It turned out to be a beautiful day on the Klickitat River. This stretch of river is about 20 miles to the east of the Wet Planet Rafting and Kayaking headquarters. In that short distance, the landscape changes dramatically, and the Klickitat has much more of a desert canyon feel. We had clear blue skies, and the classic strong winds of the Columbia River Gorge.
The day started with lead instructor Andy Round doing an on-shore talk about river hydrology and river running strategies, before the larger group was split into three smaller groups. Once on the river, the three groups, each led by two Wet Planet instructors, worked on eddy turns, peel outs, and ferries as they moved downstream. The Klickitat is the perfect river for whitewater kayak instruction in Washington and Oregon. With an easy progression from class I to class II whitewater, and lots of spots to practice, the “wild and scenic” river gives students plenty of opportunity to develop skills, as well as tackle exciting whitewater.
The group of students were amazing. They quickly progressed in skill from the beginning of the day where they were stuggling with eddy turns to the end of the day where they were running whitewater. They also had great attitudes, taking the swims in stride and hopping back in their boats for another attempt with big smiles. I had a blast! It has been a while since I’ve been out on the Klickitat, and watching these students progress so quickly was super rewarding.
Toward the end of the day, each of the groups stopped to scout McDonald’s rapid. This is one of the bigger rapids on the run, named “McDonald’s” because the rapid tends to flip as many kayakers as McDonald’s flips burgers. After taking some time to look at the rapid, the groups made their runs. It was great to watch, and I got some great video of smiling, cheering students after succesful runs through the rapids. Even the few students who did flip and swim were psyched that the had a chance to run the rapid.
I won’t be out on the river with the group tomorrow, but I’m sure they will have another great day. From what I could tell, Wet Planet has helped create a few more life-time kayakers!
– Todd @ 06:43 PM