I wear earplugs and noseplugs every time i go out, but only put the nose plugs on at the top of a drop or a playspot. makes it easier to breathe that way... i wear nose plugs less for river running/creeking because i want lots of oxygen, and i dont want to roll intentionally. when or if i eddy out above a spooky drop i will def. throw them on at the last second if i get a chance. (not that i am any type of gnar paddler, but class IV creeking is awesome...! and sometimes scary even..! )
I will say I am completely dedicated to using earplugs. they make a huge difference for my comfort especially with colder water. no problem with regular cut helmets, but they seem to be kind of a PITA for fullface helmet usage. even creeking i try to always wear em. i must have gotten ear infections as a kid cause my ears are sensitive.
and its all connected...the whole inside of your head. ears and nose and all.
everyone has varying opinions about ear/nose plug necessity, but personally i always seem to get sinus infections all summer long here in NM.
the Rio is a silty dirty ag laden ditch.... but we love 'er dearly anyhow..... all that and i dont even paddle south of Los Alamos. (almost ever) THAT is potentially some sketchy runoff.
yeah, so i roll a lot on class III. mostly intentionally..
following the great advice to better my rolls by practicing them constantly. 20/50 or even 100 x per trip ...! (says the sage) and with all that i always go home stuffy.
My theory is that i want to do this for the long run, and since i work in the medical field i try not to ignore ways of avoiding problems that i have learned about.
so mitigating exetosis-which is chronic exposure to cold water in the ears..aka surfer's ear and avoiding sinus infections however possible just makes sense. just have to figure a way for it to not be too much of a PITA....
(Paddling on my one trip to Idaho, I did my same routine with plugs, but never got stuffy at all paddling the MFS at low water, or even on the Ark... silt really does a number on me after all these years paddling here.)
i definitely jones for nice clear water. specifically the middle fork. :[
Oh, and for post paddling, or when sick, a Neti pot is invaluable to have.... with warm water & sea salt. they work really, really well for flushing out the dirt, toxins, pollen, congestion etc.... Same as the shower trick, just with mechanical assistance . its a little mellower too, then snorting a snootful of water....
i think its an aryuvedic tradition dating back thousand years or so (if that word doesnt scare you off you might like it...)
heres the one i have:
The Neti Pot
and from a brief visit to google- a little more info on why the SE swamp water is skary... those bugs are no joke: