…At this point, we are halfway through our four weekend long course, and, so far, we have covered quite a bit. The first weekend Wet Planet’s instructors Todd Collins, Andy Round, and Liz Arnold set the foundation for skill building with an introduction to basic river hydrology. We then joined a commercial Wet Planet trip on the middle section of the White Salmon River, watching as our teachers demonstrated stellar lines through rapids like Top Drop, Grasshopper, and Corkscrew.
The next morning we started the day at Northwestern Lake practicing paddle strokes, ferrying, and eddying in and out. After a lunch on the sunny banks of the Klickitat, we were given a chance to begin guiding boats ourselves on the lower section of the Klickitat River through class II and III whitewater. This splashy river training gave us a chance to become increasingly confident with our strokes in swift moving water.
This past weekend all thirteen students returned for more intense whitewater training. With the previous weekend’s instructors out guiding on the Wind River, our curriculum was picked up by Wet Planet’s returning guides and instructors Steve White, Christina Von Mertens, and Hootie Boucher. These veteran guides led us through a thorough day of running the lower and middle stretch of the White Salmon River, allowing the students to do most of the navigating through the challenging, technical rapids at their pushy spring-time levels. Everyone’s skills had clearly taken off by the end of the afternoon as we watched the rafts maintain steady lines and eddy in and out with more and more ease. Sitting through other student’s learning process can at times be the most challenging part of the course, while being equally beneficial. For instance, I learned that running Corkscrew backwards isn’t ideal, but survivable!
The progress of Saturday helped push us into Sunday’s syllabus which was an overview of the Swift Water River Rescue Training Course (WRT) that Wet Planet will be offering as a three-day course in June. We covered basic rope throwing skills, as well as more advanced rope rescue techniques. We then spent the rest of the afternoon applying them to rescue scenarios staged at Rattlesnake Creek and Rattlesnake Rapid on the White Salmon River, right off the Wet Planet riverside property. During these simulations, we all had a chance to swim the class III hole and wait for the shower of throw ropes to hit our helmets and pull us to safety. This swim also gave a number of the students who were still trying to overcome their uneasy feeling in whitewater an opportunity to really face up to building a more confident relationship with the river.
If the last two weekends were any indication as to how much we all will be taking from this course, I think that we can count finishing this course as well-educated first year guides with a great foundation for running whitewater rafting trips in Washington and Oregon. It has been really great to welcome the other students to Wet Planet and listen to them share their boating experiences from all over the country. They have mostly all been calling Wet Planet home these past few weekends as they camp out on the property braving these chilly early spring evenings. We are all certainly looking forward to the next two weeks for the opportunity to take our new skills out on the Wind River and Upper Klickitat, as well as master more rapids on the White Salmon. Spring-time can’t be beaten in the Gorge Area, especially when you are on the river.
See you out there!
– @ 08:30 PM