I know last year was weird year what with covid and pool issues, but I had a great paddling year. Once we worked thru the details, paddling with it’s natural social distancing was a saving grace for me. All the cancelled releases in the spring were a bummer, but most were rescheduled to summer and early fall when paddling is a lot more pleasant. So thanks to the many people i paddled with and the few people i shuttled with.
I know hope everyone had as good a paddling season. I know some of you chose to paddle with your ‘pod’ or not do club trips to control the situation more. Hope we can get you back with the club!
I’m excited to be once again taking the reigns as President of KCCNY.
My goals for the coming year.
Making it easier run a KCCNY trip.
To this end, the board has already approved that we will follow our insurance provider’s (the ACA’s) guidelines on helmets and life jackets, so helmets will no longer be required below class 2 (opening up easier river, lake and open water trips though leaders can and should require helmets) and allowing inflatable life jackets for below class 1. Hopefully more of us will post our more recreational trips.
Making it easier to coordinate.
Accepting ACA online waivers (which will require that use of the same email address for us and the ACA).
Also: We’re working on bringing back training and pool sessions safely in what will hopefully be a post pandemic world.
Continue with a Zoom alternate for meetings even when we can meet in person again.
Last week at the board meeting we discussed paddling within your abilities during the covid situation since you don’t want to force someone to have to get close to rescue you nor do you want to have to end up in a possibly overtaxed local ER.
So when the Lehigh got dumped on I convinced a few unfortunates to join me for the 20 miles from Whitehaven to Glen Onoko. The army core of engineers (ACE) said they’d be releasing 5000 cfs until they got dam back to the maximum they are supposed to keep it at. I’d done 4000 cfs a few years ago and knew to be cautious…as the water’s flowing in the trees we had the longest swim I’ve ever that day (though the swimmer came out with a ‘that was fun’. But still, it’s the Lehigh, the first real whitewater we often take folks out on. So what could go wrong?
As we were loading boats someone mentioned they weren’t bringing a rope as “can’t imagine a scenario where we’d need a throw rope.” So opted for more food and clothes.
Of course with covid and personal stuff the last time I paddled whitewater was early January.
Since I recently sold my playboat and now only have a short creeker I decided to try one something longer and squirtier. Chris D. hauled a Dagger Redline out from KCCNY loaner boats, 9 feet of pointy kayak which was state of the art from the end of the last century. After all, it’s only the Lehigh, so what could go wrong?
Boat fit great though with the gear I needed for all day on the river it was a little back heavy. Bit squirrelly starting out and still feeling ok as we got going. Easy enough to roll so what could go wrong.
Approaching triple drop everyone reminded us to stay right…but I could have sworn it was nothing but huge waves when I ran it at 4k years ago…so to add some excitement floated in dead center.
Came over a pretty big wave and there’s a hard line and a big foam pile.
Been it’s been a while since i paddled maybe I was a little off my game…so instead of accelerating like I should have to break thru I floated down a long straight hole…didn’t even come close to making it thru the foam pile.
Easy enough side surf…tried pushing myself backwards toward the right but sure didn’t seem like I was making any progress.
Tried flipping to grab some green water on the bottom to see if i could pull myself out. Nearly lost the paddle.
At least rolling back up was easy.
But paddle all I could didn’t seem like i was moving at all. And I haven’t gotten as far as cartwheeling so didn’t know how to get myself pointed in the other direction.
As i was getting out of breath with the effort of side surfing I finally decided to flip and pull. And of course came up stuck in the hole and recalled the conversation as we’d been packing of “can’t imagine a scenario where we’d need a throw rope.” After all 95% of the river is 100 yards plus wide.
At least my head was out and I was getting air most of the time as I bounced around in the hole.
Ducked down into the solid water below the foam pile again and stayed down for awhile…again nearly lost the paddle as I angled it to pull me downstream …but came up finally and was at least moving downstream. At least I’d stayed in the hole long enough for folks to get in position to catch my boat.
So yeah…the moral.
Do as I say, not as I do. Now’s a good time to be cautious.
After that I avoided the biggest of holes like Amy’s and we ran the rest of the river. Blue sky and as I got used to the boat so much fun working the rapids and talking. After Rockport we saw no other paddlers – such a difference from normal summer Lehigh of trying to stay spaced between rafting flotillas. So all in all an amazing day on the river with 30 seconds that were way too scary.
In this new normal many of us our self-isolating enough that we don’t want to get in a car with others even for a head hanging out the window shuttle…so the obvious solution is a bike (or hike) shuttle.
I’ve also seemed way too many Facebook posts about missing gear – more during this special situation but also during the old normal. So investing in a few locks and using them seems like a pretty good idea.
The basics of bike shuttling are pretty obvious. Drop a bike at one end or a boat at the other.
One of those days you expect to be nice and are pleasantly surprised. It had rained heavily nearly a week ago and then gotten cold, so as the river came down it coated logs and rocks with ice and icicles. And unlike our friends who went skiing, no crowds on the Moodna.
Sun was out, wind was non existent. Saying the Moodna was at a good level is sort of moot as the Moodna’s fun from very low to crazy high…but at a lower level it was a lot dryer which is certainly nice with 32 degree water.
In the easy class 1-2 warm up we saw a wood duck and a pileated woodpecker. Though a little low the upper section and in fact the whole river had plenty of water 6 days after the last heavy rain. Though it doesn’t have a gauge, the Moodna holds well and is fun at so many levels. There were a number of holes that looked liked they’d be fun to surf in or be surfed by…and with the water at 32 degrees neither of us were interested in exploring.
I elected to portage around the first dam as I was feeling poor and good about my boat…this dam’s an easy slide down what feels like a cheese grater. Getting out required breaking the ice at river’s edge until I could get my boat parallel and then delicately climbing out onto a shelf of ice. Getting back in required pushing across 10′ of ice.
At lower water there was no eddy at the final drop on the first real rapid, lumber yard.
For the pillars -the hardest rapid – we ran left to right above the entrance rapid and eddied out just above the main drop and boat scouted close enough to be pretty sure the main drop was clean…with the low flow it was a pretty straightforward ferry and line up to get a straight drop clear of the pillars and then hang on thru the drop.
The pond above the second dam had ice at its edges making both getting out and getting close enough to boat scout difficult…
Most interesting challenge came near the end when I got off line and thought I had a line between one partly submerged boulder and one ice covered boulder. The ice as more like a mushroom cap and the left side of my boat slid down and i found myself stuck between the 2 rocks, cockpit out of the water. Pushing of the ice was way too cold without gloves (I prefer pogies for the solid grip and adjustability)…so in the middle of the rapid, water flowing over the boat I pulled the skirt, pulled out my gloves from the drybag and was then able to lift myself free.
The Moodna holds well and is fun at a wide range of levels. With the exception of the pillars it’s similar in difficulty to the Mongaup. More on the Moodna on AW.
I hope everyone had a great paddling season this year! Last weekend we had our annual KCCNY meeting and dinner, and I continue to be incredibly grateful for our paddling community – it was a pleasure meeting a number of legacy members, and welcoming a few new members to the club as well.
Furthermore, I’m excited to be taking the reigns as President of KCCNY.
An additional thanks goes out to the generous charitable contributions of our members that has allowed KCCNY to donate to American Whitewater, the Mongaup EMTs, and the Passaic River Coalition this year.
Looking forward to seeing you on the river (or in the pool) soon!
Or beginning whitewater paddling…
As far as safety, I don’t need to tell any of you that strainers and cold water are your big enemy, not rocks, flipping or swimming.
Part of pulling off a combat roll is being comfortable under water….and a big part of being comfortable underwater is not freaking out when you’re not getting air. So practice it and see how long you can last.
As for not freaking out when your helmet is bouncing off rocks, well, that takes a certain amount of just getting used to it and believing that the safest place to be is tucked forward.
That being said, Combat rolls are incredibly cool.
Got to keep fed and hydrated because my own judgment is off when I’m not. Note to self…most whitewater paddlers don’t stop and rest and eat as much as I like to so and I need to remember this and bring snacks.
Make sure even the good guys have cleared the hard spot /drop before you go in. If there’s only one line you want it clear. Ask Andy Frey.
Tie stuff down…this means to your boat if you’re in your boat and tying your boat down when you’re not in your boat.
Bracing (and rolling) on the back deck with my head in the water. Thanks Eric Jackson.
Things I didn’t learn the hard way only because Jeff Bowan gave such a great presentation at my first hrckc meeting. Cold water is really dangerous…actually, come to think of it, I did nearly learn that the hard way, but not when I was boating. Diving into Lake Superior on a hot September day when the lake looked like everyone’s vision of the Caribbean but was probably in the low 40s.
And some things I’ve yet to learn…paddling alone may be dangerous, just as hiking along and mountain biking and swimming alone are. But I like them.
So you may see me on the mighty Hackensack or Delaware alone and holding a beverage…but you won’t see me on something that challenges me alone.
Did I mention how much fun whitewater is?
If you are reading this, then it is probably because you became a member of the KCCNY, presumably for the number of things that the Club has to offer. Maybe you had not paddled at all before taking one of the Club’s beginner classes, or maybe you had paddled a bit and were looking for some instruction on easier rivers. Maybe you were already comfortable with your abilities and progress and were looking for other people to paddle with. Maybe it is because you wanted to go to some pool sessions and work on your roll.
Maybe it is because of the extraordinary number of river trips schedule on the KCCNY site, making it that much easier for all levels of paddlers to be out on a river. Again, these trips do cover a wide range of levels. There are the follow-up instruction trips on easy rivers for those who are fresh out of a beginner class, to the intermediate level river run. There is also a number of more challenging trips on more difficult rivers. Unfortunately, what does not have a wide of range is the small number of people leading these trips! The KCCNY can only maintain the number of choices on the schedule if we have Trip Leaders. As it stands now, this schedule is run by a handful of our members. If you have not volunteered as a Trip Leader then maybe it is because you don’t know if you have what it takes to run a trip. If so, please let me explain.
The fact is we don’t really have Trip Leaders; it is more of being a Trip Coordinator. Even if Andrea isn’t there with her picnic basket of wine, cheese, and crackers, it’s still a lot like planning a picnic. All you need to do is choose a suitable place, announce the trip, and handle the logistics of getting a few people to meet you at the put in. Of course every trip should be made up of a group that is strong enough to fend for themselves, including chasing any swimmers and their gear, but you do not have to be the strongest paddler on the trip to be the Trip Coordinator. Trips where the coordinator is the best or strongest paddler are actually few and far between. If you would be willing to lead a trip, but are not sure that you are ready, or you may have any other concerns than please ask any of us what we think! All you need is to be a competent paddler on at least one river and organize a trip on that river. Example, if you are comfortable paddling the lower, lower Lehigh or the Lackawaxen when someone else is leading the trip, then YOU can probably lead a trip on those rivers!
There is a small amount of paperwork (a couple of short emails, really), and some emails or phone calls with people interested in the trip. One of the big plus’s to volunteering as a Trip Coordinator is that it guarantees that you will be on a river that you presumably wanted to go on, anyway. You can simply find a link to the full details at the top of the trip schedule page or you can go directly to: Responsibilities of Coordinator
Again, whatever your reasons were for joining the KCCNY you had to have figured out the Club had something to offer you that was more valuable than the paltry annual membership dues.
If you love this sport as much as I do and have found a home with the KCCNY then you have to realize it is largely due to the efforts of our volunteers. It is because of the Trip Coordinator that continue to make it possible for you and your fellow paddlers to be out on a river enjoying one of life’s most wonderful experiences.
I will look forward to seeing YOU this season and encourage you to – Step up to the river bank as a Trip Coordinator!