Thursday, June 09, 2011

Canoe U 2011

  HUGE!  It was HUGE this year!  With four full classes of students it was the biggest Canoe U that I've seen since I started 6 years ago.  Even more exciting was the amount of safety boaters that volunteered!  Usually there's a shortage of safety boaters for the classes but not this year.  Canoe U Graduates from previous years and experienced paddlers flocked to help the newbies out!  Between safety boaters and instructors many classes had more support paddlers than students.  An excellent ratio!
  The first weekend started out staying at the Norway Group Cabins in the St Croix State Park. Nice cozy cabins and a great central hall with fireplaces and a super kitchen!   Our volunteer cooks are the best and food was plentiful and great!
  The water chosen for the first day was the lower Kettle.  Lots of practice on flat water and easy moving water. Our students learned basic moves such as ferry's and eddy moves. A good day on the river!
  Evening came with intense storms.  The lightning show was beautiful!  Morning broke clear of rain and the classes headed to the upper Kettle in Banning State Park. More flat water work and then running some real rapids.  I was happy to see the level had come up high enough to cover most of the annoying rocks but not too pushy yet for the students. Our class had a great day on the river...challenging but they rocked it!  There were lots of smiles at the end of the weekend as we said good bye for two weeks until Graduation Weekend.
  Could there have been a better weekend for Graduation Weekend?  I don't think so!  The weather was the most perfect I've ever seen!  Sunshine! Warm! And you won't believe this but the easy wind was at our backs for the long flat water paddle on the Reservoir!!  That almost never happens!
  This is the weekend we push our students a little bit more.  Our class did the upper St Louis on Saturday.  Lots of eddy and ferry work.  Lots of flips!  I was really impressed with how determined the students were and especially how long they hung out for a T-Rescue! They did awesome!  The level of the river was great! 2100cfs which meant annoying rocks were covered but not too pushy...perfect!

  Sunday our last day on the river we chose the upper Kettle through Banning.  The last day together before sending these people out on the rivers on their own.  It's my last chance as an instructor to emphasize the skills they personally need the most to run rivers after they leave the safety net of Canoe U.  We warmed up on flatwater. Ran Blueberry Slide. Some students ran it a second time.  We sat in the sunshine and had lunch watching the other classes run Blueberry and Shoulder Hole.  Then we ticked off the rapids one by one.  Happily throwing them off the seal launch rock below Dragons Tooth.  "Yes we're sure it's safe to do this"  Little Banning Rapids we let them pick their lines down. Then one last run of Hell's Gate. It was a great day on the river!  By far the best thing for me was watching everyone of my students paddle the long flat water at the end using a great forward stroke! 




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