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Top Moments of 2019

2019 was another really good year.   The snowpack in mid April promised an awesome runoff.   A career and fatherhood keeps me busier than ever, but I was once again able to make kayaking an important part of my year.   Here are some of my top moments of 2019:

#8 – The Lower Malad River

The Lower Malad River is one of the best sections of whitewater in the state.   You want to find a way to shuttle a few laps for this continuous class 4 mile of quality whitewater.   I took two half days off of work in April to get my fix.

#7 – The North Fork Championship

It was my seventh year of NFC participation.   I raced in the experts division on Thursday, finishing 99th out of 137.   That is about how I expected to finish after not paddling the previous two weeks and not having any recent practice laps.   But I love to participate.   On Saturday, I took my son up to the main race at Jacob’s Ladder.   We got there early and my boy was able to snag Dane Jackson’s autograph. We watched Dane’s winning run too.

#6 – Peak flows on the South Fork Payette

One of the most fun things you can do in a kayak is paddle class 3/4 runs at high water.   And where I’m from, that is the South Fork of the Payette River in May.   Five rapids in five miles can take less than a half hour. High water is serious, but I find this type of kayaking to be insanely fun yet without the stress that I can feel on the North Fork.   It’s easy to make laps on the South Fork and convenient to have a ton of fun in a little amount of time.

#5 – The Otter Slide Grand PRE

For years, Jeremy Shoemaker has put on a race at a campsite for raft guides alongside a class 4/5 rapid.  Imagine some Idaho dirtbag paddlers throwing a grassroots kayaking race and you pretty much have this event.   In my old age, I show up for the race but I don’t dare hang around for the party.

#4 – Deep Creek, ID

Deep Creek is unique to Idaho kayaking because it has two waterfalls and several high quality, steep, low-volume drops. It’s for that reason that paddlers brave the poor water quality and unwelcoming neighbors. Textbook Falls is probably the best downriver freestyle waterfall that I’ve laid eyes on.

#3 The South Fork of the Salmon at 6.0 feet

I’ve been lucky enough to get on the South Fork of the Salmon River during high water several times in the last few years.   If you haven’t heard of this run, it’s literally one of the top overnight river trips in the world and many of the best boaters drive a considerable distance to get a trip on it in May or June.   It has several big water, class 5 rapids at high flows.   This year, we saw two bears on our first day and made it to camp at 2pm. We spent the afternoon lifestyling and basking in the sun.

#2 – Kayaking with my son

I continue to make awesome memories kayaking with my son, both in the Dynamic Duo and his Fun1.   Towards the end of the summer, I really started to feel that he is ready to start using a skirt in some conditions, and I imagine this next year he will really start to develop some river skills and maybe even start to learn how to roll.   We’re not rushing anything, and maybe that’s part of the reason that he is really excited about it.

#1 – The Jarbidge/Bruneau overnight

This was my third time down the amazing Bruneau River in Idaho.   We spent two nights and three days in the canyon, with higher flows and fair weather.   I was with a few of my favorite friends and one of them took his girlfriend down in the Dynamic Duo.   The scenery and overall quality of this overnight made it another one of the best whitewater memories of my life.

I hope that you have had a good 2019 with dreams about the year to come.

-Micah Kneidl