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Kayaking and Rafting, the sports of the Few, The Foolhardy, and the Thrill Seeking. Not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee.

 

Whitewater kayaking and rafting is a dangerous yet exhilarating activity. Whitewater is just that white water.  It is termed white water because the waves and turmoil of the fast moving and turbulent water trap large amounts of air in the water, which gives the water a white foamy look. To navigate whitewater above class two it is essential to be proficient at rolling and be very comfortable in the water. Whitewater can range from class One (the easiest) to Class Six (Hardest) many rivers will routinely be class Five or Six in the spring but drop throughout the summer to around Two or Three by fall. This is because the rainfall in the spring raises the water level and thus the speed of the floe, making eddies and hydraulics far more difficult to navigate.

Some of the best whitewater rivers in the US and Canada are listed below:

Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers - Alaska/Canada

Magpie River - Canada

Middle Fork, Salmon River - Idaho

Colorado River - Colorado

Chattooga River - South Carolina/Georgia

Before a new rider goes on his/her first trip it is important to know what the guides are saying when they talk about different features of the river to watch for and navigate. Here are some common whitewater terms:

Below: Downriver from.
Boulder Fan: A sloping, fan-shaped mass of boulders deposited by a tributary stream where it enters into the main canyon. These often constrict the river, causing rapids.
Boulder Garden: A rapid densely strewn with boulders that necessitate intricate maneuvering.
Cartwheeling: Technique of spinning a raft just before a collision with a rock so as to rotate the raft off and around the rock.
Chute: A clear channel between obstructions, steeper and faster than the surrounding water.
Confluence: The point where two or more rivers meet.
Curler: A high steep wave that curls or falls back onto its own upstream face. Considered by most to be a form of reversal. See Reversal.

Eddy: A place where the current either stops or turns to head upstream. Usually found below obstructions and on the inside of bends.

 

Falls: A drop over which the water falls free at least part of the way.
Feathering a Blade: On the return, knifing an oar or paddle blade through the air.
Pool: A deep and Quiet stretch of river.

Riffle: A shallow rapid with very small waves, often over a sand or gravelbottom.

Sandpaper: Small choppy waves over shallows.

Sleeper: Submerged rock or boulder just below the surface, usually marked by little or no surface disturbance.
Staircase: A stretch of river where the water pours over a series of drops that resemble a staircase.

 

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