Professor Paddle: Going from IV to V
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Connor
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  Quote Connor Replybullet Topic: Going from IV to V
    Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 3:00pm
I feel pretty comfortable in class IV rivers and am just starting to approach V (the hardest section I've run being the lower 5 on the North Fork of the Payette). So I was just wondering if you guys had any recommendations for rivers that would be appropriate for me to do as far as stepping up to doing harder whitewater.
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  Quote RemAcct2 Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 3:50pm
You should have come run the Grays with us this weekend 

WF Hood may be in next weekend; the White Salmon, Wind, and EF Lewis should be in as well - all good rivers to run around here in that transitional zone...
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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 4:28pm
Here we go, Leif always wants to travel long distances. Earnies Canyon is really close and a good class V...
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  Quote RemAcct2 Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 4:30pm
That's right, and according to Hawthorne, your not a core boater if you ain't running Ernie's.
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  Quote tiziak Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 4:34pm
I guess I'm not hard core:(
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

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  Quote Fish Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 5:09pm
Hey Conner,
 Washington has some great rivers that are considered class V proving grounds.   The first and foremost is the Green Truss on the Upper White Salmon River.  This run lets you experience pool drop, waterfalls, and constricted steep drops, but allows for recovery after most of the big ones, and it runs all year long.  

Some other Class V- stuff
1. Cascade
2. Cooper
3.  Icicle Creek (not Richochet)
4. Tumwater (lower flows)

These above rivers get ran frequently, and have some easier, and some harder rapids on them, but overall arent that difficult IMO.  If i were you,  i would go to the Truss, post up all weekend and get a crash course in creeking 101.  If you like it there,  and still feel like you can handle more?  post here again,  and we'll set ya up with a new list!

Scott

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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 5:29pm

I'm not hardcore either. Connor, if you're comfy running Boulder Drop at 6-8k and comfy running IVish creeks, the Foss at higher flows (10-12k), Top Tye at lower flows, Green Truss @ 2.5 is a good one, Canyon Creek Stilly @ 6 feet on the Stilly gauge, Tumwater above 1500 for some pushy good water, Clearwater? (haven't run it), Silver Creek off the NF Sky is a great one, but road access makes it impossible, Cooper at higher flows is a good one, too, FITW @ 600. That should get you going. I'll leave this open and say MAYBE Robe @ 5.0 feet, ran it once and thought it was a good run. Take a rescue class!!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote WA-Boater Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 6:26pm
Brett is right on. Those are all great runs. Only thing I'd add is find a good crew who will take care of you and show you the lines, etc.
It seems like there are always people making the transition around here. Shouldn't be to hard to find some others in a similar situation.
Let me know if you want to hit something in the Sky drainage sometime. The Tye is one of my favorite runs.

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Connor
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  Quote Connor Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 8:05pm
Thanks for the advice and offerings to take me on some great runs (I'll definately take up those offers). Brett, I took a Swift Water Rescue class, and Mountaineer Oriented First Aid class this year so I could run more dangerous whitewater "safely".
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 16 Nov 2009 at 8:19pm
Nice Connor. The Tye should be in the next day or so.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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jP
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 19 Nov 2009 at 10:20am
Hey Connor.

I'm posting the PM I sent you when My log-in was buggy and I couldn't post. The reason is because most people just sling lists of rivers at you. But everyone has the Guidebook. I think it's more important to conceptualize your path of progression. Not as a linear or J-curve necessarily, but rather the way a tree grows and branches out. That conceptualization will best solidify your skills.Here's what I originally wrote:

I'm sure everyone will chime in shortly to answer your question, so I'll try to tell you something different than the stock answers you're going to get from others.

Here's my short answer:
I would find the hardest class IV run you've done that is closest to where you live, preferably within 2hrs, but the closer the better. Hopefully it runs frequently throughout the year. Get out and paddle that run religiously until you know it like the back of your hand, at the widest range of flows. You should know it so intimately that you are comfortable paddling it at the higher end of its flow range. Paddle it all other water levels. Then paddle it some more. If you get bored you aren't using your imagination, so find all of the out of the way routes. Don't just paddle all the normal lines, paddle this run really hard. I said paddle. Don't float it. There should be moves you can hit to make the run harder for yourself: difficult boofs, pillow moves, slots between rocks ect. You want to be able to link moves together in a flowing way. Paddle smooth. You'll need a richly diverse repertoire to be comfortable in class V. Comfort is what you're after. You want to be able to go in and enjoy the experience, not just survive it.
 
In the meantime, frequently paddle new class IV+ runs (you should be seeking out every class IV run in the guidebook). Occasionally go run an easier class V- run, but only with people you trust who are familiar with the run. If these will be challenging for you, make sure you do your homework on the run beforehand so you know what you're getting into. There are lots of available resources; This site, AW, the Bennett Book, ect.
 
Also, from time to time, lead some trips on class III+/VI- runs that you've never done before with paddlers of equal or lesser abilities than your own. But generally if you're leading trips this way, I emphasize that you should be leading runs easier than your skill level. Keep in mind that leading whitewater trips will greatly advance your skill, but you also have to undertake the responsibility of looking out for the people following you. If you can't do this you shouldn't progress to class V. This may sound boring, but it shouldn't be. It's more challenging than it seems on the face of it, if you are paying attention. Not only do you need skills before you go hog-wild on class V, but you need experience as well. Lots of people these days have good boating skills but prematurely venture into class V without experience. Skill and experience are two entirely different things, and they go hand in hand.
 
Anytime you paddle through class II to get to the take out, you should be PADDLING if you want to run class V. Encourage your friends to do the same.Too many people float instead. A refined forward stroke is the most important skill to have in your toolbox, but because it isn't as glamorous as a boof stroke or a double pump, people generally don't master it. That's why 80% of the paddlers out there have sh*tty stroke technique. The forward stroke is where all kayaking begins and ends. It should be a form of moving meditation. The prevailing trend is to float. Remember: Logs float, sh*t floats, but YOU are a WHITEWATER PADDLER.
 
So that's my short answer.
I posted this because, if you feel this describes what you've already been doing, or it otherwise isn't tailored to you specifically,  perhaps someone else can benefit from it. And of course I hope this sparks more feedback from everyone else on the site, because they also have more to contribute than lists of rivers.

It's easy to throw out lists of rivers, but ideas are just as important. I know that with the whole "core boater" B.S. discussion, people may hesitate to give advice because they don't want to be perceived as "know-it-alls". I'm not afraid of being perceived as a "Know-it-all" because I know I don't know it all. But I want to share what I think I know
Jeez I'm starting to sound like Donald Rumsfield! I'll shut up now.
jP
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  Quote up4air Replybullet Posted: 19 Nov 2009 at 12:14pm
That's a very good post, JP. Your comfy, back yard river can change so much at different levels. And after floods new lines can open with debris removal, which happened recently on the Nooksak. Thanks for reminding us that the familiar river can still be a great teacher!
More water, please.
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  Quote Ellingferd Replybullet Posted: 19 Nov 2009 at 2:42pm

I would agree with JP, stressing the fact that you should take people down runs that are in the upper end of your ability range (not runs that push your ability range). Sounds like IV would be the ticket, BD in particular. Take a group of relatively new, yet capable folks down the run, show them the lines, and always go first. This situation, where the responsibility for the run rests on your shoulders, builds confidence because suddenly, you are the one who knows the run. Everyone is following your lead, assuming you dont mess it up of course. Confidence is the number one asset (forward stroke aside) to kayaking in the class V range, and it can't be stressed enough. Building confidence in your abilities will push your boating, and dont assume that having skill and confidence go together. I have seen plenty of boaters with tons of skill, but no confidence, which doesnt work in class V.

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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 19 Nov 2009 at 3:39pm
well said Jonathan. Hell I've Been one of those boaters with skill to run something, and lacking confidence! And it's not ideal. But for me, and i'm just speaking honestly- my confidence fluctuates. I noticed recently a few times after a series of people around me getting injured, that this affected me psychologicly.
 
The thing is, I don't consider it entirely a bad thing. I listened to a temporary phase of timidity I was feeling and backed it off a notch until my confidence returned. I'm talking about subtle increments here, but for me they can make a difference because the sport is so mental and, like you said, confidence is important.
 
I'm not really afraid of dying so much as I am afraid of getting hurt and not being able to paddle or make a living.
 
Whitewater is strong medicine.


Edited by jP - 19 Nov 2009 at 3:39pm
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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 19 Nov 2009 at 7:54pm
FITW@600? Yikes, that is a pretty fluffy level!
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 20 Nov 2009 at 1:27pm
Depends on what's really happening with the flow. That guage, remember is way downstream of the fabulous FITWah. Rain, snow, rain on snow, snow on rain, ect. All corerlare differently with the number on your computer.
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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 20 Nov 2009 at 4:13pm
Always check the gauge rock! If you cant see the rock then you may not see your life at the end of the run...
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  Quote Sauve Replybullet Posted: 22 Nov 2009 at 7:01am
Great all around advise jP. White water is strong medicine.
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 22 Nov 2009 at 7:13am
All good comments. I hope this helps, Connor. JP has some good advice. I put up a list of rivers because it makes choosing a little easier sometimes if you just have a few that are close to home, rather than the whole book to look through. Just to get started.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote Ellingferd Replybullet Posted: 22 Nov 2009 at 1:53pm
In the interest of suggesting some runs to try out, I would highly recommend the Horseshoe Bend section of the NF Nooksack. The run builds from III+ to VI+ with a borderline class V rapid at the end. This is the perfect training ground if you are serious about getting into class V. There is also a trail alongside so you can easily hike back up for the last 1/3 of the run which is where all the action is. This is where I learned to creek. Its runnable from 250 cfs (not recommended, but I have done it), on up to as far as you want to go (I've done it at 2200, which kicks the run up a notch). I cant even count how many times I have been down this stretch, but every time I find a new boof, or cool move, or combo of moves/boofs. Sweet run.
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  Quote Connor Replybullet Posted: 23 Nov 2009 at 7:59am
Thank you all for the advice, JP especially. I have always liked to challenge myself to make harder edies or new moves (thats where the fun is). Brett, I totally agree. What's everybody doing this weekend as far as boating goes?
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 23 Nov 2009 at 4:35pm
Not sure yet. I typically like to have a plan a by Thursday, and plans b and c by Friday. For me, havimng multiple loose plans can help me accomodate the unpredictablity of the weather and where the best water will be.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 23 Nov 2009 at 4:40pm
Originally posted by Ellingferd

I highly recommend the Horseshoe Bend section of the NF Nooksack. The run builds from III+ to VI+ with a borderline class V rapid at the end. This is the perfect training ground if you are serious about getting into class V. Its runnable from 250 cfs (not recommended, but I have done it), on up to as far as you want to go (I've done it at 2200, which kicks the run up a notch).  Sweet run.
 
Yeah, the time I was there we ran laps on it while it rose from 900 to 1100 cfs, and it was a fun, pushy class IV run. It's short, but easy to run laps on, and runinng laps on it speeds up getting to know it. I found some out of the way class Vish moves in there for sure at 1100.
 
The Foss is a nice frequently running stretch. A lot of the time it's more of a solid IV+ because it's so continuous and nonstop action.
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