Originally Posted by Randaddy
Come on. The combined features of Lost Paddle are class 5, everything else is class IV at a max and I've swam left at the 4th drop 3 times. I've swam a shit ton on the Upper Gauley, and I mean no disrespect to this amazing, powerful river. That said, I'm suggesting that someone afraid of kayaking might have a safer, and better experience if they swim more often from the relative safety of an inflatable and climb back in than winding up upside down for ten or more seconds... People go under the thumbnail when they're upside down usually.
Gauley aside, I'm just saying I swim my ass off on stuff that isn't class V all summer long and this guy should consider taking on that mindset if it helps him.
Fair enough, and I'm not trying to spark an argument. All I'm saying is that I don't necessarily think that it is good advice to advice taking swimming lessons on a particularly hazardous river that has claimed the lives of numerous expert boaters over the years.
On the other hand, I do agree that it is good practice to push oneself and swim on more difficult rapids without the risks of getting sucked underneath a rock or stuffed into a sieve. While I was learning, I paddled pretty tough stuff like the hard sections of the Tygart, Shavers Fork of the Cheat, NRG, Lower G, etc. etc. Class IVish stuff that would be very unpleasant to swim, making me try really hard to stay in my boat, but also class IVish stuff that I knew I would also be pretty safe swimming if I had to. So, push yourself, but don't push yourself when there are hazards IMO. Don't get on a river like the Upper G or Section 4 if that's "pushing" it for. Get on rivers like that after you've had ample practice and are very comfortable on stretches of simiar difficulty.