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Emily’s  Best Day on Cane Creek and First Impressions of the Zen!

Yesterday Dad, Nick and I woke up earlier then usual to the sound of heavy rains, followed with heavy hailing… This meant that Dad had already left me several voice messages Mostly along the lines, wanna go kayaking, wanna go kayaking……. Knowing that it would be fun, I would get to paddle a new boat, and it would get me away from the house which was in need of a good sweeping… Nick and I decided to head out!

We decided the river to run would be Cane Creek. Cane Creek is a 7mile run, with a steeper upper section and a class three paddle out. (2-3 depending on levels)  The last time I was there I didn’t have the greatest day as I made friends with a rock and dad hurt his shoulder. So the creek made me a little timid…. Mainly because I didn’t want to go near the rock again and because it had been three years so I didn’t remember anything else!  When we pulled up to the gauge (underneath the bridge) it was around 1… knowing that the water was going up 130 cfs an hour…. We drove to the top, put on all of our gear, repelled our boats down the steep pathway and away we went!

By the time we got to the first steeper section of the river, I didn’t recognize anything, mainly because the water was big and brown. Last time I ran it I remember it being bumpy and clear water… Dad was the only one that knew the river and he also didn’t recognize much so we decided to scout anything we weren’t sure about….After scouting and walking a couple rapids due to logs and big holes… we realized that daylight might become an issue. So we started speed scouting and walking quite a bit…

Once we thought we were past the steep section we started boogeying down the rest of the run… It was super fun with big green waves, boofs and slalom through the trees… (only the slow water safe ones of course)

Overall I got to feel the boat in big water, boofs, wave trains , flatwater, and coutless maneuvering.

Here were my impression of the boat and how it handled my big water day on Cane:

  1. LIGHT- Walking down to the river can be strenuous particularly if the boat is heavy. Not this time. The zen felt balanced on my shoulders, and lighter than I had expected! Big Plus. Not to mention with the amount of walking we ended up doing I was very happy to be able to pull it up over trees and rocks easily. I was also blessing the strap on the inside of the boat that you can hold while carrying it (thank you strap!!)
  2. Easy to paddle- I found the boat maneuvered REALLY well. I assumed because it was a longer boat that I would struggle controlling the bow and holding an angle. This wasn’t the case. It turned on a dime and was easy to make ferries and exit boiley eddies.  At 5’3 I wish I would have been a touch farther forward then I was and I think if I did so then the boat and I would have been 100% in tune…. (the last person to paddle the boat was 5’7)
  3. Initial stability- It was very high. I was in several situations where I really should have flipped over, and couldn’t believe I didn’t. Got to the bottom of the rapid saying something like- how did I not flip!!
  4. Speed- it felt fast in the flats and in the whitewater. It wanted to shoot off the lip of every green wave. Which in the end became a game as it really flew and gave you those roller coaster butterflies that I love!


Overall- I am super happy with how the boat paddled. I enjoyed that it carved over waves and in and out of eddies. The boat felt much more fun than an initial creeker, such as a hero and a villain. I could see myself fooling around in the boat a bit more as it seems to accept that…The villain and hero I found the secondary stability was fantastic but the initial isn’t as good as the zen.  Overall I can’t wait to take it on my next adventure and hopefully day-light wont cut my paddling day short!