a way to practice my roll over and over again. Giving myself the goal of picking things up off the bottom of the river not only made it fun but forced me to set up after flipping. The whole experience was a great reminder of what it means to be a paddler. Respect the river and have fun!