What is whitewater kayaking in the Columbia River Gorge all about? What is up with all those people driving around Hood River and White Salmon with colorful kayaks on top of their cars? Do you know why many of world’s best kayakers call the Columbia Gorge their home?
While the sport is spectacular, the geography of the rivers makes most kayaking in the Gorge hard to watch if you are not out there in a kayak yourself. Aside from watching kayakers run Husum Falls on the White Salmon River, all you see is cars driving around with boats on their roofs… where do they go? The Hood River, Wind River, Little White Salmon River, White Salmon River, Lewis River, Klickitat River, and so on … whitewater kayaking in the Gorge is HUGE – you just don’t see it.
The sport of whitewater kayaking opens up whole new worlds to explore, from after work river runs with friends, to multi-day river expeditions in beautiful wilderness areas, to international trips to explore different rivers and cultures abroad. It introduces you to a wonderful river community, full of passionate and inspiring people, folks who love being outside, exploring and preserving rivers, but also exploring and expanding their own skills and abilities – from beginner to expert level.
Intrigued? Want to appreciate quiet blissful moments floating a peaceful and gentle river on your own, or do you want to build skills, physical, and mental endurance while working towards kayaking some of the hardest rivers? Whether you’re looking to get started or want to discover what’s next – this will help you find out what is for you and what your next step is!
Qualifications: A sense of adventure and positive attitude
2018 Dates: All season long, starting May 12th. Courses start on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Why You Should Take It: This 3-day course is designed to introduce beginner paddlers to the sport of whitewater kayaking. Our goal is to provide you with a solid foundation of basic kayaking skills necessary to kayak in Class I and II whitewater. This course will start on dry ground, and progress to pool, flatwater, moving water, and then depending on skill level, class II-III whitewater. Our instructors conclude the course with a personal summary of your progression. Together you will review skills learned and highlight areas to work on in the future. Mostly, we want to share our passion and enthusiasm for whitewater kayaking with you. This course includes all equipment necessary (unless you want to bring your own), lunch and transportation.
Additional Option: We also offer a 2-Day Rapid Progression Course for those who are unable to make all three days.
Qualifications: Previous whitewater experience
2018 Dates: Call 1-800-306-1673 to schedule
Why You Should Take It: This course is designed for the kayaker who already has basic whitewater kayaking skills and wants to improve his or her technique or develop new skills. Sometimes students come to us with specific interests, such as preparing to paddle a fully loaded boat for a self-support multi-day trip. Other times students are not sure exactly why they are uncomfortable in their kayak and need help assessing what goals are appropriate. With this information, as well as a brief history of your experience, we choose from multiple locations to find the ideal setting to achieve your goals.
Additional option: Add on the third day of any beginner class, to use another full day on the river for more practice opportunities. $85, including lunch, gear, shuttle, and instruction. Requirement: needs to previously have taken a beginner class.
Qualifications: Experienced Beginners / Intermediate (beginner kayakers must have previously taken at a minimum a 2-day beginner course and have spent additional time paddling; call us if you have questions about your skill level).
2018 Dates: August 25-30
Why You Should Take It: This 6-day raft-supported kayak trip is the perfect way to share an incredible river experience with friends and family, as they can enjoy the majestic canyons and rapids of the Main Salmon River from a raft while you navigate them in your kayak. Our kayaking instructors will guide you and help hone your skills, build your confidence. After an experience like this, you will be forever addicted to the bliss of disconnection during a multi-day wilderness river trip down the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48. These are experiences of a life time.
Qualifications: Reliable combat roll, solid on class III and working into class IV
2018 Dates: Our next Creeking Clinic will be on May 6. Boofing Clinics will take place on June 3, July 15, and August 19.
Why You Should Take These: Creeking and Boofing are skill sets that are imperative for progressing in your kayaking, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
The Boofing Clinic focuses on using correct boofing technique to clear over holes, drop into tight eddies, and run vertical drops. In addition to the skills needed to successfully boof everytime, we will focus on combining these skills with the good judgment and decision-making practices needed to approach bigger rapids. We’ll discuss and practice aspects of big drop running such as: scouting, the approach and the landing, the decision to run or walk, setting safety, and boofing verses plugging.
The Creeking Clinic is designed specifically for paddlers who have the desire to work on their creeking skills in order to get out on the countless classic Pacific Northwest creek runs for which our region is well known in the kayaking world. We will practice tight eddy turns, boofing, technical paddling maneuvers, scouting, and setting support for your paddling partners. Paddling in a supportive environment, we will focus on the skills necessary to get you and your paddling companions down technical whitewater runs.
Qualifications: This is a nationally recognized 5-day certifying course for becoming a kayaking instructor on class 2-3 whitewater. If you’re unsure if your skill set qualifies you, please visit the ACA website or call our office for more information. Students must be at least 18 years of age, and be (or become) members of ACA and the Safety, Education and Instruction Committee (SEIC).
2018 Dates: May 14-18
Why You Should Take It: The ACA Kayak Instructor Course – taught annually at Wet Planet by our friend J.R. Weir, owner of the Sundance Kayak School (located in Southern Oregon) – is for whitewater kayakers interested in working as professional kayak instructors or simply developing proficiency in kayak teaching techniques. This course will combine on-water demonstrations and presentations in a variety of environments with discussion sessions on teaching methodology, skill development and peer feedback. You’ll learn how to reach the most challenging students while maintaining a fun and safe environment at all times. Don’t be surprised if you walk away from this 40-hour training having refined your own technique and learned new ways to build upon your own whitewater kayaking skills.
Qualifications: Good health and a good attitude
2018 Dates: Call 1-800-306-1673 to schedule
Why You Should Take It: This is all about your personal development and progression in whitewater kayaking. Whether you are a beginning kayaker interested in improving your roll, or an advanced kayaker looking the most out of your day with 1-on-1 instruction, to master the latest freestyle move, or have someone lead you down rivers in the area, private instruction is the best way for our talented instructors to help you achieve your goals.
Qualifications: The ability to have fun
2018 Dates: June 24th, or call us for other dates you would like to go with your group.
Why You Should Take It: Both a great family activity as well as the perfect introduction to whitewater kayaking, sit-on-top kayaking is a unique way to experience the natural wonders of the Gorge. With no prior whitewater experience necessary, participants ages 10+ will enjoy a leisurely intro the basics of kayaking from our expert guides while enjoying the class II Wild & Scenic stretch of the Lower Klickitat River with its friendly waves. Delight in a riverside lunch prepared by your kayak guides – before paddling your way through the class III rapid Ishy Pishy for the grand finale of the day.
Qualifications: The yearn to learn
2018 Dates: Call 1-800-306-1673 to schedule your session
Why You Should Take It: Since every student has different needs, every pool session is different. We offer 2-hour one-on-one pool sessions at our pool at Wet Planet designed to refine basic whitewater kayaking skills. Our pool is solely used for our kayak instruction programs, allowing students to focus easily and practice more, with no swimmers or extra pool fees. This also give us the flexibility to work with your schedule and personal goals. Pool sessions are often focused on learning or improving rolls, bracing, and edging techniques.
In other words, kayaking is not for the most brave only. Everyone was a beginner at first, you can start at any age, and kayaking is enjoyed on many different types of rivers, difficulty levels and ways!