When it comes to forgiving water that hones boat handling skills, Pine Creek through Numbers at current flows is hard to beat. Pine Creek has some technical moves, and an awesome boof-to-eddy. Three sisters below Pine Creek has some good hits and great eddy catching. (you can put in below Pine Creek Rapid to pick up 3-sisters, which is a hoot). Number 1 has about 15 complex eddies to catch (to me some of the best practice in boat skills). I think you can spend 20-minutes just going down Number 1. Number 1.5 has a great little hit that's hard to nail perfectly river center/right. Number 2 has that awesome boof near the top (the dome) and another one down below. Number 3 has some good boat-control-to-run-the-meatiest-line. Number 5 has that rock-guarded eddy on the right and super boof on the left. Damn I love numbers.
Great swim story...buddy and I were paddling number 1 in said fashion at about 1200 or so. Completely exhausted from eddy catching, I playfully plopped into the hole near the bottom, maytaged for a while, couldn't get the strength to do anything else, so I pulled and swam to the beach near the bridge. Buddy got it on film...his commentary is priceless, constant laughter.
Waterton is also unusually good for practice. Did you know there are at least 3 (and maybe 4) very different lines in Green Bridge? My favorite is left to right through the pour-over hole (not for the faint of heart). Avalanche has some sketchy eddy-ferry options and the last rapid also has a number of tough-to-nail eddies.
You've heard it before, but making an easy fun run harder by picking a challenging line is the safest and best way to progress. If you're in the Ark Valley this weekend, hit me up and I'd be glad to show you every-damn-eddy-surf wave-and-boof on Numbers.