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Old 11-05-2014   #11
Auckland, Arkansas
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 9
I never knew that! One day I may come join one of your trips.

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Old 11-05-2014   #12
Auckland, Arkansas
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 9
@Ninja_Nico @bystander I completely understand what you're saying and I think you guys are right and I might have to do a bit more so that I feel comfortable stepping up.

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Old 11-05-2014   #13
north little rock, Arkansas
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 342
Originally Posted by gannon_w View Post I know you?
You do, but only as my alter-ego Deuce.
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Old 11-05-2014   #14
doesn't need a fake name
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 481
Ninja Nico is spot on, but I would add the idea of taking a paddling trip. Running new runs with no expectations or preconceptions can open up your horizons, and you might find when you come back that you ran new stuff that was harder than your local run. The trip itself may or may not actually build your skills, but I often find that my big steps forward happen at the beginning of trips or right when I get back.

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Old 11-25-2014   #15
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 176
I've had the same experience as Leif - I've come back from a couple trips with a big confidence boost from trying different things. I also started learning to playboat 2 years ago, and spending some time at playparks and in the pool has upped my river running skills too.
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Old 11-25-2014   #16
Southernsherpa's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 25
I stepped up my game by paddling green water solo until I felt comfortable running C3 rivers solo. At that point I would be very confident on C4 with a group

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Old 11-26-2014   #17
God Amongst Men
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Phuoc My, Da Nang, THE 'NAM
Paddling Since: 1845
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,988
Originally Posted by lmyers View Post
Don't let anyone pressure you into running whitewater your not comfortable with. You know if your ready. I personally paddle conservative with the attitude that I want to maintain this level of kayaking for another 30 years...
This ^^ is great advice. Also know that there is no rule that says you HAVE TO get better or that you HAVE to graduate to class 5 at some point. If you feel like you are maxed out at class III or IV, then that's fine. Enjoy that for the rest of your life and take the stress out of it. There are plenty of rivers in that category for a lifetime of exploration.

For example.....I don't think I will ever run class 5. I just have no desire. Sure, I may try to run an easy waterfall at some point in my life, but as far as running something like Gore Canyon or Valliceto, I know that there is a 99.9999% chance I will never run those stretches, and I am fine with that. I am perfectly happy being a class III-IV boater, and know that I can enjoy a great lifetime of boating amazing rivers and sharing them with amazing people.

I've seen people leave this sport because they feel pressured to "get good really fast". And that is missing the whole point of paddling. We paddle because it's fun; not because it's a ladder that we all have to climb. Some people will always be class I junkies and love every minute of it. Some people will find the hardest V/VI- rapids they can find and still not feel like they are reaching their peak. We are not all Laemmler Brothers.

Find what you love to do and keep doing it. Progression comes differently for each person and finding your own comfort zone, AND being happy in that zone will make you enjoy the sport for a lot longer than if you constantly feel pressured to do things you don't want to.

That being said, if you want to level up, my advice is to find a river or two that offer mostly the level you are at, but with one or two drops that you can work up on. For example, in CO, if I was a class IV boater looking to step up a notch, I might consider doing the "Pine Creek" stretch of the Arkansas- it's got a fair amount of class III and IV, but there is one class V rapid in there that's a good step above everything else on the run. So it would be a good training ground for someone looking to step up. But, as I said, everyone accelerates on their own pace, so make sure you just stay true to yourself and let the progression happen naturally and don't get pushed into going too far too fast, because then you might just end up being pushed away from the sport altogether, and nobody wants that to happen. Good luck!
"Don't f$&@ing eddy out, just run it! Whaddya doin??" -LMyers
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Old 11-26-2014   #18
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
I can definitely attest to not caving to pressure from others, but sometimes the confidence other people give you is what you need to push yourself. My first year kayaking all I did was goof around on flat water, work on strokes, rolling... maybe run a couple class II rapids.

Second year, long story made short (nobody wants the long version): My boyfriend maybe gave me a few too many confidence boosters and talked me into running some stuff that I thought I wasn't ready for. Had a super successful run until the unfortunate but relatively low consequence swim at the end. Lost my boat for a few hours and ended up with some blisters on my feet. But it scared me enough to the point that for the rest of the season I was pretty panicky even on lower, slower water. I yelled at my boyfriend for making ripples in front of me, making a wake... Had a freak out one day and made him solo the rest of the run and come back for me.
I'm not sure how or when I actually got over all of this. I guess at some point this season (third) is when it happened. I think running Steamboat multiple times at so many different levels really helped me. I've been able to choose new lines and push myself a little harder, play around and relax because I know the run. If anything does happen the friggin bike path is right there! Plus I only had three swims this season, two of em were on the same day... within minutes... but three swims out of maybe 50 river trips??? That's pretty good for a beginner. I'm gonna toot my own horn here, I've got a good brace!
And we did the lower blue, which is about the same grade, but you're in a pretty inaccessible canyon and some of those waves are pretty darn big, considering. Those few runs down the blue really made me feel good about my skills (no swims), and again, running it multiple times and remembering lines and trying new ones... I feel comfortable on the river again.
Next year I plan to work my way up to a IV, hopefully do Cross.
Plus I'll be in a new river runner or maybe a creeker as opposed to an old playboat... that might make a difference!
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 11-26-2014   #19
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 149
To me, stepping up is one part of kayaking that is exciting and fun but its just 1 part of the equation. There's something to be said for building confidence on a local run and trying all sorts of different lines, micro-eddies, ferries, surfs, boofs, backwards, sideways, playboats, etc. that you would never think of doing in an unfamiliar place or while "stepping up". Getting super comfortable pushing yourself in a particular class of whitewater within your ability will make "just running" the next harder class seem within your skill range when you are faced with the opportunity.

For me stepping up the last couple seasons has been pushing myself in Golden Whitewater Park and running it a bunch of times a bunch of different ways (slalom-style, surfing stuff no one surfs, different boats, etc.), and then "stepping up" to Boulder Creek during runoff last season and getting super comfortable there, and then stepping up to Waterton/Foxton and getting comfortable trying various moves in there. And that placed me comfortable "just running" some class IV stuff like Lower Clear Creek, Mish/Pineview (Poudre) and the Numbers (Ark) last season. Maybe toward the end of next season I'll step up to Bailey or just be happy where I'm at. At some point the risk/reward equation will stop me from moving into anything harder so if I do get to class V, I'll be very selective. (2 little kids at home changes perspective.)
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Old 11-28-2014   #20
oh yeah
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 535
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.- T. S. Eliot

when i began paddling harder rivers i got in way over my head and frequently got destroyed and swam a lot. however, i didn't get hurt and i got comfortable being scared on the water. i learned to focus. if you're comfortable on class 3 then try out some easy 5's. then when you step up to the 4's, they won't seem so bad. also, when you jump right into 5's make sure it's with an unknown crew that you won't likely paddle with again. this way your regular crew won't think you're completely shady and reckless. i recall showing up to a decent class 5 in colorado that i'd never seen before and joined a group at the put in. i convinced them that i knew what i was getting into (i had no idea) and i was completely sketched and ran shady awful lines all day- what a great learning experience!

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