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Unless you live in one of those magical places where there is year round whitewater, there is some point in the spring where your focus turns to watching the weather forecast and the river gauges, anxiously awaiting open water with enough volume to get out paddling.

You start to sort through your gear, potentially cursing yourself for forgetting to do your repairs at the end of the season, and find what you think are all the pieces. You are out of practice with this and find yourself actually visualizing yourself – going top to bottom or bottom to top… helmet, lifejacket, drysuit, skirt, shoes, gloves etc., and trying to remember how you need to change the outfitting in your boat for all the extra layers that spring paddling brings.

first day of the whitewater season

From our informal polling, it seems to be a pretty even 50/50 split for those that have an easing into it approach to the first day – choosing a low key run to shake the cobwebs out, and those that charge right into a creeking run because – the levels are right and why waste a day!

Standing on the side of the river putting gear on feels exciting and yet out of sorts on the first day. Guaranteed we will put at least one piece of gear on in the wrong order, and potentially more, as you really aren’t in the grove yet. Yep – the lifejacket went on before the skirt, and the helmet went on before the lifejacket – UGH!

first day of the whitewater season

Then there is the question of remembering what features are in at what water level, and what you can do where – especially when spring water is waaaay colder than fall water! You only launch into a spring stern squirt (twirliees) once before remembering how cold the water is, and how to do them in a variation that keeps your head out of the water.

We opted to ease ourselves in with a fun run on our local class 2/3 river for day one this year, and then jump right into day 2 the next day on our local creeking run, which had just hit minimum flows, had some good wood distractions but was super fun with a great crew and a sunny day.

Hope all those that are emerging from winter and seeing the magic of spring have a great first day of the whitewater season!

Vincent Family

first day of the whitewater season