Yep. Forget disecting the absolute rating. Use a guide book for a general reference to difficulty, but use it mostly for its instructions to put ins and take outs, and to gain some knowlege of known and signifaicant hazards. Otherwise, journey to a run that you're interested in and put on with excitement, curousity, and intelligent alertness to the obstacles and the performance of all in your crew. Once at the river, the guide book and its rating for the run are not the matter at hand. You are on the river and should be navigating it wisely. Most important is to scout as you go. Either from eddies or on shore. It is risky to run things blindly or on hand signals if there is anything significant to encounter. Too often it seems the city rat race seems to carry over to our gung-ho attitude on the river. Slow down. Relax. Appreciate being with nature. Take time and require that your crew safe guard everyone in it. Don't let machoism, a rushed pace, or sandbagging the difficulty, put anyone at risk. Scout, strategize lines and safety together, or portage. Ther river will be there another day. Some of us feel defeat if we portage on a given day. Kayaking, though, is a head game. If you're not feeling something like at least 95% certain of the outcome, then determine if there is a better option. When deciding to run something, though, always be mentally prepared to how your going to deal with the potential upsets (plans b & c). Have in your mind that you WILL roll, attempting several times if the hazards allow for it. Know where the micro eddies are to catch if knocked off line. Know what you would need to do if pinned, how you might have to claw your way off of something or to get upright. Know if you the hazards would suggest you might need to consider it best to abandon gear and swim for shore immediately if failure occurs in a particularly dangerous stretch. Know about relaxing and clawing your way out on the bottom of a suck hole if forced to the bottom. Know how to anticiapte setting safety for your friends and how everyone has to spring into action without jeopordizig their lives if faced with attempting a difficult rapid. Bottom line: be smart, appreciate your crew, look out for each other, appreciate the adventure, and be there to have fun and feel blessed ... even if some mishaps occur. Which they often do. Just be prepared and supportive with your river team. Hopefully, the take out will be a celebration of achievement, even if it involves a bootie-beer toast for a swim. Swims are not usually great fun, but hopefully you can tell and smile about it later. Happy adventures everyone. Be gald you're boating!
) -- kv