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Old 07-29-2014   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 267
Where did you cut your teeth?

So I haven't posted in a while although I do check in and read from time to time - I own an 11' "Mini-Cataraft" - an Outcast (subsidiary of AIRE) Pac 1100 - 11' "Pontoon" boat that I bought almost a year and a half ago. I started as an angler and will always be one but I find I enjoy being on the river as much as I enjoy the fishing so I would almost say I'm 50/50, as I've been around rivers my entire life.

Anyways - everyone started somewhere - I've methodically worked my way up from class 1 rivers to rivers up to class 3+ now - haven't hit any class 4 stuff yet - not planning on it yet anyways LOL - I'm pretty content with the class 3 stuff - it's fun and still challenging. The last river I ran was a very continuous class 2-3+ and it was fun but I definitely had my work cut out for me with the 11' boat due to the continuous nature of the river! Here's a couple videos from that run a few weeks back:

Part #1 -
Part #2 -

Here is another short video my bro took of me on the Chilliwack River back in April-

Anyways - I've taken one - one day course to date with a local whitewater rafting outfit last year in September that really boosted my confidence and helped me see more of the boat can do and I'm hoping if enough people sign up, to take another way more comprehensive course mid September which I posted on earlier. I also plan on taking some swift water rescue training at some point as well. I've borrowed Jeff Bennetts book - The Complete Whitewater Rafter twice form the library to date now and most recently I ordered a copy off of ebay lol.

Right now I feel like I'm caught in a grey zone - somewhere between your average angler with a pontoon boat, and someone who recreationally catarafts rivers. I eventually want to get a bigger boat like a Wave Destroyer one day rigged to carry and fish one or two people if possible and to take on some bigger water. But for the time being I'm relatively content where I am.

I'm just wondering how you guys all cut your teeth? How did you grow from easy rivers to the really gnarly shit? What boat did you start on? What do you have now? Who showed you the ropes? Have you taken any courses or relevant training worth noting? What in your mind progressed you the most? What lessons did you learn the hard way if you don't mind sharing? I'd love to hear a bit about your story...

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Old 07-30-2014   #2
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
I started in an Outcast Pac 1100, just like you. I still have it. I had friends who rafted & kayaked. They took me to Alpine Canyon (outside Jackson Wy.) to try something new with the mini-cat. Easy class III in late summer. I was hooked. I then joined a rafting club and started doing class II-III day trips with them. I learned a ton about rafting in general from them. On an June Split Mountain (Green River) trip, class III, high water, I had my first flip in Moonshine rapid. After that I decided if I wanted to keep running whitewater, I better get a "real" cataraft. I got a 14 X 19 JPW Flyer cat. Super fun for day runs, and I could carry a small amount of multi-day gear on it. More Split Mountain runs, Westwater, Payette runs. Then I progressed to the Main Salmon for multi-day trips. I did a few with an outfitter (Canyons Inc.) and learned a lot from their guides. Finally moved up to a July Middle Fork trip with them at about 2.5-3 feet. A nice manageable level. after that I met the group I boat with now. Multi-day trips in Utah, Idaho, Oregon mostly. I progressed through two Maravia cats, 14X22, 14X24, and now have moved to a raft. Maybe one day I'll do the Grand???? If I can stop having surgery on my leg.

Good luck in your journey. I have never sold my PAC 1100 because it's so nice for fishing and class II-III day runs (Green below Flaming Gorge, Moab daily). I love that little cat. I've also added a 13 foot touring kayak to my armada this summer. I'm headed for Grand Teton Nat. park next month for some overnight backcountry paddling & camping.

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 07-30-2014   #3
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
Originally Posted by SpeyFitter View Post
….I started as an angler and will always be one but I find I enjoy being on the river as much as I enjoy the fishing….
Sounds like you caught the fever.

The challenge of navigating uncertain water and finding your own line is awesome. Whether in raft, cat, kayak …. whatever.

"You only have one chance to run it blind."
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Old 07-30-2014   #4
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Well, my first memories of rafting where when I aaas a small kid. My Dad used to take us on the South Platte on float trips. We ran a few small rapids, and we took my uncle's canoe once, which ended up being my first flip and swim. I still remember seeing the under workings of the rapid (rocks and sticks and bubbles) and then feeling this hand grab me by the back of the PFD and pulling me into the eddy. But that's probably not what you mean by cutting my teeth... LOL

My Dad then went on to more whitewater when I was a teenager buy running the Salt with his buddies. He caught the bug big time then, so bought a raft. oars, made a frame, etc. He and his friends would run the Salt in the spring, then ship the boat to Colorado and we'd run the Ark all summer long. Mostly Browns Canyon of course. Every now and then I would row, but I was still mostly a passenger.

I then got to go on a multi-day on the Salt with my Dad my senior year in high school. That was a special treat for me. I got to see Quartzite before it was blasted, and spent some quality time with my Dad on the river. I got to row quite a bit in the calmer sections, and even rowed one rapid - just one. I flipped us and that was it for me rowing rapids... LOL

It was many years after my Dad passed before I got back into whitewater rafting (no, he didn't pass from the flip). Our friends invited my wife and kids on a big multi-family overnighter on Ruby Horsethief. Wife and kids had a ball, and my wife said "we should get one of these". That's all I needed to hear. Two boats and a garage full of gear later, we're all in! LOL

The maiden voyage as a family in the 14 footer was the Lower Eagle, the poo plant to the fairgrounds. We eddied out just above rodeo to get everyone back in their respective boats (we were with friends) when my entire family abandoned me for my buddy's boat - they were afraid I'd flip in Rodeo. It was like rowing a beach ball because all my weight up front was then in my buddy's boat, but much to their dismay, I ran it clean - as I have always done with my family on board (my friends, not so much LOL). So you could say the Eagle is where I cut my teeth as an oarsman - we ran it quite a bit that summer.

The maaiden voyage for the mini-Max was on Shoshone - wife and the kids on board. Wife and I R2ed, but we didn't get along so well. We made it through without incident, but learned a lot about the need for communication that day. I took a guide class the next year and spent a lot of time paddling and guiding, so cutting my teeth in a paddle raft was done mostly on the Eagle and Browns Canyon. Mostly in 13 and 14 footers, and some in the mini-Max.

I am starting to step up to class IV stuff, but like you, I enjoy class III mostly, in part because my kids are still relatively young and little and I am not ready for them to be running class IV - yet. Well, other than some stuff on the Salt and Cataract, which they have already done...
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Old 07-30-2014   #5
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 321
My first rowing experience (and first flip) was a 13' Hyside in Cataract at ~30K. Granted I had about 7 years of prior kayaking experience, but rowing added a new dimension and more equipment to the garage.
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Old 07-30-2014   #6
Las Vegas, Nevada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 97
My Start Was Rather Unusual...

When I drew a Grand Canyon Permit in February of 2012 I had NEVER been in whitewater. I had never rowed a boat. I was as green as they came, but that wasn't going to stop me! I put together a crew with some experience, and we shoved off from Lees Ferry on March 18, 2013. I rowed the entire river to Pearce. Every rapid. Every bit of flat water. I flipped in Horn:

Horny Horn - YouTube

The wife was not impressed, and I nearly spike the Fangs:

Killer Fang Falls Rapid, Grand Canyon Right Run April 2013 - YouTube

If all of that wasn't enough, I was able to land on a trip this past June, where things went considerably more right. I didn't flip in Horn, but I did run the LEFT HORN:

Left Horn TR - YouTube

Granite & Hermit were a blast again!

Granite Hermit 2014 - YouTube

And Lava was OH SO SWEET!

Lava 2014 - YouTube

So basically, I cut my teeth IN GRAND CANYON! I am currently building a Whitewater Dory that will float Diamond Down this October, and I am taking her down the Grand Again this coming March with 15 of my bestest buddies! That's some way to learn about boating, rowing and whitewater!

Go big or go home I guess!

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Old 07-30-2014   #7
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
First flip as passenger was in westwater. Scull at 13k. That was my first overnight. Then I started doing the Yellowstone with my buddy in Mt. Then I needed my own boat. Did the upper blue at flood stage and learned about river wide trees and portaging. Ran pumphouse at 9k thinking it was a good noob run. Ran it clean with a front man in the spider. Turns out that was some of the biggest water I saw all year. Then it was off to the ark with wookie for some good lines (2011 was a huge water year). Did browns, royal gorge and then numbers late season. Did browns several times. Then I moved to Mt. Yellowstone overnights, Yankee Jim, Springdale wave. Last year I really cut my teeth in the Gallatin from low water to highwater, beartrap canyon solo first time down ever, then off to the lochsa for some real deal shit. I bought the big boat and started really learning to row. I used to fish too. Now I take my noob buddys and show them rivers and lines. Always learning something new. Teeth cutting video
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Old 07-30-2014   #8
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Yampa, 1967 with Outward Bound. Old military assault boats; we called em insult boats. Two people on the oars. Ran the rest of that year with the Explorer troop that outfitted Outward Bound, Thank you Mike!

Same the next summer, and ran my first paddle boat. I still have my paddle. Military surplus, natch.

Skip forward to 1973. I set out to arrest a miscreant at a disturbance. He mentions that "Wow man, I'm supposed to run a river trip tomorrow" which leads to further discussion and the discovery that my old friend Mike is now an outfitter. Sorry you met me D-9?

One thing leads to another, I get hired and bring on a couple of friends; (RIP Chris) and Joel, as weekend warriors. All over Colorado and Utah.

The next year I quit playing at cops N robbers and go full time as a guide. Just about all of the Colorado above Cataract, Green through Ladore (damn football players) and Deso. Arkansas, North Platte, and I found Eden on the Dolores. RIP Dolores.

The years after that were more of the same, with Cataract and the Grand added in. A New Year's Rio Grande trip. Tat in Alaska. Met my wife, who gently pointed out; there are no retired guides on a pension out there.

1979 I'm married and have to face reality. I get a "real" job and move to Oregon. Sneak in a Dechutes trip and my second Grand trip in 1984.

I discover that power boating is so much less work, and can be as much fun, especially when you have kids. Especially in the Northwest where water is so easy to find.

Fast forward to 2014 and I get back on the river for the first time in 30 years.

I've left the thing a couple of times, but it's never left me.

How do you "work your way up" to the big stuff? Jump in. Just do it. Don't over think it, don't analyze it, just get in there. I mean, what's the worst that can happen?

Yeah, and that can happen on a class I or II.

On my first Grand trip I learned that as a guide we don't have quite as much do with a good run as we think; the River God is pleased to point that out to overly confident, and over cautious boatmen.

Seriously. Do it. Don't pass up an opportunity because you don't think you are ready, cause if you do that you'll never be ready.
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Old 07-30-2014   #9
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
I put my buddy on the sticks (with only a few hours training on Oregon day runs) on the middle fork salmon a couple weeks ago. He did great but now I need a new sport boat. Sold him my spider and he's been running it a couple times a week. Sorry. You have a new habit.
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Old 07-30-2014   #10
trevko's Avatar
Fort Fun, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 118
Like GCHiker4887 I cut my teeth in The Canyon. Kind of an insane opportunity I couldn't pass on. Never had even been in a oar rig and rowed the entire 225 miles without mishap. After scouting Lava I had to pull out the groover (literally!). 52 trips down the Grand later I guess you can say I am hooked on it - with a trip to Deso next week.

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