Have you ever wanted to go whitewater rafting or kayaking down the raging rapids of a ferocious unpredictable river? Or would you like to bring your whole family on a relaxing scenic canoe ride down a nice slow moving river with smooth easy waves and open passages? This is something you can do in the spring, summer, and fall even in the winter months if you are close enough to the equator. Just imagine for a moment the breath taking views of an early morning push off. With birds chirping in the back ground, squirrels wrestling in the leaves all while watching the sun rise over the mountain tops just before hitting the massive wave, steep drops and unpredictable obstacles. While taking in nature’s breath taking beauty you will be having the adventure of a life time.
When whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking it’s always good to know your ability, the class of the rapids also what the river flow is. First let’s have a look at your abilities. Knowing if you are a beginner or a leader is essential when whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking. This will help you pick out the right river for you, your family and your friends. To determine your ability, use the following guide line and see where you fit best.
Ability is as follows:
* Beginner familiar with basic paddling techniques and can handle a two man canoe in steady, smooth water from the bow or stern, understands basic solo canoeing techniques
* Novice knows how to read the water, can handle regular rapids with ease, posses more developed whitewater paddling skills for solo or two man canoeing
* Intermediate can maneuver through the rapids using multiple paddling techniques, can handle up to class 2 rapids alone in a canoe or kayak, understanding basic techniques for eddy maneuvering and reverse current paddling
* Expert has superior maneuver capabilities to handle heavy water flow, run difficult rapids with intense waves, can negotiate class 3 to 4 rivers with ease in both solo and multiple passenger crafts, can handle any in high volume rivers
* Leader experienced, has good physical fitness, and has judgment and training to lead a team of paddlers of any skill level in any class of rapids, knows what is needed to make any trip safe and enjoyable.
Next you need to determine the type of rapids you want to run. This will allow you to determine the skills you need for the river you wish to run and the proper craft to navigate that river for the safest and most exciting time. Rapids vary in their intensity and they have 7 different classes.
They are as follows:
* Class A Lake water, very still
* Class 1 Easy smooth water, light riffles, gentle curves
* Class 2 Moderate rapids with regular waves, open passages between rocks, quick water
* Class 3 Moderately difficult high waves, narrow passages, rocks, eddies, tight but clear gaps, difficult for standard canoes without proper floatation devises
* Class 4 Difficult standing waves, powerful rapids, holes, powerful maneuvering,
* Class 5 Extremely Difficult long rapids, without interruptions, filled with obstruction, big drops, violent currents
* Class 6 Extraordinary difficult Every safety caution should be taken. Very dangerous. The violent rapids are deadly.
A river’s characteristics can change drastically do to the amount of seasonal run off and rain flow of a particular area. The rain and run off doesn’t even have to occur within the region of a river you plan on paddling, it could occur hundreds of miles away. Do to these unpredictable conditions, a river you ran just days earlier with a class rating of 1 to 2 can easily change to a rating of 3 to 4+. Furthermore, a river in the spring and early summer and/or under normal rain flow conditions may have a class rating of 3 to 4 you can find itself at a rating of 1 to 2 do to poor snow fall and drought conditions. So you need to always consider what season in which you plan to run a river and the amount of rain flow that the area has accumulated. These are the classification for water levels.
* Low shallow, below normal, muddy sandbars, dry banks
* Medium normal river flow, good water, enough depth
* Medium High higher then normal, faster flow
* High water is difficult to handle, strong currents, debris is floating by
* High-High very heavy water, debris always, don’t kayak, canoe, or raft very dangerous
* Flood overflowing the banks, current extremely violent, and stay home
When ever you decide to go whitewater rafting, canoeing, or kayaking please always be safe. Always check the weather report before you go out on canoe trip. Always do the paddling on a river you feel comfortable on. Never try a different river on bad weather. Your kayaking, canoeing or whitewater rafting trips should always be an adventure for you; your family and your friends will always enjoy and remember.