second on William Nealy's book. both the original and the new version are both great reads, and good additions to any book collection.
my advice is to simply go look at water. go find a river/creek/irrigation ditch and sit by it and just watch. watch how the water reacts to obstructions in the river, watch how it pillows off of walls, watch how it creates tounges, eddylines, waves and holes. look at different stretches of water, from class II gravel bars, to raging class V rapids. note the differences that small variations in the riverbed make. the beautiful thing about hydrology is that it replicates itself on a small scale to a large scale. the way water acts and reacts to things on a ditch with 25 cfs in it is no different than how a river with 2500 or 25,000 cfs reacts; it's just bigger and more powerful. the basic processes are the same.
spend time noting features, and how they work. once your understand how the river works, it makes reading it ON the river much easier. knowledge is power
I've not read any of the others, but when I was starting out, RAFTING by Jeff Bennett (I think) was awesome. I used to have two copies, have loaned them out many times over the years and now have none.
Oh Yeah, I forgot. Experience is by far the best, but if you get the experience after first having an understanding of what you are doing and seeing thru reading, you'll be able to take advantage of that experience much more quickly.
Thanks for all the suggestions guys, much appreciated. I've paddled a decent amount, but it's always good to keep learning. While experience is unbeatable, I'm hoping some winter reading will show me some things I haven't come across yet. I was able to get that McGinnis book for $0.01, and I'll keep an eye out for the Nealy. I remember I saw an animated river rescue section from Nealy's book that was very well done.
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