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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Topic: A little whitewater philosophy
    Posted: 14 Nov 2012 at 3:55pm
Saw this posted on Boatertalk.com and it is a really well thought out article on the state of kayaking and the art of "stepping it up".

I think he's pretty spot on, his parts about making easy rapids harder are something that jP and I have been talking about for awhile (and many more I'm sure).

I can already tell there is going to be a sh*t storm on boatertalk about it, but that is to be expected.

Is it eliteism to expect people to style lines or just good judgment?

Pushing it; article by Louis Geltman
The line will become apparent
978-273-7723
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irenen
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  Quote irenen Replybullet Posted: 14 Nov 2012 at 5:01pm
Excellent article, thanks for posting.  Thought it was interesting what Rush Sturges said about how he practiced so much on Class IV that when he did Class V he was surprised to find he wasn't on the edge of his skill level - probably not the typical experience. :)

"Is it eliteism to expect people to style lines or just good judgment?"

I think that could go either way, depending on whether the people with the expectations have their blowhard-o-meters set to "let's not turn everyone off the sport of kayaking by acting like surfers when we're not."  The author of the article clearly thinks it's reasonable to expect it but does not come across (to me at least) like an elitist at all and I think he makes a great point, but I can see how a different approach to the same point could feel pretty suffocating.
It's all fun and games until someone loses a paddle.
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FLUID
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  Quote FLUID Replybullet Posted: 14 Nov 2012 at 9:04pm

Awesome article !! coming from a teaching backround my favorite saying is repetition is the mother of learning. I was just talking to a martial artist the other day about the 10,000 hour rule. for anything you do to be a “somewhat master” you must put in at least 10,000 hours to have thoughtless muscle memory … do the math.. thats like 6 years unless your on the water every day..I would say you have to be a master to run class V… I like the philosophy, 10,000 hours of hard moves on easy to moderate whitewater...

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mokelumnekid
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  Quote mokelumnekid Replybullet Posted: 14 Nov 2012 at 10:45pm
Great post (tho it could be cut in half and say the same thing)! Jibes with my experience of (young mostly) folks trying to rush through the grades. Some old farts tell me it wasn't always like this, that back in their day it was understood that one really worked whatever grade they were at and then exported that confidence and competence to the next grade. But somehow that has been replaced with an unspoken urgency to race to the next step, when one's hasn't yet even perfected their roll....just saying.
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  Quote JD_G Replybullet Posted: 14 Nov 2012 at 11:09pm
I always thought it should be like pool where you "call your shot no slop". Not saying you always execute but at least your not intending to just slop your way through.

On your usual run try a "+ = - " system for scoring your run through each rapid. If you execute per usual it's an = if you style it it's a + if you flip or brace unintentionally it's a - . Gives you another way of looking at how you're making it down.
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  Quote Scott_H Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 9:06am
Maybe 4 years into boating I took a week long class at Otter Bar - run by Rush Sturges's family.  Our class was filled mainly with people that identified themselves as Class IV boaters.  But we still spent the first 2 days running Class II - constantly practicing the eddying in\out as well as strokes and draws.  Then another day mainly running flatwater gates.  Seemed a little too rudimentary at first, but I have come to see real value in this approach and take as many opportunities as I can to continue that approach - like creating IV-V lines on II-III stretches. 
Wet Planet offers a one day creeking clinic a couple times a year that offers a great tune-up for the basic concepts of boating - and I try and hit it when I can and figure formal instruction will be a constant theme in my life.
“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”
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  Quote BIGWATER Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 10:05am

this post touches on to many things ....but  i think slick hits it on the head when he said there is a media driven push to run the gnarl

people (espisicaly non-boaters) would rather see media clips of people running huge falls or getting hammered in a hole , rather then someone doing 5 perfect wave wheels down a class 3 wave train

 its almost like there is a "jackass" mentaliy to some of the things ive seen lately,  heck did you see that clip of steve fisher taken that jackass guy off the falls in a duo? it was like lets see if i get hurt doing this .... and he did
 
the other thing is that go-pros make things look small ... so if you are not running huge stuff  your vids are gona look lame
 
personaly over the years i think my SLOW progresion of skills, knowledge and a lifestyle  has been the most rewarding part of kayaking 
 
im sure each of us could write a book on the topics in this post .. so im gona stop here
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  Quote irenen Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 11:02am
Originally posted by slickhorn

I like to hone my skills on class IV but I'd rather get a week on a wilderness creek than a gnarly day run.  So, my progressions is oriented right now around building the skills to do those trips.  Some of it is paddling.  A lot of it is peripheral skills like repair or rescue.  Or even rigging a good tarp.   It's a balance of skills.


Really good point.  One thing I've noticed about always paddling with people who are generally much better than I am at both kayaking and rescuing is that, for me at least, I've had to go out of my way to shake that beginner stage mentality in which you feel like if there's a rescue situation someone way more competent is going to come charging in.  Which fortunately is what usually happens, but if I'm completely honest I know I haven't practiced enough to get my rescue skills to where they're on a par with some of the stuff I've been paddling.  (And sometimes my paddling skills aren't there either, who are we kidding. ;)  Anyway, thanks for the reminder to get out the throwbag and mess around with a Z drag under friendly conditions.


Edited by irened - 15 Nov 2012 at 11:03am
It's all fun and games until someone loses a paddle.
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  Quote JayB Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 3:27pm
The best part about the "hard moves on easy rapids" mantra is in addition to making progression safer and more enjoyable (and making a life-altering swim that makes it more likely that you'll abandon the sport altogether less likely) is that it makes easier runs that you've logged dozens of laps on way more interesting, challenging, and fun than they'd be otherwise.

One of the cool parts about the dam-release runs on the east coast was that there was a widely known "menu" of hard moves on easy rapids that you could use to calibrate your progress as a boater. It was basically the kayaking equivalent of a book of bouldering problems, and it was a great way to self-asses and build confidence in a safe environment. I know I've got a quite a few that I like to work through on the Middle Middle, and there are a couple that I've been trying pull off for years and haven't pulled off yet.

It's tough to pass along kayaking boulder-problems without being out on the river, but I can't help but wonder if it would be possible to put-together a sort of playbook for, say, Boulder Drop using satellite imagery from Google maps, personal photos from the river, or images like the ones in the link below and add them to the river-beta page for the Sky (along with personal difficulty ratings).
http://www.riverexpeditions.com/boulder2.htm



-Jay
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  Quote huckin harms Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 4:26pm
Yeah, it would be cool to document the attainments and challenging moves in different rapids on different runs. 
Since most of my paddling is on the Sky I am often looking for ways to make a class III (iv) run more challenging.  Catching eddies, making 'tough' ferries and looking for boofs when there is enough water covering rocks (6k or more).  Also, its been a lot of fun to do speed laps confluence down to Split, usually in 20 minutes and best done at levels above 6k in a creek boat.  Then rally back up and repeat.  Dufay and I ripped off 4 in a couple hours which makes for good conditioning. 
Its just too bad there is only one BD and not three of four stacked.  That would be dream quality.
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jP
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 5:37pm
This thread has gone in a really interesting direction. Nice points you've all raised.

The "playbook" you mention, though, already exists in the Collective Mind's Eye. And, depending how creative and imaginative a paddler is, the more pieces or "pages" to the playbook a paddler has.

We each have a variety of distinctive pieces to this puzzle. There are so many dimensions to this sport, as each of your comments represent. Access to the "playbook", to continue using your metaphor, Jay, depends on us sharing our individual pieces with each other, just as it depends on each of us going to "the library" (to expand the playbook further) to study each others talents and thereby learn something new.

Following other boaters' lines, for example.
Seeing other boaters paddle or peform a rescue so we can continually learn what (and what not) to emulate in one another.

I agree though, it is most benificial to the average paddler to patiently cultivate the skills and experience before playing too close to the Edge Of Danger. It is a dynamic and blurry line, and paddlers need experience to recognize the bounderies as well as skills to wrestle oneself back from the edge once thrust beyond it.
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  Quote peteg Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 5:42pm
Good article although I think there are still plenty of people that will agree with Louis' points and then lead a relative newbie down Canyon Cr. or the Little White and think that's ok. Just sayin

I know the kayaking culture has changed a lot even in the time since I started ('89). Used to be everyone brought lunch and even in the middle of the winter there was a stop for lunch and usual trips were at least 10 miles. Now most trips are 6 miles or less and take a couple hours. Seems to be less focus on boating a variety of runs and more about doing the "classics" over and over again.

And even on short trips there are fewer people that will catch surf waves on the fly, practice eddy moves, and generally work the river. More of a focus on just getting down to the next big play feature and skip all the little stuff in between. Virtually no play at all on creek runs when we used to surf in dancers.

Nothing wrong with people enjoying what they do now but it's interesting watching the culture change and I wonder whether some of the changes contribute to people getting in over their skill level.

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  Quote Mr.Grinch Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 6:40pm
This is exactly what people need to be talking about.

In surfing, I met many people who caught and generally successfully rode many waves of varying heights, and saw fit to go bigger/more hollow, only to realize it is a different ball of wax. Just catching a wave and riding it is ok, fun, and whatever, but it isn't learning beyond just the basics (powerful bottom turns, pumping for speed, noserides, cutbacks and top turns, roundhouses, tube riding-all parts of getting the most out of a wave and most importantly: playing the pocket, the power zone of the wave). This was usually longboarders who couldn't/didn't learn how to shortboard, which takes a greater degree of skill to even just catch a wave, but offers loads more potential in turning/dynamic play.

In boating I've seen many people develop with me (not talking about people with way more experience or already established performance preferences/abilities regarding river selection), who say silly things like, "I'm a creeker, not a playboater." when they can't (or at least don't and don't try to) play the river at class IV and below. Making it down BD, which I've done a few times, never a swim but a few rolls, in no way makes me think I'm ready for more that that. I've done some minor creeking (10 footer, 8 footer, and a few other tricky rock moves/turbulent and twisty little creek rapids, but that was a creek in New England, not FITW), but sheer ownership of class IV moves I have not. Most of these people have play oriented boats, but don't play on the river. I always wonder why. To each their own, for sure, and injuries/health are always reasons to just enjoy being there vs. the effort of playing. Why paddle a craft capable of dynamics if not to be dynamic? Not exactly my place to say, but everyone is entitled to opinions.

We need to discuss self honesty, and recognition of reality. Sure we can blame the media, but nobody makes anyone watch any of it, especially YouTube. People don't want to read user manuals for their gizmos, either. We're lazy about learning, and impatient about understanding.

The vast majority of the surfers who wanted to ride bigger waves before they owned smaller waves(still talking ten foot and under for small surf)? I heard of near drownings, lost/broken boards, and other people making them leave/friends not taking them out to those breaks again.

The boating realm is proving similar. I've heard of some pretty bad swims, a number of good whacks to the noggin, lost/broken equipment, and I suspect a little polite eschewing from harder runs.

I personally think everyone should start in a POS used old boat, get their roll down, upgrade to a freerunning boat (probably buy one, sell, buy, sell, buy, etc. Ownership at this point does much more than a demo for learning to feel the boat), work on all that the OP link mentioned, and decide where to go from there. This should take a couple of years minimum, as fit young paddlers have the bodies to rebound and adapt alittle faster than others. Basically, learn to feel a boat, a number of boats. When the boat does the work for you (think paddling a creeker like a Jefe on the MM below 1500), well, what are they LEARNING? In that scenario, someone would be learning to trust the boat to take care of them. Especially if they deceive themselves about their ability by only running the easy lines. That's where the overstepped progression happens.

I'm all for cheering on novices and newbies for executing a good (even if a little shaky, but mostly good) eddy turn/peel out, or even a roll where they lift their head but don't flip back over. Truth is, eventually, they either need to learn how to own those moments, or those shaky moments will bite back, hopefully when danger is not just down stream.

I'm no expert, and I know that. I never claim to be. I've been paddling and in the water since I was 8, and I'd consider myself well rounded, and progressing slowly, but with solidity. I never tell people what to do, but always ask if they'd like some advice (mainly because I hate it when others tell me what to do, especially if I know what I did wrong, but also because unless someone asks for help or accepts help offered to them, they're less inclined to listen, FME).

nnln.
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  Quote Mr.Grinch Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 6:55pm
Addendum:
Didn't LisaF put together a play/running clinic or class last spring? That is exactly what a number of people should spend some time learning about. Learning all that stuff opens eyes to what is happening in the water, and teaches how to approach it with ownership and confidence, not just how to deal with it.

Kudos, Lisa!

Edit- this I feel is similar to what PeteG is mentioning, yes?

Edited by Mr.Grinch - 15 Nov 2012 at 6:56pm
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  Quote mokelumnekid Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 9:21pm
Agreed- the kinds of things that Lisa offered are very helpful- even if I was out of town and couldn't participate. Big props to her. 
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  Quote JayB Replybullet Posted: 15 Nov 2012 at 9:23pm
Originally posted by jP

This thread has gone in a really interesting direction. Nice points you've all raised.

The "playbook" you mention, though, already exists in the Collective Mind's Eye. And, depending how creative and imaginative a paddler is, the more pieces or "pages" to the playbook a paddler has.

We each have a variety of distinctive pieces to this puzzle. There are so many dimensions to this sport, as each of your comments represent. Access to the "playbook", to continue using your metaphor, Jay, depends on us sharing our individual pieces with each other, just as it depends on each of us going to "the library" (to expand the playbook further) to study each others talents and thereby learn something new.

Following other boaters' lines, for example.
Seeing other boaters paddle or peform a rescue so we can continually learn what (and what not) to emulate in one another.



Totally agree - but it'd be nice to find a way to use all of the fancy gizmos we have to connect and share bits of the playbook on signature drops and learn from folks that we might never have the opportunity to boat with in person. It'll never come close to what you can get out of actually boating with someone in person - but I still think it might be worth doing. I took a look and there's actually a fairly high-resolution image of House Rocks on the 'satellite" bit of Google Maps - and I bet some of the other benchmark drops on other rivers are equally visible as well.

I can still remember following a Russian fellow back east who said "Eeekziting slut moof ees next...(exciting slot move is next)" pointed his boat into what looked like a full-on, boiling entrapment-pincer and dissapeared into the froth. He had the river dialed and was a sensible guy so I followed and it was one of the coolest and most memorable experiences I'd ever had on the river - basically going from WTF-certain-death-awaits mode to riding a boil that turned into a tight-swooshy 180 degree turn followed by a head-snapping auto-eddy. One of the best parts about that experience is that I would have paddled past that 100 times and it would have never occurred to me that there was a move there, and much less to give it a shot.

It'd be asking too much of technology to deliver anything like that - but I can't help but think that seeing some lines traced on a picture might open my eyes to some pretty cool lines/possibilities that I've been paddling by over and over again.
-Jay
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  Quote BIGWATER Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2012 at 11:11am

i duno much about go-pros  or drawing lines on satilite photos ...  but i got a playbook of moves, lines, waves, holes and "saftey" spots about 5 miles long on the Tilton river

you wana turn a class 3, 4  run into a full day of surfing and skill building ,  grab a PLAYBOAT and hit me up for a Tilton run

so many times i have seen groups from SEA or PDX  put on the Tilton in creekboats and blast through the canyon in 1 hour ...... our average run is over 3 hours often longer

untill i can ride a bowstall through every rapid , or get the perfect set of wave wheels in surf city every time, or hit that elusive catch on the fly wave in the heart of a rapid,  ill never be done learning on that river ... i mean sure i can run the Tilton in an hour and hardly get my paddle wet if i want ,  but just like anything it is what you make of it ... it can be as hard or as easy as you want ...i can just make any rapid harder by adding some style (bowstall, cartwheel, ext ext)

the Tilton is the perfect run to "take the harder lines"  for me  cuz its close to my home (easy drive no trafic), its not to hard (at normal flows)  and it always has something for ya .... im sure everyone has a local run that they have dialed into in the same way.... but im sure glad mine is the Tilton
 
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2012 at 5:07pm
I like the sattelite "river map" idea, I gues it depends on hoe much time a paddler has at home with photoshop or similar to work something up. I'd enjoy geeking out on a project like that, but currently I lack the tools. There is a sweet arial photo of Boulder Drop though. Looks like it was taken when the river was flowing between 7-9k. There are rafters scouting on the rock and a raft or two in the rapid.
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  Quote Mr.Grinch Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2012 at 7:05pm
People in the NE discussing this, too. Thought I'd drop a link because it isn't BT, and a number of the guys posting are legit, just like here. Just other thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. Peruse at your own will, posted purely to see how people outside the PNW circle are responding.

http://www.npmb.com/cms2/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?199576
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