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Early winter started out great here in Iowa. I had a fun and chilly New Years day playboat and surf session to ring in the new year. Then the craziness that is 2020 began. All the events I had planned on traveling to were canceled. All the events I had planned on hosting this year were canceled too, due to covid. Luckily, Mother Nature brought plentiful rains in spring/summer. So lots of opportunities to enjoy the water right hear at home!

Summertime and living was easy…for awhile.

Then it stopped raining. Mid July, August, early September are historically low water months for our area, but this year it’s been particularly dry during these months. Our local whitewater park dropped to extremely low levels. I haven’t seen flows this low since the drought of 2012 here. There’s rocks out there I’m sure I haven’t seen before!

Normally I would turn to mountain biking my local single track trails during times of low water, but this year had different plans. In August, a derecho (land hurricane) pummeled my community head on. We lost at least 65% of our tree canopy. Half of the remaining 35% left standing are not expected to survive either. There’s thousands of houses crushed or roofs ripped from the rafters. This derecho touched every portion of my community. Not just one area, or one side of town. It’s the WHOLE community. I have never seen so much widespread damage here. The swath of stripped and flattened corn could be seen from space! So, we used our low water and out of work downtime to clean up! We kept ourselves busy helping neighbors, friends, and family dig out, saw up, and pile high the countless trees ravaged by the storm.

While the initial clean up kept us occupied, the long lasting effects are ongoing. Most of our local parks are closed indefinitely. This includes our local single track trails. So after work mountain biking isn’t an option right now. The low water is persisting into fall, but I found my saving grace this summer! The Antix 2.0! I was so excited when this boat was announced. Stephen, Clay, and Dane made this boat look so much fun! I knew I wanted to get one asap. I got my Antix in September and its been a blast!

With the help of best friend Carl, I’m learning new to me tricks. Tricks that have been around long before my time, but they are still insanely fun. I’m nowhere near competent at stern squirts yet, but the learning process has been very educational and full of ear to ear smiles. Figuring out the timing, how to edge, how to apply the proper paddle force, how to slice the stern in at the right time, the right speed…learning is fun!. Plus it makes for great rolling practice with all my stern squirt fails.

The Antix 2.0 has been my low water blues boat of choice this year. I’m excited about kayaking again, even with elf levels. Learning new tricks and skills in this boat is by far the far most fun I’ve had in quite some time on low water. My local river is exciting again! Each little eddy line has something to offer. Even the smallest seam is enticing. Ooo! What about that rock?! What about the creek mouth entering the river?! So many possibilities! The creativity on the river is ignited once again! Who knows what I’ll discover next on my local river and I can’t wait to find out!

-Hannah Ray J