Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Intro To Creeking Course

On Sunday, August 5th, some members of TRPC and the Got Boof Crew showed up to help me (Jason Hilton) put on an introduction to creeking course for class III-IV boaters from the Three Rivers Paddling Club. We met at 10:00 AM at Valley Falls, West Virigina with around twenty students ready to go. I knew it was going to be a good day when I saw how nervous some of the students were as they came back from looking at what they were about to run.

Instruction began with a discussion of boat design, and characteristics that make a creek boat different from a “normal” kayak. We then moved on to a discussion about safety and some specifics relating to creeking. Then off to the falls we went.

Jason giving the talk

Everyone got warmed up in the pool above the drops before we all took out on the center island and the instruction began. I decided to break the rapids down into single drops, and then use each drop to teach one principal. The best introductory drop is the middle top drop, as it is pretty hard to mess it up, and is a great place to teach correct creeking posture, which is the most important lesson. The students took turns getting up the nerve to run the drop (and for a lot of them this was their first waterfall), then all of them executed near perfect runs.

Dave First Drop

The day continued in this way moving from drop to drop becoming successively harder, and with techniques that also become more difficult as we went. As the students ran each drop, I was able to discuss with them what they had done right, and what they had done wrong, and they often chose to run the drop again to enhance their understanding of the particular skill, with the almost every student showing marked improvement over the day.

Katy Right Slide

Astrid Right Slide

Jason Group Instruction

Jason and Jeff B 1 on 1

Jason and Rob 1 on 1

Jarrett boofing it up

Jason and Aaron 1 on 1

Group Instruction

Steve firing up the spout

Jarrett and Jason 1 on 1

Freddy firing up the spout

Shawna firing up the spout

Shawna and Jason (Good Job)

Rob M. firing up the center drop

After running all of the drops, and working with the students to perfect the various skills, we took off down the river to go for the remaining two rapids. While the waterfalls are visually impressive, the rapids below are generally harder, and allowed the students to get a feel for the push of creeks, and the dynamic nature of vertical water that they will find when they enter the creeking realm of kayaking. For the most part, runs were good with a bit of carnage here and there, which is to be expected when you drag 20 fresh boaters to a location such as this.

I was sure to finish the class on a good note, by showing off a rarely seen waterfall on a side creek, and then letting the students fend for themselves on the walk back to the vehicles. To all of the students and safety boaters, thanks for making this a great day for me as well as yourselves, and I will be looking for you the next time the water is narrow, pushy, and falling off of a cliff.

Jason showing how to get it done

More photos of the day can be found here