Kiss the rock

Novice whitewater training with the YCCC, June 19-21, 2004

Some other bunch of paddlers heading down the lower set.

Some other bunch of paddlers heading down the lower set.

Scouting the first chute at the lower set. Big tongues leave a lot of spit.

Scouting the first chute at the lower set. Big tongues leave a lot of spit.

A boat from the intermediate group wades confidently into the fray. But are their paddles vertical? The camera does not lie.

A boat from the intermediate group wades confidently into the fray. But are their paddles vertical? The camera does not lie.

Saturday, June 20, 5:45pm

We're off the water and I'm out of the sausage casing.

I set my alarm for 6am but was awake long before. This being the second longest day of the year it shouldn't surprise me. We're doing self serve breakfast which I thought would be pandemonium but it actually seemed to work well. Everyone had their favourite thing at their own pace. Perhaps not as elaborate as a group breakfast but it probably took less time.

We were done and into the day's learming by 9am ish.

We reviewed our basic strokes on the flatwater between the top and bottom sets. The wind proved very annoying. Though if used properly could induce a bang up running pivot.

We're a big group - 12 or so with one instructor. So there's not a lot of attention you get. It improved once we were in moving water. And pushing these big tubs around is frustrating on flat water.

So I was relieved (and scared) when we started into the white and fluffy stuff.

Palmers has water but nothing like last year. There are, however, just as many boats here as last year. But the lower set has eddies and chutes and ledges. So it's a good place to learn how to paddle this time.

So we eddy hopped down the lower set, portaged back up (heavy canoes) and played some more. A couple IAMs occurred and a good time was had by all.

A lecture over lunch and we were back on the water. Paul filmed us paddling. Not the stuff of Hollywood, I assure you. You put a stick across your back, tied to your PFD. Paddle straight at the camera and then past the camera. The goal is to see if you're doing the stroke as instructed.

See, in whitewater, paddling forward is a very complicated stroke. Or rather, it takes people like me a long time to unlearn. But more on that later.

The rest of the afternoon found us ferrying across the lower set and back, playing canoe hopscotch, bopping in and out of seemingly impossibly small eddies.

It was hard work for me. My first time paddling this season and it was an exercise in pushing hard for short periods, then waiting. My arms started to feel the strain.

There wasn't all that much new stuff that we covered. There was more detail on hydrology, and more information about strokes, but despite how that sounds, the time was very valuable just for having the evaluated practice of the stuff that I learned last year.

So much of staying upright has to do with comfort in and familiarity with a boat that's bobbing and rocking, that the more often you get out, the more eddies you turn into and peel out of, the better you'll be.

We got off the water around 5ish. We were all quite tired. And the last act of schlepping the astoundingly heavy whitewater boats a few hundred metres back to the pond was enough to convince most that quitting was a good thing.

We had our group dinner, hung around a camp fire and were in bed by around 11pm.