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The decision to run hard rivers should be a choice made from within. It should never be part of a group encensus. The best way to confirm that your ready to make the move to class IV and V whitewater, is to be comfortable in running those same IV and V river moves on class III water.

Use the river as your playground. When you go to the park in Golden or Boulder- don't run the course the same way everytime. It's easy to master something if you never change the varibles. Insted of always running the drop straight down the center. Change it up- catch the eddy on river left, hit the wave, surf, and exit river right. Start using as many of the features as possible. Use the rocks, play in the funny currents, use the waves, use the back of the waves. All these little things add up. They all become tools that you can fall back on when you need them. They turn obsticles into options.

Once, you feel that your in control and the river is opening up to you. It's time to make the move. Now when you eyeball that harder run the rapids will make sence. You'll be able to see plan A, B, and C - insted of just being fixed on the monster hole on river right.

Remember you need to able to see yourself running the rapid in your head, before you can ever make it happen in the river. A skilled paddler can see lots of things when he or she stares into a rapid. You'll get there to it will just take time.

For now: practice, practice, practice. Let your skill level increase as the water level increases. For a bunch of us not being in our gear and paddling all winter and then running out and doing hardest water that we have ever run before- is a recipe for disaster. Use your head. Set your own bounderies don't let your friends talk you into something if you don't absolutly belive you have it in you. Use your fear to keep yourself in check.

Have fun and be safe.
 

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In general, the Keelhauler's rating system is a good thing to throw into the mix if you are thinking about new rivers. Not a substitute for all the usual means to evaluate yourself, but a nice addition.

I gotta say, though -- the Narrows of the Green ranked harder than the Poudre Narrows? The Green is one of my all-time favorite runs, but Whiteline? No thank you. 'Scuse me while I go drive the I-25 Narrows.
 
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