River Reading & River Safety for Whitewater Canoeing : Basic River Safety for Whitewater Canoeing


Before you go Whitewater Canoing for the first
time, you want to know and understand a certain amount about the rivers you are going to go
on. Rivers are constantly changing and that is the great thing about them and that is
also the potential danger they pose for us. Since their water levels are changing, rocks
are moving, trees are falling in, there could be all sorts of different hazards there from
one day to the next. As a result, rivers are constantly presenting a different face to
a paddler. What you want to do is make sure you go with people who know the river well
the first couple of times, who know paddling well and who have developed a good sense of
river judgment. That river sense or river judgment is something you develop over a long
period of time from running lots of different rivers, from seeing rivers change, from being
involved in hopefully minor incidents on rivers and understanding how the power of the river
is so strong, it can often be insidious, hard to notice, hard to understand, hard to comprehend
and sometimes it exerts itself in ways that it is really hard to forecast ahead of time.
So for instance a boat pinned on a rock may be pinned in very calm current and yet it
might have a ton or more of pressure on it and be very difficult to pull off. So make
sure you go with more experienced people at first until you develop your own sense of
river judgment and then you can go out on your own and really get to know the rivers
you are on and enjoy them and also respect them.

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