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Old 09-21-2011   #1
Truckee, California
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 31
Best book on how to "read" rivers?

Hi guys,

Looking to increase my awareness out there. Aside from paddling, I was hoping to do some reading on how to read the water, identify obstacles, best lines to run, etc.

Any suggestions on a great "guide" book?

EDIT: I'm a rafter

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Old 09-21-2011   #2
Centennial, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 72
Nothing will beat experience on the water

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Old 09-21-2011   #3
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kayak by william neally. awesome beginer book, and between reading it many times and getting on the water just as much. it will help you. totally easy read.
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Old 09-21-2011   #4
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
there's nothing like experience, i agree.

try Whitewater Rafting by William McGinnis.
it may be out of print, try amazon.

it's pretty old school but a lot of great info and drawings.
i found it to be great winter reading my first year of rafting.

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Old 09-22-2011   #5
God Amongst Men
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Phuoc My, Da Nang, THE 'NAM
Paddling Since: 1845
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,988
second on William Nealy's book. both the original and the new version are both great reads, and good additions to any book collection.

my advice is to simply go look at water. go find a river/creek/irrigation ditch and sit by it and just watch. watch how the water reacts to obstructions in the river, watch how it pillows off of walls, watch how it creates tounges, eddylines, waves and holes. look at different stretches of water, from class II gravel bars, to raging class V rapids. note the differences that small variations in the riverbed make. the beautiful thing about hydrology is that it replicates itself on a small scale to a large scale. the way water acts and reacts to things on a ditch with 25 cfs in it is no different than how a river with 2500 or 25,000 cfs reacts; it's just bigger and more powerful. the basic processes are the same.

spend time noting features, and how they work. once your understand how the river works, it makes reading it ON the river much easier. knowledge is power
"Don't f$&@ing eddy out, just run it! Whaddya doin??" -LMyers
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Old 09-22-2011   #6
Rifle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 93

Nealy's book sounds like a good one to add to the library. McGinnis's Whitewater Rafting is a classic. Try AbeBooks Official Site - New & Used Books, New & Used Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books and search. I lost my previous copy, but found one in new condition for $5 on Abe. McGinnis's Class V Briefing is a short, but worthy treatise too.
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Old 09-22-2011   #7
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 09-22-2011   #8
aka The Curmudgeon
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Hopelessly Stuck in Yesterday, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 322
I've not read any of the others, but when I was starting out, RAFTING by Jeff Bennett (I think) was awesome. I used to have two copies, have loaned them out many times over the years and now have none.
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Old 09-22-2011   #9
aka The Curmudgeon
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Hopelessly Stuck in Yesterday, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
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Oh Yeah, I forgot. Experience is by far the best, but if you get the experience after first having an understanding of what you are doing and seeing thru reading, you'll be able to take advantage of that experience much more quickly.
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Old 09-22-2011   #10
Truckee, California
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 31
Thanks for all the suggestions guys, much appreciated. I've paddled a decent amount, but it's always good to keep learning. While experience is unbeatable, I'm hoping some winter reading will show me some things I haven't come across yet. I was able to get that McGinnis book for $0.01, and I'll keep an eye out for the Nealy. I remember I saw an animated river rescue section from Nealy's book that was very well done.

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