From the first time river trip to the class five "knarbuckle", running a river will always get your heart rate up. Here are five tips to use that will help you make good choices, as well as keep you on top of the proverbial food chain.
When running a river, never use more than 25 percent power. Power very rarely works to your advantage. When you set up without power you have more options; you stay calm, rapids are slower slower and you sustain energy for the entire river.
Someone asked me, "When should I use 100 percent?" My answer, you will always know when you need 100 percent. Your goal is to never need it.
Float at an angle when running something new. The angle should be set on a back ferry angle, this way you have two options when you see something you don't like. Forward paddling or back ferrying away form the obstacle.
Never follow if you can help it. Following puts you at a disadvantage; when you follow you don't learn to read water. Instead you just interpret the rapid from the persons rate of stroke or their angle. You stop looking at what the river is doing, and you learn nothing but hard lessons.
When learning to run rivers, or running a river the first time, there is a steadfast rule that not just makes sense but also makes you feel better about running something new—eddys. Your safe in an eddy for the most part. Don't leave the eddy unless you have scouted the line or you see another eddy you would be safe in. Pick the eddy out and decide if you can catch it safely. If the answer is yes than go for it.
Float the inside of a corner. Floating the inside of an unknown turn is a best practice. The water is slower and junk gets deposited on the outside of river bends.
Common sense is not all that common these days. If you see a horizon line catch an eddy. Natural selection in this world is a gift that keeps on giving. Look, understand, and see what is ahead of you before you leap.
Its your responsibility to play and river run safe. Do it as safe as you can, more often than not, the rapid will be there next time. If you don't think you can pull it off, it's okay to just walk.
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