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Thread: First Time Paddling

  1. #1
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    Default First Time Paddling

    I have been in rafts, catarafts, and drift boats dozens of times but never had my own or paddled anyone elses.

    Is the Upper Kenai (Cooper to Jims) a safe place to cut my teeth for a first time paddling?

    I have read through previous posts and seen some people complain of newbies on the river being a hazard, and seen others comment that the upper kenai is as easy a drift as one can hope to find.

    I am in excellent physical condition, with a 16' NRS.

    Any input would be appreciated. Or if anyone else is going to be floating that stretch next weekend that would not mind me following behind to learn some technique, I could provide the beer at the end of the run!

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Congratulations, nice boat. If you can find a boating buddy that's a good way to go. Suggest you join Knik Canoers and Kayakers (http://www.kck.org). Good group and you'll track someone down that has the time/schedule to help you. Recommend you hit Alaska Raft and Kayak and make sure your gear (boat, frame, oars, throw bag, etc.) is good to go - if it's not they can help you get it fixed/adjusted. Alaska Raft and Kayak have books/videos that will help - "The Complete Whitewater Rafter" by Bennett (book or video) is a good place to start. Also lots of videos on line - google beginner rafter. All that said, get the boat on some flat water - any lake - and just play around with the oars. The upper Kenai is a very basic float - but there are plenty of places you can get yourself in some trouble - you're probably not gonna die but you can get hurt or damage the new boat. For example, there will be plenty of other boats on the water and pulled out to fish - be good to know how to land your boat without hitting anything/anybody. Or, at low water the landing at Jim's can be tricky for a beginner - especially if there are a bunch of other boats around - not much eddy to work with - once again you're not gonna die but you may well end up a good bit downstream after you bounce off everyone else's boat. I don't recommend anyone without time on the oars getting on any river alone and unafraid. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Jsmackin gave great advice for your first time rowing. Paddling a round raft with a crew is entirely different thing (a bit more challenging for the person in charge) and more fun IMO. If you can get someone to go with you who has some experience you will learn much quicker.

    The short section of East Fork of Six Mile BELOW the Granite Creek campground (Seward Hwy bridge) to where the whitewater trips start (paved pull-out & ramp) is easier for a first timer I think. Plus, you can run it twice or more in a day. Search my trip report from last month.

    Take your boat to one of the area lakes and get used to unloading, rowing around the lake both forwards and backwards, making turns, spins, etc and re-loading the boat. Once on moving water remember to point the bow towards whatever you are trying to miss and row backwards. You'll discover on your trip to the lake that you are much stronger rowing backwards vs. forwards. Videos/books are great but most skills can only be learned on the water. Have fun. Be safe! We'll see u on the river.

    Oh, stay out of the Upper Kenai back channels until you gain more experience.

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    Just what the others said; find someone to help. Watching vs doing is a huge leap in boating moving water. Luckily, rafts are very forgiving, so you'll be fine on anything easy class 3 or less; but you'll have more fun, learn more quickly, and have a smoother time if you get some help. And you'll end up much safer for it. For example, you ask to have someone follow you the first time down, but the best thing to do is follow someone experienced and watch what the do and follow their line.

    As for the Kenai, there are way better practice rivers. The Kenai is busy this time of year and the last thing you want to do is piss off a lot of fishermen who haven't had a bite for the last three hours. First try the upper Eagle River, bridge to bridge on Eagle River, Portage Creek, upper Sixmile from the East Fork bridge to the put-in, then if those go well try the Fort Rich section of Eagle River. A farther away, but great practice raft river is the upper Nenana.

    Send a post to the Eddieline list serve hosted by the Knik Canoer and Kayaker club. There are usually after work runs on Eagle River every week. They hold raft clinics every year too.

    Good luck. Send me an email if you want to connect for an after work run where I can give you some pointers.

    Cheers



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    Cliffking I have a few things going on this week but PM me and we might be able to go float something quick and close.

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    Thank you all very much for all of the advice. Sincerly. I look forward to getting started!

  7. #7
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    Drove down Thursday night and floated the upper Kenai from Coopers to Jims 3 days in a row without any problems!! As a newbie, and first time paddler, I would have to say the biggest problem I encountered was fishermen standing in he middle of the river in a couple narrower spots. And some of the ******* guides at the ramp at Jim's could use a lesson in manners.

    Loved the trip and looking forward to trying some different streams.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Welcome to the addiction. Haha

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    Make sure you have safety gear other than the obvious pfd, a throw bag, spare paddles, is a good start.

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    Default First Time Paddling

    I wish I had practiced flipping my raft upside down. and then using a strap to flip it back upright. on calm water before I had to do so on a rocky glacial stream.

    Really. After you make a few more test runs, this is something you should try. Rigging your oars and such with tethers first of course. Good to practice strapping in essential gear, pump, repair kit, etc to make sure you have a good system for keeping the essentials with the boat.


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    That's a fun exercise in a warm local lake. I've done it several times with a bunch of Scouts, but only in paddle mode. I imagine with a frame ,oars, and gear it would be much tougher.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark oathout View Post
    Make sure you have safety gear other than the obvious pfd, a throw bag, spare paddles, is a good start.

    Great point.

    I've got the above, as well as the oar leashes another member suggested, as well as a throwable cushion, a whistle attached to each PFD in the raft, a ditch bag with Cliff Bars, magnesium striker, space blanket, first aid kit, etc. As well as some pencil flares and a waterproof case for the cell (or SAT phone when not on the road system) phone, a Z-Drag, and a collapsible bow saw. Off the top of my head.

    If you're on the Kenai, you can expect at one point to be checked out for safety gear, and I always get a grin out of having more than required. It may seem like overkill, but even with being so close to the road, things can, and do, go wrong fast. Everything should be strapped into the raft, with the water rescue gear easily at hand.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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