Yesterday I was able to make my first kayak trip on a river… the New River in Ash County NC. It was with a group of friends, some of which were experienced and some new like myself to river kayaking. I had become more comfortable with my kayak since changing over from my canoe (see “From Canoe To Kayak“) where I spent time getting acquainted in a peaceful pond but was somewhat apprehensive about entering a river. Fortunately the section of the New River on which we traveled was quite peaceful with only occasional mild rapids. A very good beginners run.
I was able to learn a few things with a little guidance from my friend: a single upstream pointing “V” indicates a rock to avoid; when encountering a double upstream pointing “V” you can pass between them safely; on the downstream side of a rock there is often an “eddy” that you can steer into which is generally calm and can sometimes draw your kayak upstream slightly – this is a good place to “park” and rest a bit. I had a variety of experiences, sometimes reading the current correctly and shooting through and a few times reading it wrong and hanging up on the rocks… a very educational experience.
When we beached the kayaks it was relatively easy to disembark and then re-board, however, I took a dump at the final exit point at some stairs along the bank of the river. I was glad to have a waterproof case for my phone. On the bright side I was able to collect two new lures just prior to my exit from fishing lines that had snagged in some trees so it helped to off-set my embarrassment.
There are more difficult passages to conquer in the future but this was a great entry into my first river experience and I’m sure more training will provide more confidence and safety to meet the new challenges ahead.