FAQ about River Trips

I thought water was blue?

FAQ about River Trips

Postby Hana » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:13 pm

You want to come on a whitewater kayaking/canoeing trip? Awesome! Here’s some general information about what to expect:

Is kayaking/canoeing fun?
Yes!!! Water, fun people, some waves to play around with, nice surroundings, learning how to do new cool stuff... how could this not be fun?!

Are these trips open to people who have never sat in a kayak/canoe before?
If you have never been kayaking/canoeing before, we recommend that you first come to one of our pool sessions (which we have throughout the semester) or our occasional sessions on Puffer’s Pond in summer. There we can show you basic paddling techniques, and you can get a first feeling for the boats, which will greatly help you on the river.

We have also taken people to the river who have literally never sat in a kayak/canoe before. If you fall in this category (or aren’t sure if you do), we ask you to let us know before or when you sign up for the trip. We may decide on a case-by-case basis if the particular first-timer trip is a good fit for you.

What will we do on the water?
Your first time on the river we’ll start with some basic paddling instruction. We’ll teach you how to exit a boat if you flip over, how to paddle in current, etc. If time allows (and the trip is planned accordingly), we then will travel down a whole river section... though of course we'll always make things dependent on how everyone in the group's doing.

Time, location, general plan?
Our trips start in the morning, usually between 7:30 and 10 am. We meet in Amherst, behind/in Totman Gym (in the stairwell next to the parking lot) to assign gear, and then we drive to a river. The trips are usually full-day trips. We plan to return “not too late,” but there’s always a chance of something taking longer. We don’t recommend making evening plans. Sometimes we stop dinner out together after the trips...

What do you need to bring?
A bathing suit (or other non-cotton clothes that you can wear under a wetsuit and don't mind getting wet), a towel, some money for gas (usually $ 5-10), and sunscreen (better bring high-intensity sunscreen even if the weather doesn’t look very promising). Also, if you have some, bring some non-cotton sweater, fleece or long underwear types of clothing to wear as additional insulation to your wetsuit. Thick, warm, synthetic or wool socks to wear inside of the river booties we provide you with can be a wonderful gift of the comfort of your feet! Remember, everything will get wet. Any kind of outdoor gear that's meant to keep you warm even when wet will not be harmed by kayaking. The club owns all other gear you'll need, including wetsuits, but if you have any of your own, it'd be great if you can bring that too.

Please also bring water and snack bars: You’ll need lunch (eaten off the river), and many people enjoy having something half-way through the morning, before getting into the boats. One or two (water-tightly sealed) snack bars are great to have along. Please have (or bring) breakfast in the morning.

Is paddling hard? What exactly will you be doing?
Like most sports, paddling is a mixture of using muscles and using the right technique. In the beginning, it can be a bit more tiresome because you’ve maybe not used your “paddling muscles” a lot, and more likely, because you’re not yet using the most efficient technique. (For example, many beginners use their arm muscles a lot, so they may get sore.)

Usually the trips also imply carrying the boat, moving in and tucking/leaning forwards in your boat, possibly getting cold and/or tipping over and swimming. We'll also teach beginners to exit the boat under water and swim back to shore at least once or twice, and you'll do more if you should tip over later. )

Medical comments
Please let one of us know before the day of the trip about any medical conditions (heart, allergies, recent injuries, etc.). Please also read the section “Is paddling hard?”. If you think that you might have problems with any of those activities, please also let us know before the trip. Usually we can figure things out (e.g., helping with carrying the kayak), but planning's a lot easier if we know ahead of time.

Will you get cold?
You’ll wear a lot of gear to keep you warm and preferably dry. Nonetheless, the water can be fresh/cold even in summer, especially on the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield River. And when you swim (remember: we make all first-timers practice swimming!), you’ll be wet. The goal is to keep you warm (wet or dry), but like any goal, we don’t always meet it 100% all the time. Not just in early April...

Are there restrooms or changing rooms?
No. It’s the outdoors. We typically change behind our towels somewhere next to a small or medium-sized car (usually there’s mostly other kayakers or fishermen in the vicinity)... and for your bodily functions there are usually some bushes or trees.

What if it rains?
We usually try to schedule our trips on days with nice(r) weather if we can, but yeah, sometimes it rains. You’ll likely get wetter from swimming in the river than you ever could from the rain, so you shouldn’t worry about it too much. And anyways, kayaking/canoeing is a lot of fun even in the rain!

Do you need to be able to swim?
We sometimes take people out on the river who have difficulties swimming unaided. This is a possibility because we all wear helmets and life vests (PFDs) on the river.

If you have trouble swimming, however, we ask you to let us know before you sign up for the trip. Most likely, we will then ask you to come first to one of our (indoor) pool sessions, which we have throughout the semester, or to a pond session. There you and we can get an idea about how you’ll react under water and when swimming back to the side of the pool - all with a life vest. Generally, we try to take everyone out on the river who is interested, but we will decide on a case-by-case basis.

What if my question isn’t answered in this post?
Of course let us know if you have any further questions!! Post here, send us an e-mail, ask us at the pool sessions, etc.!

We’re looking forward to having you on our trips!!

(This information was originally written on our old message board by the amazing, irreplaceable John P. Jackson, UMOC Whitewater Kayaking Chair)
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Re: FAQ about River Trips

Postby dustin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:59 am

Also sticky.
Don't worry, I know CPR.
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